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Thread: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

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    Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    I read a lot online about how strongly people feel about whether cameras are "full frame" or not.

    "Full frame" is just an invention of the movie business in the early 1900's. When Leica adopted the film for a travel camera in the 1920's it became what we know as "full frame". There's nothing magical or special about 35mm. As technology progresses there is no reason to believe that other sensor sizes cannot produce excellent results.

    What matters most is the size of the individual photo receptors - you need enough area to capture enough photons to overcome the signal-to-noise ratio. At some point there aren't enough photons to give you sufficient information to make a good image. With today's technology that lower limit seems to be about 6 microns square. That's why cramming in lots of megapixels in a small area gives diminishing returns. As an example, some of my nicest images I shot on a Nikon D1 - only 2.74 megapixels! I have 11x14" prints from this camera that are stunning. The D1 has photosensors that are 11.8 microns square.

    Today for an APS-C sensor size the sweet spot is about 16-20 megapixels. For 35mm sensors, it's about 20-30 megapixels. Those pixels are useful for two things - cropping or printing large. Anything over about 4 megapixels is wasted on images that you show on a computer. My iMac 27" can only display 3.69 megapixels if the image is shown full-screen. By all means if you print huge prints then go for a huge sensor (in a huge camera).

    Keep this in mind when checking out new cameras. If you don't crop a lot or print larger than 11x14 on a regular basis, then the sensor size and number of megapixels should be way down the bottom on your list of criteria to evaluate new cameras.

    I hope this helps us keep an open mind. There are a lot of exciting new cameras out there!
    Brad Husick
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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    By all means if you print huge prints then go for a huge sensor (in a huge camera).

    Keep this in mind when checking out new cameras. If you don't crop a lot or print larger than 11x14 on a regular basis, then the sensor size and number of megapixels should be way down the bottom on your list of criteria to evaluate new cameras.

    I hope this helps us keep an open mind. There are a lot of exciting new cameras out there!
    Part of the equation was changed by the A7. It is the same size as the EM1. So huge sensor doesn't necessarily mean huge camera any more though certain glass is still an issue.

    Agree about the MP war and looking at your needs. The other factors though are the intangibles like ergonomics and whether or not the tool is "fun." Hard to quantify those...
    Last edited by nostatic; 28th January 2014 at 10:15. Reason: Grammar

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    I agree with you, Brad. Like you, I have some images captured on now-ancient gear and the results are wonderful. I print mostly 16x24 and 16x22 (depending on capture device, 16x22 for MF) and find that "sweet spot" you describe is about right. If one is printing 11x14 or smaller there is lots of wiggle room.

    I don't crop much (try my best to compose to avoid it), but I do understand those who need the extra pixels for cropping. Still, I'm looking at a 16x24 print captured on a Canon 20D (8.2MP), a file that was cropped a bit because I couldn't get quite close enough, yet it has tremendous detail and tonality. Sure, not Phase One MF detail and tonality, but it's an image that gets lots of positive remarks (and requests/sales) even while standing close to it.

    It's not the pixel count, it's what you do with them. I know that for commercial photographers like Guy, he needs tons of headroom for clients who repurpose files, but for most of us determining our desired output medium and size allows us to select from a huge selection of new sensors within the ranges you describe.

    I've yet to print anything from my Fuji X-E2, but closely studying the files as if preparing for print, the 16MP sensor is going to be fine for fairly large prints. It's not my "landscape kit", so I'm not wanting 20x30" prints anyway, probably more like 12x18 or so for the types of things for which I use such a camera. I'm confident I can go larger if desired though because of the quality of the pixels produced.

    Good post, Brad.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    How does the camera feel in the hand?
    How does the world look through the viewfinder?
    Are the controls near where you expect them?
    Do they do what you expect?
    How effortless is it to raise it to the eye, focus, compose, and shoot?
    Are you pleased with the files?
    Does it have any bad habits that you despise?
    Do you MF much or is AF what you do? How does your preferred mode work for you?
    That is sort of my basic checklist.
    Note that reasonable folks may evaluate the same set of cameras and come to different choices. That is just fine.
    Lenses though are a whole other ballgame and sometimes is more visceral.
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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post

    What matters most is the size of the individual photo receptors - you need enough area to capture enough photons to overcome the signal-to-noise ratio. At some point there aren't enough photons to give you sufficient information to make a good image.
    Hi

    Your title is about looking past sensor size and megapixels but your post is all about sensor size and megapixels!

