What really makes big sensors produce more appealing images? *Serious*

Started Mar 13, 2014 | Discussions thread
PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 13,980
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

knickerhawk wrote:

PerL wrote:

knickerhawk wrote:

PerL wrote:

My experience, besides my own, is that the photos I see from professionals in my job as magazine producer usually are FF and in general looks better than those from the few who uses smaller formats.

I'm curious, as a magazine producer, you're probably familiar with the extensive PS retouching that goes into images prepped for magazines. Do you agree with me that the Shumilova images posted as exemplars by the OP show obvious postprocessing in Photoshop (or similar tool)?

Yes, I can see that those have been skillfully post processed, but still you can't easily replicate them on smaller formats.

Since when did Photoshop only work on images produced by FF cameras? That's news to me.

I meant that even with Photoshop the look of those images are hard replicate with smaller formats. That she used a 135 2.0 lens also contributes.

The use of a great lens certainly helps, but of course great lenses aren't only made for FF mounts and even those can be easily adapted for m4/3. The particular Shumilova shot I analyzed in my first posting here was taken at f/2.5. The Oly 75mm wide open would have been very close with respect to the OOF background and adding more blur would have been a trivial PS exercise for that shot. (It's pretty clear that Shumilova did some extra PS blurring herself.)

You've now repeated your claim that it would be hard to replicate the Photoshop manipulations she did on images taken with smaller formats, but you haven't provided any explanation of why. Does it simply boil down to DOF/subject isolation? That's all you've got?

Final question: what does "more natural, richer, better tonality" mean when looking at significantly downsized jpegs posted on websites in the sRGB color space utilizing (mostly) 8 bit monitors?

Actually, I think you often can see it even in downsized jpegs. Here is just an example, which I also have seen printed in a 50x40 cm print . Click on the link and scroll to the image of Michael Phelps in profile (shot with a Nikon D3). How often do you see a shot with that tonality in contrasty light with a smaller sensor?


Nice shots. He's one of the great sports photogs for sure, but the tonality and the lighting conditions you're so impressed with don't look particularly unique to me. You want smooth, natural, rich tonality? Here you go:


Some of those have a healthy dose of PP as well, even more visible than the Shumilova images.

Kind of ironic that you're commenting on the "healthy dose" of PP in many of those m4/3 shots after claiming that it would be tough to replicate Shumilova's PS manipulations on images from smaller sensors. That's one of the reasons I chose the above site to link. Clearly, there's lots of postprocessing on many of those shots just like there's lots of postprocessing in Shumilova's images.

Yes, and I don't think any of those shots on the Oly site has the same look or character as Shumilovas images.

(And I'm still waiting for an actual explanation of how the so-called tonality advantages of FF translates to interpolated/downsized jpegs viewed online. You're not the first to claim they can see it, but what is it really that we're supposed to be able to see from those FF shots that won't be there in the cropped sensor shots?)

Its not visible in every shot, but in some. Since you did not see it the shot I referred to I don't if there is any point in referring to more. BTW Panasonic made an interesting experiment at the London Olympics, and hired a professional sports shooter to cover the games with a Panasonic G6 camera m43 camera, posting the results online daily. Unfortunatly even in the small sizes they did not look as good as the shots from the regular pros.

That was Dean Mouhtaropoulos, a Getty Images pro. He was using a pre-production G5, not a G6, and shot exclusively jpegs because there were no raw processing profiles for the G5 at that point. He was further limited in his lens choice to Lumix lenses due to this being a Panasonic-sponosored effort. That means he was using a number consumer-grade lenses in difficult lighting conditions on a CDAF AF body with a prior generation Panny sensor that's been significantly surpassed in DR and noise performance by more current m4/3 bodies.

He did have an early sample of the 35-100 2.8 "pro" lens. The murky colors and lack of clarity and punch vs the pro cameras stood out.

When all this is added up, it's basically impossible to sort out how much (if any) of factor the smaller sensor size, as such, played into the results he got. Having said that, I will gladly concede that m4/3 is still not the optimal choice for sports work. But we're straying far afield from the purported limitations cited in the original post that kicked off this thread.

You still haven't given me ANY explanation of how this magical "smoother, more natural, richer tonality" manifests itself in the typical online posted jpegs that you and others claim as proof. I always find it interesting that this magic quality is somehow so obvious yet so difficult to explain. It never ceases to amaze me how so many think that when they see a nice image on Flickr, the thing that makes it special is the sensor that took it. Somehow they can just intuit that its "smoothness" and "rich tonalities" etc. is directly attributable to the sensor and that the same photographer using the same lens (adapted) or a comparable native lens, using the same shooting/lighting setup and technique and similar or appropriately adjusted processing and editing would have been incapable of replicating that 950x650 pixel jpeg from a smaller sensor.

Maybe you get the chance to borrow or hire a good FF with some fast primes and form your own opinion. Every argument you put forward can be used by APS-C users too, and yet you never see any of those using both APS-C and FF claiming that there is no difference.

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