Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?

Started 7 months ago | Discussions
eastvillager
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Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
7 months ago

I have a Nikon D800, a full frame 36MP camera. A friend of mine is asking me how good will a GX7/GM1 17" x 22" print look compared to one from the D800. I will do a comparison in the near future but was wondering if anyone has compared them and what their thoughts were. And how about a huge print say 40" x 60"? I'm using the GX7/GM1 as a carry around camera to mostly shoot on the street and instagram (love the wifi option) but still using the D800 for my extended projects.

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Sean Nelson
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

Since you already have both cameras, it seems like you should be able to shoot and make prints from both in order to form your own judgement.   That would be better than relying on the opinion of someone who may not share the same eye for detail or quality standards as you.

You don't actually have to make a 40 x 60" print to judge.   Take a section of your shots and print them at a smaller size like 8" x 10" so that the degree of enlargement would be the same as if you had printed the entire image at the larger size.

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MAubrey
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

eastvillager wrote:

I have a Nikon D800, a full frame 36MP camera. A friend of mine is asking me how good will a GX7/GM1 17" x 22" print look compared to one from the D800. I will do a comparison in the near future but was wondering if anyone has compared them and what their thoughts were. And how about a huge print say 40" x 60"? I'm using the GX7/GM1 as a carry around camera to mostly shoot on the street and instagram (love the wifi option) but still using the D800 for my extended projects.

It might reasonably efficient to take two equivalent images, size them digitally to 40x60 and then crop an 8x10 and print that crop. You'd then see the difference. But even then, I'd recommend caution. You don't view an 8x10 the same you do a 40x60, so you'll want to take viewing distance into account, too.

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eastvillager
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to MAubrey, 7 months ago

Good points. Thanks for the input.

MAubrey wrote:

eastvillager wrote:

I have a Nikon D800, a full frame 36MP camera. A friend of mine is asking me how good will a GX7/GM1 17" x 22" print look compared to one from the D800. I will do a comparison in the near future but was wondering if anyone has compared them and what their thoughts were. And how about a huge print say 40" x 60"? I'm using the GX7/GM1 as a carry around camera to mostly shoot on the street and instagram (love the wifi option) but still using the D800 for my extended projects.

It might reasonably efficient to take two equivalent images, size them digitally to 40x60 and then crop an 8x10 and print that crop. You'd then see the difference. But even then, I'd recommend caution. You don't view an 8x10 the same you do a 40x60, so you'll want to take viewing distance into account, too.

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GlennAA11
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to MAubrey, 7 months ago

From Robin Wong's blog, Olympus Malaysia did side by side comparisons of E-M1 vs FF cameras with large size prints. I guess no one could really tell much difference. Prints were fairly large but not 40x60. Certainly that is not an every day size for many people.

http://robinwong.blogspot.com/2013/10/moving-on-to-micro-four-thirds-and-klpf.html

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Cane
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

There's more to the difference that just sharpness of big prints. Is sharpness the only rendering characteristic that is important anymore?

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Dwaines
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

The results of any test is going to depend totally on the quality of the image on the first place. Things like noise reduction, ISO, shapening, any image manipulation, resizing, all have to be taken into account.

Like most things photography, it is not a straight forward question/ answer.

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Advent1sam
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to Dwaines, 7 months ago

Dwaines wrote:

The results of any test is going to depend totally on the quality of the image on the first place. Things like noise reduction, ISO, shapening, any image manipulation, resizing, all have to be taken into account.

Like most things photography, it is not a straight forward question/ answer.

What lens on the d800, what lens on the GX7?

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Steve
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to Cane, 7 months ago

Cane wrote:

There's more to the difference that just sharpness of big prints. Is sharpness the only rendering characteristic that is important anymore?

i'm afraid that most people (pixel peepers.etc) and more concerned with the technical aspects.. than getting the shot ...

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PaulChapman
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

I recently went to a superb photograph exhibition...pretty big prints, full of expression... brilliant. I asked the photographer about the camera. She didn't have the money, or the space, for a big camera when she went to Africa to work with local people; just a compact. I didn't tell her that I had a Leica M9 in my bag. It is the camera that you have with you, and the one that you feel comfortable with that is the most important. All the rest is flower arranging.....and some half decent printing equipment.

That said, I gave one or two spectacular images that I want to print from my GF7. I will show them to the print shop and take their advice, I would like to get 600x300mm to be viewed relatively close up.

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YuriS
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

Hi! I did prints of 50cm x 70cm using Oly E-PL1 with several manual lenses (Helios, Takumar, Rokkor). Even with 10MP sensor it looks great and very solid. Just for example (not full size/quality)

Yellow madness

Still warm_ but autumn sea

Mediterranean oleanders

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Magnus P
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to YuriS, 7 months ago

I think that everyone with a basic knowlegde in photography knows that there is a difference in dynamic range between FF/m43. Not very big differance but quite noticable in certain situations. I have chosen m43 for convenient size. I think sharpness is more then acceptable in my e-m5, but I sometimes wish for the wonderfull dynamic range in FF, but one cant have all in one camera ...yet.

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jhinkey
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

Shot at base ISO and well exposed both images will be very comparable (assuming lenses of equal relative sharpness are used and you are not cropping the images)

IF you have to really raise shadows or do a lot of adjustments in post the D800 will clearly be the winner as the RAW files are much more malleable.

