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Author Topic: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?  (Read 8695 times)
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #40 on: February 07, 2013, 10:35:45 PM »
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Hi,

I would absolutely agree about the photographer being the most important factor.

On the other hand, many of us seek perfection. I would say that a sensor with higher resolution is mostly beneficial. OLP filtering can be weaker. A sensor with higher resolution will probably respond better to sharpening.

Sharpness differences that are very obvious at actual pixels on screen may not be visible at all in smallish prints like A2, unless you use a loupe.

Best regards
Erik

I would have the lens/sensor combination that gives me what I want. More resolution for either the sensor or lens is not "better." An image is more than a simple object lesson in MTFs. The largest factor in the quality of my images is me. Waiting for the perfect gear is like waiting for Godot. At at a certain point, the small improvements are not worth the time and expense of chasing after this stuff.
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MrIconoclast
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« Reply #41 on: February 12, 2013, 09:08:57 AM »
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As a practical matter, most of us do not have unlimited funds to spend on new equipment.   A good selection of lenses is much more expensive that most of the camera bodies we will purchase.  Bodies can be upgraded every few years for far less than the cost of upgrading all of one's lenses.   So....  I would go with better lenses and upgrade to a better body when the new body has a demonstrable  difference in image quality or offers a feature that allows me to get the shots I missed with the older body.

Arguing Canon vs. Nikon is meaningless static. 
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #42 on: February 13, 2013, 01:12:52 AM »
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Hi,

I don't know. Going with high end stuff can be expensive in the long run.

I used to use Velbon Sherpa Pro CF + Acratech, but I than upgraded to Gitzo GT3541LS and RRS BH55. The BH55 felt like an upgrade the Gitzo less so. I think the Velbon is actually better made. I replaced the RRS BH55 with a Arca Swiss D4, once I got hold of it. Since that I also bought an RRS Versa series 3 tripod.

I had problems with the RRS after two days of shooting, but that was solved by correct application of some Locktite they missed at RRS.

Nowdays I seldom use the RRS BH55 and never use the Gitzo outdoors. I sometimes use the Velbon, it is always in my car.

I'm perfectly happy with the Arca Swiss / RRS Versa combination while I was never really happy with the Gitzo.

Neither the RRS Versa nor the Arca was around when I bought my Gitzo/BH55 combination. Sometimes companies invent new stuff. The Arca D4 was such an invention and if you compare the Versa 3 series to the Gitzo GT3 series I also think it's a leap in evolution.


And yes, BTW, a good tripod may be more important than a good sensor or a good lens. But tripods don't make pictures.

Best regards
Erik



Choosing tripods is a similar conundrum, the more expensive choice is probably cheaper in the longer run (I know from experience), but sometimes short term budget constraints prohibit the more sensible decision.

Cheers,
Bart
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Ray
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« Reply #43 on: February 13, 2013, 08:38:53 PM »
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Surely there are considerations other than maximum sharpness, such as price, weight and general usefulness.

To buy a lens simply because it is the sharpest currently available at a particular focal length, without regard to cost, weight, flexibility and ease of use etc, would seem to me to be a bit short-sighted if one is an amateur photographer.

If one is a professional earning one's living from photography, then that's a different matter. The equipment one buys can be depreciated over time as a tax write-off. The professional will tend to have a clearer idea of the type of lens he will need for a particular job, and if the cost of hiring a pretty model for just one day, for example, could be greater than the cost of the best 85mm prime lens available, why not buy the 85/F1.2 even if one has only a few assignments during the next few years when that particular lens will be really useful.

Whilst it's true that camera bodies in the digital age are updated and upgraded more frequently than are specific lenses, and whilst it's true that each increase in sensor resolution will have a greater impact on the sharpness of the resulting image when an excellent lens is used, as opposed to merely a good lens, the facts are that most lenses are eventually upgraded, even if the upgrade is no more than the inclusion of image stabilisation, and/or a macro capability. I'm thinking here of the Canon 70-200/F2.8 L USM and the 70-200/F4 L USM which always had a reputation for being the finest zooms available, but without image stabilization.

Supposing one had bought either of these lenses in 2005 to use with one's first full-frame DSLR, the Canon 1Ds2. Two years later Canon introduces the 70-200/F4 with IS, and the lens is at least the equal of the non-IS version, in terms of sharpness, and apparently slightly better.

Yet another 2 years later, Canon introduces the 70-200/F2.8 with second-generation IS. This lens is also the equal of the first non-IS version in terms of sharpness, and clearly better than the first IS version which appeared in 2002.

