Sensor Size Does Matter

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
Paul, I hope this thread has not run you off :) I'm looking forward to your writings.

I might argue that photographers who work only for themselves are the most serious, because after all we are always our own toughest critics. And of course it is very personal. We want both the right kind of imagery and we have to define and refine the narrative we are communicating through that imagery.
 
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Djarum

All-Pro
Jul 10, 2010
Huntsville, AL
Jason
Broadly agree with you but Canon and Nikon APS-C are not one stop better than NEX (can't comment on Samsung). Nikon may eke a little more out of the Sony sensors but overall there's nothing to choose between the most recent sensors implemented by Nikon, Sony or Canon.
I know that some of the sensors are the same across some of the brands. But then again, this leads me back to implementation. Looking at the RAW files that dpreview provides and in their widget, the Nikon D7000 lookst to be a 1/3 stop to 2/3 stop cleaner at ISO 6400 than the NEX5. Looking at DXO mark, they report about the same, a 2/3 stop difference in noise and about a .5EV in dynamic range. While this seems like "nit picking", if you take the worst APSC and compare it to mFT, we are only talking 2/3 to a stop of difference in noise and dynamic range. Even the Samsung sensor is only 1/3 stop better in some areas and worse in others than the GH2.

Moving to the 1/1.7 inch sensor reveals a different story however. Now we are talking 1 to 2 stops difference in noise, depending on the sensor(LX5, Canon S95..etc). While a 2/3 stop may not make a difference to some people(It doesn't for me, why I chose mFT instead of dSLR), a best case 3 stop or worst case 4 stop difference between a compact and an dSLR is pretty significant. Maybe this is what David is trying to say. On the other hand I have to respect these types of cameras that have decent and fast lenses and do provide convenience and portability at the sacrifice of Image Quality.

While professionals may be able to tell the difference, and this is very important in larger prints, other people just want to take pictures, which I know isn't necessarily the topic of discussion.

On a side note, I love to carry my PEN in my coat pocket. Nothing else goes in their though. During the summer the camera goes into the extra pocket of my cargo shorts. Again, nothing else goes in there. This allows me to carry my camera around without it being exposed and clunky. Just personal preference. When I hike or walk in the cities, I usually keep it on a sling.
 

olli

Super Moderator Emeritus
Sep 28, 2010
Sofia, Bulgaria
olli
Sorry to introduce technical stuff into this more philosophical conversation but your not comparing like with like. The D7000 sensor gives an advantage over the NEX5 sensor because it's a different, newer sensor. Once this sensor appears (as rumoured) in the NEX 3 update you will see practically no difference. This isn't a matter of Canon/Nikon getting all the facets of implementation right - it's about the development of sensor technology.

While you are right that all of the many factors defining the final look of the image are important, when you compare like with like - for example, Nikon D7000/5100, Pentax K5, Sony A580 - there is so little to choose between most modern cameras in real world use that for me it comes down to 'how does this camera feel'?
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
David, OK, so we are reading too much into your original analysis, so we're not really being fair in responding to your points. But you do imply that small sensor cameras are essentially toys by equating them to McDonalds and cheap cars or by stating that photographers who use small sensor cameras are courageous.
Not quite. Firstly I started the article by saying that it was a personal response. Secondly I don't think equating cheap mass produced cameras with cheap mass produced food and cheap mass produced cars is an innapropriate analogy. Thirdly, I never said that small sensor cameras are toys. Fourthly, I do think photographers who attempt to produce serious work with such cameras are courageous, as there are substantial obstacles to overcome, though it was written in a light hearted way.

And I think that is what you are seeing in some of the responses, that you cannot isolate one technical component and claim that that alone makes a great picture.
Well I certainly didn't say that or anything like it.

That there is far more to a picture than sensor size and quality.
Of course there is and again I never said anything that put forward a different point of view.

I'm not quite sure why you are making comments about opinions that you seem to think I hold but never expressed in my piece. Your observations are interesting and would make a fine basis for another thread, but the light hearted personal response I made seems to be being misunderstood. I am very careful, always, to express my personal opinion as just that, personal opinion.

I refer you to things that I actually wrote.

"This is my personal response to the recent post on this subject."

"This of course doesn't imply that the aesthetic quality or importance of the image is any higher, but the general perception is that a larger sensor, all other things being equal, is capable of recording more detail, with less noise and the capacity to handle a wider range of tones."

"I'd love a good quality small sensor compact camera."

"I want to see something that approximates to what I saw out there in the world and I've never seen a micro sensor image that yet does that for me."

"If you're happy with the results, then fine, I've no problem with that, unless you try to persuade me that they can do the job as well as a camera with a larger sensor."


"If convenience rather than quality is your thing, then I suppose thats a choice you have made, but I've never seen that as an option."

At any point am I telling people what they should do, or what they should think, or what camera they should use? At any point am I expressing anything other than a personal opinion, or posing a series of questions? If people disagree with me about what I have written then I'm happy to enter into debate. However I find it difficult to respond appropriately with people disagreeing with me about what I didn't write!
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
I guess it all depends on what one considers to be "serious" photography. I'm sure there will be as many opinions on this definition as there are people on this site. Photographic wars have been, and still are being, fought over such definitions (professional vs amateur, serious vs non-serious) and I'm not sure it serves any purpose. If you purposely create photographs, that is you make photographs that promote a certain vision or perspective that go beyond the informal cataloging of your life and experience (snapshots come to mind but are in no way less important, particularly to the individual making them) then is that not "serious" regardless of what you use to capture the image?
You say it may not serve any purpose and yet you come up with a beautifully succinct and eloquent definition and one I would totally agree with and endorse. So maybe it does.

