Basic questions - wannabe MF user

Started 3 months ago | Discussions
OP Satyaa Veteran Member • Posts: 4,310
Reply 1: Answers to Top Questions
1

Hello and thanks to you all for the responses, suggestions and more importantly the questions! I have not replied to each of you (Stan, Chris, Macro, Greg and several others) because there was a lot to read and think about.

There were a couple of responses that spoke about photographers' connection to their gear (enigmatico summarized it well). I clicked thumbs up for all responses that helped me think through this.

In this first reply, I'll try to answer the top questions. This provides a backdrop but doesn't explain my desire for GFX100s. My second reply will get into that part.

The most easy answer is that I rarely print. I view my photos on a 4K monitor, play them on 4K TV and share some online. I use an old Android phone with a memory card as my photo album.

Next, I do not like the idea of heavy gear for multiple reasons. Short answer is that it's not as big an issue as I make it to be. At least, not always. A knee damage from an accident 25 years ago plus early arthritis made me prioritize smaller/lighter. On a good day I can walk few miles OR carry a backpack with decent lenses (probably not both at the same time). On a bad day, I can't go for a walk. It doesn't matter whether I've any gear or if the gear is light. One more factor is that I don't change lenses while out and about. So, I pick one body and what I think might be the best lens for the situation and go with it.

Another question that came up is, whether I use my current gear to potential. Probably not. I have seen shots online from D810 that wow me. I get such good results sometimes but not consistently. Until I can take such shots consistently with my gear, will I get similar results from a larger more expensive camera? Or, will the new gear motivate me to do better? I don't know.

I use Capture NX-D to process the NEF files with camera default settings (or minor edits), export to 16-bit TIFF, convert them to HEIF using another s/w and delete the TIFFs. In other words, I like whatever processing the camera does, and add very little on top of it.

The tougher question was what gives satisfaction! This will be my longest answer.

When I think of photography as a hobby, I don't include events. The event coverage is satisfying for the occasion and the people I do it for, but there's not much time to think about the process of taking the photo. I have to use my camera by muscle memory and be quick in the situation. I cannot go back to re-take a perfect shot of something that happened a minute ago. As I start to think, the next thing is already happening. This process is familiar to most of you. The combination of D810 with 24-70/2.8 and D7200 with 70-200/2.8 has remained my event gear for past two years or more. I use FZ2500 for event videos.

For hobby, I like to be more deliberate. The process of taking the photo is what I enjoy. Barring a fast paced situation like something my active cat may do, I can mostly think back and re-take a shot. A camera I can connect with and enjoy using, is important. When I got my D7100/D7200 I connected with it right away. It took a while with the D810. They are both equal favorites now. Earlier, I was comfortable with Canon Rebel bodies as well (a film version and an XTi). I also use a Nikon F3HP but not regularly.

I don't connect well with the FZ2500 at the same level. It gives good results for my purpose but I don't feel the same way using it, as I feel with the DSLR. Once I got my second DSLR body, I stopped using FZ2500 for stills.

The results matter but there's more to that story. When others see my phhotos, what matter are an undistracted scene, the detail they can see within the screen, good colors, capturing a moment that speaks to them, etc.

For me, the photos remind me of a situation, how I took the shot or something new I learned while taking that shot. Many times, I also zoom in for the detail. I sometimes feel that there's a lot to learn from photos that didn't turn out well. I sure don't spend time reflecting on the past. Also, I can't go back and look at them because I've already deleted them.

I'll post in my next reply about why I gravitated to the GFX100s

OP Satyaa Veteran Member • Posts: 4,310
Reply 2: Why GFX100s

I see many hi-res MF photos online on my large 4K monitor and they wow me. There are some incredible photos from members on this forum. I want to add that wow factor to my photos, while also enjoying the process of taking them. When I see a similar landscape shot with my D7200 and D810, the latter looks distinctly better. I can't explain what it is, in tecnical terms. This is from casual observation and not a controlled test shooting at the same time with comparable focal lengths, apertures and ISO settings. Based on that casual observation, I hoped for a similar improvement moving up to a MF sensor. That's where it started.

