How big is big enough? Sensors, IQ, and all that

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Location
Troy, NY
I love my Canon G12, and I have had hundreds of pictures published from my 3 mp Olympus D-550.

But the other day I got caught in the rain with my G12 (luckily I was able to protect it), but it raised the issue of maybe a weather-resistant carry camera for me.

The new Olympus OMD is dust and splash resistant, but bigger than the G12. None of the "prosumer" cameras is weather resistant that I know of. The new Lumix TS4 has some manual controls and a bunch cool toys, but it's a small sensor and 12 mp, which means small pixel pitch.

My experience with digitals is limited. The G12 has bigger than point-and-shoot pixel pitch; and I presume the D-550 has big pixels with so few mps.

So, the question: what's the smallest sensor you would recommend for decent IQ? Or has so much progress been made at the small end of the scale that it is not so much of an issue?
 

BillN

Hall of Famer
Location
S W France
Real Name
Bill
IMHO - one of the considerations would be the kind of photography that grabs you

not only MPs but also the different characteristics and drawbacks of smaller sensors, nomatter how many MPs they have

The D800 looks marvellous to many ......36MP, (sorry, I should say 36.3 mega pixels) ..... and it will sell by the "bucket" load

just look at some of the sample images on the Nikon site and you will be amazed
 

Grant

Veteran
I mage quality can be measure in in many ways. I suspect the size of your final image will determine the size of sensor that you favour. Well that and the type of images you take. I have seen wonderful images taken with a LX5 not only wonderful but stunningly beautiful. If you like massive amounts of DOF then a small sensor can be a thing of beauty. But for a person that shoots the way I do it is not a good choice. I like shallow DOF and for me the larger sensors deliver less DOF. I have a M4/3 and if I am careful it behaves reasonably well in the DOF area. That being said I tend to use cameras with larger sensors.

So before you consider what it he optimum sensor size you should look into what you want to use your camera for.d
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
If you love your canon you could go for the waterproof housing. A little overdone for just rain but really when I have something I like I tend to work with it and it's limitations and until it's limitations call for something else, I don't budge.
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Location
Troy, NY
I mage quality can be measure in in many ways. I suspect the size of your final image will determine the size of sensor that you favour. Well that and the type of images you take. I have seen wonderful images taken with a LX5 not only wonderful but stunningly beautiful. If you like massive amounts of DOF then a small sensor can be a thing of beauty. But for a person that shoots the way I do it is not a good choice. I like shallow DOF and for me the larger sensors deliver less DOF. I have a M4/3 and if I am careful it behaves reasonably well in the DOF area. That being said I tend to use cameras with larger sensors.

So before you consider what it he optimum sensor size you should look into what you want to use your camera for.d

Grant,

You raise a good point. Lately, I have been very taken with sky photography, and great DOF is just the thing to have!

Cheers, Jock
 
Location
Boston Burbs
Real Name
David
IMHO - one of the considerations would be the kind of photography that grabs you

not only MPs but also the different characteristics and drawbacks of smaller sensors, nomatter how many MPs they have

The D800 looks marvellous to many ......36MP, (sorry, I should say 36.3 mega pixels) ..... and it will sell by the "bucket" load

just look at some of the sample images on the Nikon site and you will be amazed
Yes the D800 is very nice. But I really don't miss mine.
the pentax K5 is a weather resistant camera ? with weather resistant lens! the bigger the sensor -the better the pictures !
Not a bad thought, Pentax does have some smaller lens options.

.......The new Olympus OMD is dust and splash resistant, but bigger than the G12. None of the "prosumer" cameras is weather resistant that I know of. The new Lumix TS4 has some manual controls and a bunch cool toys, but it's a small sensor and 12 mp, which means small pixel pitch.....
The latest new OMD, the E-M10.4 is NOT sealed. You have to go to the E-M5 series for sealing.

I'm not a Canon guy or a power zoom guy. But since you are I'd start with the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III. It's sealed, has a sensor that is a BIG step up from the G12. The size is also pretty close to the G12. The only short coming is the range is a bit shorter, but with 24mp vs 10mp you'd have a lot of room to crop.

As for an m4/3 option? They would be bigger and heavier.

The sealed bodies I'd look at would be the E-M5.2 or E-M5.3. The sensor in either would be a step up from the G12. There are a number of feature differences, if money isn't an issue I'd go for the E-M5.3, but the .2 is still an extremely capable option.

The lenses are the:
  • Oly 12-45 f/4 Pro - Wonderful lens and on my list to get.
  • Oly 12-50 - Good range (24-100 EQ) with a handy macro feature. This is a terrible lens (IMHO) at it's original MSRP ($500 / $550 ? I can't remember). But you can find it for under $200 now so still not as good as the others, but it is a seal lens option.
  • Pan 12-60 (not the Pan Leica version) - I pretty nice lens and you could look at the Pan G85 with lens or the E-M5.2/3.
1597890118316.png


My sealed options are the E-M1.2 and 12-100 Pro, and as I mentioned I plan on adding the 12-45 Pro as well.
 
Location
Boston Burbs
Real Name
David
Just realized I didn't answer the underlying question :doh:

With few exceptions I look at Sony's 20mp 1 inch as my base. But i also find the RX100 series a bit small in the hand.

The exceptions?

Fuji's X30, handling and controls including the manual zoom lens.
Panasonic's FX300, it's a sealed power zoom With a constant f/2.8 throughout it's 25-600mm eq range.

But I've always been able to hold off GAS because of the sensor size. Starting range for the Fuji, 28-112mm, I prefer 24mm starting for general walking around range. And the power zoom with the FZ300.
 

gryphon1911

All-Pro
Location
Central Ohio, USA
Real Name
Andrew
If you wanted to get just one thing....right now I cannot see many being able to compete with a used Olympus OMD EM1.2 or EM5.2 and the Oly 12-100/4. All weather sealed, great sensors if you nail the exposure - which is easy given the great EVFs on them.

Yes, much bigger than the G12, however - not really that big. If you don't see the need for going all the way to 200mm equiv field of view and want a smaller lens, the Panasonic 12-60/2.8-4 is weather resistant and gives you 24-120mm field of view. The Olympus 12-45/4 will give you 24-90mm field of view.

Then, you could always look at some smaller primes or non weather sealed zooms (I really like the Panasonic 12-32/3.5-5.6) to go even smaller when the weather is not bad.
 

tonyturley

Legend
Location
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Real Name
Tony
I very much like my G95 + PL12-60 and X-E2, but if Fuji ever surprises us and makes a weather sealed X40 with a 1" sensor without significantly increasing the size (or adding a power zoom), I would sell everything I have and never look back.

EDIT: I just sent an e-mail to Fujifilm corporate making just that suggestion. It may be a pipe dream, but the worst that can happen is they say "thanks but no thanks".
 
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drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Location
Lexington, VA
Real Name
Steve
My minimum for compacts is probably 1 inch. I have usually been disappointed with the low light behavior, but I have not tried the most recent BSI versions of the 1 " Sony 20 mp sensors. I had an RX100 iii and RX10 mk 1 and was disappointed enough with the results to sell them.
 
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