High ISO Comparisons

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by OzRay, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
  2. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    799
    Oct 28, 2013
    Great article. Also interesting that they used only SOOC jpeg for their testing. Manually tuned NR on a RAW file would likely yield even better results for all participants...
     
  3. wildwildwes

    wildwildwes Mu-43 Veteran

    456
    Jun 9, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    Surprised to see that their test showed the E-M1 besting the new GH-4 -- this given that the GH-4 supposedly edges out the E-M1 with regards to dynamic range, etc. That said, I too have found the E-M1's low light performance to be exemplary to say the least.
     
  4. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I think the JPG use was primarily to remove user effects that post-processing RAW files would introduce, it's what most people shoot and it saves time doing the tests. Shooting RAW will give you more latitude and I think you'll be able to get even better results.
     
  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    The problem with these tests is that they can never be "fair" in the sense of having all settings equal. Some companies do processing of the image data as it comes off the sensor, so the RAW files are not "untouched"...some companies sacrifice noise for detail and vice versa in their JPGs.

    The only thing this kind of test gives us is someone else's determination of what they think is best.

    Probably the best way to go about all this is to be able to get a either unprocessed RAW files and manipulate them yourself or have some place run every conceivable variation of JPG settings at every ISO for every camera so that people can judge the output for themselves.

    Or in other words....that will never happen...we need to just realize that almost any modern digital camera can produce great images...understand the laws of physics and what that means to us in relation to photography...pick the best tool set for the job you need done.
     
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  6. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I think sometimes you have to give some trust to these reviewers and reviews, understanding the limitations. Given that they specifically used a final print as the benchmark, I think the summary is fairly accurate. It's been known for a long time that what appears to be 'noisy' on-screen, often looks completely different when viewed in print and can be transformative. That's how I've so often proved people wrong when they say that 4/3s (as it was then) is incapable of producing good quality large prints with low noise characteristics. I can recollect at least one person, on seeing some of these prints going 'wow' and then when told what camera took the photos, trying to do some clumsy back-pedaling looking for faults.:biggrin:
     
  7. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Printing is extremely forgiving especially with 8x10. Retina displays, however, is not as forgiving. And in some cases, extremely high resolution printing even @ 8x10 can also become unforgiving as well.

    So it's basically comes down to this. What is your final output going to be and how is it going to be acceptable?

    For example. If you're shooting for the FIFA Worldcup and you're a freelancer. More than 60% of the shooters there shoot with Canons, mainly 1DX, and their most used ISOs ranges 6400, 12,800 to 25,600 and the rest are D4s and D4 shooters and if you're shooting with an E-M1 in the hopes of selling your photos, then your luck may not be good. The problem is. It's competition not on skills because almost everyone is just as good. It's on ISO performance and how clean and sharp the files are. The higher res is better on detail which is a plus for the 1DX and noise is good and then you have a sale.

    So if you're competing in any photo competition or photo pro events like FIFA or TDF where your opponents are using better gear and have the same skills as yours, then all of this comparison is simply valid for just an 8x10 print, and only valid for the reviewers who judged. The problem with these reviews is that, there are no standards. What's valid for this review is not valid for Corbis, AP, AFP, EPA, Getty Images and so forth. Every agencies I found set their own standards.

    ISO acceptance is only valid for those who are buying your work or who is judging your work not what is deemed acceptable here in this case, from a website, from a guru or from a magazine.

    But if you're just shooting for fun, then the current MFT sensor technology is fantastic printing @ 8x10 or for web use which is what the majority of users want anyhow.
     
  8. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Clearly the final purpose of the image is important, but I think your examples of the sports world are somewhat misplaced. All of these guys use Nikon/Canon gear, not because of ISO performance, but because of AF performance primarily (it is still the best). The lowest noise shots are useless if they are out of focus. ISO performance has little to do with the final results nowadays with the cameras that we have.

    One of the most important things with major sports events is access to the right spots and flexibility with what you want to do, if you're stuck in a bad spot, no camera will get you good results (except by accident). I've shot next to Getty photographers and they are not some mythical creatures with halos around their heads and the gift of the gods in skill levels. Many rely on the spray and pray technique, and chimp like the best amateurs on the planet. Give me the right position at the World Cup and I would deliver as good results with my E-M1 as anyone with their Nikons/Canons. I may have to work harder, but believe me, I've been there, done that. And not all of these photographers are equally skilled, far from it.

