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

Started Mar 13, 2014 | Discussions
knickerhawk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,063
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

PerL wrote:

...that is what you hear from Nikon and Canon people upgrading from APS-C to FF. From those who has no upgrade path (m43, Pentax, Fuji, Samsung etc) you will here that there is no difference.

It's no surprise that everyone is biased toward their own favorite equipment, but how much of a difference is there when you remove that crutch?

http://robinwong.blogspot.com/2013/10/moving-on-to-micro-four-thirds-and-klpf.html

http://www.cnet.com.au/olympus-om-d-versus-a-full-frame-camera-339338741.htm

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)?

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?

Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

PerL wrote:

...that is what you hear from Nikon and Canon people upgrading from APS-C to FF. From those who has no upgrade path (m43, Pentax, Fuji, Samsung etc) you will here that there is no difference.

I believe it is a combination of many things that gives a different look.

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.

You are confusing correlation with causation, happens a lot don't worry. Here's the context to remember. People who NEED FF advantages, not the ones from the sensor, but the other ones like huge battery life, superb weather sealing, world class AF, they buy FF. Those who insist on having the best in the world are more likely to be skilled. There is likely a greater percentage of high skill shooters who go for FF rather than smaller sensors, and those skills are what often bring the better photos.

The technical aspects of the sensor are no different, other than the x stops difference i posted above. Most beginners are not going to buy a $7,000 camera, but pros will. Most beginners won't buy a $10,000 zoom but pros will. It's the advantages of the gear that are not sensor related that attract pros, and all that combined with high level skill often results in these amazing photos. Will a stop or two of ISO make or break a shot? Maybe sometimes, but getting AF spot on or metering perfectly can be a big issue.

Sensor size mistakenly gets all the attention, when it should be about camera features and lenses. That plus the skill of the shooter of course.

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bobn2
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 53,177
Re: What really makes big sensors produce more appealing images? *Serious*
1

A pixel on a D800 is IDENTICAL to a pixel on a 16mp apsc camera. It simply has less gain and less DOF for a given scene.

There is no change in gain. A D800 pixel will have the same conversion gain as a D7000 pixel (assuming they have essentially the same design) and the voltage gain applied before the ADC will be the same. Overall the function between the number of photons counted (which should be the same at the same exposure) and the output image tone will be just the same. Most of the rest of what you said was right, but the gain thing is wrong.

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Bob

Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: What really makes big sensors produce more appealing images? *Serious*

PerL wrote:

Have you owned a FF and being able to compare yourself?

Im a very well known techie, im a gearhead, look through my history. I have researched the GEAR for years, if you have information that i do not please share it. If you have a reason to believe that a pixel from the D800, one pixel, is superior to one pixel from a D7000 please share. If not you are just arguing for the sake of it. Modern sensors are all from the same batch dude, some just have more area than others. They match the lenses to the sensors, adjust gain and F stops to work SS even between formats.

Like i said if you have a link or something showing how one pixel is different from another im sure we would all love to see it. I have never owned a Nikon 1 series camera but im pretty sure it follows the same linear path that i already explained. Plus, there are slews of samples from every format all over the internet, why would i need my own samples to come to an intelligent conclusion?

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papillon_65
papillon_65 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,030
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality
1

Ontario Gone wrote:

PerL wrote:

...that is what you hear from Nikon and Canon people upgrading from APS-C to FF. From those who has no upgrade path (m43, Pentax, Fuji, Samsung etc) you will here that there is no difference.

I believe it is a combination of many things that gives a different look.

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.

You are confusing correlation with causation, happens a lot don't worry. Here's the context to remember. People who NEED FF advantages, not the ones from the sensor, but the other ones like huge battery life, superb weather sealing, world class AF, they buy FF. Those who insist on having the best in the world are more likely to be skilled. There is likely a greater percentage of high skill shooters who go for FF rather than smaller sensors, and those skills are what often bring the better photos.

