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Monday, 10 April 2017


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I used to pine and pine for larger and larger format cameras. Then I saw a detailed version of one of my favorite photographs -- Henri Cartier-Bresson's man jumping over a puddle (there may be a better known name but that's mine) and saw how imperfect it was by modern standards.

Now I do my best with what I have. My personal limitations are exceeded long before the camera's.

As to bite ... isn't there a bite setting in Photoshop somewhere?

Hi Mike;

The semiconductor industry has a fixed die size. So I think anything larger than an APS-C size sensor is stitched - meaning several sensors joined and stitched with firmware.

Aside from phone camera sensors I think we will see a wring out of sensor size in cameras. My guess is: 1", M4/3, APS-C, FF(35mm), 6 x 4.5 (Phase One & others). That's it. Better Light is way out there for common use I think. I expect to see more technical advances with APS-C and smaller as the semiconductor industry moves away from optical for stepper work. This move was a big blow to Nikon's bottom line. Smaller, better, lighter cameras are coming. I just hope the camera makers can produce lenses that are able to resolve the sensor quality. Some are falling behind in the lens department, while Sigma and others take up the slack.

It will be interesting to watch what happens in the next couple of years. Others may drop out of the market. M 4/3 may go away. I think 1" will be around and gain a bigger following; better than a phone sensor, camera fits in a pocket and really good files supported by good post software.

Just guessing. I don't work in the camera or electronics industry - just a camera user.


Here's a piece on "stitching":


Funny you'd say that just now - I got myself a GX8 very recently and I'm in love. Actually I'm even more surprised by the 14-140 mm zoom I got with it, but that's another topic.
And my frame of reference is a Nikon D800 with Zeiss Apo-Sonnar f:2.0/135 mm ...
From a walk on Saturday, a wall lizard.

I have the GX8 and the PEN-F. The files are a treat to work with. More film like than the previous sensor, which I still love. By the way, I have seen zero evidence of the dreaded shutter shock with the GX8. I too mourn the possible loss of Panasonic.

I can't comment on the sensor because I've never used it, but if you say its beautiful, I believe you.
But I will comment on the sensor's size. I wonder if Panasonic's actions are based at least partly on the line of reasoning that Thom Hogan used when he speculated that m4/3 had 'no where to go, having defined themselves by a specific sensor size, and that as camera phones continue to get better they will put pressure on 1" sensors then m4/3. With Oly's pricing above many Aps-c cameras, consumers moving up from smart phones, have a lot of choices.
Perhaps Panasonic saw this as an additional difficulty with it's strategy.
I am NOT saying m4/3 cameras are not fine cameras, but rather commenting more on marketability in a shrinking market.

Due to some very nasty and real balance problems and finding the (D)SLR more than a handful placed my Nikon D750 and three lenses plus my well-used Nikon F100 and 50 mm f 1.8 lense with my local brick and mortor dealer for sale.
I have never enjoyed digital rendering; however these days that is what is.
Long term suspect as technology improves, the smaller sized sensors will render an image as well as the large sensors do now.
Whenever I can walk without support again and can maybe enjoy the process, the physically smaller sensors will do as the big sensors...
Not holding my breath though.

Minolta had incredibly advanced and innovative engineering, but unfortunately had POS production, and marketing was even worse. Now long-gone but not forgotten, as Sony continues to develop some of their better ideas.

Makes me glad I slowly bought Olympus prime glass over the last few years, and now I'm ready for that 20 mp body!

It's always surprised me that we don't see more commentary on the advantage of smaller sensors. Increased depth of field is such a wonderful thing! I have a photo taken with a small sensor compact, of a lighthouse (Luff Ness) framed in the window of a fantastic stone building, and both are in focus. You would need stitching of another sort to do that with full frame, let alone MF or LF!

If you like that sensor maybe you should give the Yi M1 a try - probably the most affordable camera with the IMX 269 imager:


". . . Sony IMX 269 sensor. As far as I can figure out, that's the name of the new 20-MP Micro 4/3 sensor in the Panasonic GX8 and GH5 and the Olympus Pen-F and E-M1 Mark II, although take that with a grain of salt"

That salt might be Phase Detect AF., which the E-M1 has, to allow fast (ish) focus with legacy 4/3 lenses, and the Pannys and other Olys do not.

I am completely happy with my GX8 - my GAS is focused on lenses for this system.

I do however have a slight longing for Pentax K1, not for the extra pixels and size, but for being able to use my FA 77 without the APSC crop (ditto for the 31, but mostly the 77). Oh, and my Pentax-F 135.

"I'm even more surprised by the 14-140 mm zoom"

Quite a fine lens, for the size, weight and $. Mine lives on a GM5, as my casual kit.