    Also, none of these sports photographers are in it for photo competition purposes, they are there to provide photos for their agency, newspaper etc. Sharp, in-focus, photos that capture the moment are what matter. If it's a once in a lifetime shot and happens to be noisy, the agency wouldn't give a rat's rear as far as the noise goes, it's the moment that matters. Amateurs keep harping on about technical details that are important, but that's because they don't understand the reality of life as a photojournalist, sports photographer, or whatever. Amateurs always think it's about the equipment and that the latest and greatest is all important.
     
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  9. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    I'm surprised that none of the NIkon 1 bodies were on this list.
     
  10. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    During the FIFA World Cup, there were a long line up of people at the Canon booth all wanting to borrow a Canon 1DX. Same with on the Nikon booth. Here's why your explanation don't add up. If AF is really important, why are they lining up for a 1DX or D4s when they have a 1ds Mark 3 or a Nikon D3s as their own or the Canon 7D and Nikon D7100? I am sure that the Nikon D7100 or 7D aren't all that poor in regards to getting sharp photos. That's a skills issue if you can't get sharp photos.

    Like I said before. What camera you use is dependent solely on your client's needs and expectation. It is true what you said that position and location in the Media Tribune is more important in getting that great shot. BUT, sadly professional photographers who are securely contracted by paid clients like Corbus, Getty, AFP, EPA, and AP as well as Xinhua are going for the best equipment because some of these agencies provide for them with the latest gear and assured them of their paid work are a scarcity.
    Today's reality is that people are only paid per image on sanctioned events (like 10 to 20 Euros I was told), which is why you have a lot of those wannabe amateurs with their Canon 7D and Nikon D7100 or Nikon D40 and D50 all lining up to get the best. They are the freelancers and if you haven't made a name for yourself, then it is a matter of competition, because for 10 to 20 Euros per photo, it isn't enough in itself to survive and make a living.

    I did not imply that the E-M1 is not a capable performer. I think OzRay perhaps you took me the wrong way. What I have said is that, high ISO performance is only a useful comparison against the same work what others accept to be acceptable. This is after all, a human judgement. There are really no standards. At the end of the day, I am my own judge if I'm shooting for my own which is why, aside from my Nikon pro gear, I shoot MFT and Nikon 1. They are good enough for me, so I'm sure everyone who owns MFT and any different format are quite happy with their gear.

    Cheers.
     
  11. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I'm saying that all of the models, even the older ones, have superior AF, period. Pros don't change cameras like amateurs, who are always looking for the latest and greatest with which to shoot more ducks. And why were people 'borrowing' cameras? That already indicates why Nikon/Canon are popular, because the manufacturers are out there marketing their products, trying to get people to upgrade. Olympus doesn't do that because no one would take them seriously and quite possibly they wouldn't even be allowed to hawk their wares, as the likes of Nikon/Canon pay heavily to be able to exclusively market at such events. There was even a photo doing the rounds from I think the Superbowl, where Nikon users had to wear Canon vests, or vice versa, because of the endorsement payments.

    The camera one uses is not solely dependent on the clients needs. Clients don't necessarily dictate the camera that you must use. Here's just one example of a photographer that uses what he considers is necessary: http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com.au/. When I shot sports, I used Olympus gear, while all the other photographers working for the paper shot Nikon. No, but no one, complained about my results. You will find agencies like Corbis, Getty etc specify, or used to specify, the types of camera from which they'd accept images in order to filter out amateurs, because they generally couldn't afford the top of the line gear and that reduced the rubbish being sent in by wannabees. There's no way I'd ever be a freelance sports or news photographer, the pay and conditions are absolute crap, with major job uncertainty and only a very few do well out of it.
     
  12. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Both Nikon and Canon were not official sponsors; Sony and Panasonic were.

    Secondly, your second comment does not make sense. Filter out the amateurs and their junk. How do you think the market price for photographs had been driven down to bits? It is the very nature of these free and giving freely away crappy photos that solidify the excuse that a photograph is just a piece of commodity. And clients don't necessarily dictate the camera that you must use? And yet I see big agencies like EPA, AFP, AP and the well off "provide" the latest cameras (1DX or D4/D4s) to their top professionals. It's nice when you're on someone's guaranteed payroll, plus these bigger agencies are more than happy to "re-sell" their photos to the smaller agencies. And usually the smaller agencies cave in and say, yeah I'll buy them. So while they don't dictate what we use; we are nonetheless influenced.

    Consumers are influenced by what the professionals use; especially the ones that provided the photos for the matches. And these influences are very much what drive the standards to be. Like what your examples provided that those 8x10 ISO standards are basically opinions from some people who approve of those standards. It is based on human judgement and if you agree with that judgement, then you accept that standard.
     
