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Thread: Camera format comparison

  1. #1

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    Camera format comparison

    Hi- my first post in this forum - thanks, glad to be here! I've been shooting with an Olympus E-PL1 for a year or so and quite happy with it. I got a shade for the LCD with a little fresnel magnifier that slides into place when I need it for manual focusing - not ideal but helpful. Recently I took home a friend's Nikon D90 to play with. Obviously it's a wonderful camera with capabilities beyond my camera) that I will only discover when I study the manual (because they're not immediately obvious.

    This comment/question has to do with the sensor size. To the eye the sensor in the Nikon appears to be only a little bigger than the 4/3 sensor in my Olympus. Photos taken at the highest resolution are 4032x2688 for the Olympus and 4288x2848 for the Nikon. Doesn't appear to be greatly different, although maybe the difference is of greater significance than I think. Please let me know if this is the case.

    Then I did a little research on the sensor sizes themselves. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I found that the Nikon DX sensor is truly only a little bit bigger than the 4/3.

    So, it seems to me that what the Nikon has going for it is:
    - Faster continuous shooting rate
    - Fabulous lenses
    - Excellent viewfinder
    - um, what else?

    I've got my Oly set so that with the push of one button I can access control over every creative parameter in detail. The Nikon may have additional controls that I didn't want to dig through menus to find, but I can't imaging they would be ones most photogs would want very often or they would be easier to access.

    So - dumb question revealing profound ignorance, but here goes: why would I want to shell out $900 for a D90 body alone when I have this Oly which appears to do everything the Nikon does only slightly less well?

    There, I laid my naivete bare for all to see!

    Joe

  2. #2
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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Hi Joe and welcome to CiC!

    One thing to clearly keep in mind when thinking about the differences in cameras is that the camera doesn't make anywhere near as much difference to the image as the skill of the photographer taking the picture. The camera is just a tool to acomplish the task. If you are happy with the results you are getting from your Olympus then whether you upgrade your camera or not is more of a budgeting decision (strongly influenced by the lust for something bigger, better, more impressive, etc.) than a practical 'can't get there without it' one.

    Having played with the D90, you interest has been piqued toward getting a new camera. It probably makes sense to enjoy the experience of researching not just the D90, but other Nikon and other brand cameras as well.

    When I decided to upgrade from my Sony DSC H1, I found that for my budget (and list of gotta-haves), the D3100 at about $600 with the 24-55mm lens was about right, given all the features it offers over the Sony Point 'n Shoot. When you add the cost of a wide-angle and telephoto lens, bag, tripod, filters, software, etc., it quickly became much more than the D90 you are considering. Your mileage will vary, but it is worth the time you'll invest to carefully do your homework before deciding which camera, or even whether or not you really want to upgrade.

    This will give you an idea of the sensor sizes as compared to a 35mm full frame camera:

    Camera format comparison

    For me one of the biggest advantage of a Canon or Nikon over a Sony or Olympus is the wealth of compatible accessories that are available.

    In the end it comes down to desire and budget as to whether it is worth the cost of the upgrade to you. Hope this helps!
    Last edited by FrankMi; 9th November 2011 at 10:31 PM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Thanks for the quick response, Frank! Nice to get a welcome from someone just up the road from me.

    My Olympus was an upgrade from my Canon G9, which was an incredible camera except for the sensor size. I really don't know what size sensor it had, but the camera was solid and very flexible. It just didn't make big enough images for me. The Olympus seemed like a poor man's way to step into DSLR land and, as I said, I've been pretty happy with the result. Its 14-42 mm zoom is pretty good - but I was blown away by the sharpness I got in some shots when I mounted my old Nikon H f2.0 50mm lens! Let me see if I can give you an example :

    Camera format comparison

    BTW you couldn't be more right about the Nikon/Canon accessories. I'm in poor man mode for now.

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    I have the D90 and I love it, but I know nothing of the Olympus so I can't compare them. In addition to the fact that it's not my camera that takes rubbish pictures - it's me - I'd think of the sensor size in itself as not that important. What is important is how well the AF system works, how good the dynamic range is, what kind of low-level light can you work with, and last but not least what kind of lenses can you get for it? It's been said on this forum quite a bit that a camera body's most important job is to let you attach lenses to it. Lenses "draw" the picture.

    If my math is correct the sensor area of the D90 is approximately 1.6 times that of the 4/3 system - although the realtionship doesn't necessarily concern the amount of pixels. It would be my guess that it has significance when it comes to noise issues.

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Hi,

    According to DxO Mark the Nikon has more than 2 stops advantage in dynamic range (10.1 vs 12.5):

    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cam...rand2%29/Nikon

    It also has twice the value for low light ISO.

    Although I take the DxO Mark scores with a pinch of salt they are still better than no scores. At least they try and test all the cameras with an impartially measure. This adds value to the standard anecdotal information you will read in reviews on camera performance.

    In this case the scores indicate that the Nikon will be better in low light and for fast moving sports (better ISO) and may capture a bit more range in contrasty scenes with bright lights and dark shadows.

    If after doing all your research you still cannot answer why you would shell out money for something, then you are better off keeping the money. Expense is a relative term based on how much you value something.

    Good luck in your shopping research.

