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Is u43 falling too far behind in sensor development?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by pdk42, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I love my Oly gear and I'm pretty committed to the u43 system, but after seeing some reviews and samples recently from both the Sony A7rii and the Samsung NX1, I'm beginning to feel that it's high time u43 got a decent sensor uplift. For those not familiar, both these cameras have class-leading BSI sensors, the Sony being 42Mp FF and the Samsung 28Mp APSC. They both deliver stunning IQ - high DR and low noise at high ISO and of course a decent step up in resolution.

    But the trouble is - I don't think we're going to get a big sensor upgrade anytime soon. The new 20Mp Panasonic sensor is only marginally better than the 16Mp sensors and if the rumours are to be believed the new Pen and E-M1ii will get a new Sony 20Mp sensor. Neither are BSI. I know that Oly are likely to develop the sensor-shift technology introduced in the E-M5ii further, but I see this as a bit of a kludge that works only in limited scenarios.

    So - I'm beginning to wonder if u43 will keep up with where the industry leaders are heading and it's a bit worrying...
  2. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
  3. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Is Betteridge's law always true?

    • Funny Funny x 1
  4. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 17, 2012
    Does Betteridge"s Law always matter?
  5. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Do I really need to answer that question? And is anyone going to answer the real subject behind my post as opposed to debating interesting linguistic observations made by an obscure English journalist?
  6. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Sure, I'll bite.

    Megapixels is an advertising tool, I doubt I would notice anything smaller than a 50% gain when comparing the same generation and design of sensor. The 42mp sensor is a staggering 592px on the long side and 390 on the short side gain over the previous 36mp sensor, the 28mp Samsung sensor gains 480 on the long and 320 on the short over a generic 24mp sensor. After cropping to a standard print size this is reduced to 490 and 420 on the long sides with the short sides remaining constant. Calling it a 'decent' step up is just silly, it's nice to have more however the numbers themselves are almost meaningless unless you take into account that they go up by the square rather than in a linear fashion.

    People get fixated on marketing too much, BSI is another good example. The latest generation of sensors may be the first to be BSI however it's also the first generation to gain SLVS, which technology gave the most benefit? SLVS changes the way the sensor is read (generally allowing far higher readout speeds) while also potentially allowing much higher dynamic range. Does it matter? No, it's all still marketing bullshit (I used a question mark, the answer was always going to be no). A highly optimized product will generally beat a poorly optimized one with higher specs, the specs of Sony cameras may market well however their usability as a camera is currently very poor.

    I think the most important trend that Sony has generated is improving their ergonomics and function in each generation, in two or three more generations we might have something approaching an E-M1 or GH4. Samsung really did make a killer camera though, it's will be a real shame if all the talk of withdrawal is correct.
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  7. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    Other than megapixel counts, where is m4/3's coming up short? I am excited about the current offerings and what is rumored for 2016. Even the Sony A7S II, which is 12MP by the way, hasn't moved me from m4/3's for video.
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  8. maritan

    maritan Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 30, 2014
    Yeah, whatever TLA (Three Letter Acronym) is used, in the end I will wait to see what Oly does with the M1 Mk II. I don't care much for increased resolution. I'm not a professional, and I won't be printing anything that requires to be measured in metres (or feet). My 24x18" prints look great. A 40x17" panorama I printed was spectacular, even if I do say so myself.

    Like you, I'd like to see is an increase in dynamic range and better noise quality at high ISO (3200) without having to software based gymnastics.

    I don't think there's anything to worry about till we have something concrete. Life's too short.
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  9. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    is there *really* much difference in sensors? How much is cunning image processing?

    This shows a selection of sensors at 800ISO:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The new canon is nice, but to me it wouldn't be "the best camera I have" because I probably wouldn't have it with me ...

    Print Size isn't everything ... I'm still quite content with the current sensors. After all with 40Megapixels comes a commitment to lenses and technique to not blow that detail on the many issues which can rob an image of "quality"
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
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  10. rezatravilla

    rezatravilla Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 7, 2013
    Reza Travilla
    Don't worry, let Olympus and Panasonic thinks about that. All we need is worrying how to create beautiful photos or where to travel.

    If you don't confident with the current system, just buy them. If it doesn't fits your needs just sold them and back to m43 system :biggrin:
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2015
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  11. jimr.pdx

    jimr.pdx Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 5, 2010
    near Longview ~1hr from PDX
    Jim R
    Industry-leader-forum posts are probably saying "my gear is too large, maybe :mu43: developers are on to something". So many parameters to choose from any more, between body size, (sensor-driven) lens sizes, equivalence-hungry f<1 speed demons and the like.

