Quick evaluation of E-M1X hand held high resolution imaging

One of the best selling features of the new E-M1X body is the ability to take 50 MP high resolution images from a 20 MP sensor – hand held.   The sensor stabilization motors shift the sensor in half pixel increments to improve both resolution and color fidelity (since no Bayer layer interpolation estimation is needed).   To compensate for hand shake, 16 images (rather than the 8 used for tripod mounted high res mode)  are taken and the stabilization data in between shots are used to recombine the images accurately.  There is also the promise of increased dynamic range by the reduction in noise realized through the stacking of all these images.

It’s fairly evident that you cannot shoot moving targets or targets at high focal length since both will tax the ability to recombine the images correctly.    But I was curious to see if I could take macro like images of living butterflies with the hand held high res mode.

Four hand held high resolution images (50MP) and one conventional 20MP image (last one) compared at 100% scale at 150mm focal length

It’s hard to take a good hand held high resolution images of a living subject.  I think the movement is from me and not the butterfly which seemed to be perched quite motionless.  Olympus does allow a delay of up to 30s after the shutter is depressed to cancel out the motion induced by that action but with live subjects you can’t always exercise that type of delay.  After a few attempts I was able to hold the camera steady enough to produce an image that hints at the multiple hexagonal structure of the butterfly’s compound eye, details that are simply not visible with the conventional 20MP shot.  You also get a useful boost in image scale with the high res shot.

Julia Butterfly:    E-M1X, ISO 1600, 1/800s  150mm f/4 – 50MP high resolution image with heavy center crop



Julia Butterfly:    E-M1X, ISO1600 1/800 s, 150mm f/4 – 20 MP image cropped slightly to the same pixel width as 50 MP image

I wonder if the recombining algorithms do better with inorganic subjects that exhibit a lot of straight and flat predictable surfaces.  Still it is possible to pull off hand held high resolution shots even with semi telephoto focal lengths of living subjects provided you try several attempts.



1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the test, Jim. I’m wondering how interpolating a 20MP image with Topaz Gigapixel might compare with an image made with the high res mode? There is often a little movement in high res images due to several images being combined. This wouldn’t be the case with a single 20MP image so a comparison with Topaz Gigapixel might yield interesting results.
    I’ve tried the high res mode on my EM5 Mk2 mounted on a series 5 Gitzo with an Arca B1 ballhead and have never been impressed. The algorithm has certainly been improved in the EM1 X… but my question remains “how much, and is it worth the price of entry of the EM1 X?”


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