Confusion about M43 vs Full Frame ISO Performance

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Mebpenguin
Mebpenguin Contributing Member • Posts: 511
Confusion about M43 vs Full Frame ISO Performance
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I’ve been spending a good deal of time on DXOmark and the image comparison tool here on DPReview lately to try and understand what the real gap in ISO performance is between something like the 20mp m43 sensor and the various Sony full frame sensors for my style of shooting.

The typical rule based on sensor size, is that you should expect 1/4 the noise (or two stops worth of improvement) at the same measured ISO. When I look at the images in the DPReview image comparison tool and look at the “print” results on DXOmark, this holds up.

The confusion comes when I switch to the “screen” option on DXO. According to my understanding this compares pixel to pixel noise performance, instead of noise performance on average across the frame. When I choose this option I find that the difference between m43 and Sony full frame drops to around one stop.

Now, I understand that in most cases you’re going to be dealing with a compressed image, but I’m a widlife and bird photographer, which means I’m almost always cropping my images down. If I got a higher resolution sensor like 24 or 42 megapixels, I’d be using those megapixels to get closer to my subject, not to average out noise.

Given that use case, should I be looking at the “screen” measurements on DXO, or the “print” measurements?

Many thanks for the help!

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