    I'd love to see a four thirds sensor score higher on DxO, but as a former Pentax owner I'm used to my gear getting no respect :dash2: so I feel that :mu43: is doing as well as anyone in dealing with compromises.
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  12. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    It's clear to me that the DxO One is superior to these so called "full frame" cameras.
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  13. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    I wish my E-m1 had a better dynamic range. The brights get blown out so easy, and the detail lost in shadows too. HDR is one answer, but the in-camera solution is pretty lame. More pixels are nice for cropping, but not that much of a deal for me. Better ISO would be great for astro shots too. I don't see any reviews of how much greater the sony 20MP sensor is than current m43 sensors. My bad back limits me to m43, so the R7 has no interest for me. I'm with m43 regardless.
  14. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    especially if you have that with you (instead of leaving it behind because its such a PITA to haul around). On a tripod in your studio for sure,bigger is better. But even when you have to haul your gear to a shoot smaller starts to have its allure.

    I guess that the point is that nothing is really clear ... my premise is that we don't need a bajillaPixel for WWW (where its always going to be down sampled) and when printing all forms of printing result in some pixel blur (inkjet differently to RA-4, but blur none the less).

    For instance here I took an image and used photoshop to put text onto it, then I had it printed at 300dpi. When I got the print back I could see blur of the text ... I did a 1200dpi flatbed scan (to gather all the real pixel data) and downscaled it to attempt to show this

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    applying a blur to the JPG shows its similar but perhaps more blur (from bleed) is on the print

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Personally I've found that all of my digital cameras so far support about 150dpi prints from native so even 5Megapixels gives a decent print up to 17inches wide. If one is honest with ones self I would expect that few make prints that big from many of their images.

    PS, those images are 100% crops from this 35mm film scan
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
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  15. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Sony is the big sensor maker and they can sell many more FF, APS-C and 1" sensors than they can 4/3 sensors. µ4/3 is really something of a niche market. There's not enough profit incentive to incorporate all the latest chip technology into 4/3 sensors. They update the 4/3 sensors when they get around to it, or they need it for video camera customers. All else being equal (same generation chip technology), size matters for image quality and lots of people are sticking to SLRs and larger sensor mirrorless for that reason. Companies generally don't do well by telling prospective customers that they don't make what they want to buy, because they don't need it.
  16. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Yes it is. But impact depends on what you shoot. Portraits? Little to be gained really. Landscapes, wildlife, sports certainly more DR, more resolution, more light sensitivity would all be good as long as the gain in one doesn't compromise the others too much.

    Have you seen the dr capable of a d7200? D750, d810. The low light capability? If we're talking about sensors only, the latest gen of other formats are really amazing in what they can deliver. MFT is just good enough.

    Probably the question should be answered in terms of the degree of change within each format. Nikon APC and FF and Sony have advanced quite a bit. Canon less so, MFT not so much, so in terms of rate of improvement, MFT sensors aren't keeping up.
  17. JBoot

    JBoot Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Dec 4, 2012
    Scotch Plains, NJ
    I do think that m4/3 is falling behind a bit on the chip development side. However, for that one minus, there are so many more pluses on the other side that I just keep shooting and enjoying the system more everyday.

    My Nikon D750's are now relegated for pro work and my E-M5II is for my personal use. I went Oly for the small size, stabilization and overall package with great lenses.

    The D750 output beats Oly in dynamic range, ability to pull shadow detail, low light capability and over detail. However, when I'm walking around NYC for the day and can carry the E-M5II in hand, a couple of batteries in my pocket and maybe a second prime in my jacket.... I remember that I'd never get that shot with the Nikon, because it wouldn't be with me (the E-M5II is also a much better package for street photography)... and why I went m4/3 to begin with... and to be able to shoot stabilized video on the fly is amazing!

    It's rare that I really need to recover every last ounce out of a file... unless I've not setup correctly or am pushing the camera to it's limits. That stop or two, I give up, based on ISO, is worth it everytime for all the other pluses of the system... but when it happens it does make me wish the chip development were moving a bit faster.... Oh well, back to NYC tomorrow with my E-M5II :2thumbs:
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  18. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    M43 is falling right where Sony wants it. They, not Oly or Pan, control the sensors. Why would Sony make anything for M43 that would remotely threaten their camera business?
  19. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Because they're being paid to do so, at the end of a day they're not giving away the sensors - they're selling them. Every camera another brand sells with a Sony sensor is going to make them money, if they don't sell sensors to other companies they won't be able to keep them as customers which will hurt their bottom line.

    There's a shared RND cost for developing sensor technology, once something is developed you need to make and sell it to recoup costs. By being paid to make 4/3 sensors they share part of that cost with another company while still reaping the benefit of the research. Not all breakthroughs are about BSI or fancy gimics marketable to the end user, I'm talking things basic to chip design such as improving the purity of the silicon ingot, slicing or polishing techniques for making wafers, or improving the photolithography.
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  20. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, USA
    I love my Olympus M43 cameras. I have a full arsenal of Nikon FF DSLRs and those only go out when I need them for work. For everything else M43 are my go-to-cameras.
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