The technical aspects of the sensor are no different, other than the x stops difference i posted above. Most beginners are not going to buy a $7,000 camera, but pros will. Most beginners won't buy a $10,000 zoom but pros will. It's the advantages of the gear that are not sensor related that attract pros, and all that combined with high level skill often results in these amazing photos. Will a stop or two of ISO make or break a shot? Maybe sometimes, but getting AF spot on or metering perfectly can be a big issue.

Sensor size mistakenly gets all the attention, when it should be about camera features and lenses. That plus the skill of the shooter of course.

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"Run to the light, Carol Anne. Run as fast as you can!"

Going from the smallest sensors through to the largest you get better colour depth as the size increases, that's clear to see in images and shown in colour depth scores in DXOmark, it's not a figment of anyone's imagination.

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PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 13,681
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

knickerhawk wrote:

PerL wrote:

...that is what you hear from Nikon and Canon people upgrading from APS-C to FF. From those who has no upgrade path (m43, Pentax, Fuji, Samsung etc) you will here that there is no difference.

It's no surprise that everyone is biased toward their own favorite equipment, but how much of a difference is there when you remove that crutch?

http://robinwong.blogspot.com/2013/10/moving-on-to-micro-four-thirds-and-klpf.html

http://www.cnet.com.au/olympus-om-d-versus-a-full-frame-camera-339338741.htm

Robin Wong is employed or at least paid by Olympus, CNET are not professionals. But anyway, my argument was that you don't see people who uses APS-C and FF in the same system, which is possible if you have a Canon/Nikon and lately Sony, claiming that there is no difference vs APS-C and FF.

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.

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?

http://www.joelmarklund.com/?galleries=swimming

Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: What really makes big sensors produce more appealing images? *Serious*

bobn2 wrote:

A pixel on a D800 is IDENTICAL to a pixel on a 16mp apsc camera. It simply has less gain and less DOF for a given scene.

There is no change in gain. A D800 pixel will have the same conversion gain as a D7000 pixel (assuming they have essentially the same design) and the voltage gain applied before the ADC will be the same. Overall the function between the number of photons counted (which should be the same at the same exposure) and the output image tone will be just the same. Most of the rest of what you said was right, but the gain thing is wrong.

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Bob

I will take your word bob as i know you know your stuff, but how does this work then. Same ISO, same SS, same F stop, FF ends up with less noise. We know that the actual aperture is larger for the FF than a MFT, regardless of what the F stop says. So an F2 MFT lens lets the same amount of light through as an F4 FF lens. So setting them both at F4 means the MFT camera is getting two stops light less, and if that is true, how else do they end up with equal SS besides a gain increase per ISO stop?

Im curious to this one aspect here. How does a camera that is missing 2 stops of photons get the same SS without increasing gain? There are only two real pillars of exposure, aperture and SS, gain is the "fake" third pillar since it's not actually affecting photon count. Am i wrong in this understanding?

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Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

papillon_65 wrote:

Going from the smallest sensors through to the largest you get better colour depth as the size increases, that's clear to see in images and shown in colour depth scores in DXOmark, it's not a figment of anyone's imagination.

LOL hey Tony, here we are again. You are right, but if you adjust each format with an ISO handicap equal to it's crop factor, they even out. What would this suggest other than an innate gain change that corresponds to the format?

We can take any sensor size, FF vs apsc, FF vs MFT, FF vs 1", or any combination therein. It works almost like clockwork. At equal ISO yes the larger it is, the better the numbers. But, if you adjust the FF up by the crop factor of the smaller sensor, the numbers match. Im not saying this is "better", but it is what it is.

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 9,509
If there was no advantage
7

Pasmia wrote:

I've been using point and shoot cameras for a number of years and I've finally migrated on over to ILCs with M43 cameras about three years ago. My IQ dramatically increased, but I'm still not getting images that other people are capable of with their full frame monster cameras. Before the obvious answers roll in, please read further.

