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View Poll Results: which mirrorless format would you prefer?
FF 2 22.22%
APS-C 4 44.44%
4/3rds 1 11.11%
1/1.6" 2 22.22%
1/2.5" 0 0%
1/3" & smaller 0 0%
Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

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Old Mar 20, 2009, 12:21 PM   #1
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Since my APS-C vs FF 35mm thread was ruined by an idiotic FM, how about a try with APS-C vs 4/3rds?

What's the argument for APS-C over 4/3rds? It seems that if you like APS-C, you ought to love 4/3rds. All of the advantages of subframes over fullframes go even more so for 4/3rds vs APS-C.

Especially with micro 4/3rds and a whole line of lenses tailor-made for it.
Can Samsungs' new NX format compete?
Is there a market waiting for a "micro-FF" or even micro-MF?

..what about a 1/1.6" sensor p&s with a detachable lens? Is that crazy? Dispense with the EVF altogether...

but I'm thinking that if Canon or Nikon really want to compete in this space, Canon could experiment with a G-series with it's own lens mount...and also take EF into the mirrorless arena, just as easily as Nikon could.

Do you think that they will sit & watch?

Or is the game really to drive down the price & size of the camera & lens, and as such, larger sensors really don't have a role in this game? But does getting rid of the mirror really pay off in a significantly-lower price & size of the gear? What happens if you compare standard 4/3rds lenses to micro 4/3rds lenses, likewise APS-C format lenses to fullframe lenses? Are they really that much cheaper, lighter and smaller? Thus my original question. Why not just put a detachable lens on a p&s with a body-driven motor & CDAF?

How much does the pro market affect this vs the amateur market?
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Old Mar 20, 2009, 1:03 PM   #2
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I own both a 4/3 (Oly E510) and APS-C cameras (Nikon D300,D80), in addition to a high end P&S. I got the 4/3 because of it's small size and good quality. Yes, it's got limitations....slow, unsophisticated AF, limited dynamic range, small viewfinder, etc. But, IQ is quite good up to 800 iso and I can carry a two lens kit+small flash all day without blinking. My D300 is my money camera, and runs circles around the Oly (and the D80) as it should since it is in a different class. But carrying the same 2 lens kit +flash all day with the D300 is a different story. 4/3 can't be beat for convenience and portability with more than acceptable IQ.

That being said, micro 4/3 would have to be significantly smaller for me to think about buying it. I don't like EVF's. And the current micro 4/3 camera the G1, is not that much smaller than the Oly bodies. Using current 4/3 lenses on a micro body, would to me be a bit of a mismatch, and again result in not that much of a size difference.

I do expect Nikon/Canon to get into the micro game (micro APS-C) at some point in time. I would expect a different lens mount, although an adapter could allow current DX lenses to mount (again, I don't see the point of attaching large DX lenses to a mini body). Of course micro APS-C would give better dynamic range and noise performance than micro 4/3 because of the large sensor. That's why I think 4/3, micro 4/3 is in a tough spot.

As far as micro full frame...I just don't see it. Way too large, which is why i don't even see myself ever getting a full frame DSLR (i say it, but I don't know if i mean it)
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Old Mar 20, 2009, 3:29 PM   #3
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not to fish for dpr (far from it) but if this topic interests you then this ought to be very interesting as well:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0903/09...sinterview.asp

...the salient point is that the shorter backfocus distance is less significant with increasing FL. Beyond that, little if anything has changed. IQ is still a function of pitch (for any output format) & MP (certainly for large-format), and the increasingly-large factor is in-camera "post-processing" (it's certainly giving new life to the jpeg format). Which it seems that Leica refuses to let Panasonic do with its lenses, and so Panasonic had to design its own micro 4/3rds lenses (maybe they got Olympus to do it).

But would Leica actually refuse to make a mft lens for this reason? One has to say that the ball is in their side of the court only half the time can one get acceptable performance with a cheap design and good lens-correction in the camera? What about acceptable noise and DR? Ultimately the more componts of high-quality IQ move into silicon, the less leverage the boutique lens-designer really has. They are forced to make fast, high-quality lenses to compete but they can never really compete on price/performance and one can always step up to a better sensor with more conservative lenses or even use a tripod. So the question reduces to just how good does the equipment have to be for a shooter to buy and shoot it. The answer seems to be "not very, especially for good shooters and good post-processors".

