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Started Sep 27, 2013 | Discussions thread
Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,865
Re: 35mm Film is somehow optimal for digital sensors?

brianric wrote:

Sean Nelson wrote:

brianric wrote:

Big Ga wrote:

A Q then. Why bother lugging around the very large and very heavy 24-70 when you could use say a 24-85 3.5-4.5 or whatever it is which is a fraction of the size/weight? (and probably around half the cost of the 12-40 olympus and probably not THAT far off the same weight either - bet its less than 100g difference, and the nikkor will effectively be faster since the 12-40 is going to be an equivalent 24-80/5.6))

We're not talking DOF, so please explain exposure wise how an Olympus f2.8 lens is an equivalent to a FF 5.6 lens.

It's equivalent in the sense that, for a given generation of sensor technology, pictures taken at the same shutter speed in low light with an M43 f/2.8 lens are just as noisy as those taken with a FF f/5.6 lens using a higher ISO to compensate for the difference in aperture. You can think of it as "noise equivalence".

That's the theory, anyway. In practice the actual gap in performance between M43 and FF seems to be a little less than a full 2 stops.

However that "equivalence" really only applies when you get down into light levels and enlargement ratios in which the noise becomes a factor in the quality of the final image. If you're not shooting in those conditions (or if you don't care about the noise) then it doesn't really matter.

I am a FF user, but the impression I get from some FF is they are terrified my M43 technology. There is no doubt FF has an advantage over M43 in noise, but at base ISO, or say up to ISO 400, do you think that it makes a difference.

No, it doesn't. As I said, it only really matters when you get to the point where noise actually becomes visible.

Too many people make the mistake of thinking that larger sensors give "better IQ". That's not true. What they do is give you more flexibility - that means, for example, being able to shoot in lower light, exert a greater range of control over DOF, reproduce the final image at a much larger size, or take advantage of special capabilities like continuous autofocus. When you don't need to deal with those kinds of conditions then a FF camera doesn't really do anything better than a camera with a smaller sensor.

The reason why so many M43 people are very happy with their cameras is that they don't need to shoot in those conditions, or that they've made the conscious choice to accept less-than-perfect images shot in those conditions in order to gain the of size and weight benefits of the system.

As sensor and image processing technology improves, and as better lenses (like the constant-aperture zooms) become available, the range of conditions for which M43 produces excellent results continues to expand. As soon as that range covers your particular needs then M43 becomes a good choice for you.

Of course exactly the same thing can be said everywhere up and down the sensor size spectrum.   The Sony RX100 has expanded the capabilities of a compact camera, for example.

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