APS sensors vs. m4/3?

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Country Parson, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. Country Parson

    Country Parson SC Top Veteran

    682
    Apr 5, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Dan
    Some are using both, and some have chosen one sensor size over the other. It would be enlightening to hear reasons. Why do you use both, or why have you chosen one over the other? If you use both, which do you prefer? If you could only have one, which would it be? (Now that is just not fair to ask, is it! :wink:)
     
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  2. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member Subscribing Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Real Name:
    Antonio
    I use both, but mostly m4/3 because of the size of the cameras and lenses. I do not pixel peep, and have found that the IQ of m4/3 is good enough for me. At this point, I am only using my DSLRs when I need to use flash, or when taking photos for someone else. Otherwise, all of my personal (digital) photography is on m4/3, specifically Lumix G3 or GF3.

    Cheers,

    Antonio
     
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  3. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Real Name:
    Kyle Krug
    I am a new photographer and jumped from a LX3 to a Oly m4/3 setup this past summer. I wanted something that I could take anywhere, small enough to be jacket pocketable or easy to throw in my computer bag for a business trip. I was attracted to m4/3, because it seemed like a sweet spot for size and IQ. I could get it down to the size where it wasn't too far off from my LX3 (okay with not having a zoom for that size).

    I was taking a lot of landscape-ish shots and decided to grab a GXR with 28mm at the end of the year. I was really just thinking there that I could maybe print a bit larger and that the GXR with 28mm was actually smaller than the E-P3 with 12mm I was using for this purpose (sold the 12mm to help fund the GXR). I have noticed that I was able to recover a bit more details in PP with the GXR and think I am seeing some more/better tones. Not a crazy difference, but it seems like it is there. And, this is more of a Ricoh thing than a sensor difference... I liked the way my E-P3 handled, but I love how the GXR works in hand. Good stuff.

    Now when I go out with a camera bag, I usually take the GXR and then my E-P3 with 20/1.7 or 45/1.8 mounted. The tough decision comes when we are going out for dinner/drinks or whatever at night. I find that miss the 20/1.7 lens and IBIS if I don't take the E-P3 along. Also, more related to sensor size, I do find that the slightly larger DoF helps when doing some of these low-light shots (candids of friends, etc.).

    Right now, if I could only pick one system, it would have to be my m4/3 kit. I am interested to see when a company will be able to jam an APS-C sensor in a compact body, with an assortment of good compact/pancake lenses... then my answer may change. If I could only have one camera, though, I would take the GXR 28.

    Look forward to reading responses from more experienced photographers!
     
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  4. James Murphy

    James Murphy SC Rookie

    20
    Oct 2, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I currently use APS (Sony NEX-5N), however I'm considering switching to m43. Why? Because of the lenses. The quality of many m43 lenses is excellent and so are is their value (mostly). My NEX takes fantastic pictures, but everytime I pull out the 18-55 lens, my wife gets that twitch about camera size, meaning I'll never buy the 18-200. I think it is safe to say that m43 sensors will continue to improve and I believe the GX1 is good enough for me. I'll never put a Leica lens on my NEX, and I'm discovering that m43 may be the right size for me.
    I've got a big trip coming up where I'll take my NEX, but then once the pricing on the new Oly EM-5 stabilizes, I'll probably weigh it vs. the GX1. If the GH3 were smaller than the GH2, I'd happily wait for and go with that, as I do use video a lot, but the sensor stabilization in the Oly will probably push me in that direction.
     
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  5. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I didn't choose sensor size, I chose camera size. When I bought into m4/3 it was the smallest interchangeable lens digital system available for which I could get a long zoom, and that was my prime desideratum.
    I also have a Sigma DP2s an APS-C (-ish) sensor, and the difference in dynamic range and noise is marked.
    I no longer have the income to swing over to a new system, but assuming the range of lenses came along, I might be tempted by a Fuji;
    Technology moves fast ... in a year's time who knows what'll be the next best fabbest thing?
     
