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Thread: M43 versus 43 IQ

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    M43 versus 43 IQ

    There is a lot of hype and talk nowadays about the great IQ from M43 and that it is as good as what you can get from 43.

    While in general this can be true I found that if you compare top of the line 43 IQ (resulting from E5 with Pro 43 glass) to IQ from M43 (GH2, EP3 with according M43 glass) 43 still wins clearly! I recently made some comparisons between RAW images from all the mentioned cameras and there was a clear IQ advantage from 43.

    This might change if there will be Pro grade M43 glass available, but currently we are far away from that. No misunderstandings please - I value the compactness of M43 compared to 43 but end of the day IQ is still far better from Pro Grade 43.

    Thoughts?

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: M43 versus 43 IQ

    I agree with you Peter, at least for some of the 4/3 cameras. One weak point though, is the strong AA filter that Olympus introduced for the E620, E-30 and E-3 cameras. Although it can partly be compensated for by doing some sharpening during post processing, that will also bring out artifacts, particularly at high ISO. It must be mentioned though, that several (most?) Nikon models also have strong AA filters, and at low ISO the image quality of an E-30 and a Nikon D300 look very similar, although the colours of the E-30 are better in my opinion, while the D300 delivers more robust files, particularly at high ISO.

    The best 4/3 cameras when it comes to image quality seems to be the Panasonic L10 and the E-5. Unfortunately, the Panasonic has a ridiculously small viewfinder and an even smaller buffer, which makes it a slow, unpractical camera.

    I was browsing through the GH2 test at dpr yesterday, and found a few interesting facts that I haven't noticed before: The processing of lens corrections in-camera apparently influences burst speed and the time it takes to empty the buffer. This varies from lens to lens and also with focal length for zoom lenses. I assume that this peculiarity will disappear over time, as more powerful processors become available, but it seems to make the camera somewhat unpredictable in burst mode.

    Not something all photographers need to worry about, but it makes me slightly hesitant when it comes to using the camera for action photography.

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    Re: M43 versus 43 IQ

    Did you compare by putting the pro glass on the m43?

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: M43 versus 43 IQ

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Did you compare by putting the pro glass on the m43?
    Terry,

    yes I also put the pro glass on the EP3. Two observations:

    1) there seems to be still more detail from the E5 + pro glass, need to further test this, because actually the sensor and processing engine should be equally good in the EP3

    2) AF is of course an issue when using 43 lenses on M43. Especially AF accuracy.

    I will as soon as I have some time and not just rainy weather do some further testing from a tripod and with manual focus of pro glass on the EP3.

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    Re: M43 versus 43 IQ

    Quote Originally Posted by ptomsu View Post
    This might change if there will be Pro grade M43 glass available, but currently we are far away from that. No misunderstandings please - I value the compactness of M43 compared to 43 but end of the day IQ is still far better from Pro Grade 43.
    I suspect most of what you're seeing is due to the lenses, not the sensor or processing engine. I started with the 4/3 format (Panasonic L1) and still have several 4/3 format lenses (PanaLeica 14-50/f2.8-3.5, Oly 7-14/f4, 14-35/f2), which I use regularly on my m4/3 bodies, and all of which outperform the m4/3 lenses I've used, with the possible exception of the new Olympus 12mm/f2.

    And Yes, it sucks that the 4/3 format lenses don't autofocus better when used on m4/3 bodies (or at all, in the case of my Panasonic bodies).

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: M43 versus 43 IQ

    I suspect that SHG ZD lenses on a G3 will give the best image quality - shooting in raw of course.

    Cheers

    Brian

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    Member Arjuna's Avatar
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    Re: M43 versus 43 IQ

    With m4/3 the sensor is always on, for viewing and for focusing, whereas with 4/3, reflex viewing, the sensor only needs to be on during exposure. Plus m4/3 bodies are smaller and denser, generally, so likely more difficult to cool the sensor. So it would seem to me that a m4/3 sensor if probably going to be at least slightly warmer than a 4/3 sensor normally, which would suggest slightly poorer IQ, even with same sensor and same glass.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: M43 versus 43 IQ

    Another aspect is the principle of telecentricity that was one of the most important reasons for choosing a sensor half the size of a 35mm sensor. By reducing the flange to sensor distance with around 50%, they are more or less back to square one, with the same relationship between sensor size and lens/sensor distance as a traditional 35mm SLR or DSLR.

    During the years since the design of 4/3, sensor and microlens technology have evolved, but I wonder if the match between sensor and lens is better between 4/3 lens and 4/3 sensor than between 4/3 lens and m4/3 sensor. The differences, if any, are probably subtle, but this might help explaining differences in image quality. When that is said, Olympus has done a very impressive job with the E-5 sensor, and although it's "old", it's certainly not obsolete.

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: M43 versus 43 IQ

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Another aspect is the principle of telecentricity that was one of the most important reasons for choosing a sensor half the size of a 35mm sensor. By reducing the flange to sensor distance with around 50%, they are more or less back to square one, with the same relationship between sensor size and lens/sensor distance as a traditional 35mm SLR or DSLR.

    During the years since the design of 4/3, sensor and microlens technology have evolved, but I wonder if the match between sensor and lens is better between 4/3 lens and 4/3 sensor than between 4/3 lens and m4/3 sensor. The differences, if any, are probably subtle, but this might help explaining differences in image quality. When that is said, Olympus has done a very impressive job with the E-5 sensor, and although it's "old", it's certainly not obsolete.
    Jorgen,

    WRT the E5 sensor you are probably very right! I seldom have seen such a well concerted sensor / processing engine. And that pro grade Oly glass makes all the difference with such a combination is not just marketing, it is the truth. As I can see in any picture I take with the E5 and SHG glass.

    Having said this, I was curious to find out wether the EP3 (which reportedly has the same sensor and processing engine like the E5) would do as great as well. As there are meanwhile raw converters available, supporting EP3 RAWs I just made a quick test - nothing scientific - and IMHO E5 + pro grade lenses are better! Maybe not much but I definitely can see the difference. Which just shows me again, how good E5 and pro glass is. Remember I sold a D700 with pro Nikon glass because i preferred the rendering and overall IQ of the E5.

    Would also like to put all I say in relation - the differences between E5 and EP3 are noticeable, but I would say for 98% of users will maybe not matter. I only do hope that one day we will see the same IQ from a M43 Pro camera and Pro M43 glass.

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    Senior Member Peter Klein's Avatar
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    Re: M43 versus 43 IQ

    Interesting. After reading the above, I wondered how my my E-510 and my Panny G1 would compare. So I put the same very good lens on both cameras--an OM 50/3.5 macro lens. With the camera on a table tripod, I took photos of a box of dog biscuits about 5 feet away. Both cameras were manually focused with magnified live view wide open, then shot at f/8.

    Results: The Panny G1 was consistently a little better than the E-510. Not much, and you would barely notice it except at 100%. But the difference was there. It's not just that the G1 had more pixels, it's that the details had a small bit better acuity and contrast. My guess is that the G1 has a slightly weaker anti-alias filter than the E-510.

    Reportedly the Olympus 4/3 bodies after the E-510 had a stronger AA filter, until they used a weaker one in the E-5.

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