One caveat; it gets very soft at close focus at the long end. I get excellent C-U images using an achromatic C-U lens, far superior to what it can do on its own, and higher mag, if I like.

Funny, I went from APS-C to m4/3, as I actually wanted more depth of field at a given aperture.

Coming from film, I've been almost entirely satisfied with sensor tech since the ubiquitous 16mp APS-C Sony unit of 2013. As someone who shot 35mm (and medium format) film,I think modern digital sensors are pretty amazing.

The OMD EM5II fulfills my need for a small-format camera with that bit of bite.

My favourite camera at the moment is a second hand Lumix LX100 that I picked up as a "briefcase camera" to use for my work.

This little camera has become a firm favorite. I find myself increasingly leaving my "proper kit" at home and going out with just this little camera.

I like the way it has old style controls like an aperture ring and a speed dial. Or I just set it to A-A and it becomes a point and shoot.

Panasonic have in the M43 system got the concept of their 2.8 zooms far more "right" than the Olympus equivalents .

My 12-35 and 35-100 as well as being optically great lenses are far more compact and thus practical than the Olympus equivalents, which I find big and bulky, which defeats the object of the M43 system in my opinion.

Let's hope Panasonic keeps on making great cameras.

"Dreaming of a SMALLER sensor?!"

Yes. Actually, I've begun working with one.

Fujifilm GFX 50S -vs- PhaseOne IQ160

I certainly hope Panny stays around, thrives, even. I'm essentially brand agnostic within µ4/3, but feel it is much better for having two major players and some minor ones.

Most of the noise I hear about them seems to revolve around camera bodies and enthusiast compact cameras.

I speak up for their lenses. They seem to be on a long, steady program to upgrade their lenses.

As a long time user of the Oly 75-300 zoom, I can say the PLeica 100-400 is a big step up; a spectacular lens.

The new 42.5/1.7 is even better than the wonderful Oly 45/1.8. No meaningful difference in the center, but better toward edges/corners. (And has OIS, so I can use it properly in my little GM5 kit.)

Jury still out for me on new PLeica 12-60 vs. Oly 12-100. They optically whup the regular 12-60 Panny and venerable Oly 12-50 (but for its 'macro' mode.)

The big difference for me is size and weight vs. reach.

In still cameras, it seems to me that the GX8, and GH5 for stills, lag behind the E-M1 in several performance and feature/capability categories.

I happily used a GX7 beside an E-M5, in a two camera set-up, for many thousands of shots. They really were comparable in performance/IQ. If one never needs/wants much higher Res, focus bracketing, better IS, faster focus and faster overall operation, the GX8 is a fine camera. Otherwise, they are really behind. OTOH, I'm no video expert, but it seems the GH5 is a big step up compared to the E-M1 II.

My 'serious' kit has been a pair of E-M5 IIs since it came out.

I can't speak to Panasonic, as I'm a long-term Olympus user, but I can attest to the quality of the latest 20mp sensor. However, IMHO it's not just the sensor, but the synergy between the sensor and the lenses that enables the system to punch above its weight. The new Olympus 25/f1.2 lens on the OM-D EM-1 Mark II, for example, is simply astounding.

"Some are falling behind in the lens department, while Sigma and others take up the slack."

I don't know about other formats, but that's not true of µ4/3. Today, the resolution limits are sensors (except in Oly HR Mode.)

With the E-M5 II High Resolution Mode, I can test lenses with ~50 MP sensor resolution, and the lenses I've tried simply resolve a lot more detail in HR Mode than straight 16 MP.

Interestingly, Shooting the same subject in normal and HR, then downsampling the HR image to the same 16 MP dimensions resolves more, cleaner/sharper, visible detail than the 'straight' image.*

All the lenses I've tested resolve more detail in HR than native sensor resolution. It seem that at least the newer and higher end ones will be fine at 50 MP.

* Bayer Array sensors are only about 50% efficient at rendering their raw resolution as converted, RGB pixels. Sampling with each color at each sensel location by moving the sensor around doesn't require demosaicing, and retains more detail.

Panasonic never convinced me, and possibly many others, for the following reasons.

1. Too expensive (lenses included) for such a small sensor.

2. A miss match of lens lines and lens brands.

3. Poor results above iso 800 and too much depth (charging 1k for a f2.8 zoom that is the equivalent of f5.6 full frame is outrageous). All of which is due to small sensor size.

Camera makers need to increase the average price per unit becasue they are selling far fewer dedicated cameras than ever before.