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  6. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Nic
    I have used both m4/3 (E-P1, E-PL1, GH1, GF1) and Canon APS-C (virtually everything up to and including the 50D/500D). First thing I have to say is that I see nothing that comes close to m4/3 yet as a combination of size, quality, and product range. It is as close to a mature system as you will find in a compact system camera, and even after almost two years of using m4/3 I am still amazed the difference in weight and size between equivalent body and lens combinations in the DSLR and m4/3.

    While I have preferences for different purposes, I rarely specifically choose one camera over the other for a given application. There is enough overlap between the two that you could really choose one system or the other and be happy. There is a different look between m4/3 and the Canons which I think is partly due to differences in sensor size/focal length and partly due to the sensor hardware and processing software characteristics. It's not always a case of one producing better looking results than the other, just different looking results that may be better or worse for different reasons.

    One thing that I do believe is that is unfair to lump all m4/3 cameras into the one basket for image quality. Each one I've used is different in it's file output (and I'm talking raw, not jpeg) Subtle in some cases, but still noticeable. For noise I rate from best to worst the GH1/E-PL1, E-P1, and the GF1. Colour output (subjective, of course): E-PL1/E-P1, GH1 very close, then the GF1. Dynamic Range: GH1 clearly in front, E-PL1/E-P1, then the GF1. Resolution: E-PL1, GH1, GF1 (prior to applying noise reduction which seems to affect this camera the most), then the E-P1.

    I think that the Canon file quality comes out in front of all of them, but the GH1 comes the closest to matching it, losing out mostly in having more noise for any given ISO. I haven't tried the newer sensors in the GH2/G3/GX1 so I don't know where they sit relative to the GH1. I think they are better for higher ISOs but the numbers don't suggest that they are any better at lower ISOs.

    If I had to choose one camera it would probably have to be the GH1 which is easily the best compromise I have experienced for everything from image quality, to size, handling, responsiveness, and features.
     
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  7. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    I have both too. M43 is a good compromise size, but in my case the Nikon V1 has taken that over. I prefer the output of most of the APS cameras that I have tried, largely for the dynamic range improvements. Noise is not a big issue for me personally.

    I read something recently that got me thinking. The photographer had decided to skip APS and go both smaller (Nikon 1) and larger (FF - or medium format if he could afford it). Take advantage of the smaller sensors and thus smaller cameras and lenses, but when things get serious go for a fully capable large sensor camera.

    Some weeks ago I saw a series of pictures taken with an APS camera and a FF camera with comparable focal lengths and apertures. The FF bokeh (if that matters to you) was beautifully creamy; the APS bokeh was good but not the same. Tools for the job.

    One final comment... another photographer commented that he'd always take big fat pixels over pixel density. I like that line of argument. He bought a used medium format 30 megapixel camera and was having a ball.

    Of course, beyond sensor size, so much more goes into the equation!

    If I could only have one? APS - the best all-around compromise.
     
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  8. Hyubie

    Hyubie SC Veteran

    360
    Jun 8, 2011
    Massachusetts
    I have a Rebel XSi, but eventually bought an E-PL1. For me (being new to photography), I got better results from the E-PL1 using the 17mm lens. Mind that I also was using the 50mm prime for the XSi. Given that, however, I think the better results came from actually enjoying taking photos. I loved the size, the handling, the controls, the output. I learned much of what I know now using that E-PL1. (I have since then moved on to the other m43 primes and other bodies, and am now heavily invested the system.)

    A few months ago, before making the decision on whether to finally let go of the XSi or not, I performed a very simple test. I took the same shot using the Canon + 50mm and the E-PL1 + Oly 45mm, both shot in RAW. I am not a pixel peeper nor am I very good with those stats/figures that come with an image, but I thought the focal lengths should give me an idea of whether I am truly missing something given the difference in sensor size. I shot using the available light that we have indoors at night. (Yes, indoors, but our house is well-lit. :smile:) And from the looks of it, I am not really missing anything.

