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10-14-2013, 06:26 PM   #1
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K-5 and 5DM3 comparison...

I have read a lot of FF vs APS-C arguments and often see people tell newbie photographers to jump on FF if they can afford it because of its ultimate image quality. I've never worked closely with a FF camera personally so everything I have read has been theoretical to me.

Last weekend, from a wedding, I was able to grab the raw files from a friend's 5DM3 to play with. Maybe his lenses aren't up to par with the camera's capabilities but I'm simply not seeing the huge advantage of FF over my K-5. Granted, none of the shot is above ISO 1600 and I don't have the same shots on K-5 to make direct comparisons -- still, there seems to be almost as much noise as images I normally have to work with. Otoh, I also have some raw files from another friend who was shooting with T2i. The difference between T2i and 5DM3 is definitely there and easily seen.

From what I understand, the biggest advantage of FF is better high ISO performance, lower signal to noise ratio and better for cropping. What else am I missing? Is K-5 just that good when it's not competing in the high ISO range?

Also I wonder if the Canikons make a bigger deal out of FF is because the image quality difference between their entry, mid and high end is much greater than Pentax's...

10-14-2013, 06:50 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by ruggiex Quote
I have read a lot of FF vs APS-C arguments and often see people tell newbie photographers to jump on FF if they can afford it because of its ultimate image quality. I've never worked closely with a FF camera personally so everything I have read has been theoretical to me.

Last weekend, from a wedding, I was able to grab the raw files from a friend's 5DM3 to play with. Maybe his lenses aren't up to par with the camera's capabilities but I'm simply not seeing the huge advantage of FF over my K-5. Granted, none of the shot is above ISO 1600 and I don't have the same shots on K-5 to make direct comparisons -- still, there seems to be almost as much noise as images I normally have to work with. Otoh, I also have some raw files from another friend who was shooting with T2i. The difference between T2i and 5DM3 is definitely there and easily seen.

From what I understand, the biggest advantage of FF is better high ISO performance, lower signal to noise ratio and better for cropping. What else am I missing? Is K-5 just that good when it's not competing in the high ISO range?

Also I wonder if the Canikons make a bigger deal out of FF is because the image quality difference between their entry, mid and high end is much greater than Pentax's...
The difference should be there, but not until you look at the photos at a certain size. This article should give you a bit of insight into what role the sensor size plays:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photography-articles/228535-how-why-senso...s-compact.html

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10-14-2013, 07:17 PM   #3
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You might be on to something. I went through the same thing with a D800 shooter this year. Quite simply stated, looking over a few images, with one to one pixel peeping even, my images are equal or better. I didn't waste a lot of time on it... I just checked in to see if I could find something to justify a D800. Out in the real world of tripod vibration, not always perfect exposure, etc. the difference just wasn't there. At least I couldn't find it.
10-14-2013, 07:23 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ruggiex Quote
the biggest advantage of FF is better high ISO performance, lower signal to noise ratio and better for cropping. What else am I missing?
I don't have FF, but I understand FF also has advantages in wide angle (however cropped also has wide angle lenses) and depth of field capability. And, for some (Rockwell), the larger view finder of FF is desirable also.

10-14-2013, 08:00 PM   #5
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The main advantage of FF is that it takes pro pictures by itself. Serious ppl can't accept anything less than pro picture quality. I am not serious.

Last edited by causey; 10-14-2013 at 08:06 PM.
10-14-2013, 09:10 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
You might be on to something. I went through the same thing with a D800 shooter this year. Quite simply stated, looking over a few images, with one to one pixel peeping even, my images are equal or better. I didn't waste a lot of time on it... I just checked in to see if I could find something to justify a D800. Out in the real world of tripod vibration, not always perfect exposure, etc. the difference just wasn't there. At least I couldn't find it.
I wouldn't use one guy's pictures as a reason to not buy a D800. Just about every picture I've taken with my D800E has that extra bit of detail. The line pairs per millimeter may be the same but the line pairs per picture height are vastly different.

To get an idea of what a D800E file looks like take a two or three frame pano with the K-5 and crop it to 36MP.

A Jpeg set to 80% quality. The full resolution file is online of you'd like to explore it.
D800E & Zeiss 21mm F2.8 Distagon.