I read a lot online over the years, about the two 645 versions from Pentax, X1D, 50s and 100s. With GFX100s, I felt for the first time that a substantial camera is available at a price I could afford as a hobbyst. Of course, the term affordable is only relative to other MF cameras, and still a bit of a stretch in absolute terms.

what I liked in the GFX100S were: a conventional design, the size (not a lot bigger/heavier than D810); IBIS; improved AF; primes like the 50/45/110, and the resolution. At the small price difference if buying new, I did not like 50s for its lower resolution, lower raw bit depth, only CDAF, an awkward LCD bump and no IBIS.

For IQ factors, the 50s has similar pixel density as D810 (36 * 1.7) while the 100s exceeds the D7200's (24 * 2.25 * 1.7). Both of them have enough resolution for a large 8K display and more. If shooting with the GFX100s, I would prefer to shoot wider (say 23mm lens instead of the 45mm) and have the opportunity to zoom in for detail while viewing, as opposed to cropping. The difference between 14 and 16-bit depth doesn't matter to most people, especially when converted to JPEG. I have started saving all my processed images in the last three years as HEIF and it supports up to 16-bit. I just like it.

As I read all responses and questions here, they are helping me think through the cost vs benefit.

First, the budget will be huge. Not something I can spend at once. A good point was made that after I spend lot of money on new gear, what happens if I don't feel the connection? That was always my concern; I would hate to buy and return. So, I am trying to think through what would make me  not like it. The biggest thing at this point seems to be the shooting experience. It should be more like a DSLR and less like my FZ2500.

Second, I will need more processing power + storage for the photos. When I'm processing a set of D7200 images vs. D810 images, I see the difference. The 50s files will have an advantage, over the 100s files.

One suggestion I liked was to shoot with a rented MF and my D810 side-by-side in the same situation. That's a good idea. I can compare the results on both my 4K monitor and the larger 4K TV. I'll need to compare 16-bit HEIF and not downgraded 8-bit JPEG. It was also pointed out that renting may not be cheap. I will look into that. I may just rent it for a long weekend.

When I started debating this, I was 50/50 on whether to buy one, but now I'm almost certain of "not until I've tried it first". I'll look into renting options and also used 50s options. I'll buy only when I'm sure.

Thanks again for all the inputs.

Forum GAS Forum Member • Posts: 73
Re: Reply 2: Why GFX100s

There’s no law that says you have to buy all the lenses at once.  If you decide to buy, pick a lens that covers your favorite focal length.  I spent a real long time with just one lens.  That was due to Fujifilm being slow in bringing out the focal lengths I wanted, no sales, and me wanting to make sure I was happy with the camera and lenses.  Note that some lenses are bigger and heavier than others.  Compare the weights to what you already have to get an idea of what you will be carrying.

DMillier Forum Pro • Posts: 22,577
Re: Reply 2: Why GFX100s

In regard to your feelings about the Lumix, I have a similar FZ1000 bridge camera. In my opinion, it is an excellent camera; for the majority of photographers it would be all they need. I can easily see how, if I had to, I could use the FZ1000 and forget everything else. The 1" Sony sensor is very good if you don't need to shoot higher than ISO600 to 800. 20MP is more than enough for most purposes. The 25-400mm fast zoom is excellent and wide ranging. It has a good grip and decent EVF.  The OIS and focusing are great. You can make A2 prints with it. Why would you need anything better, unless you had specialist requirements?

I think the answer to that lies in the physical experience of using the camera.  It is solidly made, quite hefty but somehow still feels flimsy. The lens, although fantastic, has motor driven zoom and focusing. No real sense of hands-on manual operation, despite the lens (stepper) ring. The lens motors are also a bit sluggish and this gives a "remote controlled" feel to the shooting experience. The lens obstruction sensor is also a bit over-sensitive and tends to switch the camera off at the slightest knock to the lens. No matter how well put together it is, there is still a bit of the "point & shoot" casual camera about it.

If there was a bit more metal in the body, manual zoom and focus and perhaps an aperture ring, the user experience would be transformed and it would be a camera I could seriously consider as the only solution I need. A G9 version of the FZ1000, in effect.

It depends on your type of photography, of course, but based on my experience I would say that there are quite a lot of photographers who would be happier with a really good bridge camera rather than an ILC and a bagful of lenses.

Not gonna get a lot of takers for this view on the Medium Format forum, admittedly

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Stan Disbrow Veteran Member • Posts: 5,231
Re: Reply 2: Why GFX100s

Hi,

My wife has a decent Bridge camera. And she was OK with it more than half the time. The rest of the time she got me to shoot instead.