  13. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    And what cameras were used by the pros covering the event? Sony, Panasonic? Note what I said in my first para: 'There was even a photo doing the rounds from I think the Superbowl, where Nikon users had to wear Canon vests, or vice versa, because of the endorsement payments.' It matters squat who the advertisers are, even Olympus was the prime advertiser at recent tennis championship (I think it was) and all the photographers were using Nikon/Canon. Nikon/Canon have the sports photographers in their pocket, for good reason.

    Unfortunately, you don't appear to understand what I'm taking about, confusing one area of photography with another. Stock photography, is pretty much dead in the water as far as money making is concerned, as every Tom, Dick and Harry is filling the coffers with billions of photos. Agency shots still make a degree of money, yet even Getty or Corbis recently released a shed load of photos able to be used royalty free. Newspapers are now using video and stills shot by rank amateurs with their cameras phones to save money and to get the latest. Commissioned photography still makes money, as it takes more than just a camera to deliver the goods. Some news agencies provide the cameras to their staff, it's not the same as a client 'dictating' that you use a Hasselblad when your gear is Nikon or whatever.

    Go and ask a dozen soccer mums with their Nikon/Canon DSLRs and get them to name one well know sports photographer. I've been into photography for nearly 40 years and can't name one well known sports photographer, fashion photographer, news photographer etc other than some from the yesteryear. Half the consumers look at ads and think that's what they need to get, the other half read DPR and the like and go by the superior advice of the amateur-professional photographers on the forums.
     
  14. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    For digital stills, mainly Canon and Nikon and the Sony Alpha series (A7/A7r). What's interesting is A7 series with Canon users. Makes sense. A7r with a Canon adapter which can use Canon lenses with full AF, Aperture and IS functionality intact! A 36MP camera for Canon users; something lacking in the Canon lineup. Now what influenced them to shoot 36MP? Was it not the Nikon D800 the Nikon pros have in their camp?!? As I said before; everything is an influence. For Video work, they are mainly Sony and Panasonic. I saw a glimpse of the GH4. They were heavily promoting 4K.

    In regards to vests. It's the hideous orange/brown FIFA vest with the Sony Alpha logo sticking at the back we have to wear. It is a matter of who's advertising it -- you're right.

    The reason why Nikon and Canon have the sports photographers in the pocket is only for 1 good reason. Lenses. Agencies have an arsenal of lenses that they had built up during the AF-SLR days. Canon has a corporate deal for agencies where you can upgrade lenses at very good prices. Despite the fiasco of the Canon 1ds Mark 3 where you couldn't shoot and get consistent sharp photos because of the mirror problems and that the Nikon D3 and D700 did not have the same defect and despite the Canon people borrowing the D3/D700 at shooting events so they could get sharp photos, these Canon people today are still with Canon. Why no mass switch? Again, it's the lenses! Once you get people invest heavily in lenses, it's hard for them to switch.
    Lastly, CPS and NPS events are very helpful for these professionals because they provide backup and also reduces the gear they carry and let them sample new gear. Like the heroin dealer who lets people sample new drugs. They can borrow gear either from Canon or Nikon. The freebies like this you get from either Canon and Nikon are simply not available from Olympus or anyone else because of the steep financial undertaking. That's why they stay I suppose. If you remove these incentives away from these Canon and Nikon shooters (discounts, perks, free long terms loaners etc..) and make it a level playing field. I suppose then they'll choose whatever they shoot.

    But again, it all comes down to who you are as a photographer. Are you an A-list or B-list photographer or the bottom of the list. Actually, stock photography is not dead and I was surprised to find that some of these A-list photographers are getting 70% - 80% cut from Getty -- This is where lots of people complain why Getty was paying only like 10 to 20%. Unless you're unique and do really good, you're not A-list. And when you're not A-list, then yes you're a follower. You may not feel like the agencies are dictating what you use to shoot, but heh it's not a rocket science to figure out what their top A-list producers use. Then it's simply a matter of trying to keep up with the Jones at least in today's climate. I don't play that game. Sadly, many many others do.

    The reason why Getty and others are giving out royalty free images is basically the same game that Canon and Nikon play. Let you guys sample the drugs and get you hooked. They won't release the good stuff, but they make sure you like it enough that you'll cave in later and buy images from them. That's when other freelancers can get stiffed! You go to the event on your own dime only to find that your so called agency bought the images resold from a bigger agency and you realized you're on an expensive self-paid vacation!
     