Where I find m43 has it's weakness is if shadows need to be raised or highlights recovered, then you really see the difference between it and full-frame (assuming the latest in sensors are used in both cameras).

I have and use both m43 and Nikon FX - each has their place.  My m43 gear is for times when light weight and compactness rule.  My D800 + FX lenses are for when I need full 36MP and will have to do a lot in post to pull up shadows or pull down highlights (i.e., high DR scenes) and weight/volume are not an issue.

I've taken excellent images with both.

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David Kieltyka
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

I don't have a D800(e) but I do have a Pentax 645D. I've made quite a few 15x20" prints from pics taken with it, Oly's E-M1 & E-M5, Panasonic's GX7 and Fuji's X-E1 (mostly 14x21" to preserve the 2:3 aspect ratio). Each camera has its own tonal palette, which I try to preserve in post (Lightroom mainly). With the Pentax shadow tones have finer gradation than with the others. Up close the Pentax prints have finer spatial detail too, as you'd expect. At normal viewing distances prints from all the cameras look much the same. They all look great on my wall anyway. No doubt the Pentax would pull away from the others, at least spatially and with certain kinds of subject matter, at larger print sizes. But neither my printer nor my wall are equipped for that.  

Note: my friend Bruce can pick out the Pentax prints from the others with ease, even at distance. This is partly a camera thing and partly a lens thing...smooth, natural tonality & high resolution from the camera/sensor and (IMO the key ingredient) crisp but not clinical imagery from the lenses.

-Dave-

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offtheback
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to Steve, 7 months ago

Steve wrote:

Cane wrote:

There's more to the difference that just sharpness of big prints. Is sharpness the only rendering characteristic that is important anymore?

i'm afraid that most people (pixel peepers.etc) and more concerned with the technical aspects.. than getting the shot ...

Agreed Steve.It helps to know your equipment will produce ok+get that behind you.

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venice
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

What kind of image?

What type of print?  What media?

What kind of lighting?  Where is it to be on display?

Who is the intended audience?

And many more questions could be asked which are all relevant.

I can only think that a good photographer + GX7 will best an average photographer + D800 at any print size.

-Bill

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JosephScha
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4/3 sensor is full frame
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

35mm negative size is factor of two larger than necessary.

OK, I'm being a bit facetious. But it certainly is a fact that the latest Nikon full frame camera has a 16MP sensor, same as the GX7.  And although that new DSLR might in some circumstance have less noise or shallower depth of field than the GX7, in general I think both cameras can do very well with almost any scene you are likely to encounter including dim room light.

I used to have a film SLR. Now I have a G10.  I suppose I should want to upgrade, but I remember what film grain looked like in ISO-400 film.  Even in black and white Tri-X film.  The G10 is so much better, very mild chroma noise reduction at ISO 400, in ACR, yields a perfectly smooth image... that it still seems great to me.  I have an f/1.4 normal lens, something I didn't have for the film SLR. I'm still happy, even though I avoid going above ISO 800 if I can.  I did the same in film days: if you pushed ISO 400 (or rather, ASA 400 back then) film above 800 then you REALLY got grain.

So I can say with all honesty that even my G10 is a more flexible photographic tool than my old full frame film SLR loaded with Ektachrome (ISO 64) and the f/2.8 zoom I had on it most of the time.

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Brian Wadie
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

From my own experience (I sell images up to 30" x 20" via our local gallery and craft fairs) comparing prints from a canon 5Dmk2 and the EM-5 some photographers are confident they can spot the difference in print quality (on close inspection)

Its something to do with the "openness" of the image (smoother transitions in the fine detail?) but get them to step back to normal viewing distance and they struggle to pick out which is which when hung on the wall

The "General Public" on the other hand seem to prefer the colours that I get from the Olympus compared to those of the canon (both processed from RAW files using LR) the main comment being that the Olympus colours are "More Natural". Otherwise they neither care nor do they seem to have the ability to notice such subtle differences

These observations are limited to prints made on one high quality grade of Canon Lustre paper (can't remember which my printer uses), I suspect the difference would be less noticeable on fine art matt textured papers and canvas (its certainly the case up to A3+)

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calson
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Re: Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame?
In reply to eastvillager, 7 months ago

It depends upon the noise level in the raw file and it depends on the subject material. A landscape picture will enlarge better than a closeup of the plumage of a colorful bird for example. There is also a qualitative aspect to smaller sensors that can markedly affect image quality and the larger the print the more noticeable the difference will be.

I did a series of RAW test shots of sea lions in my area using a pro level 70-200mm lens and an APS-C camera, the D300, and a full frame camera, the D3. Comparing the images from these two 12MP cameras I saw a great deal of difference in the DR and tonal fidelity between them. The D300 images looked like they had been shot in JPEG mode with compression of the color "buckets" and there was loss of color detail that was present in the images from the D3.

The D3 has a better sensor and better analog to digital processors and it showed in the resulting images. The sensor size and megapixels were not the key factors. This shows up with the 36MP D800 which has a greater dynamic range than the 16MP D4.

The 4/3 sensors are half the size of a full size sensor and much better than the ones found in most P&S cameras but they are not going to produce results at the level of an APS-C or full frame camera. An 11x14 is as large as I would go with an image taken with one of these cameras in most circumstances but it truly depends on the subject.

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