After a few years, she wanted an ILC though. Not a big one like any of mine. Meaning I couldn't just hand her one. So, we went shopping. She chose a Nikon D3500. And three lenses, one of which is macro. So now she uses that most of the time and shoots all her own stuff.

As an aside, she likes optical viewfinders over electronic ones. She really didn't like any of the mirrorless models. And, I didn't steer her towards any brand or type. I let her do the actual shopping.

Now here's an interesting thing: She prefers to use the Bridge for video even though the other does it equally well.

And, I will use her Bridge for video as well, but only because I don't have an ILC that can do video. And, I haven't picked up a dedicated video camera, which would be my choice. I just don't shoot video that often so hers will do.

The bottom line here is, yes, it is a good idea to give things a try before one buys.

Stan

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Erik Kaffehr
Erik Kaffehr Veteran Member • Posts: 5,825
A pretty well researched article - from DPReview staff
3

Hi,

DPReview published an article a few years ago that was pretty well researched.

https://www.dpreview.com/opinion/2341704755/thinking-about-buying-medium-format-read-this-first

The article did attract some critic at that time, but it is based on solid ground.

There where some significant changes in MFD since the time the article was posted:

  • The GFX 100 and the GFX 100S arrived, with latest CMOS technology from Sony and in body image stabilization.
  • A lot of evidence about the excellence of the Fujifilm lens line.

The GFX 100/100S uses pretty much the same sensor technology as the Sony A7rIV, with two differences:

  • The GFX 100 sensor is 68% larger and therefore has 68% more pixels.
  • The GFX 100 sensor has a 16-bit readout mode.

Having more pixels has a benefit for handling fine detail and also gives a small gain in signal noise ratio and DR. Both this benefits relate more to the sensor surface than to number of pixels.

With Pentax 645, little has changed.

Hasselblad has some new lenses and they seem to be very high quality.

Was the DPR article biased?

That may depend on the point of view. I would say that it was not biased in a technical sense.

Just as an example, 24x36 mm systems often have access to a large set of f/1.4 lenses and there is little doubt that f/1.4 24x36 mm lenses achieve more 'bokeh' than f/2 lenses on 33x44 mm.

But it may be that the available MFD lenses at f/2 are sharper or have better bokeh than f/1.4 lenses on 24x36 mm. There are plenty of those lenses. You need to test a lot of lenses to find out.

It may be that Fujifilm and Hasselblad have better color processing than the competition. The article takes the viewpoint that it is mostly about color profiles. In all probability true, but most users are stuck with the profiles from Adobe or Capture One.

Or we can build own our profiles using Lumariver Color Profile Designer or some other tool. But, we may not have the knowledge to tweak those profiles.

Best regards

Erik

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OP Satyaa Veteran Member • Posts: 4,310
Re: Reply 2: Why GFX100s

I agree and that would probably my route when I'm ready.

I'm thinking of the compact 50mm in combination with a used 50R. The only other two lenses I might need are the 30mm and 110mm, in due course.

Thanks

OP Satyaa Veteran Member • Posts: 4,310
Re: Reply 2: Why GFX100s

Thanks for that  support! I know exactly what you are saying about the FZ1000.

I first had an FZ1000. I liked its results too. Within a year, on a visit to see my parents and sister, I gave it to my sister along with a couple of memory cards, batteries and a dummy battery coupler to use it from the electrical outlet. She uses it a lot for my nieces' dance  videos. She has no complaints. I must say, she gets better stills and bokey from it than I ever managed to do!

Within the next year, when we were going on a vacation to a sunny island, I bought the FZ2500 as a do-it-all camera. As I said in my post, I have no complaints about the results of the camera. The 4K event videos I do are very good. I learned how to carefully use the touch focus and not use AF-C to prevent occasional hunting in video.

You rightly said about the electronic point-and-shoot nature and the user experience of zoom/focus rings. That's the only distinction I was making, from the way DSLR lens zoom works. I feel like I'm thinking more on how to use the camera as opposed to what photo I am taking. I never managed to build the muscle memory to use this camera as comfortably as any DSLR I've used so far.

I also found the built-in ND filter of FZ2500 very useful in outdoor photos/videos.

