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Tuesday, 24 January 2017


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Mike, have you considered providing a link to larger sample images at Flickr or some other photo sharing site? That might be useful in some cases where you want to make a point but are limited by your blog software. By the way, I also have a GX8 and agree with you about the quality of its files and the "grain" they produce.

How dare you suggest that those little 20mp 4/3 sensors are pleasing and give film-like results!

According to DXO the newest version in the EM1 Mark II is the best yet, which has sparked some angry discussions.

My own latest sensor find is not my still mostly new K1, but my newer Ricoh GR ll, which uses a fairly old 16mp aps-c Sony, I think. A good sensor combined with a super lens means I'm enjoying even my bad photos more...

But do the GX8, Pen-F and E-M1 MkII all have the same sensor? I don't know myself (and I don't know how one would confirm or repudiate that, without having insider knowledge), but I'm sure there are smart people around who can talk freely and share educated guesses.

Yes I like this sensor too. I'm shooting a recently acquired Pen F and like the results very much, quite a bit more than those of my original E-M1.

I'm convinced, in some camera iterations, that regardless of the sensor size and resolution, it's the Gestalten of the whole camera package that drives the collective output of the image. Sort of like the best year of that vintage wine... I think one sees this throughout the development of the digital form. A manufacturer works on the hardware, software and lenses to get things just right, and sometimes they hit the mark.

Those of us who have come to the realization that our camera (or lenses) is "good enough" will enjoy much more satisfaction with our photography while those who keep chasing the elusive next best thing will never quite find that same pleasure. When is "good enough" good enough? All current digital cameras are now good enough and it is us that have shortcomings, not our gear.

The silent shutter is elegant.
To me, this is one essential attraction of the mirrorless camera, and why I (with regret) bade farewell to my Pentax*. In the three years I've owned my GX7, the mechanical shutter has been used maybe a dozen times.

*The discovery that the old M42 and M37 Takumars played well with M4/3 was a consolation.

Mm..., who says the GX8, E-M1 Mark II, Pen-F, and GH5 have the same sensor? DXO in its recent review of the E-M1 II put it head 'n' shoulders above the GX8 and Pen-F in the noise department. I mean a Low-Light ISO of 1300 over 800 or 900 respectively is quite something and puts the Oly in D7200 territory. Gee, who woulda thunk that would ever happen.

A technical correction: that's a CMOS image sensor not an NMOS sensor.


The LiveMOS brand has been around for some time and is used by both Panasonic and Olympus.

It started off referring to Panasonic's CMOS image sensors in the original FourThirds and first three generations of micro FourThirds cameras. Then came the OMD E-M5 with a Sony sensor and Olympus kept calling it a "LiveMOS" sensor. I guess they didn't want Panasonic to loose face.

Now the brand has no relation to the sensor technology or maker. Olympus (and Panasonic) have called both Sony manufactured and Panasonic manufactured CIS "LiveMOS". It's a meaningless term.

I would guess the Sony IMX269 sensor is in all of these cameras. It's the only announced 20.3Mpx CIS. If Panasonic are manufacturing a 20Mpx type 4/3" CIS they haven't released it's data sheet (AFAIK) but then again neither have Sony. You'd need a camera teardown to confirm this (and the PDAF cameras would be using a customized version of the sensor).





The Dxomark measurements for all the 20Mpx mFT cameras are all the same (within measurement error) so there seems to be just one 20Mpx 4/3" sensor out there.

Glad to see another person who noticed. Since I got my hands on the PenF I noticed it had something peculiar about it. Keep color pretty well into the high ISO. The highlight range seems pretty good (and not sure how much was Olympus shifting the DR window up but seems like there's something special going on here).

But regardless as you said- the files are good. I wish I could like the PenF as much as I like its files. I find several usability issues with it. But love the files and love the JPEG engine Olympus put in it.

Gotta say, I love the lowly 16mp sensor on the Oly E-M5 II, especially with the Pro Oly glass. I have played with the Pen F and am duly impressed.

I've learned how to get a consistent "look" with the Oly files. I hesitate to compare Oly files to A7r files. Both cameras compliment each other. I agree totally with Mike's comments about big sensors versus small. Sometimes, less is more.

By the way, Butters is a lighter version of our darling (recently deceased) Jazz. I felt a pang in my heart when I saw closeup crop of B.

Indeed, Micro 4/3 offers some nice 'cameras for the road'. It's a code name I have been using to describe smallish, tough setups which can cope with anything thrown at them producing decent (though not "perfect") results.
When I was younger I used to backpack a lot with an OM2s and a couple of primes thrown in my rucksack among the rest of my belongings. It's taken digital a while to catch up, but I think Micro 4/3 is about right for that. Many small circa f/1.8 primes to choose from and the occasional grain is indeed film-like.

Mike. Great article and a perception that has been "mulling" around the old brain-box for a while. As you have said there is NO bad camera out there now. We have now reached the point I believe of not being seduced by technology improving our ability in taking pictures but to choose our preferences in taking our pictures depending on the technology available. Is the choice of different sensors in different cameras and their tweaking by say, "fuji" the new Film choice. I choose fuji I like the results. B&W rendering, the Classic Chrome jpgs not to mention details in RAW. I tend to keep things simple in post production using Lightroom and some presets. Camera technology will I am sure improve as time goes on but does it have to. A box with a hole and medium to capture the image has all that we have needed.
People have asked for B&W only cameras, stripped down versions, no video, no simulations, gimmicks etc. Less inside the box but like women shoes less costs more ! Leica so far has been the only taker. I would love a stripped down X100 series. But I choose to now go backward and invested in an original mint X100 to complement my X100t. A bayer sensor does render a difference to trans. So, have `I taken the first steps in this undertaking choosing my camera by sensor to achieve results and not being seduced by the "NEW" old 12 mp and not 24mp.
Mike, keep up the good work and provoking comments, I read it every day. Thanks for the space to write this. regards martyn

On the fence to buy the Pen F I find this thread interesting...thanks

Does the GX85 have that same sensor. [No. --Mike] Whilst I love my E-M5 I also feel that the besuty of Micro 4/3 is its potential for small size and portability. I was tempted by the GM5 but I thought it was TOO small and fiddly .... but a GX85 with a 15mm to 17mm prime might hit the sweet spot.
The Pen F is a thing of beauty but I think Panasonic do produce small elegant cameras at a great price point.
I do hope this has the same sensor as it might have this perfect Goldilocks size for walkaround...not too big and not too small...just right!

@John Sarsgard: I understand what you mean, but I need to note that the M is priced in a way that allows EU production at EU wages and EU working conditions. There's a strong case to be made that this is more democratic than the conditions that result in more 'affordable' cameras.

Over Christmas I rented a Pen F and the new Olympus 25 f/1.2. Such a shame that I can't afford a $1200 camera or a $1200 lens right now because that was a delightful combination.

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