Last edited by bossa; 10-14-2013 at 09:32 PM.
10-15-2013, 06:58 AM   #7
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From IR

For the D800...FF
QuoteQuote:
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,700 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about 2,700 lines per picture height in the vertical direction in JPEGs. (Some might argue for higher, but aliasing artifacts begin to appear at those resolutions.) Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur before the limits of our chart. We were able to extract a little more horizontal resolution with RAW files processed through Adobe Camera Raw 6.7, about 2,900


D7100 APS-c
QuoteQuote:
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,600 lines per picture height in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Extinction of the pattern didn't occur until around 3,600 lines in both directions.


Canon 5D mk 3

QuoteQuote:
Our laboratory resolution chart shows strong detail with distinct line patterns down to about 2,400 lines per picture height horizontally and to about the same vertically from in-camera JPEGs. Extinction of the pattern occurred just past 3,400 lines horizontally and vertically.


K-5 II

QuoteQuote:
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,200 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about 2,100 in the vertical direction in best quality JPEGs. Complete extinction didn't occur until about 2,700 lines in both directions. We were able to resolve a little more with an Adobe Camera Raw conversion, about 2,300 lines in the horizontal direction and about 2,200 in the vertical, and complete extinction of the pattern was extended to about 3,000 lines.


If the discussion is lw/ph, there is a small case to be made for the D800, if you can see it or not would have to be determined by examination of the two images.

If you were to put four K-5 images in pano mode next to a D800 image, you would get almost 10,000 by 6000 pixels and 4600 by 4400 lw/ph.. you can't get anywhere close to that with a D800. Once the K-3 comes out the difference at low ISO will be pretty negligible.

Also not as well as being darn close to a D800 the D7100 surpasses a canon 5d MK III in resolution. I'm sure you can get more resolution out of a D800, but only buy buying very expensive lenses. And even then, you'd have to use the same very expensive lenses on the D7100 to demonstrate the advantage.

In my mind, I have to see it in the images is still a valid point. Until someone can prove the human eye can see the difference between 2600 lw/ph and 2700 lw/ph I'm not sure you have a point.

I'm not advocating these numbers as accurate, I'm simply making a point. The difference between FF and APS-c is barely noticeable until you go over 1600 ISO and 24x 36 print size. I've also seen tests where people have squeezed 3600 /ph out of a D800, useing an exceptional lens (as in over 2k) and over 2900 out of a K-5. As a general rule I've sort of come to the conclusion that with exceptional glass you can squeeze 70% to 85% of the actual number of pixels out of a sensor. So if you have a K-5 and at 3200 pixels deep getting 2900 lw/ph is phenomenal, and it's not a realistic expectation in the field. The number quoted from IR above is 71%.

A D800 with 4900 pixels deep, should be capable of 3500 lw/ph. (And that's more typical of the lens tests I've seen for high end lenses, I have no idea what happened to the IR test, maybe it's a typo) But , not everyone agrees that more lw/ph after a certain point makes a better image ( look at a DP2 image compared to a D800 image printed at 20x30 or even a K-5). You have to do a test comparison to see if the higher lw/ph is what you want.

My suggestion is still, without test images you can't decide what you want. You can read all the specs you want, you can speculate what those numbers mean to your eye, but until you actually see the difference you're just speculating.

It's pointless talking about lw/ph,if you can't see the whole image large enough to see a difference. And even the most generous tests 2600 to 3600 give a D800 only a 31% advantage over a D7100 in lw/ph. Once you get north of 2500 lw/ph what does a 31% increase in lw/ph look like in print? My best guess is it's not noticeable when you view the images on a screen up to 4000 pixels wide or until over 24x36 print size, and even then, you have to have the prints side by side to see the difference.

On images less than that, the image taken by the best photographer will be the best image, on images more than that, there is no conclusive evidence either way as far as I can tell. No one that I can find on record has ever printed a D800 image, 4 feet across, and a K-5 image 4 feet across, to examine the difference in IQ.
10-15-2013, 07:06 AM   #8
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From IR

For the D800...FF
QuoteQuote:
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,700 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about 2,700 lines per picture height in the vertical direction in JPEGs. (Some might argue for higher, but aliasing artifacts begin to appear at those resolutions.) Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur before the limits of our chart. We were able to extract a little more horizontal resolution with RAW files processed through Adobe Camera Raw 6.7, about 2,900


D7100 APS-c
QuoteQuote:
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,600 lines per picture height in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Extinction of the pattern didn't occur until around 3,600 lines in both directions.


Canon 5D mk 3

QuoteQuote:
Our laboratory resolution chart shows strong detail with distinct line patterns down to about 2,400 lines per picture height horizontally and to about the same vertically from in-camera JPEGs. Extinction of the pattern occurred just past 3,400 lines horizontally and vertically.