    Alex

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by herbert View Post
    According to DxO Mark the Nikon has more than 2 stops advantage in dynamic range (10.1 vs 12.5):
    Possibly worthy of note though is the fact that paper only reproduces around 4 stops of DR and monitors around 6 - so even with a bit of DR compression, often, we don't need more than about 8 stops anyway. There are exceptions of course - eg shooting into the light - but for a purely reflective scene the DR from any camera is usually more than enough.

  7. #7
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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Very nice, Joe. Thank you for sharing.

  8. #8
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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Possibly worthy of note though is the fact that paper only reproduces around 4 stops of DR and monitors around 6 - so even with a bit of DR compression, often, we don't need more than about 8 stops anyway. There are exceptions of course - eg shooting into the light - but for a purely reflective scene the DR from any camera is usually more than enough.
    True. But all things being equal I would rather have the extra range than not. It just needs a bit more post-processing to find it. However the extra ISO performance will be far more useful than dynamic range.

    @Joe

    Your photo demonstrates the Olympus is a good camera. I personnaly like the DSLR form-factor because the viewfinder forces me to brace the camera which stabilises the shot. I find I take a lot of blurred shots with point and shoots because I am waving them around (and they have long shutter lag). You can get a viewfinder for the Olympus. Is that what your 'shade for the LCD with a little fresnel magnifier' provide?

    On the other hand the point and shoot is brilliant for simple macro stuff because the depth of field is huge and it is very easy to get the camera into tight positions. But my point and shoot is a lot smaller than your 4/3 camera.

    Regards,

    Alex

  9. #9

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by herbert View Post
    True. But all things being equal I would rather have the extra range than not. It just needs a bit more post-processing to find it. However the extra ISO performance will be far more useful than dynamic range.
    Absolutely, on all counts

    Really just saying I guess that not having the extra DR (or ISO) (2 sides of same coin) may or may not be significant depending on what's being shot.

  10. #10

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Great responses, everyone - thank you so much!

    Stig: your point about dynamic range is on target and one I hadn't considered. Re: low light - my Olympus is way better than my G9 (point and shoot) was, if not as good as I would like. And about lenses - at least I have my old Nikkor and Nikkor H lenses!

    herbert: fascinating comparison - I was unaware of that web site. Helps one get past the hype, lingo and jargon each camera maker uses. Actually I opted not to get the allegedly very good viewfinder for the Olympus because it costs as much as the camera (I mean, really - for that much I could get a D90!) What I have is a clever sunshade which fits over the LCD screen, held on magnetically, with a fresnel magnifier which slides out from the top and flips down if needed. The whole thing folds up and just pops off when not needed. No substitute for a viewfinder for sure.

    Again, thanks for all the feedback to a new guy -
    Last edited by joewatt; 10th November 2011 at 02:19 AM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by joewatt View Post
    What I have is a clever sunshade which fits over the LCD screen, held on magnetically, with a fresnel magnifier which slides out from the top and flips down if needed. The whole thing folds up and just pops off when not needed.
    I'm curious. Would that sunshade fit only the Olympus? Or is it something that could help out any typical P&S camera? If so, what brand is it?

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Possibly worthy of note though is the fact that paper only reproduces around 4 stops of DR and monitors around 6 - so even with a bit of DR compression, often, we don't need more than about 8 stops anyway. There are exceptions of course - eg shooting into the light - but for a purely reflective scene the DR from any camera is usually more than enough.
    So then does this imply that having an 800 hp engine in the family sedan isn't any more useful than having a 400 hp engine?

    Glenn

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn NK View Post
    So then does this imply that having an 800 hp engine in the family sedan isn't any more useful than having a 400 hp engine?
    Depends on how you drive; in my case, I'd need all 800HP and then some!

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by joewatt View Post
    What I have is a clever sunshade which fits over the LCD screen, held on magnetically, with a fresnel magnifier which slides out from the top and flips down if needed. The whole thing folds up and just pops off when not needed. No substitute for a viewfinder for sure.
    Are you talking about a Delkin Hood? I have a Hoodman Loupe which works well when I am ABSOLUTELY FORCED TO USE LIVE VIEW such as when I am shooting video with my 7D.

    I use the Hoodman Loupe with my FLIPIT video camera to more or less convert the camera from a LCD viewfinder to an eye level viewfinder. However, the Hoodman Loupe is pretty large and ungainly on the FLIPIT.

    Note: I ABSOLUTELY HATE LIVEVIEW AND IF DSLR CAMERAS DID NOT HAVE EYE LEVEL VIEWFINDERS, I WOULD STILL BE SHOTING FILM...

  15. #15

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    Re: Camera format comparison

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    I'm curious. Would that sunshade fit only the Olympus? Or is it something that could help out any typical P&S camera? If so, what brand is it?
    Google "camera LCD sun shade" and you'll find lots of them. The particular one I have and like, with the slide-out fresnel magnifier, held on by thin magnetic strips which adhere to the camera right next to the LCD, is this one:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2-5-Pop-up-L...-/200510340131

    It comes in different sizes and seems to come from China.

    FWIW (not much, I know!), my pride needs to think my Olympus isn't a mere P&S due to interchangeable lenses and bigger sensor. Ahem.

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