Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

Started Oct 27, 2007 | Discussions
Amin Sabet
Amin Sabet Veteran Member • Posts: 6,763
Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

I don't think there's any way to really say one system has better corner sharpness than the other without comparing a heck of a lot of lenses. However, there's been so much speculation lately that I figured I'd do my part by posting one simple comparison.

Systems compared:

1) Canon 5D (35mm sensor) with EF 28mm f/2.8 prime - cheap lens with sharper corners at 28mm than the more expensive Canon 28mm f/1.8 copy I previously owned. Obviously this lens does not represent the ultimate in corner sharpness available for the 5D (that would require some very expensive glass), but it easily beats any consumer zoom available and also bested my 24-105L in corner sharpness. Look here for a comparison of 13 lenses at this focal length tested on a 5D, and you can see that the 28/2.8 is no slouch -> http://www.shiftlenses.com/Shop/Application/OwnWebPage.php?Id=17
2) Olympus E-410 with 14-42mm kit lens

The 5D was at ISO 800 with the 28mm lens stopped down to f/11
The E-410 was at ISO 200 with the kit lens at 14mm and f/5.6

Shutter speed with both systems was 1/250s. Unfortunately I left my tripod at my parents' home, so both systems were shot handheld. I picked the best of four shots in each case.

For processing, I converted from proprietary RAW to DNG in Lightroom and then processed in C1 4 beta using default sharpening (same for both cameras) and zero noise reduction.

More points to consider: 1) To compare these images, they should be examined at the same print size. I did not upres the E-410 photo or downres the 5D photo because the method used to do either could potentially introduce bias. Of course you can do this on your own. I printed them for comparison. 2) C1 doesn't have a specific color profile for the E-410. Color differences here are not representative of these camera models IMO. 3) These two lenses do not represent all lenses available for their given systems (duh). A cheap prime designed decades ago versus a cheap zoom designed recently. Etc.

My conclusions:

1) Softness in the extreme corners was clearly present on the Canon image and much more subtle with the Olympus image. 2) The overall detail rendered by the Canon system was greater. 3) Noise levels were comparable.

Here are the two images with full-res version and EXIFs available -> http://www.flickr.com/photos/asabet/sets/72157602740888437/detail/

Here they are as resized by Flickr. You can see the smearing in the extreme corners of the Canon shot even at this size:

In contrast, corner softness is barely apparent on the Olympus image at this size:

Here's a representative corner crop:

This crop shows the greater overall resolution and accutance of the particular Canon system used in this comparison.

Again, this is just one comparison. I don't have time to do this more systematically with more lenses at this time.

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paulbod2 Senior Member • Posts: 1,004
Re: Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

Theoretically a prime is expected to be sharper than a zoom.

For some reason, the same detail in the 5D image is 20% larger than the E-410, so cannot compare detail.

Amin Sabet
OP Amin Sabet Veteran Member • Posts: 6,763
Re: Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

paulbod2 wrote:

Theoretically a prime is expected to be sharper than a zoom.

Sure, there are all kinds of such considerations. The main purpose of this comparson was to show that the Four Thirds system doesn't have the same smearing in the extreme corners as the 35mm system in this particular comparison with these particular lenses. I think it shows that.

For some reason, the same detail in the 5D image is 20% larger than
the E-410, so cannot compare detail.

I referred to this issue in my original post. The reason for this is that the 5D has more total pixels. If I were to downres the 5D image or upres the Olympus image to get the same detail size, the 5D would still have far more detail. You can try that yourself. If you try printing them at equal size, you will see this as well. No doubt the Olympus would do better with a better lens. This comparison has many obvious limitations, but I think it has some worth.

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paulbod2 Senior Member • Posts: 1,004
Framing

My feeling is that if the vertical framing is the same, the difference is minimal, being the pixel number qquite similar. but on horizontal framing more.

4368x2912 vs 3648x2736

Amin Sabet
OP Amin Sabet Veteran Member • Posts: 6,763
On further examination, I wasn't quite fair to the E-410.

The 5D photo definitely looks a bit noiser here. To make this a more fair comparison from a detail standpoint, one could add Smart Sharpen, Amount 20%, Radius 0.3, Lens Blur, More Accurate in CS3 to the Olympus image. Then the noise levels come out more similar at the same print size, and the differences in detail lessen, though the Canon system still comes out clearly ahead in this area. The main purpose of this comparison, however, was not detail rendered. Rather, I was primarily comparing the relative dropoff at the extreme corners. Also, to re-state the obvious, the particular choice of lenses used obviously affects the final results, both with regards to detail and corner performance.

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Xargo Contributing Member • Posts: 850
Re: dng with E-410

Amin Sabet wrote:

For processing, I converted from proprietary RAW to DNG in Lightroom
and then processed in C1 4 beta using default sharpening (same for
both cameras) and zero noise reduction.

DNG-conversion messes the E-410 files. You get a lot more detail if you just process the .orf with acr. Actually even then E-410 can do a lot better as with Master/Studio you can turn off the noise reduction for superior detail. I'm sure your samples would be a lot better if processed in Master without NR.

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Amin Sabet
OP Amin Sabet Veteran Member • Posts: 6,763
Then I messed up.

Xargo wrote:

DNG-conversion messes the E-410 files. You get a lot more detail if
you just process the .orf with acr. Actually even then E-410 can do a
lot better as with Master/Studio you can turn off the noise reduction
for superior detail. I'm sure your samples would be a lot better if
processed in Master without NR.