    None of your above statement makes any sense to me, signal to noise, photo receptors, I personally couldn't care less! None of those things to me make a good image, it's all about subject, light, moment.

    I also think that people make a big deal about what others choose to buy or shoot with, it doesn't matter one bit! You can use what you like as long as you are happy using it. What you shoot doesn't matter to me and what I shoot shouldn't make any difference to you. I actually think a forum just for great shots would be good, just the image, none of the faff. I've been blown away by shots from an iphone and seen some total rubbish from an Phase 280, I have also seen it the other way round too, having kit doesn't make good pictures, good photographers do.

    We're all very lucky to have access to some amazing pieces of equipment, buy whatever you want or can afford, there's no other justification needed!

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    I'm a big fan of Bob's checklist approach. It's a common sense, non-marketing-influenced (or should be) approach.

    The other factor for me is "what is my desired output"? I suggest one define the output and work backwards. Not exclusively, but consider the print, if that's what you do with the files, and choose equipment appropriate for such output.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by mjr View Post
    Hi

    Your title is about looking past sensor size and megapixels but your post is all about sensor size and megapixels!

    None of your above statement makes any sense to me, signal to noise, photo receptors, I personally couldn't care less! None of those things to me make a good image, it's all about subject, light, moment.

    I also think that people make a big deal about what others choose to buy or shoot with, it doesn't matter one bit! You can use what you like as long as you are happy using it. What you shoot doesn't matter to me and what I shoot shouldn't make any difference to you. I actually think a forum just for great shots would be good, just the image, none of the faff. I've been blown away by shots from an iphone and seen some total rubbish from an Phase 280, I have also seen it the other way round too, having kit doesn't make good pictures, good photographers do.

    We're all very lucky to have access to some amazing pieces of equipment, buy whatever you want or can afford, there's no other justification needed!

    Mat
    I think you're absolutely right. My post shows my astrophysics degree creeping through.

    I just love capturing great images and sharing them. My intent was to help people move beyond the specs.
    Brad Husick

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    "Full frame" is an invention of amateur photographers as a way to elevate the status of a camera. Every format, regardless of its size, is full frame. The term comes from the photographic method of not cropping your images from the format. And full-frame negative carriers were made by have a slightly larger aperture so you could print to the edge of the image area. Naturally, camera manufacturers jumped on the amateur distinction of digital full frame as it got them to sell more cameras.

    "Crop-frame" is just a pejorative. It is a silly term.

    The pixel resolution is not a limiter to print size. This is a fuzzy bit of reasoning that the manufacturers got into to sell the latest camera.

    Buy your camera because you like it. Everything else will take care of itself.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    really just a semantic issue, but when the larger classic categories of 35mm, medium format, etc start to get blurred by shifts in sensor size, or even new categories (S2), i see some value in the crop sensor nomenclature

    for example, it is a lot easier for a casual comparison to think of M8 and M9 that way, rather than some other metric

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    I was not really referring to FoV comparisons. I was really commenting on "crop sensor" as a pejorative meaning a camera was somehow inferior.
    Last edited by Shashin; 28th January 2014 at 18:46.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Crop frame is/was a reasonably accurate term of reference because it was based on existing film format lens systems and their coverage. Thus the terms 1.1X, 1.3X, 1.5X, 1.6X. Due to the then current technical limitations, the Leica M8 WAS accurately termed "crop frame" because all the Leica M lenses were, and still are, made to cover the traditional full 135 frame. If Leica had made lenses for the now discontinued M8, they would not cover the M9 or M240 sensor today.

    The advent of dedicated lenses to new sizes of digital sensors has only been a relatively recent development compared to the history of photography.