You will not convince consumers to pay more for a smaller sensor for the same reason no man brags about his "small but excellent" genitalia. (Mostly I just stay quiet)

Trying to keep up with this technology gets crazy at times. Film was easy. So, with the Bayer model it's 4 pixels per photo site. 1 red, 1 blue and 2 green, because the eye is more sensitive to green. So, if I divide the marketing pixel count by 4, I get a number, a site count, I use for evaluating sensor size. Fuji and others may (have already?) deviate from the 4 pixel per site model. It's something to watch for as the pixel density per format goes up.

Years ago when talking to a Nikon tech guy, I told him that I felt that I could do most anything I needed (FX, FF) with 12-16 Mp. He replied that 20-22 was about right. This was years ago. Maybe 20-22 is about right. Spend the R&D $ on improving the light management.

The Sony RX 100 series cameras seem amazing. 1" sensor, 20 Mp.

For the ones who think that investing in Micro Four Thirds could be a risky business:


I may share a bit of that obsession, but in my case for even smaller format as I discovered recently when I ditched a m43 sensor Panasonic LX100 for a 1" sensor Panasonic ZS100 / TZ100 (depending on the country).

The Panasonic LX100 had appealing specs but ultimately I found it difficult to connect with it. The main reason was the annoyingly slow powerzoom, but I also thought having a smaller sensor would be an advantage for hyperfocal street photography. I felt in love with 1" sensors when I got a Nikon V1 some years ago, I thought it would be just an utilitarian travel camera but in the end I used it a lot, some of my best street work was made with that camera.

The 1" sensor size may well be the goldilocks for compactness with good IQ. It permits to make cameras and lenses very small, even with challenging designs like the one of the long range zoom Panasonic TZ100. The new generation of backside iluminated 20MP 1" sensors is just marvelous, very competitive to larger sized sensors in sharpness, color depth and dynamic range up to ISO 800.

Back when I had a Sony A7II, I found that full-frame sensor extraordinary, the 24MP APS-C sensor of my current X-Pro2 is also excellent, but the 1" has a special place in my photography.

Photographers are a difficult, even perverse lot to please. You'd think M43 would be ideal in many ways, not too large, not too costly, still delivers excellent quality in most conditions, IQ clearly ahead of most or even all 35mm filmstock, excellent catalogue of lenses and bodies for every pocket, many modern capabilities. And yet it has never really caught on despite the best efforts of two well-known companies. As a platform, it has ended up losing a lot of money over the years too. Sigh. Who knows why? Many have a theory but no one can be sure. Not enough people like it, simple as that.

I personally found the 1" sensor to be too much of a struggle for subject isolation, compared even to micro43 (that was a Nikon 1 and slow lenses though). I've greatly enjoyed my Pentax gear but a GX7 and pocket zooms have won the day. Well this day at least, and probably tomorrow.

The Panasonic doom and gloom's overblown. It started with Nikkei mistranslating "reorganizing" to "dismantling." Everything went downhill from there.

Source: https://petapixel.com/2017/03/28/panasonic-clears-rumor-will-not-dismantle-camera-division/

High quality smaller sensors are very good to have. It's a pity that the prices are not going accordingly.

There is no sense in paying the same sort of money as for a 35mm MILC system.

I get that knowledgeable folks like you can isolate the quality of the sensor as the variable that stands out when evaluating the aesthetics of a photograph. But it's a hard concept for me to really understand. Can you elaborate on how a less experienced person can see what you're seeing? Instinctually, it seems impossible to isolate the impact of the sensor from the the impact of the lens, the lighting, and all the other subtle variables that come together that result in an image.

I'm still looking for a smaller car. Quite happy with APSC as a sensor size, but don't consider MFT as much of a downgrade. Just that 3:2 ratio fits well on metric photo paper and is better for landscapes.

No doubting Sony's sensor tech though. That 20MP sensor looks very good, but I like the moire free magic sauce on my Fuji.

Panasonic and Micro 4/3rds seems to be good enough image quality/usability/toughness for the Pulitzer this year. Daniel Berehulak seems to only use the format these days. WARNING - Graphic shots of of the murders going on in the Philippines in this like of his Pulitzer-winning work. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/07/world/asia/rodrigo-duterte-philippines-drugs-killings.html

I'm certainly thinking of buying a PEN F so it's good to hear that the sensor is something special. Regarding the age old arguments about sensor size, I'm still shooting with the original Em-5. My prints have been exhibited but they're never going hang in the Tate/MOMA/Photographers' Gallery so why worry?

I don't know about the system longevity but the reason I bought into micro4/3 was weight (or lack of it). Long haul travel is now just a pain in the a*** and the restrictions on the weight of carry on luggage more and more onerous (out of the UK anyway). Traded in a Canon 5D and various lenses a few years back now and haven't missed them.