I won't use Master (have enough RAW processing apps as it is), and I didn't want to use ACR because it applies a different amount of NR to the different cameras at baseline. Your point is well taken though. It seems I have done the E-410 a disservice. At any rate, the main outcome I was looking at was smearing in the extreme corners, and I think the results there are pretty clear for these two systems.

To partially address the point you raised, I've uploaded a screen shot of both images viewed in Lightroom without conversion to DNG here -> http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=1777894704&size=o&context=set-72157602740888437

You can also feel free to download the RAW files from here and play with them in Master or any other application if you like -> http://download.yousendit.com/702215142D2D883E

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Prognathous Veteran Member • Posts: 9,269
Re: Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

Thanks for posting this comparison. It would be interesting see both cameras at ISO 200 and f/5.6.

Prog.

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Ominous Veteran Member • Posts: 4,304
Re: Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

Amin Sabet wrote:

Shutter speed with both systems was 1/250s. Unfortunately I left my
tripod at my parents' home, so both systems were shot handheld. I
picked the best of four shots in each case.

What good is a test where you hand hold a camera when testing for sharpness?

I'd say get a tripod, shoot both at ISO 100, then talk.

Also comparing 100% crops of cameras with different total pixels is also pointless.
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Amin Sabet
OP Amin Sabet Veteran Member • Posts: 6,763
Re: Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

Ominous wrote:

What good is a test where you hand hold a camera when testing for
sharpness?

I wasn't testing primarily for sharpness. I was testing primarily for the presence of corner smearing. Other comments about detail captured were secondary and with the limitations clearly pointed out. Thanks for repeating the obvious, and if you don't get anything out of the comparison, then feel free to keep moving along.

Also comparing 100% crops of cameras with different total pixels is
also pointless.

So you think if I down-res'd the 5D image to match the E-410 size that the corner smearing would go away here?

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Amin Sabet
OP Amin Sabet Veteran Member • Posts: 6,763
Re: Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

Prognathous wrote:

Thanks for posting this comparison. It would be interesting see both
cameras at ISO 200 and f/5.6.

Prog.

Sure thing Prog. If I get some time, I'll do that one for you.
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joe mama Forum Pro • Posts: 12,623
Outfreakin'-standing!

I know you don't give a squat what I think, but I appreciate the test and completely agree with the results.

Thanks for this.

Plusiotis Senior Member • Posts: 1,014
You weren't quite fair because you are comparing a prime lens to a zoom

.. but even so ...... the Olympus does well!

joe mama Forum Pro • Posts: 12,623
Actually, more than fair.

Check out how the 28 / 2.8 fares against the 24-85 / 3.5-4.5 zoom:

28 / 2.8:

http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/canon_28_28/index.htm

24-85 / 3.5-4.5:

http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/canon_2485_3545/index.htm

The prime is actually worse in the corners.

.. but even so ...... the Olympus does well!

Yes, it does.

Charles Nguyen Senior Member • Posts: 1,068
4/3rds lens gives better coverage

to 4/3rd chip when compared to 35mm lenses/5D. Tell me if I'm wrong

Ominous Veteran Member • Posts: 4,304
Re: Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

I'm saying your test is anything but scientific, and thus is not a real test of any sort.

What variables are in control of?

None...so it's not a test at all.

Also....the prime you used is rather...lackluster...at best.
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Amin Sabet
OP Amin Sabet Veteran Member • Posts: 6,763
Re: 4/3rds lens gives better coverage

Charles Nguyen wrote:

to 4/3rd chip when compared to 35mm lenses/5D. Tell me if I'm wrong

That's basically how I interpret the results of this comparison. Whether these results can be generalized to other lenses for the two systems is unknown. From what I recall, my wide angle EF-S lenses (I had 10-22 and my dad had 17-55 IS) showed some smearing in the extreme corners on the APS-C sensor Canon DSLRs. Certainly my present and past compact digital cameras (D-LUX 2, G7, GX100, F30, etc) tend/tended to show smearing in the extreme corners at wide angles. Thus, I don't think the relatively intact corners shown here for Four Thirds is a strength of smaller sensors in general, but rather a strength of the Four Thirds system (with the generous assumption that the results here can be generalized).

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pidera Contributing Member • Posts: 926
The test is OK (obviously)

If anything, I would like to see more of these tests. Even without tripod. The results are indeed of more interest to people who (like me) often do handheld shooting in not so good available light. Thats when you have to do the shake - noise - DOF trade-offs.

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fldspringer Senior Member • Posts: 1,427
Careful what you ask for.

joe mama wrote:

Check out how the 28 / 2.8 fares against the 24-85 / 3.5-4.5 zoom:

28 / 2.8:

http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/canon_28_28/index.htm

24-85 / 3.5-4.5:

http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/canon_2485_3545/index.htm

The prime is actually worse in the corners.

Alway keep in mind that those tests are on a 1.6 crop sensor. The tester included on the resolution section:

"As hinted above the EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM received some rather mediocre reviews during the mid ´90s. However, all these reviews were based on full frame analysis. When looking at the original Canon MTF figures the lens is very good except at the borders. On APS-C DSLRs the borders reside way beyond the cropping factor and this also shows up in the Imatest measurements. On the EOS 350D the lens is capable to deliver a very good to even excellent center performance combined with marginally worse borders. Very impressive and basically as good as the pro-grade EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM L (again: just on APS-C DSLRs). :

It is a good replacement for that awful kit lens for the rebel stuff if you don't do much in the wide area.

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Jonas B Forum Pro • Posts: 14,596
Re: Corner sharpness: Four Thirds vs 35mm (bandwidth warning)

There are fanboys everywhere I guess. Maybe DPR has became a lifestyle for some of them?

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