    Smaller sensors were basically an effect of technological limits and cost to produce during the teething stages of digital photography. A paradigm shift happened when Canon and Nikon made lenses dedicated to the smaller sensors … a move that people bought into out of perceived need … (to the delight of Canon and Nikon's financial executives I'm sure).

    The relationship of lens system to sensor DOES have an esthetic impact, and is not just technical mumbo-jumbo. The esthetics of MFD are different from 135 FF, and is different between 135 and APSc, and is different between APSc and other smaller sensors. Even without cropping, a modest 11 X14 print from each respective format looks and feels different. Since esthetics are evaluated subjectively, which format suits you is a personal creative decision.

    Personally, I've never been lured into a 3/4 "system" or APSc "system" for personal esthetic reasons despite the then advantage of reduced size. Sure enough, we now have FF 135 format sensors in a tiny package, and more to come to be sure.

    Likewise, pixel density is a function of advancements in pixel technology. 16 meg of past isn't the same as 16 meg today. 30+ meg DOES have a function beyond printing large or cropping. A most any print size from 8X10 on up, the depth of detail has a comparitive visual impact on any image in the same way that the dot patterns on the Sunday funnies differs from fine art lithography (to exaggerate the point). Not saying interesting images can't be made with 3 meg cameras, just saying they are different from those made with 30+ megs of resolution … where the meg limit is, is anyone's guess as technology repeatedly surprises us with new solutions.

    Lastly, I think the whole "camera to fit you" is only partially true.

    If prevailing relationships to existing tools were the criteria for further invention, the Leica UR camera would never have been produced, and the TLR would not have existed. Both substantially altered handling and prevailing approaches to photography, but required some effort of mastery on the part of the photographer.

    The difference with digital is that it has changed at a ferocious rate during its climb to dominance. One hardly has time to master one tool, like craftsmen did in past, before something new is in hand and you start all over.

    However, I do think that is slowing down now as digital has matured, and many choices can be lived with much longer than in past … letting us master the tool better and get on with making images that express our view of the world, and our personal esthetic vision.

    - Marc

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Those of us who grew up with 'full frame' cameras in the film and prime lens age got to know the (rough) coverage of a focal length. Not so necessary with a zoom lens today; but I did find it confusing trying to mentally convert the coverage on full frame to that on, say, APS.
    Sláinte

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    I grew up in the film age. Which format are we taking about? 35mm, half frame, 16mm, 126, 110, Disc, APS, 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 6x12, 6x17, 6x24, 4x5, 4x10, 5x7, 8x10, 8x20, 11x14, 20x24? The photographers I knew that shot more than 35mm had no problem understanding that focal length by itself did not describe field of view. Expect for the time when someone was buying into a new format, equivalency was not used--and the equivalency could be from any format: if a 4x5 shooter was moving to medium-format, it was the relationship between those, not 35mm. Actually, digital has limited our choices to 3:2 and 4:3. Even the 1:1 sensor disappeared.

    The crop idea in the digital age was a marketing device for 35mm shooters--manufacturers used to give angular FoV in their spec sheets, not crop factor. For people that did not understand photography or had experience with it, it is meaningless. And now there are whole generations of photographers that never used 35mm. For a comparison to sell a format, it is a useful shorthand if you understand it, but I would stop the conversion once you start using the format. The geometric relationship between focal length and format is easy (all you need is the format diagonal) and so using 35mm as some kind of standard is not very useful. And the whole equivalency thing breaks down with aspect ratio.

