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Friday, 29 November 2013


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Looking to this class of camera, has anyone seen the comparison? Fujifilm ex-2, Panasonic GX7 and Olympus EP-5? I don't think there's much to choose between them?

The performance of smaller CCD sensors really is pretty astounding.

My E-M5 will sometimes smudge out small details at ISO 3200 to try and hide some of the grain, but it really doesn't need to.

What's even more striking to me is that I can get pictures in the dark with my phone that are probably as good or better from a "technical" standpoint (color, noise, detail) as my old D200 DSLR which was admittedly weak in the noise handling department.

You use of a Tri-X frame also reminds me that the recent Peter Turnley book mixes seemingly perfect and grainless digital black and white pictures with what looks to me like pretty classic Tri-X black and white ... and it makes me miss the look of that grain.

Not enough to go back to spilling D76 all over myself, but enough to sigh a bit.

It is also worth having a look at what the Sony sensors are now doing. A few years ago, I thought IBIS or OIS were "must haves" on digital cameras. Today these features have their moments but I no longer see them as essential. Just raise that ISO a little. in fact. I think a built in ND filter is arguably at least as useful now as IBIS.

Keep in mind that an inkjet print will have finer apparent grain than a digital photo print. I did ISO tests and printed full-size inkjets at 300ppi. Grain was almost invisible below ISO 6400. Then I made 4x6" crops and had digital prints made. While still impressive, grain was more apparent in "real" prints than inkjet prints.

"But I'm going to raise the upper limit on the camera's auto-ISO control."

Yes, on my m4/3 Olympus E-M5 I have the auto-ISO upper limit set to 6400.

They're making amazing little cameras these days (even though no one has yet to make a Micro 4/3 20mm(e) prime).

But I can wait... Come 2015, organic sensors are gonna launch digital invasion Part II, and today's latest and greatest will get mighty old, mighty quick. I can see the comparison photos already...

No doubt, mono tonal gradation of digital capture still leaves something to be desired. Something about it looks... just... somehow... artificial compared to film.

On the other hand for those who thought 160 ASA was about as fast as you wanted to go on print film... and maybe GAF 500 for the transparency daring on rare occasions... and even pushing Tri-X to 800 E.I... the possibilities of digital are amazing. Even the more modest of today's digital compacts yield amazing results compared to film when it comes to high ISO.

I keep being astonished at the dynamic range my Nikon D800 can pull from raw files and believe it completely obsoletes smaller film formats on technical grounds, but smaller sensors are indeed no slouches either. Yesterday I shot in a club at ISO 1600 with my Olympus E-M5 and the color shots look really good, can't wait to make a large print.

In addition to sensor development lenses have also got much better at large apertures. I'm starting to think that this is affecting the way we make photographs.

Yet, so many people "claim" that Four Thirds sensors cannot be used above ISO 1600 because it's too noisy.

I see the "good grain" on the Mill, but I question the IQ of the camel ;-)

I find the problem with high ISO is not noise but colors. The colors go bad quickly, as soon as ISO400 on an APS-C sensor.

I find the problem of high ISO is color. Colors become washed out as low as ISO400 on a DX sensor. My Canon S90 has bad colors at all ISOs, including base ISO80, which I attribute to the high pixel density. I shoot my Nikon D3200 (24mp) at base ISO of 100 whenever possible, and consider all higher ISOs as a compromise similar to pushing color film. If you convert to black and white, these problems obviously go away, and digital noise actually looks a lot like film grain. For a grainy look in BW, I can shoot at max ISO12,600 on my Canon S90, and virtually any ISO on a larger-sensor camera, with acceptable artistic results.

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