At first, I figured it was depth of field. M43, with is 1/4 size sensor, in comparison to FF, doesn't isolate its subjects with respective focal lengths nearly as much and therefore, it can create a really different feel for equivalent framing (ie: 25mm on M43 @ 1.4 is nothing like 50mm on FF @ 1.4). So, I went out and bought the Panasonic/Leica 25mm/f1.4 and the Olympus 45mm/f1.8. I was able to mimic multiple shallow DoF styled photos and even bought some diopters for some ridiculously "bokehlicious" macro shots. This brought my IQ up even more but it was still not quite there.

My next theory was dynamic range. My Lumix G3 camera was lacking this department, in comparison to the Canon 5D II which has become my reference point for IQ (just due to popularity, not bias against Nikon or anything). My Lumix G3 scored a 10.6Evs vs the 5Dii's 11.9Evs on DXO. At this point, I start shooting HDRs to make up for this inadequacy and immediately noticed an improvement in IQ, yet again. I try not to overdue the post processing of HDRs, and simply use it as a tool to expand the DR of my camera. Well, fast forward to the present and I am now with an Olympus E-P5, which has a score of 12.4Evs, and still, I feel like my camera is lacking in comparison to the 5Dii.

Whenever I find myself trying to shoot with my camera's greatest potential, I only shoot at a fixed base ISO. I set my aperture, almost always at f4.0/f5.6 (M43 sweet spot). I'm still using multiple exposures and blending in post (HDR'ish). But I still find IQ lacking.

What I'm finding is that images from cameras like the 5D ii/iii, 6D, Leica M, Sony A7/r, D800/D600 are BOLD. Images seem to be wet, even on my computer screen. Images from M43 cameras seem to have a white sheen over them. It's like there's a certain "fill" that's lacking. Highlights are blown, shadows are muddy, colors are lacking, and there is no "POP" in the images.

I'm beginning to think that the IQ differences I'm looking at is simply a post processing technique that I'm somehow overlooking. If I'm on 500PX, I can find about one in 50 shots from an Olympus camera that actually looks great and is practically indistinguishable from a D800 or other FF camera. However, when I look at something like 5DII images in 500px, practically every other image exudes jaw dropping IQ.

Of my personal collection, I think I literally have a dozen shots, if that, from the past three years, that are indistinguishable from a full frame camera's IQ. My issue, or my concern, is in my snapshots. The shots that I don't spend time calculating exposure and setting up lighting or a tripod. These shots suck. The only snapshots I have that I like are only good because they were composed well or I caught a great moment, but these shots look good with any camera, even my iPhone. I want these shots to be nice in IQ as well, not just the shots I spend hours calculating and post processing and composing and touching up and going back repeating my touch ups.

I do find it possible that maybe it really is just the photographer. I do find it possible that maybe better photographers just so happen to have these cameras that make images that I'm comparing my images to. Maybe, these cameras just so happen to be just another camera model, but happen to attract the people that are capable of producing these types of pictures. I do find it possible that this is true, I just don't believe that it is.

This is the first casual shot I could find from a 5DII on 500PX. It has a lot of what I find is great IQ. The image itself is ok. But the color, the boldness, the gradient, it's just so... perfect.

http://500px.com/photo/57384990

This is sort of similar shot from and Olympus EM5. It's got a lot of similarities to the above shot but it is lacking. The gradients don't blend as well, IMO. The colors don't pop. There's the sheen I was talking about earlier (granted, fog is a bad example for this, I know). The picture doesn't feel ALIVE like the above shot.

http://500px.com/photo/57384990

This image here is another 5Dii. It's so spectacular, I wish there was another shot of this exact moment with a M43 camera so I can rest at ease that it really is when, where, and who that matter rather than what gear.

http://500px.com/photo/2029587

This picture here shows that Olympus is capable of images that I can't distinguish from a FF camera. It took me 8 pages to find an image that I felt this away about on 500px and I still look at the close rock a bit hesitantly, but the sky and water is remarkable.

http://500px.com/photo/54968996

Any thoughts or general discussion is much appreciated. I'm not looking for a brawl on big vs small sensor, I'm just trying to understand things a bit more. If there's someone that knows exactly what the IQ difference I'm seeing is, I'd love to hear it.

