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Good enough

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by dixeyk, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I have thinking about this for a while and haven't really known the best way to express it but here goes...

    I have been using digital cameras for probably 10 years. I have owned a selection of point and shoots, DSLRs and now m43 cameras. For the most part I have been pleased with the results and as I look back I realize I have images (printed) that came form an ancient Nikon point and shoot hanging near those form my latest camera (G2). What I notice is that while there are subtle differences between the images from all of the cameras I have owned with the exception of a few Fujis I had early on I can't really say that IQ has ever been the problem for me.

    The things that I have appreciated as the cameras progressed have been speed, the ability to use old legacy lenses easily and more and more manual controls. The other day I was reading a review of the Panasonic G3 and the reviewer was going on about how great the new sensor was and while it did seem to producer cleaner more detailed images it really didn't seem to be THAT big a difference. In fact at some level I find the differences so small as to not really be relevant. It reminded me of my days selling hi-fi. We would have weighty discussions about the merit of a certain tweeter or cross over. We could go on for hours about why tube gear sounded better than stuff with ICs or how moving coil sounded better than moving magnet. I was in that world long enough that I became a very discriminating lister I actually could tell an amp by how it colored the sound,pick out the soundstage and was just as much a tweak as my co-workers. Then one day it struck me...audio was VERY dependent on the environment it was set up in. The size of the room, the materials on the floor and wall, how many windows all contributed to the sound in the room. In fact, it became very clear that for all practical purposes you could often not tell the difference between different high end gear because so many factors went into the sound. I realized at some point you came to a threshold where the differences in equipment was so small that unless you were really listening and knew what to listen for you wouldn't hear any difference. It became the $3000 rule. That was the amount of money you needed to spend to get a great sounding audio where it was significantly better than gear that cost less (say $2000). After that the difference were smaller and smaller until it just became a wate of money for the average person.

    I strikes me that digital cameras are a bit like that. There are so many choices out there and all of them are quite good (Pentax, Sony NEX, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Leica, etc.). They all have things to recommend them and their devoted fans. In looking at the new m43 cameras such as the new Olympus PENs and the recently introduced Panasonics I find myself reminded of the $3000 rule. There has been a lot of discussion about the new Olympus sensors and I am sure they will be terrific but I lok at the samples and to me the differences do not strike me as HUGE. I look at my prints and to me they look like photographs and I wonder if I could tell the difference between them and stuff made form newer cameras. I am always reading about how the G2 sensor is not as good and the OOC JPEGs are inferior yet when I look at the images I think they look great. They look like a nice print. I have film enlargements that don't look anywhere as nice as what I can print on my Canon Pro 9000 from the G2 or my aging E-P1.

    Mind you I have seen images from the M9 and yes they look great but for me at least it's not $5,000 greater (and I'm not picking on the M9 it just was the firs thing I thought of). There are many reasons to need the best possible IQ but not being a professional those reasons do not apply to me. I giess what I am trying to say is that I think these cameras (all of them) are capable of terrific images and so far I haben't seen something that is so AMAZINGLY great that I want to run out and upgrade.
     
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  2. SMaturin

    SMaturin Mu-43 Veteran

    243
    Apr 30, 2011
    New York's Backyard
    Oh but the Olysonica zx-22200L has umpteen bazillion more art filters to make my $10000 camera make pictures like a $10 camera!

    I just gotta have one!

    -Steve. iPad. Mu-43 App.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    532
    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Mark
    Looking at prints is quite different from pixel peeping or shooting mtf charts or brick walls. The best camera for the job is always the one you have with you.

    To digress a little, when I bought into the Leica M system I started out with the current model (M6TTL) and the latest and greatest 50mm Summicron because they were the latest and thus the best, or so I'd been told. Over a few years I traded down to a battered '59 M2 and a 50mm Elmar from 1965 and preferred the look of my prints.
     
  4. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    :rofl:
     
  5. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I don't mean to say the newer cameras aren't technically superior but I often wonder if some folks lose sight of the fact that technically superior may not translate into a practical improvement.

    I am reminded of a story when I had this gentleman come in the shop looking for some speakers (I forget the brand). I asked how he was planning to use them, what kind of room and what kind of gear he had and realized that the ones he was looking for were a poor impedance match for his amp so I showed him something that would be a better match.

    He got irate claiming he wanted the best and the brand he asked for had a frequency response range of 20-20K while the ones I showed him had something like a 15- 15K range. I tried to explain that practically speaking he wouldn't hear the difference but he was positive I was somehow trying to pull a fast one. I even tried to tell him that the impedance mismatch would likely cause his amp to shut down periodically (he didn't buy it).
     
  6. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    "Significant", is the key word I often find myself using when comparing IQ and hardware.

    In the dSLR world, at ISO's under 400 and prints sized up to 8x10, one will not see a difference in IQ between entry level cameras and top of the line.

    At higher ISO's and larger print sizes IQ differences begin to appear and as ISO and print size increases the difference in IQ becomes significant.

    G
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Luke
    Your post is dead on the money. It reminds me of the days when I bought esoteric audio gear to hear closer to the what was on the disc (usually a record, but the same went for CDs). The dealer that I went to was also a firm believer in what describe. It is the law of diminishing returns. You have to spend X dollar amount to get 85-90% of the performance of the absolute best. But that dollar amount is CONSIDERABLY less than the 85-90% of what the very best would cost you.

