I'm really getting bored of IQ excuses for MFT

Started Dec 28, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Louis_Dobson Forum Pro • Posts: 27,361
I'm really getting bored of IQ excuses for MFT

It needs none. This "what do you expect, it is a smaller sensor..." every time some fool says he can't get decent IQ out of his new camera stuff really is nonsense. We've got a variety of cameras in this house, and it works like this:

Blow up to poster size a shot taken on a reasonably modern MFT or FF at low ISO wearing a good lens. You might have a preference for a certain tone curve or colour mapping, but that is coincidental. The IQ difference is nil. Not small, not hard to see, not subjective, but nil. None. Zilch. They can all do this fine. If you can't get a decent IQ shot like this, you're doing something wrong. If you like one more than the other, it has nothing to do with the sensor format. If you think one has more "DR" than the other you are seeing the tone curve, they all have way more DR than the print can show. If you think one has more "resolution", they all have enough resolution, you are looking at the sharpening and the AA filter.

Now do what we landscapers do, and push and pull a bit. You might see some difference now, some of the older sensors might be troubled if they are also small. But none of the current generation. The above still applies.

Finally add high ISO. Ah. Well that, to me, is not IQ, it is noise performance. And here the lower res the sensor, the better, the newer, the better, the bigger, the better. So if noise is your main concern, don't go MFT. You want a current generation FF sensor of fairly low res. Probably best to hang on for the Nikon D4, which is rumoured to be 16MP and should have epic DR/noise performance. In the meantime the current Panasonic sensors are up with APS-C cropped sensor cameras, the Oly (also Panny) sensors are not. But really, if noise performance is your big thing, go get a full frame camera. Don't mix it up with IQ.

The next way of viewing a picture is for screen or web publication. Well, here you are not going to see any differences are you? Except for the high ISO stuff, and even there you can slather on NR and no one can tell.

And finally you can zoom right in on screen. And now you will see differences. One difference that regularly catches out the hard of thinking is that the higher the pixel count of the camera, the more "zoomed" in you are at 1:1. Noise which would never show on a print may now be visible in the sky and shadows etc. Again, the newer and the bigger the sensor the better the results tend to be here. But who, apart from you, is ever going to want to do this?

Conclusion: you can get perfectly good IQ out four thirds. A GH2 shot in half reasonable light will stand fine against anything from any normal dSLR (possibly not something with a huge back) at any rational print size. The idea that you will get "better" IQ out of a bigger sensor is nonsense. You can do some things with a bigger sensor you can't with four thirds, but then you can do some things with four thirds you can't with a bigger sensor....

Quick snap of the four cameras the two of us use side by side for size comparison. These days I tend to go out shooting with the GH2, it is so handy! The D3 I think I have just sold. Sniff. I will miss it. You can do some interesting things with one of those.

 Louis_Dobson's gear list:Louis_Dobson's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus E-M1 Panasonic Lumix G Fisheye 8mm F3.5 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH +7 more
Nikon D3 Nikon D4 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
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