There would not be any NEED for FF DSLRs for pro photographers for weddings, sports ..anything really.   The new Nikon V3 would be all a pro would need.

Think about it, why spend money making something much bigger than it needs to be.

For most people a phone camera is enough.

I love using different formats to get a different angle of view, often with the same lens and have used a Pentax Q, M4/3, APSC and FF digital and larger with film.

There IS a difference....there just is.    It will not often be a big difference and for many not worth the cost difference but the Sony A7 is affordable to me and for somethings is just a nicer camera than all the others I have used....for other things (macro, longer tele stuff) I would prefer a smaller format most of the time.

PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 13,681
Re: What really makes big sensors produce more appealing images? *Serious*
2

Ontario Gone wrote:

PerL wrote:

Have you owned a FF and being able to compare yourself?

Im a very well known techie, im a gearhead, look through my history. I have researched the GEAR for years, if you have information that i do not please share it. If you have a reason to believe that a pixel from the D800, one pixel, is superior to one pixel from a D7000 please share. If not you are just arguing for the sake of it. Modern sensors are all from the same batch dude, some just have more area than others. They match the lenses to the sensors, adjust gain and F stops to work SS even between formats.

Like i said if you have a link or something showing how one pixel is different from another im sure we would all love to see it. I have never owned a Nikon 1 series camera but im pretty sure it follows the same linear path that i already explained. Plus, there are slews of samples from every format all over the internet, why would i need my own samples to come to an intelligent conclusion?

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Well , check this. Here are first samples from a 12 mp super zoom - whole image and then a crop.

Crop:

12 mp image from FF (Nikon D3s), whole image and crop:

Crop:

There is certainly a difference in the quality of the pixels. In fact, I guess you would never have known that the image above was a crop unless I mentioned it, because the FF sensor has such reserves and "meat" that the tonality is pretty good despite the heavy crop.

papillon_65
papillon_65 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,030
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

Ontario Gone wrote:

papillon_65 wrote:

Going from the smallest sensors through to the largest you get better colour depth as the size increases, that's clear to see in images and shown in colour depth scores in DXOmark, it's not a figment of anyone's imagination.

LOL hey Tony, here we are again. You are right, but if you adjust each format with an ISO handicap equal to it's crop factor, they even out. What would this suggest other than an innate gain change that corresponds to the format?

Yes indeed

We can take any sensor size, FF vs apsc, FF vs MFT, FF vs 1", or any combination therein. It works almost like clockwork. At equal ISO yes the larger it is, the better the numbers. But, if you adjust the FF up by the crop factor of the smaller sensor, the numbers match. Im not saying this is "better", but it is what it is.

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Well sensor efficiency is the key in my fairly limited understanding. Take for instance m4/3's, which I know very well. The EPL-1 had a relatively inefficient Panasonic sensor and has quite a distinctive contrasty image quality (one I quite like actually). Now compare it to an E-M5 (A camera which I also owned) and you will see much smoother results because it has a newer more efficient Sony sensor. The sensor size is the same but the difference in colour depth is 1.3 in favour of the E-M5 and the signal to noise ratio is also better on the E-M5 because of it's more efficient sensor. I can definitely see a difference in the files from these camera in terms of tonality and richness. My Canon 5D2, an older FF camera still outscores the current best m4/3's camera, the E-M1 in terms of colour depth. The difference is now pretty small but it will be larger on a newer full frame camera with a newer more efficient sensor so colour depth must have some correlation with sensor size ( Amount of light hitting the larger sensor ). Combine that with differences in dof and I believe that this is the difference you can see in the end results on the larger formats. For instance, wide angle shallow depth of field is a look you can achieve easily in FF, add the increased colour depth and you have your visible difference IMHO. Sometimes it is very minimal, at other times much more noticeable, depending on the lens and camera (sensor) used, which are both key variables.

