Print comparison between full frame and M4/3

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Photorebel, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. Photorebel

    Photorebel Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 14, 2013
    Jeff Mims
    Very interesting, IMO.

    E M1 vs Nikon D800e

    I don't think this is a knock against the Nikon, so much as illustrating the "practical" differences between prints…made with E M1 and the D800e. In real world usage…it's hard to tell the difference.

    Now, I could certainly see a difference between files from EM1 and Canon 5DIII…shot at high ISO's and cropped more than 100%…absolutely. actual prints…no..I can't tell any difference.
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  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I was printing 17"x22" from my E-1, using Qimage Studio ( and getting outstanding results, even better from my E-5 and I expect better yet from the E-M1. I entirely agree, for all intents and purposes, the likes of the E-M1 will produce prints that stand up to just about any scrutiny.
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  3. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Pretty unsurprising and consistent with my test prints from my E-M1. However I consider both the sizes he printed 'smallish'. I like prints sized 60x90 cm, which the E-M1 handles fine, and have quite a few large stitched panos (180 and 210 cm wide) made from 3 5DII files. And I like getting really close to them and ogling details.
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  4. letsgofishing

    letsgofishing Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 21, 2012
    South Africa
    Mike Kaplan
    Thanks for the comparison Photorebel - confirms my experience with the EM5 - have had 60cm prints made by a professional lab and the results have been superb.
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  5. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    You're a paper pixel peeper. :smile:
  6. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
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  7. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Bingo! I recently took part in a gallery exhibit where I displayed (and subsequently sold) 4 of my photos printed in A2 size (420 x 594mm or 16.5 x 23.4 in).

    Two photos were from the OM-D E-M5 (one with the O75, one with the O9-18), one was from a Canon 5D Classic and one from a Canon 5D Mark II (both were equipped with the same Canon 16-35L II f2.8).

    Not a single person at the exhibit (which included plenty of serious amateur photographers and hundreds of art lovers on opening night alone) could even hazard a guess at which photo was taken with which camera. Nobody. They were simply uniformly excellent.
  8. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Yes. Also, I have been going to various sorts of photo presentations in auditoriums since the 1970s. Images projected to those sizes reveal a lot, even if you're some distance back in the room. No one ever said "wonderful picture, just a shame about that film grain, and the dynamic range isn't what it should be, and [blah blah blah]."

    What we should probably be saying to ourselves is: how do I manage to consistently take best advantage of the amazing technical quality I have at my fingertips? :)
    • Like Like x 1
  9. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I had to come back an post some of the article that was cited in the article linked in the Kirk Tuck piece:

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  10. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    Thanks for sharing the link, very interesting. I shared it with my dad, who's a Nikonian, to see what he thinks. :)
  11. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    He's definitely not wrong. Well, except for the 'non optional shutter shock' shot at the A7r (which I fortunately haven't experienced; the A7r is really quite astounding in terms of resolution and detail, and I've only shot handheld to date, with sharp pictures as long as technique was good and shutter speed was adequate…)

    And yes, I'm a paper pixel peeper. Far more so than I am a screen pixel peeper actually :)
  12. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    I'm not particularly surprised by the results either, but it was interesting reading.

    He's testing at base ISO, and small enough print sizes that I'd expect there to be little to no visual difference between the files. I don't print much bigger than 11"x14" typically - so even smaller than the sizes in the article. I've printed from a wide variety of cameras and sensor sizes (GX1, GH3, Fuji X-E1, D800). At that size, the only times I can find an obviously discernible quality difference is in heavily cropped images or with noise at higher ISOs.

    Great time to be a photographer with so many excellent quality choices and features in so many form factors!
  13. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Even 30 years ago the display medium was quite often the limiting factor rather than the film (for dynamic range at least) it would now appear that Nikon's old comment about 16MP being "enough" might have been justified if you are printing?
  14. Photorebel

    Photorebel Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 14, 2013
    Jeff Mims
    I showed this link to a friend of mine, who shoots Nikon. He keeps saying…OM is nice..and capable of producing good snapshots. I can't seem to convince him, that OM..and other mirror less cameras, are capable of producing professional results. The key factor being..the photographer. I'm not suggesting to him or anyone else, that they should dump their DSLRs…and go mirror less. I'm only suggesting, that for me, it works.
    I am not new to photography, over the years, I have used medium format cameras, 35mm film cameras…and of course digital. In most cases, the camera has not limited me, but it's been the other way around. That is, I limited the camera.

    I seldom print above 11x14…and for my purposes, the OM is more than enough, and from what I've seen from more talented photographers…the OM…is an extremely capable camera.