Thanks.

OP Satyaa Veteran Member • Posts: 4,310
Re: A pretty well researched article - from DPReview staff

Thanks for that link, Erik.

I have been reading up about MF in the last two weeks but I did not come across that one.

Greg7579
Greg7579 Forum Pro • Posts: 13,505
Re: A pretty well researched article - from DPReview staff

Erik why drag up controversial 4-year-old DPR opinion pieces from back in the days when DPR was seen by Fuji as unfriendly to the introduction of GFX, and when literally all of the early DPR opinion piece articles were seen as accentuating the negative and were decidedly lukewarm (at best) to GFX while failing to accentuate the far superior image fidelity of the GFX system?

That was 4 years ago and DPR has changed its generally negative editorial tone regarding GFX (especially in the last 18 months).  They had to in order to maintain any level of credibility as GFX took off....

I read this article and also some early opinion pieces by Richard back about 3 years ago when I was deciding to buy GFX. Those early DPR articles almost convinced me not to go GFX.

But several people on this forum told me to ignore those early biased opinion pieces and take the plunge.

I'm so glad I did.

Those early opinion pieces were off on what GFX was all about - especially on the IQ / image fidelity / look and anything that could have been perceived as clear advantages vs FF.

But hey - no worries - nothing wrong with digging out old DPR early-GFX opinion pieces, especially if the intent is to dampen someone's enthusiasm for spending that much money on a camera system vs FF.

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clickclack Senior Member • Posts: 1,472
Re: Basic questions - wannabe MF user
1

Yes, the focus is much sharper. Even manual focus is incredible. I was able to manually focus on the ripples in the water in the photo below (full resolution). This I would never have been able to with any other camera I have had so far. For others, this may be normal, but it is certainly not for me. The detail is incredible.

The Google Earth image is actually much nicer :-), but it demonstrates the distance. For someone from Belgium this is a large distance The red dot is where I was standing (green is where I want to get next time).

Nature has become very dry?...

Crop

OP Satyaa Veteran Member • Posts: 4,310
Re: Reply 2: Why GFX100s

Stan Disbrow wrote:

Hi,

My wife has a decent Bridge camera. And she was OK with it more than half the time. The rest of the time she got me to shoot instead.

After a few years, she wanted an ILC though. Not a big one like any of mine. Meaning I couldn't just hand her one. So, we went shopping. She chose a Nikon D3500. And three lenses, one of which is macro. So now she uses that most of the time and shoots all her own stuff.

As an aside, she likes optical viewfinders over electronic ones. She really didn't like any of the mirrorless models. And, I didn't steer her towards any brand or type. I let her do the actual shopping.

Now here's an interesting thing: She prefers to use the Bridge for video even though the other does it equally well.

And, I will use her Bridge for video as well, but only because I don't have an ILC that can do video. And, I haven't picked up a dedicated video camera, which would be my choice. I just don't shoot video that often so hers will do.

The bottom line here is, yes, it is a good idea to give things a try before one buys.

Stan

I can relate to much of your experience.

What one likes isn't clear until they've tried different things. My wife likes the results from my DSLRs. So, she wants me to shoot anything she thinks is important. When she is shooting herself for documenting her work or events at school, she uses an old Canon PowerShot 10mp camera. She likes the size and using its articulating LCD. She doesn't like any kind of viewfinders, hence the hesitation with any DSLR.

Personally, I had bad experience with Sony P&S cameras more than 15 years ago. This was before they acquired Minolta and entered the DSLR market. That stuck in my mind and I have never tried a Sony ILC even though their technology today is ahead of other brands.

I moved from a Monolta P&S (highest resolution among those pocketable cameras at the time) to a Canon PowerShot Pro1 (their only bridge camera ever with an 'L' lens), Rebel XTi (their first DSLR under $1000), then D7100, finally D7200 and D810.

I am OK with an EVF but the only thing I find difficulty adjusting to in a bridge camera is that the zoom feels out of control. Meaning, I cannot relate to how much the zoom is moving based on how much I turned the ring or pushed the lever left/right. The only exception was the PowerShot Pro1! When I turn the zoom ring on any DSLR lens, I feel it's moving 'as expected'.

I have never used a ML lens whose zoom is electronically controlled like the focus-by-wire feature (power zoom?) I don't know how they feel. My plan for eliminating this factor from the equation is to stick with primes.

