Sensor Stupidity - I can't stand it anymore! [RANT]

Started Feb 22, 2010 | Discussions thread
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rlpruitt
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Sensor Stupidity - I can't stand it anymore! [RANT]
Feb 22, 2010

'The sensor is much bigger than in compact camera and larger still than the sensors in Four Thirds cameras to give full DSLR image quality'

That's a quote from the Sony "live blogging". I don't know who to attribute it to... the speaker or the "recorder", but it's definitely an uniformed "marketing" statement and nowhere near a statement of fact.

I've also read posts here from folks who think an APS-C sensor will give shallow DOF that they can't get from µ4/3. And other statements about the "bigger" APS-C sensor providing noticeably less noise than µ4/3.

AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGHHHH!!! If you want to do the "mine's bigger than yours" thing, I get it. But let's separate desire for superiority from FACT - 'cause they ain't the same.

  1. µ4/3 sensors are the SAME SIZE as Olympus and Panasonic 4/3 sensors. I guess a lot of people wouldn't consider 4/3 cameras like the Olympus E-3 and the E-30 to be "real" DSLRs that give "full DSLR image quality". They'd be wrong.

  2. Here's a look at the differences in sensor sizes.

    Does anybody really think that the slightly larger APS-C sensor is really going to make that much difference in DOF? It doesn't. DOF is a function of image size, lens opening, effective focal length, and distance to the subject. To simplify the issue, image size is only 1 of 4 factors, and the difference in size between APS-C and 4/3 is minimal. Will you get shallower DOF with APS-C? Yes. But at the same lens opening, effective focal length, and distance to the subject the difference isn't enough to make or break a photo.

  3. When it comes to high ISO performance, the perceived differences between 4/3 cameras and APS-C cameras has much less to do with sensor size than it does the camera's noise processing algorithms. That's why Sony, Pentax, and Sigma haven't historically performed much better than Olympus and Panasonic - even though Sony uses the same sensors (not just the same size - the SAME SENSORS) as Nikon. Canon & Nikon have had (and still do have) superior noise suppression routines. Oly and Panny are catching up, however, and for the most part the difference in high ISO noise performance below 3200 is only an issue in views at 100% and barely noticeable in REAL WORLD applications (web images or images printed at normal sizes of 16"x20" or below)

  4. Dynaminc Range - I'll just post this G1 image taken a few days ago on a recent hike. It's not high art, but it does have "high" dynamic range of between 10 and 11 stops. There were no special camera settings (P, ISO 100, +/- 0EV). This is without question an image that I COULDN'T HAVE TAKEN WITH SLIDE FILM (5-6 stops of DR) or with color negative film (7-9 stops of DR). But, with my G1 and its tiny sensor I captured the image with excellent shadow detail and NO BLOWN HIGHLIGHTS.

There really are differences between cameras - and "Vive les différences"!

But let's quit it with the sensor size idiocy and stick to real differences that actually make our images better.

Rant over...

Ralph

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