  15. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I don't believe that lenses are the reason. One of the main reasons is pro support, like Nikon's NPS; pros can't wait around for gear to get fixed like ordinary consumers. Olympus actually had this in Australia and I was able to get stuff fixed or adjusted very quickly and for low/no cost. The other reason is historical, most pros started with Nikon/Canon and have acquired an intimate understanding of how the cameras work, setting required etc, they don't want to re-learn unless the payback is worthwhile. The final reason is performance, reliability, durability, AF accuracy/speed (as already mentioned) etc and perhaps the fact that Nikons/Canons are often issued by photographer's employers, so it's a natural trend of ownership.

    Clearly those who have acquired a solid inventory of equipment are loathe to replace it for something else that likely provides no significant advantage (I'm in that boat), so most pros will stay with the one system unless something compelling comes around, compelling in business terms. Pros don't usually have the money to replace gear when they want or upgrade when they want, they run a business and any purchase has to be a viable return to the business. In the majority of my career, I've seen most pros use gear that is often several iterations behind the latest and greatest, if the gear works, then they don't get rid of it. If it doesn't, they try to get it repaired and if that doesn't work, only then do they contemplate buying new or used, or renting until they can afford or need a replacement.

    And as for where you stand in the pro photography hierarchy, not many are at the top and not many are making an astounding living from photography, often having to supplement it with other work or rely on a second income from spouse etc. The photography profession, unfortunately, isn't what it used to be and many professional photographers have found themselves out of work as a result of digital photography. I saw this happening in the late 80s and tried to tell the organisation that I worked for at the time what was ahead, but they didn't listen, didn't believe it, and they effectively disappeared a few years later (I had moved on by then). I'm still happy to wield a camera and do professional level work, but I no longer have any desire to make it a full-time job.
     
  16. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    I don't believe that Pro support alone is the main driver, but a necessary marketing lure to keep pros with Canon or Nikon. I think you operate it as a loss leader to ensure you'll always be in the game. Olympus and before then Minolta used to support pros, but realized that the size of the sales and cost are not worth their while. Currently, AF and sensor MP are on Canon and Nikon side, but the next generation mirrorless camera will be up to 24MP and equal or exceed Sony A6000 performance. The next E-M5 replacement would be a 24MP in order to stay competitive; at least that's what I've heard and led to believe. So you might be tempted to upgrade and at least have a 2nd body?!? :biggrin:
     
  17. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    353
    Jan 30, 2014
    For such tests, would it be allowed to cheat viewer/judge by saying photos are from "high end" camera if they ask?

    As if they believe they are from camera they expect to deliver such results they focus to give critic instead negativity focusing what is bad.

    Then when you finally give the truth of camera they either learn it is the photo that matters and not the gear.
     
  18. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    353
    Jan 30, 2014
    And what is extremely high dot density printing? (it is not resolution, but pixel density)

    10x8 allows you to print with 300dpi and to see difference between that and 150dpi requires serious pixel peeping with a loupe.

    Like device what i use now to write this has 323ppi what is little over high quality print. And comparing this 7" screen to my 28" display what has 157ppi pixel density (resolution is 3840*2160) what is 10-bit monitor. I can even use monitor capability to overlay a portrait A4 frame middle of screen to see a 1:1 size A4. With so high pixel density, i can't see individual pixels from normal distance holding a print.

    A4 size is 29,7x21cm, what is 11.69x8.27 inches.
    8x10 size is little smaller as seen.

    And if i order a 300dpi and 150dpi print and place it side by side the monitor, the prints are far more forgiving for noise while are almost identical to screen. The smaller dpi print is sharper because downsizing.

    And if i do high quality art prints to aluminum plates, from 16Mpix i can get huge sizes with a great quality to fill while wall if wanted. Or even make a billboard what size is counted in multiple meters and sharpness is amazing.

    And if really needed i can apply multiple different denoise algorithms to specific positions of the photo (content aware denoising) and sharpen differently and even resize differently to maximize photo quality so i can enlarge it by 3-4x (takes hours to calculations) while maintaining good/high quality.

    To get real improvement from 16Mpix that would matter visually, i would need to douple the resolution to get doupled pixel density what means i need to quadruple megapixels. So from 16Mpix to get really improved resolution i need to get 64Mpix what is only available for medium formats (50-80Mpix)

    If we would get same sensor and processor what nikon D4 has (or similar cameras) we would get even more benefits if having 16Mpix or just 12Mpix from improved imagine technology.

    But we would be talking again from pixel peeping, not about photo itself.
     
  19. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Unless the judge asked what specific camera took the photo I would say, even if it was taken by an iPhone, that it was a high end camera. :)
     
  20. I think that IR has been a bit too clever in this test by making ISO value corrections based on the DxO ratings of raw files. They are printing from in-camera jpegs which are obviously not unaltered raw files and include, amongst other things, tone curve adjustments which affect the overall luminance of an image.