    Actually, the equivalency thing has really added confusion. I have often seen folks ask if this also impacts the aperture in terms of exposure. And then folks get all kinds of confused about DoF.
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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    One particularly good example that the traditional formats aren't very interesting is the Fuji X-series. With reasonably priced 23mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2, great low light performance and generally impeccable image quality, there's no reason whatsoever for Fuji to go to 35mm. It would mostly mean larger and more expensive lenses, particularly at the long end. M4/3? My perfect Zuiko 150mm eqv. (75mm f/1.8) weighs 300 grams and fits in a large pocket. Try that with a high quality 150mm for 35mm.
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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    One particularly good example that the traditional formats aren't very interesting is the Fuji X-series. With reasonably priced 23mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2, great low light performance and generally impeccable image quality, there's no reason whatsoever for Fuji to go to 35mm. It would mostly mean larger and more expensive lenses, particularly at the long end. M4/3? My perfect Zuiko 150mm eqv. (75mm f/1.8) weighs 300 grams and fits in a large pocket. Try that with a high quality 150mm for 35mm.
    To me this is the biggest functional issue. I fell hook like and sinker for the A7 files and it has given me a kick in the pants wrt shooting. Once the 24-70/4 shows up I'll have a great kit along with the 35 and 55. *except* at the long end. Yes, I could buy an adapter and use some Canon glass (always loved the 70-200/4 and 135/2) but then I'm paying a pretty significant penalty. At that point the GH3 with 35-100/2.8 is starting to look ideal for that type of shooting.

    Horses for courses…but in the end for those of us that don't get our main paycheck from photos, it should be fun. And that is a hard thing to quantify.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    I think looking through the viewfinder is all you need, the sensor is irrelevant at that point, the view finder shows you what you are getting. I don't care what the sensor size is, I have many different cameras and find the best thing is just to look, if I want to get closer I either move or fit a longer lens, neither are a big deal.

    I think it's also important not to discount the "want factor" I can't think of a better term. The world is full of companies and people earning a living and paying taxes whilst providing goods or services that nobody really needs but that lots of people want, we'd be screwed if we only ever made do with what we needed.

    Long live choice, long live the desire to want more or better and long live the freedom to buy and use whatever you choose.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Bob's list could have been my list. I would only add:
    "is the package aesthetically pleasing" and
    "does anything snag when I pull it out of my Crumpler bag quickly?"

    The X-E1 with the excellent 27/2.8 pancake ticks both of these boxes too, and all of Bob's list. The CV 12/5.6 and a CV 58/1.4 complete the trio.

    Those factors in combination are much more important to me than the sensor size.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Sensor size, either digital or film has a relationship to DOF for any given focal length. So choice of sensor size is to me only a function of what you are trying to achieve, with camera functionality and personality thrown in to confuse us all. Personally I find a bit smaller than "35mm" easier to work with for what I photograph. Right now I use a GR, DP2M and a EM5 with a handful of lenses.

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    With today's technology that lower limit seems to be about 6 microns square. The D1 has photosensors that are 11.8 microns square.
    I read on this forum an interesting thread about certain Hasselblad backs that were considered "fat pixel backs". Does this related to smaller sensor with low pixel counts as well? What other cameras are "fat pixel"?

    Even with all this sensor talk I am a firm believer that the lens is #1 and should be paramount, within your budget, no matter what sensor you chose. Remember the good ol Leica Digilux 2, 5 megapixels of goodness, the reason for its great IQ was the lens connected to that sensor.

    Right now I wish the Mpixel race would stop and they (the manufacturers) would fight over and wow us with better dynamic range.


    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    Lastly, I think the whole "camera to fit you" is only partially true.

    If prevailing relationships to existing tools were the criteria for further invention, the Leica UR camera would never have been produced, and the TLR would not have existed. Both substantially altered handling and prevailing approaches to photography, but required some effort of mastery on the part of the photographer.
    I agree with this, with all tools you have to make an effort to work within its design. Recognize the limitations and work within it and with it.
    My DP2M is a good example. It chews through batteries, so I carry a spares and am more careful using the power I have, it in turn yields wonderful images.
    Sure, things will evolve but to anyone who bitterly complains, I say you go out and do a better job then. Occasionally they will and do.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    Sensor size, either digital or film has a relationship to DOF for any given focal length. So choice of sensor size is to me only a function of what you are trying to achieve, with camera functionality and personality thrown in to confuse us all. Personally I find a bit smaller than "35mm" easier to work with for what I photograph. Right now I use a GR, DP2M and a EM5 with a handful of lenses.
    Sensor size is just one factor to DoF. The idea you go to larger format for narrow DoF is just not supported by what photographers do. A whole host of 4x5 and 8x10 shooters make images with large DoFs. They never went the other way.

