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Old Aug 6, 2010, 10:36 AM   #1
rbh
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Default Does size matter? APS-C vs Micro Four thirds Sensor

Hi:

I am a newbie on this site as well as to photography - this is my first post. If this is not the right forum I apologize in advance. So far I had Canon SD800 that I lost last week.

I have been researching a cameras for purchase - SLRS (T1i/T2i) and Micro-Fourthirds (E-PL1, Sony NEX-3/5) as my wife and I want better IQ.

I have been reading on sensor size and read the post by TCav "'Focal Length' and 'Crop Factor'". I am not sure I understood all the tenchincal details on the Focal length

Ken Rockwell's Half Frame fiasco http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/half-frame.htm and another article which seems to contradict each other http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/43/sensor-size.html.

Q: Would the image quality be different on SLR using APS-C and Micro-Fourthirds such as E-PL1/Sony or Panasonic for:

1. Low Light outdoor night photography
2. Low light indoor photography
3. Landscape photography
4. Indoor people photography

I know the type of lens used would also make a difference. Would it be possible to compare using the same lens - say 18-55Kit lens on T1i on all the cameras (not sure if I could find E-PL1 could take an adapter to attach the lens). Also, does it matter to compare like this? Would it be more appropriate to just compare the the kit lens that came with individual cameras?


Thanks in advance. I have read quite a few posts by Sarah, Shoturtle, Tcav and Mark - very very informative and helpful.

Best regards,
Rishi
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 11:40 AM   #2
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Quote:
I have been researching a cameras for purchase - SLRS (T1i/T2i) and Micro-Fourthirds (E-PL1, Sony NEX-3/5) as my wife and I want better IQ.
Note that the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5 are not Micro 4/3s cameras. These models use a Sony 14MP APS-C size CMOS Sensor (similar to the one used in the Sony A550), with a new Sony NEX lens mount system.

As for IQ, you really have to take each camera on a case by case basis.

All else being equal, a larger sensor with larger photosites for each pixel will usually perform better, as each pixel has a larger surface area for gathering light, requiring less amplification for equivalent sensitivity (since amplification can add noise).

But, all is not equal, and advancements are being made in sensor technology with each new generation of sensors. Ditto for how a camera processes the information from it's sensor and the sophistication of the noise reduction algorithms.

So, you really need to take each camera on a case by case basis when comparing image quality.

As for comparing IQ with the same lens, that's really only practical when the same lens is available in multiple camera mounts (for example, you could buy Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lenses in mounts to fit Pentax, Sony, Canon, Nikon, Sigma and Olympus 4/3s dSLR models). But, with newer lens mounts used by mirrorless camera models, third party lenses may lag for a while before we see the same lenses in multiple mounts.

Although you may be able to get a given lens to work via an adapter on multiple cameras, that can have drawbacks and may not allow full functionality. For example, in the case of the T1i kit lens you were asking about, you'd lose the ability to control the aperture via an adapter on other cameras (since it's controlled electronically and other cameras wouldn't know how to handle it).
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 2:24 PM   #3
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Can some one comment on the image quality of the three camera, E-PL1, T1i/T2i and Sony NEX 3/5 for the various scenarios listed on my original post?
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 2:38 PM   #4
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There are pros and cons to any of them. Chances are, the Sony models will do better at the raw level compared to the other models you're looking at, as the latest 14MP APS-C size sensor used in the NEX-3 and NEX-5 is pretty darn good. However, lens choices are limited and they lack the external controls some users may prefer. Pros and cons.

But... the differences between the models you're considering in the IQ area are really negligible for most real world purposes, and you'd have more lens choices, external controls, flash options and more with the Canon dSLR models you're looking at (just don't expect the noise free focusing ability with video you'd have with newer models like the NEX-3 and NEX-5).

Is video a consideration? If not, you'd open up your options to more choices.

How about time frame? Keep in mind that we should be seeing a number of new camera models announced this month and next month from a variety of camera manufacturers.
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 2:54 PM   #5
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Thanks Jim.

I just got a T1i from Costco (with their excellent 90 day return policy) to see if I like a dSLR. Coming from P&S background, I can see the difference in the IQ but am not completely sold on the size of the camera and complexity. I am leaning towards a 4/3 or compact like Sony if the IQ is not much of a difference. I will mostly be viewing on computers and 50" HDTV (prints upto 10X12").

I am waiting for new announcements near photokina to see what I want to buy.
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 3:06 PM   #6
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I shoot both the epl-1 and t1i, and the iq of the camera are quite good with the kit lenses. The epl-1 is a decent low light camera for indoor shooting, and night photography is more about long exposure at low iso on tripod. So either evil or dslr can do that.

If you are looking for compact the m4/3 is the route to go, if you shoot action, and need even better low light the dslr is the route to go.

I can shoot 90 percent of what I shoot with the epl-1, but when it comes to dancing and low light club dancing the dslr it the better tool for it. But when I travel and move around allot, the m4/3 is the better tool for that.
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 3:11 PM   #7
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Here are some direct IQ sample of the T1i and epl1 in similar situations.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wi...s-germany.html

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/tr...r-germany.html

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/tr...ris-night.html

If you can the exif plug in for your browser, you can tell which one was taken with the t1i and which one is the epl-1
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Old Aug 7, 2010, 7:53 PM   #8
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You might consider the top-rated (and compact) Pentax Kx and its extremely good high-ISO / low-light capabilities.

The image quality difference of m4/3 vs APS-C cameras only matters if you intend to print extreme enlargements that will be closely inspected. As was mentioned above, IQ per camera must be judged on a case-by-case basis. But IQ also depends on lenses, as does versatility. Look at the availability of affordable, high-quality lenses for cameras you consider. Lenses come first; a camera is just a box upon which to hang lenses. Digital cameras last a few years, good lenses last for decades. When you buy a camera, you are marrying its lens system, and divorce is expensive.

I've been shooting for a long long time, but I got my first dSLR just over 2 years ago. I asked myself, "What do I want to do that I can't do with what I have?" (which was a good Sony DSC-V1). The answers were: ultrawide, ultralong, and low light. I read user reviews and gripes at dpreview.com, and I saw who had the lenses I wanted that I could afford. That led me to Pentax -- but your mileage may vary.

While many fine lenses from various makers can be adapted to Canon and m4/3 mounts, the very small size of the m4/3 sensor favors longer glass, not wide-angles. A 21mm lens is very wide-angle on a full-frame camera, moderately wide on an APS-C body, and 'normal' on m4/3. The lens doesn't change, but smaller sensors see a smaller, narrower slice of that the lens projects. If you're at all interested in wide shots, see what the lenses cost.

Also see what used glass is available, and for how much. I now own a few bought-new AF lenses, a few used ones, and about 75 used manual lenses I can mount on my Pentax. The average cost: US$30 each. Some of the best were under US$10. Of course, once you slip into LBA (lens-buying addiction), you are doomed. DOOMED!! Have fun.
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