    Imagine the range of automobile prices. There's a few you can get now, totally stripped down but still brand new for right around $10,000. And yet most brands still have one that costs more than $50,000. Some brands don't even make ANYTHING available to you until you spend MORE than $100,00. They will all get you to work and to the grocery store. Some will just be a bit more fun on the way.

    The finest cameras will never be mine, but I'll gladly take the performance to price ration offered by the Panalympus models. And now that I have a couple that are great, I don't feel the need to have the latest and greatest when they are only incrementally better (and that's all they'll ever be).

    although the difference between the new ones at ISO1600 and mine are........
     
  8. zettapixel

    zettapixel Mu-43 Veteran

    470
    Aug 12, 2010
    NY
    :thiagree: big time.
    It's a bit like PCs - for everyday things they're all good nowadays. Isn't it great, though, that we can pick a system based mostly on other considerations, like ergonomics, portability etc. Even professionals have more options now.
    On the other hand, it becomes increasingly difficult to answer friends' question "which camera is the best to buy"...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Johnny1.33

    Johnny1.33 Mu-43 Regular

    113
    Jun 4, 2011
    Does that mean a 6MP Nikon D70 is still good? :)
     
  10. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Great post. I always got the sense that at a certain point, "audiophiles" weren't listening to the music anymore.

    Same with cameras. It's that forest and trees thing again.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Pan Korop

    Pan Korop Mu-43 Veteran

    479
    Mar 31, 2011
    Phare Ouest
    Dunno. But Fuji's S3 Pro, or S5 for that matter, have in fact 6 MP sensors, and are still quite good enough...
     
  12. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Yes.
     
  13. Johnny1.33

    Johnny1.33 Mu-43 Regular

    113
    Jun 4, 2011
    I wish I could believe it. I'm way too brainwashed to believe 6MP cameras are enough.
     
  14. Pan Korop

    Pan Korop Mu-43 Veteran

    479
    Mar 31, 2011
    Phare Ouest
    You're so right!

    A remarkable hunch, esp. from someone with eardrums battered by a Hog's thumping infrasounds, nostrils sooted by BBQ and--so I suspect--palate burnt to a crisp by chili con jalapenos :biggrin:
     
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  15. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    No, that's different ... (joking)

    The IQ of the D70 will not be as good as a D700 ... but up to around an 8x10, (maybe less) ... and under ISO 400, there won't be a significant difference in IQ.

    G
     
  16. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    First it was my clothing ... now it's my eardrums, nostrils and palate ... I think this forum is giving me a complex ...

    g

    ps- Some of us like hog thumping infrasounds, sooty BBQ and burnt chili con jalapenos ... that all sound the making's of a good party.
     
  17. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    Sure...my Nikon D40 certainly is (was). In fact that was a terrific camera that I l lost. I would probably still have that otherwise. I could easily produce really nice 8x10s with it.
     
  18. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Interesting topic.

    I am deeply interested in evolving technology (not just photographic) and the developments that it can bring. For my own use, I read through performance and feature lists, and note how cool some of them are - and then measure against my actual and likely use,.

    I have read many articles and posts where particular features are received with enthusiasm, but when asked, many will admit to not using them. This is not a bad thing, because the features can be exciting in themselves. But I feel that when purchasing, it's best to consider the reality of your photographic world.

    Image quality is one of those items. It can be tough to to make a real assessment, confusing and can lead to unnecessary spending on new gear that does not deliver better results. My experience has been that good technique, a good eye and deep familiarity with what your gear can do is most important.

    The much watched DXO comparisons are a case in point. They are arguably useful, but at best are one factor. I recently read a post where a person stated that until M4/3 reached a score matching the DR of a K5 they would not consider the IQ good enough.

    By considering what you like to shoot (sports, landscapes etc) and your most likely final output (web, 8x10s, large prints etc.) what is good enough is easier to discern.

    I would never argue that development should stop, or we never buy another camera. I would argue that we are more likely to get the cameras we want and need from manufacturers if we buy for purpose rather than for features or capability we do not use.

    In 2000 a fascinating and much discussed article was posted on Luminous Landscapes. It compared the 3MP Canon D30 with 35mm film.

    Given that film was good enough for for a lot of photography many of us admire, and that a first generation M4/3 from Olympus or Panasonic offers 'better' IQ than a D30, I wonder where we are now.

    I recommend reading the article for it's core content, but also for some eye-openers on how far we have travelled in a little over a decade. Note, for example, the price of the D30 (by no means a flagship camera) and the amazing capacious 16MB Flash card:

    D30 Vs Film
     
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  19. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    6MP is enough if you have low expectations ... i.e. not making prints larger than an 8x10 or so ... your mileage will vary depends on individual and subjective taste(s) as to how much enough ... is enough.

    G
     
  20. Pan Korop

    Pan Korop Mu-43 Veteran

    479
    Mar 31, 2011
    Phare Ouest
    Does anyone else remember Kodak's thermal sublimation printers, about 14 years ago? They were robust rack- mounted machines, to install them on AWAC's and other birds, which produced gorgeous 12 x 12 in. prints, B&W or CMYK depending on the version.

    One square foot. 2,048 x 2,048 definition. Four megapixels!

    (true, it takes a 6 to 8 MP Bayer sensor to resolve that cleanly...)