    However, if one prefers to shoot with DSLRs…it doesn't bother me. I just get tired of hearing comments..that the OM system is good for snapshots. Well, I've seen a lot of snapshot quality images from Nikon D800's…also. (cat's asleep on a chair..etc) :)
  15. dfreezy

    dfreezy Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 23, 2012
    Boston, MA
    I don't think the results are particularly surprising. You could include many camera phones or P&S's included in this sort of test and wouldn't be able to distinguish big differences in the prints. Its safe to say we've reached the point of diminishing returns for image quality when shooting stopped down in good light with most sensors/cameras. Unfortunately not everyone always shoots in those conditions though :)
  16. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I don't find it that surprising. By the time you've cropped to 5:4 (to print 16x20), the Olympus image is 4320x3456 and the Nikon is 6140x4912. That's a 42% difference in linear resolution. But he's downsampling the Nikon to 5000x4000 for printing, so much of that extra resolution isn't going to be reflected in the print.

    Even without downsampling, on the E-M1 he's using the Panasonic 12-35/2.8 at 25mm f/7.1 vs. the Nikon 24-120/4 VR at 50mm f/8.0 on the D800. The 24-120/4 is a nice enough lens, but it's not really going to give close to optimal results on a 36MP sensor, especially when it's a full stop past the diffraction limit of the sensor. The 12-35/2.8 is also a little past it's sharpest aperture, but the difference is much smaller.

    I think to really see the difference, you're going to have to be a bit more careful about lenses, apertures etc., and to print bigger - 30x40 or so.
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  17. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Certainly not surprising at all, except one thing.

    He's using a pro grade lens on the E-M1, the 12-35 f/2.8 which gets high grade marks on MTF, whereas with the 24-120VR f/4 (I've tried this lens before) is an okayish lens, more so in the grade of the Olympus 12-50 f/3.5-5.6 in terms of optics if mounted on the D800. I tried that as well as I have a D800 myself. Oh yeah, this Olympus lens is the most hated lens and there are complaints about this Nikkor 24-120 from normal customers at my work place from being UNSHARP just like the Oly 12-50, but yet this test clearly showed that under proper good technique and printing, you can hardly tell the difference! I knew this test is valid, it's not even a surprise. So you see; the so called this lens is sharper than that is basically moot because all you see if how sharp your monitor is. It's been in my experience that when it comes to print, it's subjective hard to tell.

    What he is doing here is called a SQF test; known as Subjective Quality Factor test which was developed by Mr. Granger from the Kodak Labs in 1970 and published the findings in 1973. It is the proper test to showcase lens resolving power as well as the capturing device that sometimes you can get by with a lower resolution camera with a good MTF capable lens big good prints. Sometimes though, a certain lens camera combination make better smaller prints rather than big. This is due to our subjective nature of our optical vision and its limitation in resolving more details than it could. Human vision can resolve up to around 326PPI to 400 PPI (monitor resolution from Apple Inc. findings in regards to their Retina Display) as well as around 200 to 300 DPI when it comes to prints. Surely a D800 can resolve and capture more with the sharpest lens, but the problem is you can't see anymore of those additional details. Your eyes just basically can't resolve anymore than it can see. Which is why it's pointless to scan a negative at super high DPI. All you ended up with is a super bloated file. The only saving grace the D800 is useful for is cropping. With so much megapixel, you can have more freedom cropping which the imaging agencies love. You have less cropping freedom with a 16MP m43 sensor, so framing is more critical with the E-M1.

    Having said that, what this tests have shown that we humans have a limited optical vision system that can not see more than these high megapixel cameras can resolve and that, even for a mediocre 24-120VR lens that has the optical quality of the so mostly hated 12-50 Oly lens that nobody wants, it still can resolve great images.

    So why then so many people hate the Oly 12-50? Why then so many people think an Oly 12-40 can outresolve the 12-50 when stopped down say 2 stops from the ultimate wide aperture. I think it's just an excuse for those people who felt insecurea about their photographs that aren't noticed or felt good enough to go professionally mainstream.

    I've seen some artists who have fine arts selling in art galleries shot with a 6MP and a consumer lens and it looks great. Sometimes, you may have an optical vision that can outresolve everyone else. Not everyone however has the same optical vision as you do and this shows.

    Be happy with what you have, but if you have a Retina display that can display high PPI, perhaps you should populate yourself with the sharpest lens if you feel insecure with your photography. :)
  18. bluzcity

    bluzcity Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jul 17, 2012
    Memphis, TN
    I just had 10 16 x 24 files printed for a home gallery, 6 from Canon 5D Mk II (24-105 and 100 -- 400 lens') and 4 from EM 5 (Panny 12-35 lens). They were printed by Meridian Professional Imaging. I can see a visual difference in the richness and fine details. Slight, but noticeable, advantage to my 5D Mk. II. Of note: I'm not a technician - I just shoot pictures - I understand there are a lot of variables - but I can see a slight difference. All 10 look great under lights and at an open house not one person asked me about cameras.
  19. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Tuck's pieces sort of mirror (and expand on) some of Thom Hogan's discussions about Last Camera Syndrome. Most of us should probably work on our technique rather than our gear. :smile:
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  20. Photorebel

    Photorebel Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 14, 2013
    Jeff Mims
    I can say …The capability of my gear has never limited me, but I have limited the capability of my gear.