4/3 vs APS-C sensor size

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by frank_gross, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. We all know and accept that the two most determining factors to image quality are the sensor size (not necessarily the most # of pixels) and the lenses.
    I am buying a small compact for when I don't want to take my 5DmkII out for 'street shooting' and want to have maximum image quality so that I dont feel compromised or that I cant make a large print (e.g. 16x20")
    I am considering the Nex 7 or the Olympus OM-D.
    Both are exccelllent but on all counts except sensor size (and that the accessory grip is necessary for my big hands on the Olympus) the Olympus wins out for me - weather sealed, IS in the body, range of lenses, quieter shutter ...
    the Nex 7 sensor size is 23.5 x 15.6mm
    and the Olympus is 17.3x13mm
    All along I've been thinking it has to be the Nex 7 for the larger sensor size, and it just occurred to me that aside from the proportional/ratio difference - one being 3:2 (1:1.5) and the other 4:3 (1:1.3) - they're not all that different (2.6mm in height) -the Olympus 4/3 sensor is really almost the same as using the larger Sony APS-C sensor but cropping the long dimension into the 4:3 format.
     
  2. Except, perhaps, that 2.6mm represents 20% in one direction and it's nearly 36% in the other, plus more pixels. I agree that the OMD is a great camera, just not sure if it would blow up as well as an APS-C. I'd be interested to see some actual same size blow ups at 100%.
     
  3. Frank, you might want to try out the Panasonic variations if you have bigger hands.
     
  4. Not a scientific comparison but there
    are some test shots and a funny video
    on their reviews series.

    http://m.digitalrev.com/#article?
    id=22506446
     
  5. I couldn't access the link henry.
     
  6. Consider the lenses you want to use. Do you need AF lenses? Primes? Quality Zooms?
    I use a Sony 5N but only with Voigtlander prime lenses made for Leica M (and Nikon S). If I needed or wanted reliable autofocus primes wide to short tele I would likely go with the OMD at this point in time, or the Fuji XPro 1. The Fuji is designed more as a street shooter camera from what I've been reading, maybe that's right in your wheelhouse. It's somewhat larger than the OMD as well, which might be good for your larger hands
     
  7. Basing IQ and acceptable print sizes on sensor dimensions is a gross over simplification.
    Either camera can deliver technical image quality that can be used for prints larger than 16" x 20".
     
  8. The Nex 7 is the better camera IMO and better for adapting legacy lenses, the OMD has better, more lenses, better features, and faster AF...
     
  9. To me the crux is that Frank wants a smaller rig ... the body is only part of the question ... the important part is the lens ... the NEX being APS-C needs bigger heavier lens ... though that might not be a problem when comparing both fitted with pancakes.
    Myself I have a M4/3 with x10 zoom which happilly for me turns out to be about the same size as as my bridge camera with its x12 zoom. Downsides .. it starts from a wider angle and the lens is slower.
    The zoom lens was noted by dpreview to be as fast with its contrast detection as phase detection in most situations and from my experience it doesn't suffer from needing f/8 or faster to work properly. In any light level so long as there is some contrast in the target area it snaps into focus* ... I also think my bridge camera is pretty fast .... Panasonic/Leica seem to have the edge here.
    *I did with great effort and care manage to find a small area with no contrast and managed to keep the focus light blinking ... but it was hard :)
     
  10. APC-C sensors have 60% greater surface area than M4/3, so APC-C will always have an advantage with respect to image quality. If you print images at an 3:2 ratio, M4/3 looses more pixels, while if you print at a 4:3 ratio, NEX gives up some of its advantage.

    If I wanted to use legacy lenses (Leica M) I would go with NEX. M4/3 currently has a far more extensive selection of AF lenses, including fast primes, but I assume that NEX will catch up in a year or 2. For an outfit with zooms (WA, standard, mid range telezoom) or longer reach telephotos, an M4/3 kit will be far lighter and more compact.

    I have a small M4/3 investment, but have not yet decided to go "all-in". I know that certainly for travel, I will not be carrying my Canon 5D and L zooms. For vacation early this month, I carried an M4/3 with zooms covering an effective full frame focal range of 18-300MM and the kit weighed about the same as just a 5D body.
     
  11. The M4/3 range has a better selection of lenses - and they are smaller. If you want to use old MF lenses then I would
    suggest the NEX. A few years ago I bought the Panasonic G1 as a smaller body and to use legacy lenses. I find I rarely
    use it for either purpose. I take my Leica when I want small (indeed a lot of the time), my Canons for lots of things (work,
    low light, sports, tilt shift) but the G1 rarely. The problem is that the effective 2x focal length is an issue when using MF
    lenses and that the body is really only good up to ISO 400. If I did not have a digital Leica I would probably use the G1 a
    lot more.