Thanks.

Erik Kaffehr
Erik Kaffehr Veteran Member • Posts: 5,825
Re: A pretty well researched article - from DPReview staff
3

Greg7579 wrote:

Erik why drag up controversial 4-year-old DPR opinion pieces from back in the days when DPR was seen by Fuji as unfriendly to the introduction of GFX, and when literally all of the early DPR opinion piece articles were seen as accentuating the negative and were decidedly lukewarm (at best) to GFX while failing to accentuate the far superior image fidelity of the GFX system?

The article doesn't discuss GFX, but medium format in general. It is also fact based.

That was 4 years ago and DPR has changed its generally negative editorial tone regarding GFX (especially in the last 18 months). They had to in order to maintain any level of credibility as GFX took off....

It is not about being positive or negative, it is about demonstrable facts. GFX has developed a lot since 2017, but so has 24x36 mm. Think Canon EOS R system and Nikon Z. Lot of new lens designs. GFX 100 now essentially shares sensor technology with Fujifilm XT4, Sony A7rIV and Phase One IQ 4150.

I read this article and also some early opinion pieces by Richard back about 3 years ago when I was deciding to buy GFX. Those early DPR articles almost convinced me not to go GFX.

The article was not written by Richard Buttler but by Rishi Sanyal.

But several people on this forum told me to ignore those early biased opinion pieces and take the plunge.

It may be that those guys were wrong, have you considered that?

I'm so glad I did.

I am glad you are happy--

Those early opinion pieces were off on what GFX was all about - especially on the IQ / image fidelity / look and anything that could have been perceived as clear advantages vs FF.

Lets put it this way, Rishi mostly discusses physics and those are the same for any system.

But, here is a challenge for you:

Point out any error or mistake in that article, preferably with some associated proof.

But hey - no worries - nothing wrong with digging out old DPR early-GFX opinion pieces, especially if the intent is to dampen someone's enthusiasm for spending that much money on a camera system vs FF.

I don't see it that way. I am just pointing to an article that is well researched.

Just to make a small point, DPR compares DR on the Pentax 645Z and the Nikon D810 using a lighthouse scene.

That comparison was accurately made, in spite of the difficulties doing accurate tests under outdoor conditions.

Best regards

Erik

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Greg7579
Greg7579 Forum Pro • Posts: 13,505
Re: A pretty well researched article - from DPReview staff

Erik Kaffehr wrote:

Greg7579 wrote:

Erik why drag up controversial 4-year-old DPR opinion pieces from back in the days when DPR was seen by Fuji as unfriendly to the introduction of GFX, and when literally all of the early DPR opinion piece articles were seen as accentuating the negative and were decidedly lukewarm (at best) to GFX while failing to accentuate the far superior image fidelity of the GFX system?

The article doesn't discuss GFX, but medium format in general. It is also fact based.

That was 4 years ago and DPR has changed its generally negative editorial tone regarding GFX (especially in the last 18 months). They had to in order to maintain any level of credibility as GFX took off....

It is not about being positive or negative, it is about demonstrable facts. GFX has developed a lot since 2017, but so has 24x36 mm. Think Canon EOS R system and Nikon Z. Lot of new lens designs. GFX 100 now essentially shares sensor technology with Fujifilm XT4, Sony A7rIV and Phase One IQ 4150.

I read this article and also some early opinion pieces by Richard back about 3 years ago when I was deciding to buy GFX. Those early DPR articles almost convinced me not to go GFX.

The article was not written by Richard Buttler but by Rishi Sanyal.

But several people on this forum told me to ignore those early biased opinion pieces and take the plunge.

It may be that those guys were wrong, have you considered that?

I'm so glad I did.

I am glad you are happy--

Those early opinion pieces were off on what GFX was all about - especially on the IQ / image fidelity / look and anything that could have been perceived as clear advantages vs FF.

Lets put it this way, Rishi mostly discusses physics and those are the same for any system.

But, here is a challenge for you:

Point out any error or mistake in that article, preferably with some associated proof.

But hey - no worries - nothing wrong with digging out old DPR early-GFX opinion pieces, especially if the intent is to dampen someone's enthusiasm for spending that much money on a camera system vs FF.

I don't see it that way. I am just pointing to an article that is well researched.