    I have not given much thought about when to use the XSi except for some bouts from time to time when I have the urge to revisit/reuse it. But whenever I think of bringing it on a trip - even for those where people say m43 is not good enough like sports/outdoor activities for kids - I do a double take. Do I really need that extra weight? And I always go back to my m43.
     
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  9. nippa

    nippa SC Top Veteran S.C. Charter Member

    561
    Aug 7, 2010
    Cheshire UK
    Real Name:
    Dennis
    I use both APS-C in the form of Sony DSLRs plus a Leica X1 and various Lumix m4/3 cameras of which the G3 is the latest.

    Much as I hate the weight of the DSLR kit , m4/3 has never given me the same smooth imagery that I get from the APS-C Format but when flying the weight of the m4/3 kit usually means that that's the camera that travels.
    I have to say that the G3 is much better than my previous G1/GF-1 and is every bit as good for noise and resolution as my DSLRs but there is a smoothness about the images from larger format that I would regret losing if I gave up my DSLRs.
    For this reason I see compact large format cameras as the way ahead with the m4/3 being an interesting niche allowing lightweight telephoto photography ; that is unless Panasonic can conjour some sensor magic!

    Perhaps if Lumix m4/3 colours were better, say more Fuji-like , I'd be more enthusiastic about the system.
     
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  10. Naveed Akhtar

    Naveed Akhtar SC Regular

    186
    Dec 8, 2011
    London, UK
    I second to Nic, specially on his concluding line. GH1 is the one, I am using most and a very happy with its output and handeling. The controls are superior to any APSC I experienced before and C-AF on these cameras is simply addictive. I used D90 and loved, then switched to GH1 and later also bought Pen E-P1. Sold my D90, in favor of GH1 handeling. D90 and D80 were my favourite APSC over handeling and I always hated Canon for their very tiny cameras. m4/3 are even smaller but still handle so good in my hands.

    Recently I bought D5100 for all its excellent colors, low noise and superb DR. I love its file output but handeling was so wierd. I took both bodies to Norway and later to Italy and Paris. Though D5100 was carrying more useful lens 16-85, I found myself using Gh1 more and then very recently when I went to Lyon, France and Jerusalem, Bethlehem; I left D5100 at home and when I came back, I sold D5100 and said final good bye to APSC.

    So I came from DSLRs (Canon 300D, Nikon D80, D90, Fuji S5Pro, Sigma SD14) and then chose M4/3. I had M4/3 and then got DSLR (D5100) and then again dump it. Now, I know APS are bigger sensors and better in few ways in terms of IQ, but so is Film. The reason we chose Digital world is convineance, handeling, operations and mean to reach result quickly and efficiently. M4/3 is a step next in that direction.

    I beleive the reason why I stick to m4/3 (maybe later to Nikon CX who knows, in 5 years time) is handeling, Live View, size, maturity, sharpness and good enough general IQ! APS lacks every respect but IQ.

    I will still wait for a smaller body fullframe for highest possible IQ with 35mm prime, just to keep it as a backup camera :)))
     
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  11. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I have 3 cameras (actually 4 if you count my film camera): Canon T2i for action shots, EPM1 for most general shooting, GRD iii for "pocket and walk it" shooting.

    I would prefer to have a FF rebel size camera than the T2i, but I don't have that option. APS-C is in my bag only because that's the DSLR focus speed/tracking that that I need, and the Rebel is the form factor I'm willing to put with, to get that C-AF. Outside of FF, APS-C and 43 is kind of a wash to me.
     