Of course, if you always use a tripod, then the lack of IS is not an issue, but occasionally a company will introduce a completely new lens in terms of focal-length range and maximum aperture, such as the Nikkor 14-24/F2.8 with a constant maximum aperture throughout the range.
I know that I would rather have a high quality wide-angle zoom than two or three wide-angle primes that not only cost much more in total than the single zoom, but weigh in total significantly more. If the image quality advantage of the primes is very marginal, as appears to be the case when Zeiss or Nikkor primes at 18mm, 21mm and 24mm are compared with the 14-24 zoom, then the choice is a no-brainer.
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Ray
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« Reply #44 on: February 13, 2013, 09:58:53 PM »
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The issue regarding Canon versus Nikon is also relevant to the original question, 'would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?'

When I compared the Canon 10mp 40D with the Canon 15mp 50D some time ago, using the same 50/F1.4 prime, photographing a fixed target using tripod and LiveView for accurate focussing, it was clear that the 50% increase in pixel count of the 50D made a visible difference to image detail and sharpness at all apertures up to and including F16.

If I were comparing two different lenses on the same camera body, to determine which lens was sharper, and saw the same differences that I see when comparing images from the 40D and the 50D using the same lens, my decision as to which lens to buy would be easy, if the prices were similar.

Similar differences should exist when comparing the same quality of lens on the Canon 5D3 and the Nikon D800. Any Nikon lens which is the equal of the equivalent Canon lens becomess effectively a noticeably better lens than the Canon lens when that Nikon lens is used on a D800.
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Bullfrog
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« Reply #45 on: February 16, 2013, 06:35:43 AM »
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I would absolutely agree about the photographer being the most important factor.


Absolutely and I agree.  And since photographer skill generally curves upwards with practice and use, I decided to buy the best lens I could and got a Canon 300 Prime F/2.8 a few years ago.  It is heavy, but not as obscenely heavy as the 500 and adding teleconveters gives me range.  5 years later, the lens has appreciated in value (not like the camera body) and my skill has improved using it.  You learn to manage the weight.

My current camera body is good - but not great for landscapes (EOS7D) - my preferred kit is it add a Mark IV or even a 1D if budget is there and then I have the best of both worlds.


So to answer your question directly:  I guess I chose the sharpest lens over the best sensor, because (a) I wanted to shoot wildife and (b) I believe a great lens is for life - and bodies more often moved into obsolescence.


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Guillermo Luijk
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« Reply #46 on: February 17, 2013, 07:35:53 AM »
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Has anyone actually ever proved that there is an advantage with 14 bits on a dslr sensor in the real world?

It depends on the sensor's read noise. Some 14-bit cameras (e.g. Canon 40D), cannot actually obtain any advantage from the 2 extra bits from a 12-bit encoding. Some others (e.g. Pentax K5, with a lower read noise sensor from Sony) actually need those extra 2 bits when working at base ISO. Otherwise they can show posterization in the deep shadows.

I already did this analysis in 2010, the discusion is not new at all.


Regarding the highlight enhancement through extra bits, I'm with Bill Janes here, there is no such improvement in practical terms. Linear sensors mean a total waste of information encoding in the highlights, there can be no extra improvement through adding more bits. That is why clever non-linear encodings like the one found in the Leica M8, are highly optimised to save storage space. I wonder why the newest cameras with a huge pixel count don't implement this kind of encoding methods.

Regards
« Last Edit: February 17, 2013, 08:30:29 AM by Guillermo Luijk » Logged

LKaven
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« Reply #47 on: February 17, 2013, 09:10:05 AM »
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Regarding the highlight enhancement through extra bits, I'm with Bill Janes here, there is no such improvement in practical terms. Linear sensors mean a total waste of information encoding in the highlights, there can be no extra improvement through adding more bits. That is why clever non-linear encodings like the one found in the Leica M8, are highly optimised to save storage space. I wonder why the newest cameras with a huge pixel count don't implement this kind of encoding methods.

I think there are a couple of reasons for linear encoding.  You might call them DSP dogma.

DSP methods and tools will continue to evolve, allowing future and unknown capabilities to be applied to archival data for purposes of forensics, special effects, or purposes yet to be determined.  This suggests that the integrity of the archival data /may/ be of some importance for reasons that are unknown at the time the archival image data is recorded.

Sparse encodings based on psycho-visual theories may always be supplied as an option.  But take away the ability to record lossless linear encodings, and customers will start to complain, even if for only psychological reasons, that the manufacturer is withholding something from them.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #48 on: February 17, 2013, 09:13:08 AM »
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Hi,

In my view it makes little sense to use nonlinear encoding. Photographers like big files and memory cards are very large todays.

Best regards
Erik

I think there are a couple of reasons for linear encoding.  You might call them DSP dogma.

DSP methods and tools will continue to evolve, allowing future and unknown capabilities to be applied to archival data for purposes of forensics, special effects, or purposes yet to be determined.  This suggests that the integrity of the archival data /may/ be of some importance for reasons that are unknown at the time the archival image data is recorded.