Will Panasonic leave the camera industry, that is abandon us altogether or is the news of a scale back to match the maturing market? Recent news of Nikon's reset suggests surviving camera makers will be the ones that adjust to the reduced demand but stay in the market place wth a more measured development cycle. I'm happy with my GX-8. It out performs my medium format film camera of yore. It also meets my dersire for a good looking camera, a collection of glass, chrome, and leather that pleases me to have as well as to use. I love the pictures from my 5D3 but it is not a "pretty" instrument to have and to hold !! It's an unattractive brick !!

As TOP observed recently the older model Fuji is still a very good (and adequately) competent camera. I mean, I don't really need much more too soon, but I would be loyal in making occasional upgrades - like to a GX-9 and a 7 - 15 mm f2.8 if and when they appear.

Re Dreaming of a smaller sensor....
I think it is a very human trait to think about paths not taken, and even romanticize them a bit.
You went with the Fuji, which has it's own virtues, and thought out loud bout the Sony 6500.
Either of those systems world probably be equally sufficient to make photographs that pleas you.
It's the "Paradox of Choice"---the more choices you have, the more you may second guess your purchase. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice
We all do it from time to time.

The best cure is making good pictures with the camera you own.

[The camera I own is fine, but I can't keep it. Search the site for the word "yips"--that should bring up at least one of my several attempts at explanation. --Mike]

Well I think that in many ways the marriage of Olympus and Panasonic has been marvellous.
I like my om5 but homestly the menus of Panasonic are much more intuitive. Also the underrated G7 and G80 are a joy to hand hold with one hand and the combination of IBIS use of touch screen technology means Panasonic have been listening.
Lastly the little GM1 or GM5 what a little marvel. Love an update of that ...with no AA filter and a Nocticron lens in front ...how good would that be?

Mark wrote: "You'd think M43 would be ideal in many ways, not too large, not too costly, still delivers excellent quality in most conditions"

The thing with sufficiency is that it applies to more than image quality. If you consider the set of APS-C camera owners, you could make the argument that the majority of them would find the IQ of m43 sufficient. But, apparently, the majority of them find the compactness of their APS-C gear sufficient.

I get the appeal of smaller gear - I have an A6000 and an RX100 that get used for different things. But I just spent 3 full days at a robotics competition with my DSLR (with VC grip) and 70-200/2.8 over my shoulder using a Blackrapid strap. I did see one person there with an EM1-II and 40-150/2.8, which looked very appealing, but I have to say I never minded the size/weight of that camera. (I also had my RX100 handy for wide shots, but comparing them side by side, I wish I'd had another APS-C camera along because everything was ISO 1000+. Over several years of photographing concerts, plays and recitals, I've seen few parents with "real" cameras, but there were easily a couple dozen DSLRs at the robotics tournament (many high end models with f/2.8 zooms) and many serious video rigs as well.

I've been an m43 user since the beginning and it has become my main system. Occasionally I have a need for a full frame system, but that is seldom and I don't 'just take it' when going out.

I have proven to myself that even the 16mp sensors were capable of technically superior prints compared to prints from 160ISO Mamiya 645 colour negative films. So why would I haul around larger, heavier equipment? I agree that the new 20mp sensor is just fantastic.

I now use mainly Olympus bodies as they are more still photography oriented, but have been quite happy with Panasonic in the past. The recent m43 lenses have been outstanding, with more even performance across the field than all but the very best and largest FF lenses. And then there are lenses like the 100-400mm Panasonic whose equivalent we rarely see in the FF world, and are hardly travel items. I still see comments like: 'why pay as much for an m43 lens as an equivalent FF lens?' with the usual nonsensical DOF adjunct. As a professional I've shot 35mm to 8x10, and believe me, in the larger formats lack of DOF was almost always a major struggle and often the reason I shot smaller formats. Yes, occasionally I like shallow DOF, but mostly, I am looking for more DOF. As for cost; if it comes closer to giving me what I want, I'll pay more for it and it's worth more. A long bed extended cab duallie Ford F350 is not worth more to me than a Porsche Boxster considering my uses and where I live.

Hearing about Panasonic's possible pull-back is disheartening.

[Re "As a professional I've shot 35mm to 8x10, and believe me, in the larger formats lack of DOF was almost always a major struggle and often the reason I shot smaller formats. Yes, occasionally I like shallow DOF, but mostly, I am looking for more DOF," isn't that puzzling? Throughout the whole history of photography people always wanted more DOF. Now that we have it, people want LESS suddenly. And my newest camera, the iPhone 7+, gives us less via processing. And does a good job of it too, although of course it's totally faked. --Mike]

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