Micro 4/3 Despite lust towards FF and DSLR dinosaurs, I'm just drifting towards m4/3...

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
My, that 12-100 is surely a killer lens for the system. I like to shoot a "70-200" for landscapes but wish more in the wide end. I keep wishing for a "50-150" type of a lens but to what use exactly when there's the 12-100, the whole package.
 
I've been comparing specs on various mirrorless systems, wanted to catch up on current offerings from the various companies fr their electronic viewfinders. Panasonic offers a 5.76"Mdot" finder, compared with my 10 year old EVF-2. The latter is an 800x600 resolution finder, 800x600x3, "1.44Mdots". That puts the Panasonic at about 1600x1200, the same resolution as my Panasonic CF-50 Toughbook, 4 times what the EVF-2 offers. The best Panasonic u43 camera and Olympus u43 camera offer 2.36"MDots", about 768x1024- the same as my 1998 Micron Trek-2. Moving from 144Mdots to 2.36MDots in 10 years is not much of a performance gain.

Both Panasonic and Olympus have a 20MPixel sensor, offering 12-bits/pixel. Most APS-C, APS-H, and Full-frame cameras offer 14-bits/pixel, and have for over 14 years. The 20MPixel limit is low, but more than enough for most purposes. The 12-bit conversion means limitations in post processing, banding/contouring can creep in.

the u43 format is limited to 20mpixels- beyond that you are just resolving more blur from the lens. Moving to 14-bit pixels and improving the resolution of EVF could be done, Panasonic has the technology readily available. I do not understand why these improvements have not been introduced with all of the new bodies brought out by Olympus.
 
Last edited:

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
The best Panasonic u43 camera and Olympus u43 camera offer 2.36"MDots", about 768x1024-
Panasonic G9, a camera that I've been eyeing lately, has a 3.68 MP panel.


Optics used in the viewfinder matter a great deal too.

Some people prefer the lower-rez Olympus viewfinders to G9's because the Panasonic one has some pincushion distortion.

My X-T3 had the same, it kind of takes a lot away from the experience. I totally thought if this was one of the ways they saved money to be able to offer the camera for less than what X-T2 launched at.
 
Panasonic G9, a camera that I've been eyeing lately, has a 3.68 MP panel.
That's an improvement- "about 1000x1200" resolution. It's what the Leica Q offered in 2016.

I think 1600x1200, depending on Lag and Ghosting, would be enough to make me want a new camera with EVF. As it is, I bought the M8 and EP2 at about the same time. I've bought the M9, M Monochrom, and Nikon Df since then. I'm more interested in a high quality viewfinder and malleable image than more megapixels than what I have. It I were going to buy a new mirrorless camera, at the point it would probably be the 24MPixel Panasonic L-Mount camera. A Pen F with 14-bit/pixel and a state-of-the-art EFV would sway me for the size. I have a lot of compact lenses in Leica mount. The Leica 40/2 was a favorite of mine on the EP2. The Nikkor 5cm F1.4- also a favorite. These were the equivalent of the 85/2 and 105/2.5 for my Leica.

The top of the line Olympus camera has a 2.36MDot EVF.


As does their latest generation OM-D.


Olympus went from being leading edge with EVF technology to being 5 years behind the competition using viewfinder resolution as a metric.
 
Last edited:

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Real Name
bart
Can't deny that they lag in VF resolution, and 14bit recording helps a lot, but...

the u43 format is limited to 20mpixels- beyond that you are just resolving more blur from the lens.

...surely this depends on the lens in question? The m43 system has plenty of lenses where every reviewer raves about the sharpness, and none of them have been put in front of a sensor of more than 20mp. So it seems to me you really can't know whether this is the case?
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
...surely this depends on the lens in question? The m43 system has plenty of lenses where every reviewer raves about the sharpness, and none of them have been put in front of a sensor of more than 20mp. So it seems to me you really can't know whether this is the case?
I think Brian is referring to the pixel size, and the diffraction limitations.

There are also demands from the optics. A 4/3 lens that resolves 20 MP is comparable in feat to a FF lens that resolves 80 MP...

