SURVEY - Do FT / mFT users know the difference from "full frame"? Replies wanted!!

Started Apr 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
jrtrent Veteran Member • Posts: 4,520
sensor size seems a minor factor in image quality

dinoSnake wrote:

DigiMatt wrote:

dinoSnake wrote:

News flash: EVERYONE who bought into their systems KNOWS that their chosen format - CX, FT, mFT, APS-C and yes, even FF - will simply not give the same results as the next format size up.  It was a WILLFUL decision: a cost vs benefit ratio in terms of advantages versus disadvantages for exact and every camera format.

LOL, this so wrong its comical. I have a NEWSFLASH for you: The overwhelming majority of photographers DO NOT understand that their chosen format is an image quality compromise. There are hoards of m4/3, APS-C, and FF users here on DPReview who will go to the grave not understanding equivalence and the impact of sensor size on image quality. It's like Galileo Galilei  defending Nicolaus Copernicus ideas on heliocentrism to the Catholic church. It's not going over well.

So, is this true?  Using FT / mFT users as a test, do you understand "the impact of sensor size on image quality"?  What was your knowledge of this topic at the time you made your purchase decision of the cameras you are now using?  How did your purchase decision go in regards to this?

When I bought an E-300, and more recently an E-450, it was not because of sensor size issues.  I know that for many, sensor size is a major factor in image quality; in fact, Mason Resnick, long-time editor at Modern Photography and Popular Photography, has written that there are three factors that work together to determine image quality: resolution, sensor size, and ISO.  I don't see it that way.  Because I've gotten fully adequate image quality from tiny-sensored compacts as well as four thirds and APS-C DSLR's, I just don't see sensor size as having a major impact.  Sensor size impacts the focal lengths I'll want to shoot at and the aperture settings I'll need to get the depth of field I want, but I don't see it as having a major impact on image quality.

Perhaps it depends on what "image quality" means to different people.  For me, image quality means I have detail in both highlights and shadows, the image appears sharp, there is pleasing color and tonal gradations, there is an absence of annoyances like geometric distortion, chromatic aberrations, vignetting, and sensor dust issues.  Noise is an aspect of image quality that can be related to sensor size, but noise hasn't been a problem even for the smallest sensors I've used, provided I use them at or near their lowest ISO setting (after decades of shooting slide film with speeds from 25 to 100 ISO, keeping a digital camera at 80 or 100 ISO doesn't seem a great hardship).

It's the dust-control features and processing engines of a camera that are the biggest determinants of image quality for me, and Olympus long been regarded as among the leaders in those two areas.  The E-300 had an effective dust removal system, and, though not all aspects were built into the camera's processing at the time, the lenses would communicate data to the camera body for the automatic correction of things like geometric distortion and vignetting.  Their software also included an implementation of Apical's tone-mapping technology to get more detail in highlights and shadows.  Newer cameras put more of these image enhancing technologies right into the camera body for better out-of-camera image quality.  Image processing technologies, far more than sensor size, determine the image quality I'll get from my cameras.

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