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Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

PerL wrote:

Robin Wong is employed or at least paid by Olympus, CNET are not professionals. But anyway, my argument was that you don't see people who uses APS-C and FF in the same system, which is possible if you have a Canon/Nikon and lately Sony, claiming that there is no difference vs APS-C and FF.

Lets do an experiment. Lets say the fastest FF lens is the 85 F1.2. Slap it on the 5DIII. Now lets say there is a 22mp apsc camera that is exactly one stop worse in IQ, in otherwords, when you stop ISO down one stop on the apsc camera, the DXO charts test them even for noise/DR/tone/color. Now, give that apsc camera the AF system found in the 1DX, and the metering system, give it a larger grip and a battery that lasts for 3000 shots. Give it the same OVF, and all the ergonomic and button benefits the 1DX has. Now, give that apsc body a 57mm (85.5mm equiv), F0.9 lens.

Only judging with the two cameras and their above lenses attached, are they equal? Yes, they are. Now before you shout about no camera existing, you are right, but not because it can't, they just haven't made it yet. Like i said earlier, pros tend to run towards bigger sensors, so brands tend to throw the best features into those. It has nothing to do though with the innate limitations of sensor size, any sensor can be slapped into anybody. If the above APSC camera was announced tomorrow, several people in this forum would have their foot in their mouth.

With the miniaturization of it all, it's only a matter of time before somebody starts throwing real pro features into smaller sensor cameras. Sony and Olympus are trying hard with the A6k and EM1. When it all converges but with a smaller sensor, you will pros flock by the thousands, along with people like me. Not that they will ditch their FF cameras, but it would still prove a point.

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Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

papillon_65 wrote:

Well sensor efficiency is the key in my fairly limited understanding. Take for instance m4/3's, which I know very well. The EPL-1 had a relatively inefficient Panasonic sensor and has quite a distinctive contrasty image quality (one I quite like actually). Now compare it to an E-M5 (A camera which I also owned) and you will see much smoother results because it has a newer more efficient Sony sensor. The sensor size is the same but the difference in colour depth is 1.3 in favour of the E-M5 and the signal to noise ratio is also better on the E-M5 because of it's more efficient sensor. I can definitely see a difference in the files from these camera in terms of tonality and richness. My Canon 5D2, an older FF camera still outscores the current best m4/3's camera, the E-M1 in terms of colour depth. The difference is now pretty small but it will be larger on a newer full frame camera with a newer more efficient sensor so colour depth must have some correlation with sensor size ( Amount of light hitting the larger sensor ). Combine that with differences in dof and I believe that this is the difference you can see in the end results on the larger formats. For instance, wide angle shallow depth of field is a look you can achieve easily in FF, add the increased colour depth and you have your visible difference IMHO. Sometimes it is very minimal, at other times much more noticeable, depending on the lens and camera (sensor) used, which are both key variables.

Yes true, but again this has nothing to do with sensor size, it has to do with the specific technology of the brand of sensor. I see no evidence that FF sensors are made with superior generational technology than smaller sensors. In fact we kinda see the opposite, the EM1 has a Panasonic MFT sensor, and it's DR matches most current apsc sensors, by any manufacturer. This again doesn't prove anything about sensor size, which was more to my point.

To go a step further, if we are to believe Panasonic and Fuji, MFT is poised to get a huge boost in IQ. Between their color filter and organic sensor, both releases pending, they claim a massive DR gain and a 1.1 stop gain in noise performance. Now, imagine if they decided to make a FF sensor with this technology. 

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PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 13,681
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality
1

Ontario Gone wrote:

PerL wrote:

Robin Wong is employed or at least paid by Olympus, CNET are not professionals. But anyway, my argument was that you don't see people who uses APS-C and FF in the same system, which is possible if you have a Canon/Nikon and lately Sony, claiming that there is no difference vs APS-C and FF.

