XT1 - Truly Superior IQ

Started Mar 29, 2014 | Discussions thread
Ray Sachs
Ray Sachs Forum Pro • Posts: 10,580
Re: Can you tell them apart? X-Trans and GX7 shots (and others)...

John Carson wrote:

Ray Sachs wrote:

If the differences only matter in controlled testing, then it becomes almost a philosophical question whether they matter.

I think this is a mistake. Medical researchers do controlled testing (at ever increasing levels of sophistication) to determine the relative efficacy of different drugs or, more generally, different treatment regimes. They do this because casual observation of outcomes involves too many variables for reliable inferences to be drawn.

Yet results on medical efficacy that are only apparent in controlled testing do make a difference in the real world. Using the better drugs means that clinical outcomes will be better, on average, than they would be with the inferior drugs.

In the same way, you may not be able to figure out which camera is better from a collection of random shots, but if one camera can be shown to be better in controlled tests, then the photos you take with it will be better, on average, than the same photos would be if taken with an inferior camera.

I hear you John, and I don't think we're coming from terribly different places. I know that at the margins of the most challenging shots, there are differences. From my experience (AND most of the testing I've looked at - the detailed measurable stuff to which you refer...), there are small but measurable differences between m43 and APS and much larger differences between either and full frame. I had an RX1 and loved it and spent a couple of months with a Nikon Df and loved the sensor but had mixed feelings about the whole DSLR experience (which I haven't really been into since the film SLR days, and those were very different beasts!).

If I had the tolerance for the size and weight of comparably fast full frame lenses to the APS and m43 stuff I shoot, I'd be a full frame guy. Because the measurable results are notably better and the situations where it's actually visible in real world shooting are frequent enough to matter. But I concluded I was only willing to shoot full frame with smaller lenses that generally are about a stop slower than what's available with APS (Fuji specifically) and m43. So what I was gaining with the sensor I was mostly losing with the slower, smaller glass. So the differences between what I actually would shoot with full frame vs APS/m43 at that point becomes very small and there's no compelling reason for me to go with full frame.

When I compared the results of the RX1 or Nikon Df with a 35mm f2.0 lens (which is exactly what I was using on the Nikon and the only choice on the RX1) to any APS Fuji with the 23mm f1.4, the differences get really really small. If I'd been willing to shoot the Df with a 35 f1.4 we'd have a different story, but that's a big, heavy, expensive lens. So here I am...

Of course, if the differences in controlled testing aren't that great, then differences in real world use won't be that great either.

Right, and as noted, they're not that great between APS and m43 (let alone between competing current APS sensors).

Personally, the Fuji hits the sweet spot for me in terms of the tradeoff between IQ and compactness. However, I don't have any problem with people using m4/3 rather than Fuji. As you say, the speed of the lens can be an equalizer, and there are a lot of other considerations that go into camera choice.

I'm in exactly the same place for most of my shooting. APS is the sweet spot for me and Fuji is an easy choice because of the handling of the cameras and the excellent range of prime lenses they've been developing for the system. The lenses are really most of it... The balance swings to m43 for me once I get into fast zooms or longer lenses because there the size difference between APS and m43 is fairly significant while the IQ differences are still quite small. And, coincidentally, I prefer the 3:2 aspect ratio for most of the types of shooting I do with primes and 4:3 for stuff like portraits and the kind of event shooting I usually do with zooms and longer lenses. So that all works out very fortuitously for me...

So I have a mixed system with APS (Fuji and Nikon Coolpix A) and m43. If I had to go one way or the other I could without a particularly notable difference in IQ, but I like the mix for the reasons noted. And I should probably note that I use the APS gear FAR more than the m43 gear. Not because of any difference in IQ, but because I just do a LOT more prime lens shooting than zoom or telephoto.

My point wasn't that there are NO differences, just that they're too small to justify the kinds of pronouncements that were being made in this thread and elsewhere about the clear and obvious superiority of Fuji's X-Trans sensors to anything else out there, and m43 in particular... I mean, if they really were so vast, one SHOULD be able to pick out the differences from a bunch of random photos taken with a bunch of different cameras...

We judge photographers by the photographs we see. We judge cameras by the photographs we miss - Haim Zamir

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