    I agree, the format will limit your options, just as what apertures are available to photographers--large-format and medium-format photographers never had f/0.95 lenses available to them--but to generalize about DoF to format is hard to do given the images produced. I would say sensor size is an important factor for many things including DoF, but it is one variable among many that influence the final result.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    The relationship of lens system to sensor DOES have an esthetic impact, and is not just technical mumbo-jumbo. The esthetics of MFD are different from 135 FF, and is different between 135 and APSc, and is different between APSc and other smaller sensors. Even without cropping, a modest 11 X14 print from each respective format looks and feels different. Since esthetics are evaluated subjectively, which format suits you is a personal creative decision.

    Personally, I've never been lured into a 3/4 "system" or APSc "system" for personal esthetic reasons despite the then advantage of reduced size. Sure enough, we now have FF 135 format sensors in a tiny package, and more to come to be sure.
    I agree with Brad's sentiment in general, but have to triple plus agree with Marc's comment here -- sensor size does matter when it comes to image aesthetics. If you shoot at f8 all day long, then you won't see it very much. But as you open up from there you definitely do, and here -- at least for my money -- full frame 35 is at the lower limit of the threshold for achieving that look. It's a central component for me on Bob's check list item "are you pleased with the files."
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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Sorry for repeating myself, but I feel that my posting at an ongoing discussion at the Fuji forum is relevant to this discussion as well:

    During film days, the difference between a 35mm image (36 x 24mm) and a 6 x 7 image (70 x 56 mm) was a factor of 4.5 (film area). That's the same as the difference between an 8 and a 36 MP sensor. It's a huge difference, and many photographers appreciated that and used it to their advantage. In addition, the lenses for the 6 x 7 cameras were much larger, enabling that increased resolution potential to become reality.

    The difference between 16 and 24 MP is a factor of 1.5, and given that it's the same sensor size, this becomes a challenge for many lenses. Also, while the grain size of most films was constant regardless of format, that is not the case when you cram more pixels into the same digital format, with possible (and mostly real) consequences for noise, DR and colour fidelity.

    While the film example gives more than 100% increase in linear size, the digital increase in this example only represents 23%. I could make countless examples that illustrate this (a 24 MP crop sensor vs. a 26 MP 35mm sensor for example), but the only ones that would show a really big difference would be between digital MF vs. any other format. However, while even that difference has become much smaller, the price difference has increased in most cases.

    Digital cameras have decreased the quality difference between formats and resolutions to a point where I believe most photographers 30 years ago would say that it's insignificant. And while the 135 and 120 formats totally dominated the world then, they are reduced to tiny niches nowadays. Some obviously need every little bit of resolution they can get, but the curve that shows the reality of diminishing returns has become very, very steep.
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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    We all have different sensibilities, but to my eyes, having more resolution in a same sized sensor is like using a finer grained film. If you don't push the enlargement factor, it matters not, but when you do, the difference can be seen and felt. In essence, this is how I interpret the OP and agree wholeheartedly.

    I also believe that subtle differences can be important. With a 16x12" print, there is no difference (that I can see) between 5x4 FP4+ and 5x7, but at 20x16 and 20x24 there is. Equally, 5x4 FP4+ and Delta 100 also look very different at 20x16 and 20x24! With certain subjects these differences leap out at you, but with others remain concealed. These subtleties are what Jack was talking about.

    Photographers often had distinct film preferences a few years ago (and still do now), so its no surprise that we are having the same debate regarding nuances in the digital era. As always, it just comes down to taste. We are also shooting different subjects and presenting them in different ways at different sizes, so that muddies the waters further.

    While I think that formats are a less hard and fast guide to quality than they were, even within formats there are very real differences. Files from the 12MP X100 and 36 MP A7R look like they were from completely different formats, rather than near cousins. The problem is that there is an awful lot of technical stuff going on which I am not worried about fully understanding it. I'm much more worried about pictures and so happy to let my eyes and tastes guide me. While some differences might be quantified as 'small' it does not always feel this way when looking at a print.
    Last edited by turtle; 1st February 2014 at 08:02.
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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Sorry for repeating myself, but I feel that my posting at an ongoing discussion at the Fuji forum is relevant to this discussion as well:

    During film days, the difference between a 35mm image (36 x 24mm) and a 6 x 7 image (70 x 56 mm) was a factor of 4.5 (film area). That's the same as the difference between an 8 and a 36 MP sensor. It's a huge difference, and many photographers appreciated that and used it to their advantage. In addition, the lenses for the 6 x 7 cameras were much larger, enabling that increased resolution potential to become reality.