Lets do an experiment. Lets say the fastest FF lens is the 85 F1.2. Slap it on the 5DIII. Now lets say there is a 22mp apsc camera that is exactly one stop worse in IQ, in otherwords, when you stop ISO down one stop on the apsc camera, the DXO charts test them even for noise/DR/tone/color. Now, give that apsc camera the AF system found in the 1DX, and the metering system, give it a larger grip and a battery that lasts for 3000 shots. Give it the same OVF, and all the ergonomic and button benefits the 1DX has. Now, give that apsc body a 57mm (85.5mm equiv), F0.9 lens.

In some ways Nikon did that with the D300 and the D700, almost identical except for the difference in sensor size. Of course the sensor performance was not equal, but isn't that natural - it will always be easier to produce better performance on a bigger sensor.

One may also note that almost seven years after its introduction no APS-C or m43 camera comes close to the low light performance of a Nikon D3/D700.

Only judging with the two cameras and their above lenses attached, are they equal? Yes, they are. Now before you shout about no camera existing, you are right, but not because it can't, they just haven't made it yet. Like i said earlier, pros tend to run towards bigger sensors, so brands tend to throw the best features into those. It has nothing to do though with the innate limitations of sensor size, any sensor can be slapped into anybody. If the above APSC camera was announced tomorrow, several people in this forum would have their foot in their mouth.

With the miniaturization of it all, it's only a matter of time before somebody starts throwing real pro features into smaller sensor cameras. Sony and Olympus are trying hard with the A6k and EM1. When it all converges but with a smaller sensor, you will pros flock by the thousands, along with people like me. Not that they will ditch their FF cameras, but it would still prove a point.

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papillon_65
papillon_65 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,030
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality
1

Ontario Gone wrote:

papillon_65 wrote:

Well sensor efficiency is the key in my fairly limited understanding. Take for instance m4/3's, which I know very well. The EPL-1 had a relatively inefficient Panasonic sensor and has quite a distinctive contrasty image quality (one I quite like actually). Now compare it to an E-M5 (A camera which I also owned) and you will see much smoother results because it has a newer more efficient Sony sensor. The sensor size is the same but the difference in colour depth is 1.3 in favour of the E-M5 and the signal to noise ratio is also better on the E-M5 because of it's more efficient sensor. I can definitely see a difference in the files from these camera in terms of tonality and richness. My Canon 5D2, an older FF camera still outscores the current best m4/3's camera, the E-M1 in terms of colour depth. The difference is now pretty small but it will be larger on a newer full frame camera with a newer more efficient sensor so colour depth must have some correlation with sensor size ( Amount of light hitting the larger sensor ). Combine that with differences in dof and I believe that this is the difference you can see in the end results on the larger formats. For instance, wide angle shallow depth of field is a look you can achieve easily in FF, add the increased colour depth and you have your visible difference IMHO. Sometimes it is very minimal, at other times much more noticeable, depending on the lens and camera (sensor) used, which are both key variables.

Yes true, but again this has nothing to do with sensor size, it has to do with the specific technology of the brand of sensor. I see no evidence that FF sensors are made with superior generational technology than smaller sensors. In fact we kinda see the opposite, the EM1 has a Panasonic MFT sensor, and it's DR matches most current apsc sensors, by any manufacturer. This again doesn't prove anything about sensor size, which was more to my point.

That was effectively what I said with one caveat, assuming that two different size sensors are equally efficient, the larger one will perform better at the same gain on account of it receiving more light, in the case of FF vs m4/3's that will be 4 times more light at equal apertures. That translates into better colour depth and hence the appearance of a richer, smoother look.

To go a step further, if we are to believe Panasonic and Fuji, MFT is poised to get a huge boost in IQ. Between their color filter and organic sensor, both releases pending, they claim a massive DR gain and a 1.1 stop gain in noise performance. Now, imagine if they decided to make a FF sensor with this technology.

Absolutely, I fully expect my 5D2 to be surpassed in time by m4/3's cameras in terms of performance, it's inevitable. The dof control will still be better on the Canon, and some other physical advantages (well advantages for me anyway, such as battery life) but that'll be it. However, technology improvements in a smaller sensor can be made in the larger sensor as well and then the gap in IQ will remain ( depending on patents of course ).

