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M43 16mp Sensor Evolution

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Ossiva, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Ossiva

    Ossiva Mu-43 Veteran

    224
    Dec 31, 2017
    TEXAS!
    When it comes to 16 mp sensor in M43 cameras, has there genuinely been an improvement in IQ over the years? I understand the omission of the anti-alias filter improved sharpness in recent years, but have changes really been that noticeable to most?

    Quick notes:
    • This thread is intended to emphasize stills, not video.
    • This question is mainly targeted at long-term M43 users, or people who have experimented with older bodies.
    • This thread is not intended to emphasize the 12mp or 20mp sensors - only the 16mp sensors.
     
  2. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere Subscribing Member

    Aug 19, 2016
    New Westminster, BC
    I suspect the real changes one might see are down to better in-camera processing as opposed to sensor improvements.
     
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  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    Can't speak for most, but speaking for myself:

    There has been very minimal, if any, change in output quality for the 16MP sensor Olympus uses since the original E-M5.

    For Panasonic, they had a 16MP sensor in earlier high end cameras like the GH3. There was a noticeable improvement in the one they used in the GX7, but I see no real improvement since then.

    Video on the other hand, has been remarkably improved. I am not sure if that is sensor or processor changes, but the last batch of 16MP Panasonic cameras have so much more detail, even in 1080p mode.
     
  4. Ossiva

    Ossiva Mu-43 Veteran

    224
    Dec 31, 2017
    TEXAS!
    That's what I'm thinking too. Between my G7 (same sensor as the GX7), the jpegs are noticeably better than my GH2; however, the images don't seem to turn out that different when shooting raw. I do have to do PP slightly different, but it's minor.

    Definitely. The difference in video between my 4k G7 and GH2 is night-and-day. However, the GH2 has an odd cinematic flair that is very appealing.
     
  5. I don't use JPEGs, but speaking from experience of E-M5, E-M1:

    E-M1 has slightly better sharpness due to lack of AA filter. It lost out on IQ for long-exposure noise, however. The 16MP sensor in the original E-M5 remains the best of the 16MP bunch for ultra long exposures IMO.

    And from experience with the GM1, GM5, GF7, GX850:

    They're all the same, except the GX850 is a little sharper thanks to no AA filter. Long exposure noise is worse than the E-M5 but better than the E-M1.
     
  6. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    DR should be significantly different, which also affects shadow noise.

    DR: Photographic Dynamic Range versus ISO Setting
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. Tool Crazy

    Tool Crazy Mu-43 Regular

    105
    Jul 5, 2018
    Having had my share of m43 cameras I agree that Olympus 16mp sensors since the original em5 haven't changed much. I've owned the original em10 and currently have the mark II model. But not a bad thing as it shows how good the sensor was back then.

    Panasonic on the other hand has made great progress since then. I picked up a gx1 last year and was not very good at high iso as my g85, jpeg or raw. Not even close. Wanted to keep it as a cheap spare body but got rid of it right away.
     
  8. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I've used pretty well all the Olympus 16Mp cameras and a few of the Panasonic cameras too. If you're talking about shooting stills in raw then the differences are marginal between any of them. Even the 20Mp sensors don't add that much. This is one of the biggest frustrations in m43 - the lack of sensor improvement since 2012.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    Which other systems have significantly improved sensors in same window?
     
  10. rezatravilla

    rezatravilla Mu-43 Top Veteran

    922
    Aug 7, 2013
    Indonesia
    Reza Travilla
    Nikon D3 to D3s?
     
  11. Ossiva

    Ossiva Mu-43 Veteran

    224
    Dec 31, 2017
    TEXAS!
    Everyone's comments have been really helpful. Since I mainly shoot portraits in RAW and at base ISO, the 16mp differences haven't seen that great (to me). However, I understand that there can be other areas of photography where the subtle differences matter, especially in low light. I'm mainly concerned with new tech, such as high speed sync, etc. Sounds like I can ignore sensors. I've been homing in on the G85 for my next purchase, although I hear the call of the G9 and EM-1 II.

    One last thing, I don't know if the GH5s' sensor counts but it was a technological leap for Panasonic's key customers: videographers.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    The Sony sensor in the E-M5 and E-P5 is considered one of the best gifts m43 platform got since 2012. Before that, the 12MP wasn't all that good. Having said that, there's really only a minor improvement in the 16MP design for high ISO namely around ISO 3200, but it is not really all too noticeable. Not enough to get me to upgrade from my E-P5.