In this sense it's more amazing what these lightweight cheap kit zooms can pull out :)

I am not terribly excited about these rumored 33+ megapixel M4/3 sensors. Twenty works surprisingly well and it's plenty pixels, for my needs anyhow.
 

I'm looking at the G9 specs, usually the bits/pixel is given with the RAW format spec. It is not with this one.

The reason why Anti-Aliasing filters are no longer needed with u43 sensors above 12mpixels is that the lens itself performs enough image blurring to avoid aliasing. With full-frame cameras, 36mpixels is enough resolution to dispense with the AA filter.

20mpixels is a practical limit for u43. Smaller pixels mean less material to collect photons, and high-ISO and dynamic range will suffer.

However- having a nice EVF would make sense. As a computer engineer that worked in Digital Imaging in the early 1980s, I can't believe that Olympus threw away their lead on EVF in their cameras. Of course, I can't believe that Leica firmware Engineers could not understand how their crap image compression scheme ruined the M8 high-ISO performance and how Kodak screwed up the DCS line by outsourcing a full-frame CMOS sensor that required off-chip A/D. The image sensor I used in 1982 had 12-bits/sample, by 1985 we moved to 15 bits/sample. I did the Data Acquisition and Image Display for it. It took four flight racks of equipment.
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Real Name
bart
The lack of AA filter is made possible by the higher resolution (frequency) simply making it less and less common to have a regular texture / frequency in the image subject that exceeds the frequency (pixel count per angle of view) of the sensor.

Lens blurring can act to prevent aliasing by reducing the incoming frequency from the subject to something lower than the sensor frequency, but it doesn't explain the lack of AA filters in higher res sensors; it's the higher res sensors themselves that make aliasing less common. The density of those pixels on the sensor doesn't matter for aliasing; only total pixel count (regardless if those pixels are spread out on a 1" sensor or an MF sensor), and angle of view / subject.

Diffraction can put a limit on usable resolution, but at 20mp m43, the diffraction limit is at f/5.6, well within the capabilities of all primes and most zooms. With the slower of the Olympus Pro lenses having a maximum aperture of f/4, you could have a 40mp m43 sensor and still only reach the diffraction limit at that f/4. Not much point in stopping down unless you are prepared to downsample your image, but it can be a compromise worth making. A 33mp m43 sensor has a diffraction limit of f/4.5, bringing a few more zooms back in contention. I have used a Sony RX10 mk III at f/4, just below its diffraction limit of f/4.5, and achieved pin sharp results. So an m43 camera with 33mp sensor and f/4 lens should be able to do the same.

Smaller pixels only means less material to collect photons insofar as photons bounce off of the walls inbetween the pixels, which can be mitigated to a decent extent by backlighting (making the walls narrower) and microlenses (redirecting photons from the walls to the pixel wells)... So long as the same number of photons are distributed over a larger number of pixels, one can downsample to regain the lost high ISO performance at pixel level, and - with smart enough demosaicing - also the lost DR at pixel level. It's another compromise, but one many photographers are willing to make, and not just the uneducated ones who are swayed by "bigger is better" marketing.
 
Use a wide-angle lens on your camera and the high frequency content of the image will most likely increase, of course it is scene dependent- leave a lens cap on the camera, change in focal length will not affect frequency content. Most lenses are out-resolved using a Nikon D850. Down-sampling means losing resolution, take a 33MPixel sensor and turn it into an 8mpixel sensor. I would prefer having larger pixels with more material in them to collect the photons, does that make me "uneducated"?

The KAF-10500 in my Leica M8 has a well capacity of 60K. Less sensor thinning required for the APS-H sized sensor compared to the KAF-18500 used in the M9. I suspect the M Monochrom reclaimed that material when it did away with the mosaic filter. One of the most uniform/low-noise sensors I've seen. Those, and my Df, less resolution that the u43 cameras being discussed here. The CCD arrays use microlenses, better than 75% QE on Kodak KAF series using microlenses since the late 90s. Modern sensors use microlenses to achieve high QE. There is not going to be much in the way of improvements by further optimizing microlens arrays.