When I first found this web site, I took the title (SeriousCompacts) not to be used as a comparison to non-serious cameras (compact or otherwise) but rather as a statement for people who use these types of cameras to purposely create photographs.
So did I. Indeed I've always felt the sub-text is - Compacts used for serious photography.

Great conversation :)
I agree.
 

Lili

Hall of Famer
Oct 17, 2010
Dallas, TX
Lili
Not quite. Firstly I started the article by saying that it was a personal response. Secondly I don't think equating cheap mass produced cameras with cheap mass produced food and cheap mass produced cars is an innapropriate analogy.

All cameras are mass produced to the best price-point congruent with their target market. However it could appear that you were tarring all small sensor camera with the same brush and that could come off as inflammatory. The N8, LX's, XZ's, GRD's of the world may be Gourmet/Designer Burgers but never Big Mac's!
Royale with Cheese, anyone?*

*-Pulp Fiction Reference
 

BBW

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
betwixt and between
BB
I think that this misunderstanding or misinterpreting of the written word is all too common. Perhaps, since I know David I understood the humor in his piece. I certainly didn't come away with his "tarring all small sensor cameras with the same brush", Lilli, but apparently you did. This is an example of why the written word on an Internet site can be "iffy" at times, even when it is written with the best of intentions. I'm also sure that Dan, didn't really mean to come across as hyperbolic when her wrote a couple of his remarks...or maybe he did to increase readership, that I can't say. However, one thing I can say is that we'd never invite anyone to write here whose purpose was to be inflammatory.

Now David, fess up have you ever eaten a Big Mac? If I am "forced" to go to a Mickey Dee's then I eat the little square Fillet-o-Fish.:biggrin:
 

Lili

Hall of Famer
Oct 17, 2010
Dallas, TX
Lili
Wylie, I did not take offence but was concerned others might've.
Thats why I tried to lighten things with the Royale with Cheese comment :)
Burger King over MD's for me at least
 

BBW

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
betwixt and between
BB
OK, well there you go - I misunderstood you, too, Lili. :th_salute:

By the way, I'm not sure why it is that some folks here call me "Wylie" as my first name - it's not, though I don't really mind it. My name is really "BB" just like it says in my siggy.:biggrin:
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
I might argue that photographers who work only for themselves are the most serious, because after all we are always our own toughest critics. And of course it is very personal. We want both the right kind of imagery and we have to define and refine the narrative we are communicating through that imagery.
I would argue that all "serious" (theres that word again!) photographers are ultimately working to satisfy themselves. I often write the sentiment that if we are unable to get pleasure from looking at our own photographs then why should others? This surely goes for anyone who cares about the medium and what they do with it. By your definition I must be a very serious photographer, since I have worked for myself and mostly alone for a number of years. I am fortunate in that I can take what I like, how I like and find a market for it. That my taste and the taste of people who are still prepared to pay for photography co-incide has always both amazed and flattered me and continues to do so.

I think I made it pretty clear that images made with micro sensor compacts would not satisfy me, because of the kind of photography I'm interested in and the requirements I have about how I want to present that photography. For me the minimum I require is m4/3 and indeed I have embraced that format with enthusiasm. As I said in the article I would l love a micro sensor compact I could work with. As I also said I haven't found one yet.

I make my decisions as to what I use, just as others here do. To me the quality of the image balanced with the need to preserve a long suffering body has lead me to a series of camera choices which give me the best compromise. Anything smaller than m4/3 is a compromise too far, as far as I'm concerned, though in an ideal world I would wish that it wasn't.

This is only a part of the story, the rest being what do I actually fill those rectangles with? Getting that right is a whole other story and one I generally choose not to get into. That its the most challenging part, certainly, but ultimately the most rewarding.
 

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
as i recall, the "Royale with cheese" discussion in PF was rapidly followed by a series of brutal slayings .... so I think I'll just slip quietly out the back door before the gunplay commences ....
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
Now David, fess up have you ever eaten a Big Mac?
Indeed I have, though I can't really say whether it was meat or fish. I'm also not sure I could correctly identify the bun from the burger in a blind taste test. My best Mcdonalds experience was many years ago when I told them I was a vegetarian which I was at the time. They said they could accomodate me and they brought me a bun with nothing in it! Though I suppose that could be considered the "healthy option".

I can also say I've driven a Nissan Micra, so I speak from authority here!!
 
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soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
You can run but you can't hide!!

as i recall, the "Royale with cheese" discussion in PF was rapidly followed by a series of brutal slayings .... so I think I'll just slip quietly out the back door before the gunplay commences ....
 
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soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010

All cameras are mass produced to the best price-point congruent with their target market. However it could appear that you were tarring all small sensor camera with the same brush and that could come off as inflammatory. The N8, LX's, XZ's, GRD's of the world may be Gourmet/Designer Burgers but never Big Mac's!


I have to plead guilty here. I did specifically mention the LX's and the XZ1 in the piece, so it is those cameras I'm saying I would never consider because of the results they produce. So I guess I am comparing an LX5 to a Big Mac.
(I wrote that last sentence with some trepidation and am in the process of ducking.......)
 
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Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
David, I tried in vane to clarify the point of view from which my (and possibly others) comments stem from, but I fear that I only stirred the pot further. My apologies. As BB rightly points out, words on the Internet don't always translate into communication. Over a beer at the pub :drinks: this could have been a whole different conversation. Just no Big Macs please... gave those up years ago in trade for haughty taughty expensive "foodie" burgers, organic, grass fed, bathed in sunshine and clovers... Now those are serious... :thumbsup:
 
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