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  12. Cristian Sorega

    Cristian Sorega SC Regular

    65
    Apr 23, 2011
    London
    For me it went the other way around, I used m4/3 but use now APS with the GXR Mount because of the quality of the lenses available for M mount.
    While I think m4/3 has a great selection of AF lenses, the over reliance of software corrections (something visible in the final image), use of the same old sensor and lack of any decent body since the GF1 made me sell off almost all my m4/3 gear and switch to M lenses instead.
    The advantage for me is big. Not only do I get a much better sensor and smaller crop for legacy lenses but also have lenses which can not only be used on film cameras from the last 50 years but also almost every single mirrorless camera now and from the looks in the future. This way I can keep using the same lenses and never need to worry about the body or incompatibility between lens and body (as it happens even between m4/3 lenses and bodies).

    If Panasonic would have released a m4/3 camera based on the LC1 I would have kept m4/3 as a 2nd system.
     
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  13. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 15, 2010
    SoCal
    Real Name:
    Bob
    The legacy lens issue does not apply to me, I have zero desire to manually focus on a digital camera but the superior chip of APSc does, they will be bigger and more costly but for me the trade off is worth it.
     
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  14. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Real Name:
    Jack
    I have no real logical explanation why I use both m4/3 and APS-C.

    I go from cameras with sensors that range from small to m4/3 to APS-C to full frame. I probably choose which one to pick up most often based on guilt of not having used a particular camera in a while!!!

    With the advent of smaller cameras sporting APS-C sensors like the NEX, GXR and most recently the X100, I'm getting more and more enamored with what I perceive to be superior image quality in terms of dynamic range and sometimes noise control at high ISO.

    For whatever reasons, to my eyes anyway, the APS-C cameras seem to give me images with the "it" that I find lacking on m4/3. Out of all the m4/3 cameras that I've owned/used (EP2/3, EPM1, GF1/2/3, G3, GH2), the EP3's JPG photos was the closest to giving me the same "it" feel from images that I get on the X100 and the K-5. I returned the EP3 because of the rattlesnaking when using the PL25. In any event, the "it" or "pop" or "look" or whatever is it that we can call "it" is purely subjective.

    In my ideal world, there would be a full frame camera roughly the same size as the X100 with interchangeable and auto focus lenses no larger than M lenses, but with the auto focusing abilities of the Nikon 1. And all of that for $399. Not too much to ask for right? :biggrin:
     
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  15. Country Parson

    Country Parson SC Top Veteran

    682
    Apr 5, 2011
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Dan
    We can dream, Armanius. We can dream. :rolleyes:
     
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  16. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Real Name:
    Mark
    For me the form factor and the lens offerings of the mu43 seal the deal for me. OK maybe a little more dynamic or tonal range would be nice, but really I am starting to learn to use the limitation to my advantage (some blown highlights can look goooood!). Also the image quality is plenty good enough for my purposes. Also there are still a few more years left in the format IMHO, so who knows what will lie inside the OMD4 in a few more years time :wink:

    Have to disagree with Armando here. I found more of a 'pop' or 'it' factor from my PL25 and PL45 snapped onto the EP3 (damn that rattlesnake so gone) and am finding it equally in my current and ancient GF1, than I did with any lens on the Pentax Kr (though the FA31 came mighty close :wink:) or the X100. So much better dynamic range from the latter, but the rendering of the PL lenses (both the 25 and 45) are pretty hard to beat, and these lens will have me remain with mu43 as long as I remain with digital.
     
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  17. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I haven't tried the Pentax, but my EPM1 gets plenty 'o pop with the PL25, and also the PL45.
     
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  18. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Real Name:
    Kyle Krug
    I was going back through some images from the summer when I had the PL45. I can't believe how sharp they are and the colors are great. This fantastic lens doesn't seem to get enough love since the Oly 45/1.8 came out (incl. from me as I sold to fund the Oly purchase).
     
  19. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Real Name:
    Jack
    I gave my due to the EP3!
     
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  20. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Nic
    Is it not common knowledge that there are m4/3 sensors available other than the original single aspect ratio 12MP sensor?