OM-D E-M5 vs E-5 (build quality)

Started May 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
Great Bustard Forum Pro • Posts: 42,287
Re: even though this has degenerated ...

rovingtim wrote:

... at the core this is a very interesting discussion.

Well, I have tried to stick to the subject, which is why John King feels that 17 x 22 inch prints from the 5 MP E30 have no resolution advantage over 17 x 22 inch prints from the 5 MP E1, but it's real difficult (i.e., impossible) to get an answer to that question.

I too have printed images on my wall from the E1 and E3 and have challenged photographers to say which is from which (9 x 16 inches). One is a landscape and one is in an aircraft museum, both shot at 7 mm with lots of detail. None could.

Why do you think that is?  I listed possible reasons in a post above:

As we all know, we cannot get more resolution than what the camera captures.  The question, then, is how much of that detail the display medium can represent.

So, we are left with the following conclusions:

  • 5 MP records more detail than your eye can see at 17 x 22 inches.
  • The lenses used are not sharp enough to capture more detail on a sensor with more pixels.
  • The false detail introduced by upsampling is good enough to pass as real detail.
  • The effect of printing on resolution is similar to the effect of diffraction softening.

Let's discuss these points in more detail.  5 MP at 17 x 22 inches results in 116 PPI (pixels per inch), whereas 12 MP results in 179 PPI.

So, if we cannot perceive a difference between 116 PPI and 179 PPI, then we will not notice a difference between 5 MP and 12 MP.  Alternatively, the lenses used might not be sharp enough to result in any visible difference in resolution between 5 MP and 12 MP.

On the other hand, we can display the photo at any PPI we like by upsampling.  So, we could upsample both the 5 MP and 12 MP files to, such as 300 PPI (the "gold standard" of viewing resolution).  So, it may be that the additional false detail introduced in the 5 MP file over the 12 MP file when upsampling to 34 MP (300 PPI for a 17 x 22 inch print) cannot be visually distinguished from real detail.

Lastly, it might be exactly opposite.  That is, the resolution lost in printing is such that the 12 MP loses much more detail in the printing process than 5 MP, just as 12 MP will lose more detail than 5 MP at narrow apertures.  In other words, while 12 MP will always retain more detail than 5 MP, it will asymptotically lose that detail advantage as the aperture narrows, just as it may lose much of the detail advantage when being printed.

A good analogy to this last point in dynamic range.  Assuming that the darkest inks have a reflectivity near that of charcoal (1%) and that the paper itself is essentially 100% reflective, then the greatest continuous range of DR a print can display is 6.6 stops, which we can compare and contrast with the 10+ stops of DR that *all* modern sensors are capable of recording.

So, which do you think it is?  Or, perhaps, a combination of the above factors?  If there is an alternative I overlooked, please feel free to offer it and explain.

The reason this discussion interests me is 1) what is good enough? 2) are light or no AA's really a good thing? 3) the fact we almost always view images on a screen with "100%" 1 click away is influencing our idea of what good photography is about ... but is it in a good way?

In terms of AA filters, the AA filter on a 12 MP sensor will introduce less blur than a 5 MP sensor.  Even if the AA filter were so strong on a 12 MP sensor that it blurred out 2 pixels, we'd still be left with 6 MP on non-aliased pixels, whereas the 5 MP sensor would have either greater blur still due to it's own AA filter, or serious aliasing if no AA filter.

The "100%" interrogation certainly feeds our resolution lust. But what portion of excellent photography lives and dies on resolution?

I would say "little to none" for the vast majority of photography.  It's long been my opinion that 8 MP is *easily* enough for the vast majority.

There may be a skew in values here. Is it possible one facet of photography has been artificially elevated even though it has little to do with the art of photography ... because it serves the dark art of incremental gear lust?

I've been coming to the opinion that, with the exception of extreme situations such as massive prints viewed closely or low light photography with motion, for example, that the IQ differences between modern (and not so modern) systems have little to no effect on the success of a photo.

That said, in this particular case, I'm not asking why 12 MP didn't make a "better" photo than 5 MP -- I'm asking why the difference is not even visible to the naked eye for a 17 x 22 inch print.

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