Dxomark rates lenses by resolution in megapixels, basically matches the optics to a sensor. Looking at wide-angle lenses in u43 mount, a 12mpixel sensor is a good match to the lenses offered. My EPM1 and EP2 can handle that.

To add: The 12MPixel sensor in my EP2 and EPM1 translates to 100lp/mm resolution. The 20MPixel sensor in the Pen F would be 125lp/mm resolution. Most resolution tests for lenses are done for 50lp/mm. The Leica 50/2 APO Summicron would be a good match for the Pen F, and cost ~$6000 or so. I have used my Pentax 85/4.5 with the full-spectrum EP2. Good match, cost almost as much as the APO Summicron these days.
 
Last edited:

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
I just hope the news about Olympus wouldn't cause all R&D arrive to a standstill.

This is going to be a main point of focus for many people looking at M4/3... not whether their bodies and lenses continue to be supported, but whether they dare to invest in lenses that may not get new shiny bodies to attach to.

This is my main reason to be looking at G9 in the first place. It's a big body but it's the only form factor in which I can get all the best Panasonic features.
 
Panasonic will shift development to the new full-frame L-Mount. Olympus is selling the Division and it appears that the Zuiko and Olympus names will be phased out from new models. Some u43 discussions on DPReview hope that Sigma will rescue the format by offering the Foveon sensor for the u43 line. My personal opinion is that I'd probably buy one, but doubt that many others would. High-ISO performance is very poor in Foveon sensors.

If you are buying u43- look at where things are today. The cameras will easily last another 10 years, and there are more than enough lenses to be had. If you are satisfied with what is on the market TODAY, pick it up at a competitive price. Do not look for new development. As far as meaningful development of sensors and EVF, they are already several years behind. My newest Digital is the Df. I could pick up a paired Leica M10r and M10m immediately to replace the M9 and M Monochrom. I see no reason to upgrade.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Agreed. Right now it's probably futile to be waiting for new and fancy m4/3 cameras by Oly or Panasonic. Whatever good is coming, it's going to be a pleasant surprise.

More likely, what's coming is another E-PL 11 or a G100 Mark 2.

What's currently out there, the new Olympus like E-M5 Mark III is a real beast. It has a couple things over the same-priced E-M1 Mark II to make both options interesting. Pana G9 is still a super strong camera. Even the older cameras such as PEN-F or GX-8 will satisfy some people.
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Real Name
bart
Use a wide-angle lens on your camera and the high frequency content of the image will most likely increase, of course it is scene dependent- leave a lens cap on the camera, change in focal length will not affect frequency content. Most lenses are out-resolved using a Nikon D850. Down-sampling means losing resolution, take a 33MPixel sensor and turn it into an 8mpixel sensor. I would prefer having larger pixels with more material in them to collect the photons, does that make me "uneducated"?
I should've phrased that better, as in 'bigger number (in this case higher megapixel count, in other cases zoom range, frames per seond or what have you) is always better'. The people that buy into the marketing claims that higher numbers are automatically better, I would say, are fairly uneducated.

Still, even among educated photography enthusiasts, there are probably many that are willing to buy a higher MP sensor, even though they realise that means giving up some pixel level IQ, since they can get most of that pixel level IQ back by downressing the image. And other knowledgeable enthusiasts, such as yourself, don't find the higher MP count's benefits enough to outweigh the cons.

Wide angle / more likely to encounter high frequency details: never thought about that, interesting :)
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Real Name
bart
As for my hopes for the m43 system: image stabilisation, smallish lenses, largeish sensor but not so large that cooling becomes difficult, reputation for weather sealing... I am waiting for the full control, high quality waterproof / action camera that is the obvious point of differentiation to the competition, either as a system a la Nikon AW1 or as a fixed lens, jacket pocketable compact.
 
Not too many people have run 2-D Fourier Transforms on their images. That's the advantage of writing your own image processing software. Adding the FFT to the software was done for one of my wife's papers.