But even that is something of a moot point if we're going to buy & carry at least two cameras and multiple lenses. It's almost not "aps-c vs 4/3rds vs fullframe". It's which of, say, any 2 of the 4 (5 if you include MF), as you said. We can't credibly ignore the p&s market nor can we ignore the need to take good shots in low light, fast shots in low light, or the need for fast, accurate focus. So the well-armed photographer ends-up carrying at least 2 cameras and lenses, and maybe a tripod *anyway*. Just like how we can't quite free ourselves from large displays. Or Microsoft software. Or zoom lenses, or primes (especially with body-IS cameras), or even a flash. Or our cars. They're just too useful.

...still it would help if these websites would hold the mfgs to the fire in terms of true ISO because many of the later cameras are wildly-overrated in terms of ISO. Including the D300. But I wonder. Do camera owners really care about the DxO rated ISO performance of their gear...or just what the camera and exif-data says?

When they see the knob set to "11" on the amp and they get the shot that they want, is that all that matters?

...is the biggest problem with 4/3ds not even the small sensor but the low pitch? But would it even play at 6MP? Would anyone even *buy* a 4MP MFT camera? Is the true paradox that we *want* small gear with high MP, and we're willing to sacrifice high-ISO SNR to get it? Or is it just that a high-MP p&s like the G9 are too small, too cheap & too good to ignore, even if they're not nearly as good for low-light shooting as a DSLR? If so that says that while we realize that a p&s is really only good for good light we don't care because they are so small & so cheap and so good for shooting in good light that we will buy one anyway, and if we really need a better camera, we'll get one of those, too, even if they are far more expensive, big & heavy and we will only shoot them occasionally, in low light or for action shots. If all this is true then it really doesn't matter what format the sensor is or how big the camera lens and body are. As long as they are relatively-good & well-priced, someone will buy them, and it's more a matter of their having to compete with items of similar size & price. Not that that market has no future. In a world with 1 billion photographers, *someone* will buy that gear if its any good.
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Old Mar 21, 2009, 10:44 AM   #4
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As always larger formats give better quality at the expense of increased cost and size.

So 4/3 is only marginally different from APS-C, comparing the two directly is difficult because they are so close on the continuum.

Mirrorless technologies are a fantastic idea as live view technology improves. I once thought I would never want to give up on the optical viewfinder, but I have changed my mind. The EVF in the G1 is excellent, different but very cool, and with the new high-res LCD screens in DSLRs Live View is starting to make real inroads for some types of photography.

The natural evolution of digital photography is to move away from mirrors and optical viewfinders. M4/3, Samsung's MAPS-C, Sigma's DP series. All promise better quality in a smaller package and large format photographers are finding the Live View in the high-end DSLRs very comforting for their small-format work.

Curiously we may see something of a niche resurgence in rangefinders with the mirrorless technologies. I hope so, I love rangefinders.

I think it's pretty clear from DXO that when you are looking at print output that more pixels does not equate to more noise. Noise is a function of how efficient the sensor and associated electronics are, and a function of how large the sensor is. How many pixels the image is divided into is basically irrelevant.

"Serious" amateur photographers and gearheads have always had a spread of equipment across the range of formats depending on their needs and budgets. That will continue.

Fast forward a year and I could see myself with a mirrorless medium size digital sensor street camera; either the DP2 or one of the M4/3 setups with a pancake prime. I think they will be small enough for my "carry everywhere" camera. When it comes to larger formats, well who knows? For sheer versatility and value the 5D2 is hard to beat, and I have a few Canon lenses already so that would be the most sensible option. But it's not all about what is sensible, and I have a hankering for the new BessaIII folder.

But what what gets middle-aged, middle-class, male westerners (who account for 95% of English-language forum posts) all worked up is not really where the money is. The big money is all in the P&S to entry level DSLR cameras. And the mirrorless cameras have a lot of room to make big inroads there. The G1 is selling a bomb in Asia. And the Japanese camera companies are always focused first and foremost on the Asian markets. This is great news because if the cynical whinging at DPR was all the feedback they ever got I'm sure camera company execs would all just kill themselves from the sheer depression of it all.

Companies like Leica will do whatever they can to survive. At the moment they are putting all their resources into the S2. We can expect little else from them for a while.
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Old Mar 21, 2009, 12:18 PM   #5
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"But what what gets middle-aged, middle-class, male westerners (who account for 95% of English-language forum posts) all worked up is not really where the money is."

Interesting point. Yet still, surely good, effective, ideas will help...some are marginally-effective, but I think that there are some really great ideas out there that mfg a won't do anything but turn their nose up at it and mfg c & d will leap all over it and benefit. Much like Panasonic is doing now with the G1 and LX3.

