Poll - Best image quality, smaller than APS-C; A) Good light, B) low light

Started Oct 30, 2012 | Discussions thread
Dave Lively Senior Member • Posts: 1,805
Re: camera aren't the issue

tko wrote:

Camera's are the last thing you should consider for image quality and low light. It's the lense. A big, sharp lens on a tiny sensor is better than a blurry, tiny one on a big sensor.

I disagree. While the lens matters a great deal the camera is very important too.

My first mirrorless camera was an Olympus EPL-2. After trying very hard to like it for a couple of months it ended up on Ebay. I had some other minor issues with the camera but the biggest problem for me was poor dynamic range in good light. In contrasty lighting I had to choose between blown out highlights or noisy shadows even at base ISO. Judged just on this one aspect it did not seem much better than the compact Canon S95 I wanted it to replace. No lens can correct poor dynamic range. The same is true for color depth. One of my biggest complaints about small sensor compacts is how the photos sometimes look like a paint by numbers painting with a limited palette.

After I sold the Olympus I bought a NEX-5N and it does much better in high contrast lighting. It probably has better color depth but I thought the Olympus had enough so that was not a big deal. It also has less noise at high ISO. I am assuming the OP is talking about mirrorless cameras and most of them offer at least one fast prime. The only fast prime available when I bought the NEX was the 50mm f1.8 which is longer than I wanted but works well. If the OP is looking at systems that all offer fast primes the choice comes down to the camera. In low light the NEX-5N with one of the f1.8 primes now available would be a better choice than the EPL-2 with any of the fast m43 lenses.

Since I bought the NEX Olympus has introduced cameras with better sensors and Sony has introduced more lenses, including a 35mm prime that would suit me better than the 50mm I have. But when I bought the camera the better performance of the NEX sensor gave me better image quality than the Olympus could with any of the lenses available for it. Nobody buys a NEX for the lens quality or selection. But I get better image quality than I could from the EPL-2 with any lens. If I made large prints I might feel differently but for me image quality is more than low light performance and resolution.

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