    The difference between 16 and 24 MP is a factor of 1.5, and given that it's the same sensor size, this becomes a challenge for many lenses. Also, while the grain size of most films was constant regardless of format, that is not the case when you cram more pixels into the same digital format, with possible (and mostly real) consequences for noise, DR and colour fidelity.

    While the film example gives more than 100% increase in linear size, the digital increase in this example only represents 23%. I could make countless examples that illustrate this (a 24 MP crop sensor vs. a 26 MP 35mm sensor for example), but the only ones that would show a really big difference would be between digital MF vs. any other format. However, while even that difference has become much smaller, the price difference has increased in most cases.

    Digital cameras have decreased the quality difference between formats and resolutions to a point where I believe most photographers 30 years ago would say that it's insignificant. And while the 135 and 120 formats totally dominated the world then, they are reduced to tiny niches nowadays. Some obviously need every little bit of resolution they can get, but the curve that shows the reality of diminishing returns has become very, very steep.
    It is a little confusing to talk about different resolutions with the same sensor size, and differences in appearance between the same resolution and different sized sensors.

    Like others, I tend to trust my eyes when looking at prints (not the great equalizer: web presentations).

    If a APSc sized sensor sporting 24 meg is compared to a FF sensor with 24 meg, the pixels have to be smaller in the crop frame, right? If the pixels are the same size as the FF 24 meg sensor, then the resolution of the APSc sensor is going to lower.

    When I compare prints from my 37 meg S2P and those from my 36 meg A7R, the presence of the S print looks obviously better to my eye. For a while I tried a Sony NEX7 with 24 meg APSc sensor, and compared to prints from my A99 24 meg FF camera, the FF A99 prints look better than with the crop frame NEX7. I disagree that it requires massive enlargements to see any of this difference, even standard sized prints show different looks and feels between different formats.

    It seems to feel "deeper" in both dimensional appearance and collective detail that renders to eye as realism … or perhaps better said, the image feels more convincing.

    While I agree that it has become very expensive to make incremental gains with digital compared to film … the D800 and now this A7R camera have bucked that trend.

    YMMV as usual.

    - Marc
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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    I'm more a full frame type shooter as I like the ability to throw things out of focus easier , these small formats sometimes just have to much DOF in them and images become sterile. I relate this to MF tech cams , loved shooting the big sensors but with a tech cam it got boring because every shot was at F8 or F11. Its tough to get a creative look to the image. I like the F2 of a 200 mm lens or a 50,85,135 and lenses like that which you can blow out the focus either front or rear of a subject.

    On another reason and this maybe silly to some but after all this time as a Pro laziness sets in sometimes and worth comes into play. If I'm going to go shoot I want to shoot something that has a lot of mpx to it as if that image has any commercial value to me I can always go big with it. I have burned by this with my DMR and M8 not by the image but the ability to serve a bigger need when a client goes big on you and look like a fool. I got really soured by that as I was not able to pull it off as there just was no meat there.

    So my time shooting must give me a big file and also the ability to have choices on what I am shooting. Tech cams and these small format cams pigeon hole you into a DOF pattern I do not like. Yes I have gotten amazing images with both but when shooting I did not have a lot of options to be creative in a different way. As much as I loved a tech cam I could not pull off a F2 OOF image.

    Now everything else comes into play as well, feel, functionality, ease of use and all that but the part the really counts the deliverable than its about image look than I like either 35mm full frame or MF DSLR type cams to give me more creative choices and also give me extreme wides and teles as well.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Totally agree, Guy.

    A good example would be the Fuji 56mm f1.2, which renders the same sort of OOF you would see on an 85mm f1.8, because it is still a 56mm lens. However, its a rare lens and most optics are not this fast in APS-C land.