    The GH5s design is a lower MP based sensor, so its high ISO performance should be better than the 16MP and the newer 20MP sensors.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    860
    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Ron
    I fear m43 losing customers to APS-C, FF or even MF, if they don't increase the pixel count to compete. More pixels wouldn't make much difference to me (my amateurish photos are *good enough* for me), but losing customers would mean Olympus and Panasonic losing ground and possibly slow development, or even withdraw from the market altogether. Thom Hogan cites 3 factors for market success, pixel count, sensor size and price. I tend to agree, and the reduced size and weight of m43, which is important to me, may not be enough to overcome the deficits in the first two areas. Even the price is looking frail when a FF camera can be had for 2000 €£$.
     
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  14. Aristophanes

    Aristophanes Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Pixel count come with a major downside: larger file sizes.

    What is now coming to dominate the imaging industry is smaller files sizes, like Apple’s new formats.

    This isn’t a bug, it’s a feature as the end product of the industry is now almost totally dominated by online shared images where pixel counts and resolution are less noticeable save as “specs”. Form factor plays a role as well.

    The key will be to stay well ahead of the smartphone crowd though superior optical flexibility, while maintaining affordable whole package lens and body systems that are creative and integrated. More megapixels would actually take that in the opposite directions.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. spdavies

    spdavies Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 9, 2013
    Hawaii
    Stephen
    The whole obsession with pixel count, sensor size, even body size, etc. really gets to be absurd after a while.
    That the overall m4/3 system is so well developed, so extensive and so beautifully engineered is completely ignored.
    What other system even comes close to the incredible range of camera and lens sizes and formats, prices, focal length choices, etc., etc.
    All the way from a GM5 with a 12-32 or small prime with superb IQ to a G9 or EM1.II with a large telephoto and even more superb IQ.
    Or an inexpensive EM10.II with an excellent kit lens and excellent IQ.

    For those specialist photo niches that need or want to count the feathers on a bird's ass at a thousand yards
    or take no-noise photos of black cats in coal mines at midnight or follow focus a baseball at 100 miles an hour,
    or make portraits with an in-focus eyeball while the nose and ears exhibit creamy bokeh,
    sure there might be better choices.
    But for 99% of the serious photos taken by 99% of photographers 99% of the time, it is a brilliant system.

    And I believe as more and more people discover m4/3's qualities, it will continue to grow
    and perhaps even eventually dominate the ILC field.
    There will always be a market for big cameras with big sensors and huge telephoto lenses,
    but I believe as time goes on, that will continue to shrink to the true obsessives
    and those with legitimate professional need.

    All just in my humble opinion, of course. :p 
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
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  16. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    I've thought about the fact the Sony 1" sensor can comfortably enough handle 20mp and wondered why we can't have a 24-30mp m4/3 sensor. I think the main concern is heat management. Larger sensor + more pixels equals more power draw which equals more heat. A smaller sensor leaves more room for a larger heatsink.
     
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  17. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere Subscribing Member

    Aug 19, 2016
    New Westminster, BC
    You joke, but there's a lot of mine owners looking for natural light modeling photos of their black cats inside of mines where I live. :wink:
     
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  18. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    860
    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Ron
    This is very true, but I'm thinking in terms of marketing. It's sad, but many people think 'more is better'. If we lose these customers, are there enough savvy people to keep m43 afloat?
     
  19. Ossiva

    Ossiva Mu-43 Veteran

    224
    Dec 31, 2017
    TEXAS!
    Kind of funny that Sony keeps bestowing improved M43 sensors on Olympus and Panasonic. I've heard that the Sony APS-C crowd doesn't feel like Sony takes them that seriously. These sensors provide a strong foundation for that position.
     
  20. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Sony is really relying on the sales of its full frame cameras to make a good profit, so they would obviously put everything they've got on full frame and not on their APS-C. You can see the lens lineup as well. More full frame lenses and less APS-C. Having said that, there's really not a lot of upward mobility or even a reason to entice most m43 16MP users to upgrade unless you want to spend a lot of money to get the G9 or the E-M1 II. The only camera I would upgrade from my E-P5 is a used Panasonic GX-8. It has weatherproofing (like my E-5), fast C-AF with my Panasonic pro lenses and slightly better highlight recovery than the 16MP Sony inside my E-P5. Its used price is easier for my wallet to swallow than a used E-M1 II.
     
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