But I also don't like the "the loudest voices get the worms" approach. It's *easy* for people to complain, that doesn't mean that they are going to ask for good gear or even buy it if/when it comes to market. If so, my wish list would be something like body-IS for the D700 & 5DMk2, a version of them with 4-6MP, and a good 28-35mm effective F1.4-1.8 prime across the line.

Whether they go mirrorless or not doesn't matter much to me but I think that the EVF on my old Panasonic FZ5 and Olympus SP500 worked just fine. I wasn't shooting portraits with limited DOF though. If you're using it as a focus-aid or as a tracking-aid that may be different (and a mirror camera might be the only way to go), but I think, overall, good gear will sell. There is a market for any useful photographic tool. And as long as cameras have noise, lenses have lens-distortion and printing requires MP, there's not much "thinking outside the box" that can be done. It's just a matter of making better gear smaller, lighter & cheaper.

...the big issue, in my mind, is why do people still print?!?
If you can get away from printing your images, you've just knocked your resolution requirements down by a factor of what, 4? 10? All you need *then* is a big-enough display. Why do they make 10, 12, 14, 20, 24MP digital cameras when most of the shots will be viewed on the Internet?

If I can look at an image on my display at 72dpi and it looks fine, why do I need 300dpi in a print?

The key technology will be to take a 3MP image (which you can shoot right now with your iPod) and print it at 50dpi or so and have it look good. So you don't *need* a 12MP camera in the first place. Much less a 50MP image. The key question is why do you need 300dpi or even 600dpi to make good prints. Once that issue is resolved, I expect to see MP come *way* down. But you see instead of solving that problem, they push higher-resolution gear that we really don't need. Sure: you can take a 12MP file and make really huge images at 50dpi. But who can print a 12MP image at 50dpi? Almost no one. Instead what you see are these 300, 600, 1200, 4800 dpi inkjet and dye-sub printers for the home.

You put a good 3MP 1/1.6" diagonal sensor and ROIC in a p&s and combine that with the ability to make good prints at common LCD resolutions (72-96dpi), you'd knock-out half to 3/4s of the DSLR market. Especially with the switch to LV and CDAF. The only optical advantages in a DSLR would be in the PDAF system, the much-lower noise and potential for far-higher SNR and MP (for which most consumers would have no need) and in manual-focus accuracy.

It's almost like the whole market is skewed to low-performance printing to push the high-end imaging-market. But we have low-res output staring us in the face every day, and clearly people are happy with that.
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Old Mar 21, 2009, 6:04 PM   #6
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...if one assumes that 3MP is all one really needs in an image for a decent 19" diagonal 2MP display, then the solution becomes one of two things: either upsample the image during the print-process using a high-quality interpolation tool, or modify the printer-driver itself (like Qimage does) so that you can get a decent print at 50dpi.

Show me qualitatively the difference between a 12Mp image printed at 300dpi with a 50% fill-factor and a 3MP image printed at 50dpi with a 90% fill-factor when viewed at a distance of 1 ft or more and I'll believe that we need 12Mp cameras for printing. I will *still* say that most people (even pros) simply don't need to print, hardly at all. The main act is in getting the shot in the first place. Printing is secondary. Ok maybe for people who sell prints it's important but even they don't print all of their shots. Probably not even most of them.

When the public at large prints 5% or less of the shots that they take, why do people buy cameras that capture far more detail than they need? Because they think that high MP output is required for better pictures?

Sure: 1000HP is required to hit 250MPH in the average sports-car.

What sports-car driver in his right mind would spend the money for a car with 1000HP?

But do you realize? You simply cannot buy a low-resolution camera with a modern feature-set. I keep reading reports from mfgs that claim that their users demand more pixels in their cameras. But why do they do this instead of demanding better prints from the same images in their printers? The only answer that makes sense is that they sell a lot-more cameras than printers, and that the main selling point is *indeed* MP, not features. And that printing companies are more than happy to blame consumers for low-quality prints, instead of getting the most out of each pixel in an image file. It doesn't hurt them at all that lower-resolution cameras are generally well behind the curve in essential features like IS, in-camera NR and lens-quality, and cannot readily be shot raw.
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Old Mar 21, 2009, 7:25 PM   #7
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************ wrote:
Quote:
Since my APS-C vs FF 35mm thread was ruined by an idiotic FM,...
You do like to press your luck, don't you.

