What is 4 times better?

Started Mar 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
24hrexposure
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Re: What is 4 times better?
In reply to ultimitsu, Mar 24, 2013

Most of the discussion about sensor size can be summed up as quality versus convenience. When I see someone drinking coffee from 7-eleven, I don't look down my nose at them over my fresh-ground cup straight from the press pot, because sometimes I'm in a hurry and buy coffee at 7-eleven too. These days I count myself lucky to have time even for that.

And now, for my work of fiction:


I will here list the performance advantages of my Phase One MF system over full frame*:

  • You can get 2.5x (1.3 stops) less noise by keeping the illumination the same and collecting 2.5x the light
  • You can (must) have a lens with an iris 2.5x the surface area and more than 2.5x heavier by keeping the illumination the same and collecting 2.5x the light
  • You can (must) have 1.6x shallower DoF by keeping the illumination the same and collecting 2.5x the light
  • You can expose at 20% the illumination (or use 1.3 stops higher ISO) but still collect the same light, thereby keeping noise the same
  • You can have the same density of photosites and have 2.5x the pixels. (The increase in linear resolution is only 1.3x.)

Clearly it's pretty silly to compare camera systems on just one dimension. With sensor size, the logical conclusion is to move to medium format, or build your own 8x10 digital back using a flatbed scanner.

. Sometimes you want DoF as shallow as you can get, but other times the foreground and background both have to be in focus. For shots that require larger DoF, there's no difference in the photon shot noise between FF and m43.regardless of sensor format shallower depth of field in the final image, requiresThe third bullet is significant: capturing more total light for a given composition and shutter speed Iris size is one of those unfortunate tradeoffs that is non-negotiable, even as technology advances. Maybe some day we'll have FF cameras the size of SD cards, but the lens's front element must remain the same physical size it is today to capture the same amount of light. The stuff in between might get lighter and shorter and the sensor might get smaller (or larger, if you prefer), so eventually maybe we'll end up with a lens shaped like a dinner plate with a little sensor pasted to the back of it.
*Just kidding. Who wants to lug around a huge medium-format camera when there are iPhones? Just kidding. I use the best camera on the market, which is whichever one you, dear reader, own.
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