Sparse encodings based on psycho-visual theories may always be supplied as an option.  But take away the ability to record lossless linear encodings, and customers will start to complain, even if for only psychological reasons, that the manufacturer is withholding something from them.
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #49 on: February 17, 2013, 09:18:27 AM »
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...That is why clever non-linear encodings like the one found in the Leica M8, are highly optimised to save storage space. I wonder why the newest cameras with a huge pixel count don't implement this kind of encoding methods.
Because larger memory cards are inexpensive, while hiring dsp people to program bit-fiddling stuff in a low-powered DSP then having to support this particular algorithm for all eternity in various software programs is expensive?

-h
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Guillermo Luijk
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« Reply #50 on: February 17, 2013, 11:56:46 AM »
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Because larger memory cards are inexpensive, while hiring dsp people to program bit-fiddling stuff in a low-powered DSP then having to support this particular algorithm for all eternity in various software programs is expensive?

It is not only about memory cards, it is also about hard disk space, cloud storage space, and transmission bandwith. All that means time and money to the user. The DSP power needed to encode numbers non-linearly is minimal compared to any other operation currently being performed inside a digital camera.

And even if memory cards are cheap, it's an added value not having to stop taking photographs just because your current memory card is full and you need to switch to a new one.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2013, 12:00:07 PM by Guillermo Luijk » Logged

LKaven
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« Reply #51 on: February 17, 2013, 05:24:02 PM »
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Lossy compression is there as an option for anyone who wants it.
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KLaban
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« Reply #52 on: February 23, 2013, 04:56:33 AM »
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Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?

This question sums up my present predicament.

I'm having hallucinations involving a Canon 5D111 with a 17mm TS-E attached. Night sweats over whether I should go for the better sensor (D800/E) or the preferred lens (17 TS-E).

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risedal
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« Reply #53 on: February 23, 2013, 12:48:37 PM »
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the best and sharpest  lens, I can show you how it looks between one of my 5dmk2 and  Canon 35/1,4  compared to my d800 and a old Nikon 35/2,0 lens, good  lens 15 years ago.
In the middle the d800 and  the old Nikon 35/2.0 is sharper but over all my combo 5dmk2 and Canon 35/1,4 is harper from the center out to the edge.


First choice will  be best lens , the sensor resolution will increase every year, next step will be 54Mp from Nikon and 24x36mm which needs good lenses
« Last Edit: February 23, 2013, 12:51:39 PM by risedal » Logged
KLaban
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« Reply #54 on: February 23, 2013, 01:04:18 PM »
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First choice will  be best lens , the sensor resolution will increase every year, next step will be 54Mp from Nikon and 24x36mm which needs good lenses

But will sensor resolution increase every year? With Canon it seems not.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #55 on: February 23, 2013, 01:28:37 PM »
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But will sensor resolution increase every year? With Canon it seems not.

Hi Keith,

Do your requirements for sensor resolution increase each year? Do you make larger prints each year?

A good lens will llast for a long time, and a higher resolution sensor will get more out of it when the time comes ...

Cheers,
Bart
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KLaban
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« Reply #56 on: February 23, 2013, 01:55:42 PM »
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Do your requirements for sensor resolution increase each year? Do you make larger prints each year?

Hi Bart

No certainly not.

My point was that Canon's resolution seems to be stuck at around 22MP with no sign that will increase. Canon's core market seems to different than that of Nikon's, aimed more towards high speed, high ISO and increasingly video. With the D800/E Nikon seems to be taking a different path.
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LKaven
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« Reply #57 on: February 23, 2013, 01:57:37 PM »
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But will sensor resolution increase every year? With Canon it seems not.

Canon will update its fab line to a smaller process, at which point I think we'll see the photosite density increase. 

Eric Fossum told me that APS-C resolution would likely top out at 100MP.  So we might have a ways to go.
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KLaban
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« Reply #58 on: February 23, 2013, 02:04:53 PM »
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Canon will update its fab line to a smaller process, at which point I think we'll see the photosite density increase. 

This is rather like a client promising me higher fees in the future; I can't live on promises, let alone hearsay.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #59 on: February 23, 2013, 03:39:04 PM »
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Hi,

I don't think that Canon has the technology for high MP and low noise right now. There is rumor they are building a 0.18 micron fab and that may be needed to develop new sensor technology. The D800, D600 and D3X all use technology from Sony while the D3S and D4 are quite similar to Canon's pro models.

It seems that some Nikon models use Toshiba sensors, and Leica had a new sensor designed by CMOSIS and fabbed by STM. These designs are also CMOS with column converters, so the technology is not unique to Sony.

Best regards
Erik

Hi Bart

No certainly not.

My point was that Canon's resolution seems to be stuck at around 22MP with no sign that will increase. Canon's core market seems to different than that of Nikon's, aimed more towards high speed, high ISO and increasingly video. With the D800/E Nikon seems to be taking a different path.
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