"Back in the Day", we had custom lenses made to match the sensors that we had made. One of the Physicist went for sampling the sensor at about 1.25:1 the resolution of the lens, the sensor could out-resolve the lens. This would be like using a lens with 100lp/mm on the 20mpixel sensor used in the Pen F. It was interesting to see him explain it on the whiteboard. None of my lenses would meet his spec for the Pen F, and I have over 200 lenses.

PS: Bernie could have designed a lens to outperform the 20mpixel sensor. He is the person that designed the optics for the optical computer in the 80s. He ended up working for me. One time I looked over his shoulder as he was designing a new lens, fussing over a 5th order polynomial for an aspheric surface. I reminded him that the sensor we were using has 320x200 resolution, and brought in the 9mm F1.2 Kodak Ektar lens from a Super-8 camera. The sensor itself was about the size of a Super-8 frame.
 
Last edited:

tonyturley

Legend
Location
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Real Name
Tony
As for my hopes for the m43 system: image stabilisation, smallish lenses, largeish sensor but not so large that cooling becomes difficult, reputation for weather sealing... I am waiting for the full control, high quality waterproof / action camera that is the obvious point of differentiation to the competition, either as a system a la Nikon AW1 or as a fixed lens, jacket pocketable compact.
That would be an interesting camera if it ever arrives in m4/3 format, but I'm not going to count on it. I think a lot of people lament that Olympus never released any compact, lightweight, weather sealed primes to go along with the E-M5 models. At least, that is a comment I've seen frequently through the years.

Not too many people have run 2-D Fourier Transforms on their images.
I had to do that for a class I took 8 or 9 years ago. It was a Remote Sensing graduate level class emphasizing image interpretation and enhancement. I'd have a hard time replicating the steps today, but it was fascinating.
 

T N Args

Regular
I'm glad I kept my :mu43: system; with the GX9 and the E-M5 III, I now own two cameras that both play to the strengths of the system, and the vast line-up of lenses (among them lots of best-of-breed units) makes the system the most versatile and complete on the market.

To give you one example: Sony and, to a somewhat lesser extend, Fujifilm, have struggled to give us zooms comparable in performance to the 12-40mm f/2.8, and even though both offerings are now out (and at least Sony's lens is a real stunner, whereas Fujifilm's pro zoom is "just" very good), they're both bigger, heavier and more expensive (on all fronts, 20-25% more ...). Add I.B.I.S. in a small body (the E-M5 III is about the same price as the X-T3 and A6400 - both have no I.B.I.S., and the lenses are all unstabilised), and you end up with a more compact, yet more versatile setup that delivers competitive image quality. And guess what? Its humble 12-45mm f/4 stable mate is even better optically, though of course it's only an f/4 zoom - but it's smaller still!

In terms of IQ, there's often surprisingly little between the different systems, at least as far as the 24MP APS-C crowd goes (Fuji's 26MP sensor has particular strengths, Sony's latest sensors have newer, much more efficient technology that brings additional advantages, and Canon outguns everyone else with 32MP resolution). For the record: I cap :mu43: and APS-C both at ISO 1600, though I go to ISO 3200 with a bit more confidence on APS-C; at base ISO, DR presents - at the most - one stop visible difference; so, nothing judicious pp can't settle (I don't overstretch my files - why should I?). For continued low light shooting, I reach for FF anyway ...

In short: If you cherish choice and versatility, nothing beats :mu43:!
Hi! Given your last couple of sentences, your conclusion could have been written as, "In short: if you cherish choice and versatility, nothing beats having 2 systems!" :)
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Location
Lexington, VA
Real Name
Steve
I found the on Kirk Tuck’s website. It sums up my feelings about wide angle and normal lenses:
“When used on a micro four thirds camera like the Lumix G9 the 25mm lens has the equivalent field of view of a 50mm lens on a 35mm sensor camera. It's a nice focal length for me because I can never figure out what to do with the rest of the stuff on the edges of images made with wider angle lenses.”

In other news actually related to this thread, he has some interesting comments about using the G9 with a manual lens:
 

Latest posts

Latest threads

Top Bottom