    So my advice is get the camera that you prefer and get the lenses that are designed for it. It will not be a Canon DSLR so
    you have to accept its limitations. My problem was that I have never been able to do this so I find that I end up carrying
    the Leica or a Cannon and a bag of lenses. All the mirror less camera have compromises made in order to keep the size
    and price down. It really is a question of what you personally will accept. From what you say I would go M4/3 as you like
    the handling
     
  12. Never gets mentioned much lately, namely that 4/3 also happens to have the native aspect ratio of 4:3. Some of us even prefer that over the 2:3. Looks like both are reasonable shooting formats, and the handling and design of the features, like where the buttons are located and how the balance and feel suits you and how the maker reproduces its color palette might be more helpfu in choosing than the consideration of which has the 'best' sensor size.
     
  13. Too many people waste too much time ruminating/agonizing/contemplating/arguing etc. over sensor size. If you prefer 4:3 then the E-M5 is a excellent choice. If you want 3:2 then get something else.
     
  14. The difference between MFT and APS-C (less than a stop) is not worth spending time worrying about. It is smaller than the difference between APS-C and FF (more than a stop) and you are not spending time worrying about that either. Check dxomark lens tests - MFT combos (camera and lenses) provide results that sometimes exceed those of APS-C equivalent combos (equivalent as in purpose of using the combo - wide lens, portrait etc). I wrote more of my thoughts on the three major formats here.
     
  15. I recently bought into the M4/3 system via an Olympus EPL2 and the 14-42 kit glass, which is actually a pretty good lens. The system is very compact and fun to play with. On the other hand its small size makes it fiddly and there is a new interface to master, which can take some time, and get confusing if you are switching from one system to another frequently.
    In terms of IQ the EPL 2 is not quite up to the standard of my 60D or 5D with L or L equivalent glass, but much better than a point and shoot. Of course the EPL2 is a generation older than the E-M5, but then the 60D is using a 3 year old sensor and the 5D is using an 8 year old sensor. Depending on your needs you should be happy with IQ up to about 8x10, but personally I would not go to 13x19. The smaller format size certainly is certainly more demanding on technique if you are aiming to print large.
    Noise is not the whole issue. At bigger enlargments lens limitations come into play and I geuss if you are having to blow up a smaller format many more times to get to the same size the lens limitations become more apprarent.
     
  16. I recently bought into the M4/3 system via an Olympus EPL2 and the 14-42 kit glass
    In terms of IQ the EPL 2 is not quite up to the standard of my 60D or 5D with L or L equivalent glass​
    Are you comparing the Olympus kit lens with Canon L glass? And is the 60D capable of matching the 5D?
    At bigger enlargments lens limitations come into play and I geuss if you are having to blow up a smaller format many more times to get to the same size the lens limitations become more apprarent.​
    This image:
    [​IMG]
    is a 100% crop (scaled down for inclusion in this post, but you can click through to get the full size) from the border of this image:
    [​IMG]
    If this looks satisfying for pixel peeping, I think it can do well in large prints too.
     
  17. Are you comparing the Olympus kit lens with Canon L glass? And is the 60D capable of matching the 5D?​
    Yes and no. I realise it is an apples to oranges comparison. Some of my consumer glass matches or beats my L zooms. For example, the Tamron 70-300 f4-5.6 VC USD and even lowly Canon 55-250 f4-5.6 go close to my L zooms, while my consumer grade Canon primes will typical match or beat the L zooms at equivalent apertures.
    I guess my point is one may have to go for more expensive glass in an M4/3 system to match the larger formats.
    With the same glass, I think the 60D (three year old sensor with 18 MP) is still a little behind the 5D (eight year old sensor with 12 MP). Of course the latest 5D Mark III will be well ahead of the 60D. I think this just implies that if one is doing comparisons of the latest generation in each, format size will be a factor in overall image quality. No huge suprises with that.
     
  18. they're not all that different (2.6mm in height) -the Olympus 4/3 sensor is really almost the same as using the larger Sony APS-C sensor but cropping the long dimension into the 4:3 format.​
    While theoretically larger sensor should have an edge in ISO and DR performance, for the most part, the m4/3 sensors up to now are evidently behind the very best sensors you can get from Sony/Nikon. Most intriguingly, while OMD is presumably using the same sensor used in Panasonic GH3/G3/GX1, it appears to have improved ISO and DR. These observations tell us that the manufacturing of sensors and the ability to "extract" information out of a sensor can substantially determine the final results, and you cannot just "predict" sensor performance based on size alone.
    If you want a system that is really small, the m4/3 is the way to go. It is not the camera that you need to pay attention to, but the lenses. The NEX system appears to mostly focus on the P&S upgrades up to this point and the selection of small, light, and relatively inexpensive lenses are scarce. By contrast, if you go with the OMD, you can use many small and light native prim lenses (12/2, 14/2.5, 19/2.8, 17/2.8, 25/1.4, 20/1.7, 30/2.8, 45/1.8, 45/2.8, and 75/1.8) with outstanding AF performance. Panasonic will soon bring out a 12-35/2.8 weather-resistant zoom that has already received very positive reviews. This will be followed by a 35-100/2.8 zoom. The NEX system, by comparison, is really far far behind in terms of lens selection.
     

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