Just to make a small point, DPR compares DR on the Pentax 645Z and the Nikon D810 using a lighthouse scene.

That comparison was accurately made, in spite of the difficulties doing accurate tests under outdoor conditions.

Best regards

Erik

Erik, I'm sure your response (as a non-GFX photographer) will get a lot of likes from the normal non-GFX owning or shooting pro-FF (vs MF) proponents and marketers who drive by this forum and drop likes on anything that shoots an arrow at GFX or has any sort of negative tone about GFX.... Nothing new there and no problem.  That is part of the fun I guess.

This is an opinion forum about camera equipment and we are allowed to share our opinions if done so respectfully and not too rudely.

My opinion of that old opinion piece is what it is, but it is no big deal.  I haven't thought about it in a long time. I'm sure that current GFX shooters can easily pick up on the tone that was used back then and might not agree with many of the comments in that editorial.

But yes, the article is an opinion piece and it is for sure about Fuji and that is OK. Did you check the title and the tone of the title? "Opinion: Thinking about buying medium format? Read this first."  And the lead picture of the 50r....

Right.  I did read it back then and it turned me off to GFX.  I forgot all about GFX and just kept shooting DSLR FF and Fuji X.  The another year or so went by and the 50r came out more and more people starting seeing the image fidelity benefits of GFX.

Anyway, its an old article and I don't agree with a lot of it, but we are allowed our opinions.  I don't even agree with the knock on Fuji X that was right up front in the article either, but that is another subject.  Funny how sensor size can be used to pick on Fuji X when compared to FF  but then you can't use the same argument in FF vs MF discussions.

The article was clearly openly cheerleading for FF at the time and it was a bit of a slam on GFX for sure (my reading comprehension skills are pretty good). It shocked Fuji and woke them up to the power of DPR editorials.  Fuji reps talked about the unfairness of that article and the negative, leading tone for years after that.  But like I said, that was then and this is now and DPR in general is very fair about GFX these days.

It is really kind of funny to read that editorial four years later and after shooting GFX for the past 30 months with 10 GF lenses that I own.  One can easily see where it went off the rails.

But why are we discussing a 4-year-old opinion piece with a guy asking about GFX now?  It has no bearing on what is actually happening with GFX now, and as a guy who has shot tens of thousands of images with the GFX system, I have my own opinions that are very different than the authors were back then.

Besides, that article was written before the GFX 100 came out a year and a half ago and 4 years before this new GFX 100s the OP is interested in.

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Forum GAS Forum Member • Posts: 73
Re: Reply 2: Why GFX100s

Just be aware the 110mm is a lot bigger and heavier than the 30mm and 50mm.

DMillier Forum Pro • Posts: 22,577
Re: A pretty well researched article - from DPReview staff
4

So what didn't you like about that article? I didn't see anything that struck me as wrong or biased.

Can you point to a single factual error in the article?

(No need to repeat what you've already said, a one sentence response identifying a single error will prove your point).

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Macro guy
Macro guy Veteran Member • Posts: 5,511
Re: A pretty well researched article - from DPReview staff
4

Greg,

I understand you being the cheerleader for the GFX system.  You've found your panacea and you're happy to share your enthusiasm with others.  I get that and I can appreciate that.

However, this is where I think you're doing people a disservice: Your exuberance raises unrealistic expectations.  You're essentially saying that a 33x44 system, even a 50mp system improves upon a FF system by a factor of 10.  So, as I see it, this is the formula for expectations you set:  X^10 (X being the FF image quality).

When people spend an enormous amount of money on a 33x44 system, the reality may be that the formula is really X+1 or perhaps X-1 in the case of GFX 50 with its older system as compared to the modern FF offerings.

Now, if X+1 is what you're looking for and that extra fidelity is important, then all is well with the world.  You spend whatever you got to spend to squeeze that last bit of iota of performance out of the system and there is value in that.

However, if your expectations are X^10, but you're getting X+1 or X+10 or even 10X, there is very little value in that.

That leads me to my point.  The article at which you bristle, sets realistic expectations.  It tells you that X+1 is REALLY what you're looking at.  Furthermore, the author doesn't feel the cost of money, convenience, speed and whatever else is worth the X+1 in image quality.  You may feel differently, and that's fine, but the article does set a very realistic and sober set of expectations.

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