    By the same token, however, the additional depth of field of the smaller formats can be mighty hand for street/hyperfocal work. All depends on application.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Actually, I just want a large sensor and a big camera to show off…

    We have some competing variables here: format size, pixel resolution, and DR. These are independent variables that influence each other. They cannot substitute for each other.

    DR has not been brought up, but a large DR has the downside of making flatter looking images. Some folks have noticed that the M9 has punchier files than the the M or the new Sony sensors. That is the difference with DR. Easy to match a lower DR sensor, but hard to go the other way.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Ah, but there are more variables: AA filter, different lenses (not only maximum aperture) etc. My 7 MP Panasonic L1 with the PanaLeica zoom delivers much better results than any 12 MP camera I have owned equipped with a "middle of the road" lens, also when it comes to resolution. Why? Because the L1 has a very weak AA filter and the lens is exceptionally good in every possible way.

    The conclusion for me is that finding camera bodies and lenses that work well together is much, much more important than adding 50% more pixels.

    I agree with Sashin about DR and flat looking files, but my experience with Fuji cameras (S3 and S5) is that it can mostly be solved during PP. It must be said though that for party shots, I've always preferred oversaturated colours and minimal DR from a point & shoot. That's how people remember fun parties
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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I'm more a full frame type shooter as I like the ability to throw things out of focus easier , these small formats sometimes just have to much DOF in them and images become sterile. I relate this to MF tech cams , loved shooting the big sensors but with a tech cam it got boring because every shot was at F8 or F11. Its tough to get a creative look to the image. I like the F2 of a 200 mm lens or a 50,85,135 and lenses like that which you can blow out the focus either front or rear of a subject.

    On another reason and this maybe silly to some but after all this time as a Pro laziness sets in sometimes and worth comes into play. If I'm going to go shoot I want to shoot something that has a lot of mpx to it as if that image has any commercial value to me I can always go big with it. I have burned by this with my DMR and M8 not by the image but the ability to serve a bigger need when a client goes big on you and look like a fool. I got really soured by that as I was not able to pull it off as there just was no meat there.

    So my time shooting must give me a big file and also the ability to have choices on what I am shooting. Tech cams and these small format cams pigeon hole you into a DOF pattern I do not like. Yes I have gotten amazing images with both but when shooting I did not have a lot of options to be creative in a different way. As much as I loved a tech cam I could not pull off a F2 OOF image.

    Now everything else comes into play as well, feel, functionality, ease of use and all that but the part the really counts the deliverable than its about image look than I like either 35mm full frame or MF DSLR type cams to give me more creative choices and also give me extreme wides and teles as well.
    Guy, people that have more control over eventual use of an image may not relate to what you are saying, but I sure the Heck do! Been there, done that one too many times. Clients often down play usage when asking for a quote, but then when they see it, or when their media needs change, suddenly you get requests for super crops or enormous sized prints.

    - Marc

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Actually, I just want a large sensor and a big camera to show off…

    We have some competing variables here: format size, pixel resolution, and DR. These are independent variables that influence each other. They cannot substitute for each other.

    DR has not been brought up, but a large DR has the downside of making flatter looking images. Some folks have noticed that the M9 has punchier files than the the M or the new Sony sensors. That is the difference with DR. Easy to match a lower DR sensor, but hard to go the other way.
    Boy ain't that the truth. Your example of the M9 and M240/A7 are exactly what come to my mind also.

    However, if you mean that it is easy to match the M9 in normal lighting, I'm not so sure about that. I think it is really hard to get that punch back from flat files when working with color images.

    - Marc

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by turtle View Post
    Totally agree, Guy.

    A good example would be the Fuji 56mm f1.2, which renders the same sort of OOF you would see on an 85mm f1.8, because it is still a 56mm lens. However, its a rare lens and most optics are not this fast in APS-C land.