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Just another Canon shooter
Just another Canon shooter Senior Member • Posts: 4,691
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality
1

papillon_65 wrote:

Absolutely, I fully expect my 5D2 to be surpassed in time by m4/3's cameras in terms of performance, it's inevitable.

If by that you mean noise at the same ISO (exposure), and if you believe sensorgen, that will never happen. The m43 sensor has to have QE=132%, which is a bit over the top.

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Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: What really makes big sensors produce more appealing images? *Serious*

That is a completely unfair comparison per pixel. 1/500ss vs 1/2000, and ISO 200 vs ISO 400. Doing the math for a 6x crop factor, raising the ISO of the FF by 6 stops, if you shoot the superzoom at ISO 200, shoot the FF at 12,800. Also set your aperture 6 stops slower. I know this is not realistic but if you want to offer the same amount of light per area of the sensor, and do so at the same SS, this should be accurate. Either way comparing those differing SS does nothing to prove a pixel vs pixel argument.

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Morris Sullivan Veteran Member • Posts: 9,643
Re: If there was no advantage

neil holmes wrote:

Pasmia wrote:

I've been using point and shoot cameras for a number of years and I've finally migrated on over to ILCs with M43 cameras about three years ago. My IQ dramatically increased, but I'm still not getting images that other people are capable of with their full frame monster cameras. Before the obvious answers roll in, please read further.

At first, I figured it was depth of field. M43, with is 1/4 size sensor, in comparison to FF, doesn't isolate its subjects with respective focal lengths nearly as much and therefore, it can create a really different feel for equivalent framing (ie: 25mm on M43 @ 1.4 is nothing like 50mm on FF @ 1.4). So, I went out and bought the Panasonic/Leica 25mm/f1.4 and the Olympus 45mm/f1.8. I was able to mimic multiple shallow DoF styled photos and even bought some diopters for some ridiculously "bokehlicious" macro shots. This brought my IQ up even more but it was still not quite there.

My next theory was dynamic range. My Lumix G3 camera was lacking this department, in comparison to the Canon 5D II which has become my reference point for IQ (just due to popularity, not bias against Nikon or anything). My Lumix G3 scored a 10.6Evs vs the 5Dii's 11.9Evs on DXO. At this point, I start shooting HDRs to make up for this inadequacy and immediately noticed an improvement in IQ, yet again. I try not to overdue the post processing of HDRs, and simply use it as a tool to expand the DR of my camera. Well, fast forward to the present and I am now with an Olympus E-P5, which has a score of 12.4Evs, and still, I feel like my camera is lacking in comparison to the 5Dii.

Whenever I find myself trying to shoot with my camera's greatest potential, I only shoot at a fixed base ISO. I set my aperture, almost always at f4.0/f5.6 (M43 sweet spot). I'm still using multiple exposures and blending in post (HDR'ish). But I still find IQ lacking.

What I'm finding is that images from cameras like the 5D ii/iii, 6D, Leica M, Sony A7/r, D800/D600 are BOLD. Images seem to be wet, even on my computer screen. Images from M43 cameras seem to have a white sheen over them. It's like there's a certain "fill" that's lacking. Highlights are blown, shadows are muddy, colors are lacking, and there is no "POP" in the images.

I'm beginning to think that the IQ differences I'm looking at is simply a post processing technique that I'm somehow overlooking. If I'm on 500PX, I can find about one in 50 shots from an Olympus camera that actually looks great and is practically indistinguishable from a D800 or other FF camera. However, when I look at something like 5DII images in 500px, practically every other image exudes jaw dropping IQ.

Of my personal collection, I think I literally have a dozen shots, if that, from the past three years, that are indistinguishable from a full frame camera's IQ. My issue, or my concern, is in my snapshots. The shots that I don't spend time calculating exposure and setting up lighting or a tripod. These shots suck. The only snapshots I have that I like are only good because they were composed well or I caught a great moment, but these shots look good with any camera, even my iPhone. I want these shots to be nice in IQ as well, not just the shots I spend hours calculating and post processing and composing and touching up and going back repeating my touch ups.

