Sunny day walkaround comparisons - 30X travel camera vs 10X MFT vs 10X FF

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gardenersassistant Veteran Member • Posts: 6,332
Sunny day walkaround comparisons - 30X travel camera vs 10X MFT vs 10X FF
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I have been comparing outdoors, sunny day images from three cameras: a Panasonic TZ90 30X zoom travel camera; a Panasonic G80 micro four thirds camera with a 14-140 lens; and a Sony A7ii full frame camera with a 24-240 lens.

You might ask "Why bother? It is obvious the full frame camera is going to produce better results than a superzoom tiny sensor travel camera. Nothing to see here." Well, it isn't obvious to me, for three reasons:

  • I produce images for web/screen viewing. At 1300 pixels high they are fairly small. They are intended for viewing "as is" and not for diving into and pixel peeping. I have seen comments here and elsewhere along the lines of "If you are only producing images for web viewing it doesn't matter much what camera you use", and I think there may be something in that.
  • I have done some quite careful comparisons of a full frame versus micro four thirds camera for close-ups of flowers (documented here and here). In that case, given my particular circumstances, there was little evidence of any image quality benefits from the larger sensor.
  • The superzoom has much greater reach than the other two setups, and I use it at full zoom sometimes. It is not obvious to me that images from the larger sensor cameras will be better when cropped to the same field of view as the superzoom at full zoom.

So, these are 24 scenes that I captured with each camera.

The 289 images I used to do the comparisons are in this album at Flickr. In this post I will illustrate some image quality comparisons. If anyone is interested enough to ask I will use a separate post to describe the approach I used and/or some other factors such as size, weight and usability of the three setups.

I compared image quality on screen using three image sizes: 1300 pixels high (which I will refer to as "Web Size"); 2160 pixels high ("4K Size") and 3400 pixels high ("Large Size", which is full size for the 16 mpix G80 images, and less than full size for the 20 mpix TZ90 images and 24 mpix A7ii images).

When comparing images, what differences one notices and whether they seem significant or not obviously depends on multiple factors including eyesight, viewing conditions, how closely one looks and personal preferences. In my case my eyesight is quite good, I was viewing on a calibrated screen in subdued light, and looking rather closely for differences. I suspect I regard smaller differences as significant than many people.

Comparing the Web Size images from the TZ90 and A7ii I thought that the A7ii produced better results for 16 of the scenes and the TZ90 produced better results for one scene. I did not think there were significant differences for the other 7 scenes.

The differences I noticed became more apparent at 4K Size, and more so again at Large Size.

The nature of the differences I noticed varied between scenes. Depending on the terminology one prefers, most of the differences could be described as one or more of: better detail/resolution; acutance/sharpness/edge definition; contrast/microcontrast; clarity/crispness/presence/punch.

Here are some examples of differences I noticed.

Note: in the screenshots that follow the A7ii version is on the left and the TZ90 version is on the right.

This first comparison uses 4K Size images to make the differences easier to see, but as with the other comparisons below, I noticed the differences in my first run through at Web Size.

As with a number of other scenes, the foliage looks noticeably better to me with the A7ii than with the TZ90.

Here is another example at 4K Size where the foliage looks better with the A7ii. In this case the church looks better too, for example the roof.

Here is the same comparison, this time at Web Size. In this case the A7ii near foliage looks clearly better to me and the distant foliage and the black and white house look slightly better to me, but I can't make out a difference in the church roof.

Comparing the house and distant foliage at Large Size reassures me that I was seeing real differences with the smaller sizes and not just imagining it.

I did comparisons like this, but with all three cameras, using all three sizes, for each of the 24 scenes. The previous example should give an indication of what degree of difference I am regarding as significant. You can tune the significance up or down depending on your own preferences etc.

Foliage rendition was one type of difference that seemed consistently better with the A7ii. Differences with buildings were less consistent. Here is a 4K Size comparison where the A7ii building is much better than with the TZ90, and there is plenty of foliage difference too.

On the other hand here at 4K Size is a comparison where I did not see much difference in the buildings or the distant foliage. However in the TZ90 image there is noise in the shadowed area of the red artwork and also in a blank area of a wall to the left of the artwork and elsewhere.

A Large Size comparison shows the extent of this TZ90 noise very clearly and the comparison with the clean A7ii image. Most of the TZ90 images had a speckled/noisy/crunchy look to them when viewed Large Size.

A lot of the TZ90 images seemed duller/less crisp than the A7ii images.

Continued in Part 2.

Panasonic G85 Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70 (Lumix DC-TZ90)
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