    By the same token, however, the additional depth of field of the smaller formats can be mighty hand for street/hyperfocal work. All depends on application.
    Lenses like the Fuji 56/1.2 is an absolute necessity to bring smaller formats further, and it shows that Fuji takes these things seriously (as do Sigma with the f/1.8 zoom). Any camera manufacturer can make a camera body with a lot of pixels these days. Even my Nokia can match the A7r in that respect. Not so many deliver lenses to match.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    If I'm going to go shoot I want to shoot something that has a lot of mpx to it as if that image has any commercial value to me I can always go big with it.
    If that dilemma didn't exist, I would probably have been back to film by now

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    DR has not been brought up, but a large DR has the downside of making flatter looking images.

    Re-read my post above.

    "I wish the Mpixel race would stop and they (the manufacturers) would fight over and wow us with better dynamic range."


    I want/need more DR because where I live I have harsh direct sun which you can blow highlights or have issues with shadow detail.
    So to a degree its importance I think it depends on where you live and the conditions you work under.
    I sometimes lament selling my X100 as it handled DR better than my other current cameras.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    You can always add contrast and pop to an image with lots of DR with simple processing tweaks that take seconds. You can even add import presets. But you can't add dynamic range that isn't there. As a Canon user that now owns the A7 and A7R, I can only say 'thank you' for the wide DR of these cameras.

    I totally agree re Fuji's fast lenses and hopefully they will add more f1.2s. A really fast 23mm would be interesting. They're certainly thinking like photographers here.

    PS As excited and pleased as I am with the new Sony cameras, I was just as excited, if not more so, with the Panasonic GM-1. Picture taking dynamite that you can pack everywhere. Brilliant! I'm looking forward to using it a lot on the street as its so small, fast and quiet, with good IQ and lots of DOF for free (due to sensor size and focal length). The IQ will be good enough for what I will use it for, but there's no denying it won't be able to compete with the A7R for IQ. As usual, there are horses for course and compromises everywhere.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    Re-read my post above.

    "I wish the Mpixel race would stop and they (the manufacturers) would fight over and wow us with better dynamic range."


    I want/need more DR because where I live I have harsh direct sun which you can blow highlights or have issues with shadow detail.
    So to a degree its importance I think it depends on where you live and the conditions you work under.
    I sometimes lament selling my X100 as it handled DR better than my other current cameras.
    We are always going to have situations where DR is not enough. It would actually be very difficult to extend DR forever and really impractical. At some point images simply do not look real--just see HDR photography--and why have a file size that is mostly empty data. Naturally, we need to actually go to 16-bit cameras: the 14-bit camera is reaching its practical limit. So the next real step is to have a 16-bit camera, rather than DR per se.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Agree Will. Give me more sensor data. DR now is good and we can always work that.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    How does the camera feel in the hand?
    How does the world look through the viewfinder?
    Are the controls near where you expect them?
    Do they do what you expect?
    How effortless is it to raise it to the eye, focus, compose, and shoot?
    Are you pleased with the files?
    Does it have any bad habits that you despise?
    Do you MF much or is AF what you do? How does your preferred mode work for you?
    That is sort of my basic checklist.
    Note that reasonable folks may evaluate the same set of cameras and come to different choices. That is just fine.
    Lenses though are a whole other ballgame and sometimes is more visceral.
    Sounds much like my own checklist, Bob.

    The one thing I'd add is "Give it time." While I'm as good as anyone at recognizing what I like about a camera quickly, sometimes I don't see the warts for a while. And the converse is also true: sometimes what felt awkward and odd the first times I picked up a camera makes sense after a week or two worth of using it when the logic of the design has been revealed through use and my muscle memory has come to accommodate it. Evaluating a camera in less than a month or two worth of shooting has always seemed to produce a fairly questionable evaluation.

    In the end, I know whether my evaluation of a camera is sound when I don't want to let go of it, when I choose it over other cameras to use, when the other cameras just linger in the closet.

    G

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    Re: Shopping advice: try to look past sensor size and megapixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    We are always going to have situations where DR is not enough. It would actually be very difficult to extend DR forever and really impractical.
    I'd be happy to have it extended to where scanned 35mm print film is now and stop. I suppose we will have to agree to disagree, the harsh central Australian light is different to most other parts of the world and while DR is not on your list it seems, it is on mine. This is why I use a DP2m a lot of the time.

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