I do find it possible that maybe it really is just the photographer. I do find it possible that maybe better photographers just so happen to have these cameras that make images that I'm comparing my images to. Maybe, these cameras just so happen to be just another camera model, but happen to attract the people that are capable of producing these types of pictures. I do find it possible that this is true, I just don't believe that it is.

This is the first casual shot I could find from a 5DII on 500PX. It has a lot of what I find is great IQ. The image itself is ok. But the color, the boldness, the gradient, it's just so... perfect.

http://500px.com/photo/57384990

This is sort of similar shot from and Olympus EM5. It's got a lot of similarities to the above shot but it is lacking. The gradients don't blend as well, IMO. The colors don't pop. There's the sheen I was talking about earlier (granted, fog is a bad example for this, I know). The picture doesn't feel ALIVE like the above shot.

http://500px.com/photo/57384990

This image here is another 5Dii. It's so spectacular, I wish there was another shot of this exact moment with a M43 camera so I can rest at ease that it really is when, where, and who that matter rather than what gear.

http://500px.com/photo/2029587

This picture here shows that Olympus is capable of images that I can't distinguish from a FF camera. It took me 8 pages to find an image that I felt this away about on 500px and I still look at the close rock a bit hesitantly, but the sky and water is remarkable.

http://500px.com/photo/54968996

Any thoughts or general discussion is much appreciated. I'm not looking for a brawl on big vs small sensor, I'm just trying to understand things a bit more. If there's someone that knows exactly what the IQ difference I'm seeing is, I'd love to hear it.

There would not be any NEED for FF DSLRs for pro photographers for weddings, sports ..anything really. The new Nikon V3 would be all a pro would need.

Think about it, why spend money making something much bigger than it needs to be.

For most people a phone camera is enough.

I love using different formats to get a different angle of view, often with the same lens and have used a Pentax Q, M4/3, APSC and FF digital and larger with film.

There IS a difference....there just is. It will not often be a big difference and for many not worth the cost difference but the Sony A7 is affordable to me and for somethings is just a nicer camera than all the others I have used....for other things (macro, longer tele stuff) I would prefer a smaller format most of the time.

There is an advantage of course, but it's not a mystical quality, it's just a matter of the amount of light captured based on the lenses available. A smaller format image looks just like the middle of a FF camera image at the same focal length. It's just cropped.

Take a 50mm 1.4 on a aps-c camera and stich a panorama, you'll have the same look that a ff sensor gives you. Not practical for many shots of course but it illustrates the point that the only difference using the same lens is that the edges are cropped.

papillon_65
papillon_65 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,030
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

Just another Canon shooter wrote:

papillon_65 wrote:

Absolutely, I fully expect my 5D2 to be surpassed in time by m4/3's cameras in terms of performance, it's inevitable.

If by that you mean noise at the same ISO (exposure), and if you believe sensorgen, that will never happen. The m43 sensor has to have QE=132%, which is a bit over the top.

M4/3's sensors will become increasingly more efficient so that there will come a point where the visible differences between the latest m4/3's sensor and the old sensor on the Canon 5D2 will be minimal to the point of not being an issue for pretty much anyone, for some they are already there (not for me I might add).

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Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: Smoother, more natural, richer, better tonality

papillon_65 wrote:

in the case of FF vs m4/3's that will be 4 times more light at equal apertures. That translates into better colour depth and hence the appearance of a richer, smoother look.

Ok so help me understand this thing with BOB. You just said exactly what i picture in my head. FF will receive 4x more light than a MFT at equal F stops and equal SS, because at equal F stops the aperture itself isn't really equal. How on earth, with a 4x light advantage, can they get the same SS unless the gain is different? If they are both at ISO 200, both at F2, both at 1/100 SS, and the FF has 2 stops less noise, doesn't it have to be because the gain on the FF was less than the other one? How else would the smaller sensor get those two stops of SS back?

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