What really makes big sensors produce more appealing images? *Serious*

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
Ontario Gone
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Re: What really makes big sensors produce more appealing images? *Serious*
In reply to Pasmia, 5 months ago

Nothing really, regardless of all the magic and "special" qualities many claim. Here is how it works. A pixel is a pixel. There is nothing special about the pixels on a FF sensor over any other smaller sensor. There happens to be more surface area, sometimes because the pixels are each larger, sometimes because there are more of them. The pixels themselves however are the same thing, a photosite.

Lets take two 16mp sensors, one FF and one MFT. At the same F stop on lenses, the FF actually captures 4x more light, this is a fact. 4x is the same as saying 2 stops. So, why, if you shoot them at the same FOV, ISO and F stop, is the SS the same? Im glad you asked. Manufacturers set the underlying gain higher the smaller the sensor is. Think of ISO as a volume knob, it matters not what the number on the dial says, what matters is how loud it actually is.

FF gain is not as high, built in, as a MFT sensor, because it gets more light per F stop. Gain on MFT is 4 stops higher than FF, so as to keep SS the same at equal settings, makes it easier to calculate things. APSC is somewhere in between. So, the advantage that FF has is, when you shoot MFT at ISO 100, you are really shooting at ISO 400 in FF terms. Color, DR, noise, it's all going to be about two stops worse. It has nothing to do with the "magical" qualities of FF, it has to do with gain.

Now, if you shoot that same FF 16mp sensor at ISO 400, and the MFT 16mp sensor at ISO 100, they are identical. Period (give or take a small margin due to brand specifics). Anybody who looks at an ISO 1600 FF shot and thinks it has anything that an ISO 400 MFT shot, or an ISO 700 apsc shot doesn't have, is fooling themselves. A pixel is a pixel. The size makes no difference, larger just means they get more light per F stop. Ive heard it all too, "there's just something special about to tonality of FF", or, "the color gradients are just special". A pixel on a D800 is IDENTICAL to a pixel on a 16mp apsc camera. It simply has less gain and less DOF for a given scene.

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