************ wrote:
Quote:
... how about a try with APS-C vs 4/3rds?

What's the argument for APS-C over 4/3rds?
There is a greater selection of lenses for APS-C than for 4/3 (which is exactly the argument for APS-C over FF, btw.)

************ wrote:
Quote:
... It seems that if you like APS-C, you ought to love 4/3rds. All of the advantages of subframes over fullframes go even more so for 4/3rds vs APS-C.
Apples and oranges. I know you want this to be more complicated than it is. Sorry.

Companies like Pentax and Minolta made SLRs for 126, 110 and APS. They all failed in the marketplace because of a lack of lenses. People bought SLRs and buy dSLRs because they want to be able to get lenses that are very good at a particular purpose. If those lenses are not available or are too expensive, people will find other ways to do what they want.

The VW Beetle was selling in the tens of millions all over the world, and Ford and GM competed with it all over the world. But they didn't think what happened over there would happen over here. After all, we had cheap gas, we had plenty of room to drive and park; they thought people didn't need small cars. When they finally saw the beast, they responded with the Falcon and the Nova. When the Bug finally came to the US in big numbers, Ford responded with the Pinto and GM responded withthe Vega. Those developmentswere market driven.

If people start buying 4/3 in big numbers, Canon and Nikon will respond, but there's no reason to. People aren't buying 4/3 in big numbers because there aren't enough lenses to choose from.

Nothing else matters.
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Old Mar 21, 2009, 9:22 PM   #8
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"
If people start buying 4/3 in big numbers, Canon and Nikon will respond, but there's no reason to. People aren't buying 4/3 in big numbers because there aren't enough lenses to choose from."

...interesting because by that logic ff should be the only format that sells. When aps-c came out, there were hardly any aps-c lenses, they probably all used ff lenses and mounts. And Panasonic and Olympus have been selling 4/3rds for a while now...and the G1 has taken off like a rocket. The 4/3rds market is a branch of the Rebel market and so is the D40-D60 market. Without these cameras, the "DSLR" market would be half of what it is today, maybe less.

Plus it's fairly easy to convert the old KM manual-focus mount lenses to fit on Olympus 4/3rds cameras, all of the KM AF lenses fit on the alpha-mount, the adapter market is going strong...now FD is big on 4/3rds, it's not like these cameras don't work well with ff lenses, people are mounting Nikon lenses on Canon bodies and vice-versa. There just aren't many "optimized" 4/3rds lenses, relatively speaking. But there's no shortage of lenses that fit on aps-c and 4/3rds bodies, all while both Panasonic & Olympus continue to relese more and more 4/3rds and even micro 4/3rds lenses. Of course this is not happening the other way around because the subframe lenses don't work properly on fullframe bodies, not because of the mounts but because of the imaging-circles. The oldest kid in the family has to deal with the oldest "hand me downs" and the biggest & most expensive of the new lenses, not to mention the biggest, most-expensive bodies

I'd say that you can pick a body today and find a lens of any effective FL & F# that you want, within reason. If not then there is no real demand for it. I'd say that Canon and Nikon are responding to 4/3rds but how, exactly? Do they have to sell a 4/3rds camera? No. Will they respond to what is happening in the 4/3rds market? Yes of course. The question is really is 4/3rds a distinct market from aps-c, and I'd have to agree: probably not. The mounts are camera-specific but functionally there's little difference between a 1.5x crop camera and a 2x crop camera. If APS-C was a whole stop cleaner than 4/3rds there might be a functional difference. It isn't. And one can argue that 4/3rds is actually a better format than aps-c because the aspect-ratio advantage outweighs the pitch advantage, not to mention the crop advantage. Still there's a *lot* of overlap because basically they are the same-size cameras and they take very similar photographs. While 4/3rds cameras can take aps-c lenses but not the other way around and there's no compelling advantage for aps-c over 4/3rds, it seems that aps-c is becoming subordinate to 4/3rds just as the ff market is at least numerically subordinate to aps-c in spite of the clear SNR advantage of ff over aps-c. The trend clearly is to lower pitches and higher FOV-crops away from higher SNR....in other words, to optimize cameras for high MP shots taken in good light or under flash. The A900 is a blatant admission of this, only the D3X really tries to cover all the bases. And at $8k it ought to! Clearly most of the digital market is not based on the D3X and 1DsMk3. The surprise is the 5DMk2. Everything else is fairly predicatable.

