Thom Hogan: Impact of mFT on Nikon DX line

Started Sep 20, 2013 | Discussions thread
TrapperJohn Forum Pro • Posts: 16,488
Sergey, you and Gareth were right

in one respect.

The DR of the earlier 4/3 bodies stinks. Blown highlights, noisy shadows, and as soon as you touch anything in PP, here comes the banding and noise. The lovely photos posted on 1022 are really a testament to the skill and persistence of the operator, and the outstanding ZD glass. The bodies and the sensor... one tolerated them to get to the glass. My E3 sits on a shelf. Hasn't been used since around April, 2012, when I got one of the first EM5's.

This all changed with the EM5 and the Exmor sensor. It doesn't blow highlights, unless you really try. Crank the RAW's in PP, and detail comes out of the shadows, without noise or banding. I pulled a beautiful lightning shot out of a one minute night exposure of the EM5, that appeared to be hopelessly blown, would have been with the E3 sensor. Not the EM5, a crystal clear lightning bolt with details on the clouds came out of a big white blob when I cut highlights. Very impressive. And it now appears that the EM1 gains a stop of noise performance over the EM5.

I see what you and Gareth were talking about on Nikon's PP headroom - this is wonderful. 4/3 wasn't penalized by sensor size as much as it was penalized by a lousy sensor. That has been fixed, in grand style. Even Panasonic got its act in gear when the EM5 came out - the GX7's sensor is greatly improved over its predecessor.

As for the 'equivalence'... and the two stops advantage, that might have been true six or seven years ago. Not today. As of the EM5 and now EM1, sensor tech has pushed both 4/3 and FF sensors so high that the difference in performance has become largely academic, not visible in real world photographs. Don't take my word for it, that comes directly from a very knowledgable D800 owner - Michael Reichmann. DPR said pretty much the same in their EM5 review.

So my 35-100 F2 isn't the same as a 70-200 F4, it's the same as a 70-200 F2. When I replace that with the 40-150 F2.8, the size difference will be even more pronounced - the ZD 35-100 is not a size optimized lens. This advancement in lens size cannot be implemented on an APS or FF DSLR, without replacing the entire platform.

The DSLR design has become stagnant. It has gone about as far as it can go, held back by the mirror and prism, the legacy film sensor size, the legacy film lens mount, and the legacy film registration distance. Advancing sensor tech has pretty much eliminated the performance advantage of the larger sensor, while bokeh in software, just now coming out, may eliminate the DOF control advantage, especially when they couple that with the distance information that multiple sensor PDAF pixels have.

This is the future. This is where the photo industry is headed - the same or better quality, advanced and very useful VF features, and a fraction of the bulk. Even today, with CSC systems being relatively expensive due to the R&D costs that the DSLR amortized years ago, it is competitive. The cost difference will only shrink as CSC covers its original development expenses, and moves into profitability.

How out of touch are the big two? Nikon makes a public statement that the mirrorless market is no good. A couple of weeks later, here comes the EM1, that closes the performance gap further, while extending the size and weight advantage with the 12-40 F2.8.

Care to revise that statement, Nikon?

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