In other words I doubt that lenses are the primary issue. I think the issues are either price, noise and then lenses, or if you have a large stock of lenses already, the lenses, compatibility, then noise & price together. If you can't justify the price of a ff, you won't buy one, and aps-c and 4/3rds are there fore you. Then if you need better SNR than a 4/3rds can give you, you'll go for aps-c. The body will dictate the lens-choice, unless of course you have a large set of lenses and then you will choose the bodies to go on them. But clearly that's a large range, because nowadays many different bodies can be mounted on a lens. If you don't need AF, or if the lens is AF-compatible with the body, there's no need to even use a body from the same mfg as the lens. But there are going to be cases of people who have DX lenses....you could put a 4/3rds camera behind it, or a DX camera, or a D700, or D3 or D3X. Similarly with FD, EF and EF-S lenses. There are plenty of people out there shooting Canon lenses on Olympus 4/3rds bodies. If lens-availability is the prime concern then surely that would be another argument for 4/3rds. Micro 4/3rds will just take this to another level, you could mount practically any SLR lens ever made on a mirrorless body...potentially with body-IS on top of that. A micro 4/3rds body can give the shooter every advantage but one: high SNR & DR combined with high ISO & MP. But they can still get high SNR and DR in good light or with a tripod at low ISO. And they don't have to buy $1500 lenses. If you ignore the inherently low SNR and pitch of the sensor, and if you can get the wide-angle lenses that you need (or you're willing to shoot panos), you win every other way. And by pushing APS-C and FF to higher MP counts and driving-up the costs of their cameras while driving-down the SNR, not to mention refusing to embrace body-IS & mirrorless bodies, those mfgs are playing right into the hands of the 4/3rds consortium. They are making FF & APS-C cameras that are nothing more than big, expensive high-MP p&s's. A 24MP budget fullframe camera is a contradiction in terms.
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Old Mar 22, 2009, 4:22 AM   #9
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Resolution is important if you want to print.

A lot of people don't. I do. So do a lot of others. People who really don't care about prints right now generally don't own "proper" cameras, they just use their camera phones.

So whether we need sufficient resolution to print is an empirical question. I don't know what percentage of camera users want to print (even occasionally) at A4 or A3 sizes. You might be able to get an estimate from looking at the sales numbers of the proper photo printers and applying a multiplier to include the online labs.

And if you DO want to print...

You can't create detail that doesn't exist by interpolation. Even the VERY computation intensive algorithms like Richardson-Lucy can't do more than double the perceived resolution. And if you've ever run a full multi-pass RL upscale on a big image you know how rough it is on computing resources. About 8-hours for a 30-pass computation on a 4-core Xeon workstation from an 8mp image. Working from a 20mp image would be insane.

If there is ever a job for grid computing it's RL computations!

If you want to do some experimentation with the RL upscaling, then try some of the astronomy software like that available from Mike Unsold.

http://www.mlunsold.com/

For quality RL blows away the fast upsizing algorithms like bicubic and the fractal-based ones, but most people don't have the patience for it.

What resolution do we really need for prints? Ctein concludes that for a "perfect" 8x10 print we will need 400mp. So even for people like me who print predominantly at 8x10 we are a long way short of perfect. Although I do think that for A4 and even A3 work M4/3 is "good enough" for 95% of applications.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad...be-enough.html

Larger sensors will always provide lower yields though and prices will therefore have a more than a linear relationship to their size.

There is plenty of life yet in the megapixel race.
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Old Mar 22, 2009, 6:01 AM   #10
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************ wrote:
Quote:
"
If people start buying 4/3 in big numbers, Canon and Nikon will respond, but there's no reason to. People aren't buying 4/3 in big numbers because there aren't enough lenses to choose from."

...interesting because by that logic ff should be the only format that sells. When aps-c came out, there were hardly any aps-c lenses, they probably all used ff lenses and mounts. ...
That's it! You tripped over it and didn't even realize it.

APS-C cameras could always use FF lenses, but they can use APS-C lenses as well. On day 1, APS-C camera bodies had a larger selection of lenses than FF camera bodies did. And the gap has been getting bigger ever since.

************ wrote:
Quote:
... In other words I doubt that lenses are the primary issue. ...
Really?What's the point of buying a camera with an interchangeable lens, if there's only one lens that will fit it? How much does the situationimprove when a second lens becomes available? Compare that to the situation where APS-C camera bodies can use all the FF lenses that have been available for years, even decades, in addition to thelenses that are exclusuvely APS-C.
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