K-5 II

QuoteQuote:
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,200 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about 2,100 in the vertical direction in best quality JPEGs. Complete extinction didn't occur until about 2,700 lines in both directions. We were able to resolve a little more with an Adobe Camera Raw conversion, about 2,300 lines in the horizontal direction and about 2,200 in the vertical, and complete extinction of the pattern was extended to about 3,000 lines.


If the discussion is lw/ph, there is a small case to be made for the D800, if you can see it or not would have to be determined by examination of the two images.

If you were to put four K-5 images in pano mode next to a D800 image, you would get almost 10,000 by 6000 pixels and 4600 by 4400 lw/ph.. you can't get anywhere close to that with a D800. Once the K-3 comes out the difference at low ISO will be pretty negligible.

Also not as well as being darn close to a D800 the D7100 surpasses a canon 5d MK III in resolution. I'm sure you can get more resolution out of a D800, but only buy buying very expensive lenses. And even then, you'd have to use the same very expensive lenses on the D7100 to demonstrate the advantage.

In my mind, I have to see it in the images is still a valid point. Until someone can prove the human eye can see the difference between 2600 lw/ph and 2700 lw/ph I'm not sure you have a point.

I'm not advocating these numbers as accurate, I'm simply making a point. The point being that even in a lab setting, with a single set of tests, a K-3 should be darn close to a D800 some of the time, just as it happened with the D800 and D7100 in this set of tests.) The difference between FF and APS-c is barely noticeable until you go over 1600 ISO and 24x 36 print size. I've also seen tests where people have squeezed 3600 /ph out of a D800, useing an exceptional lens (as in over 2k) and over 2900 out of a K-5. As a general rule I've sort of come to the conclusion that with exceptional glass you can squeeze 70% to 85% of the actual number of pixels out of a sensor. So if you have a K-5 and at 3200 pixels deep getting 2900 lw/ph is phenomenal, and it's not a realistic expectation in the field. The number quoted from IR above is 71%.

A D800 with 4900 pixels deep, should be capable of 3500 lw/ph. (And that's more typical of the lens tests I've seen for high end lenses, I have no idea what happened to the IR test, maybe it's a typo) But , not everyone agrees that more lw/ph after a certain point makes a better image ( look at a DP2 image compared to a D800 image printed at 20x30 or even a K-5). You have to do a test comparison to see if the higher lw/ph is what you want.

My suggestion is still, without test images you can't decide what you want. You can read all the specs you want, you can speculate what those numbers mean to your eye, but until you actually see the difference you're just speculating.

It's pointless talking about lw/ph,if you can't see the whole image large enough to see a difference. And even the most generous tests 2600 to 3600 give a D800 only a 31% advantage over a D7100 in lw/ph. Once you get north of 2500 lw/ph what does a 31% increase in lw/ph look like in print? My best guess is it's not noticeable you view the images on a screen over 4000 pixels wide or until over 24x36 print size, and even then, you have to have the prints side by side to see the difference.

On images less than that, the image taken by the best photographer will be the best image, on images more than that, there is no conclusive evidence either way as far as I can tell.


Taken with a K-5 and Sigma 8-16, the level of detail is ridiculous, some might argue, un-necessary. The question is, would a D800 image look better, or even more ridiculous?



Last edited by normhead; 10-15-2013 at 07:14 AM.
10-15-2013, 09:55 AM   #9
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@Adam thanks for the link. I guess it's notable when there's direct comparison shot like that to my untrained eyes. The resolution is difficult to perceive to me while the fidelity of the pixels/DR is a bit more notable.

I still feel the need for FF is overblown by a lot of people, at least on Pentax side. Otoh, the difference between T2i and 5DM3 is like night and day.

Nowadays, it almost seems like APS-C is not cool any more; you either want FF or MFT if going by people's consensus online. So I guess I was a little bit surprised by this finding.

@normhead your point is interesting. it's similar to frame rate arguments in videos / video games. some people can't see the differences between say 24fps, 30fps, 60fps.

Last edited by ruggiex; 10-15-2013 at 11:16 AM.
10-15-2013, 10:51 AM   #10
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All good points, Norm. It's probably when you start cropping in PP that the differences in resolution increasingly become discernible in the final product. Now where that starts in level of cropping, I don't know.
10-15-2013, 02:02 PM   #11
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Using Jpegs to judge resolution is a complete joke.

Some lenses resolve to 60lp/mm and others only 30 lp/mm so depending on which lens you are using the results can be either way.

I bought my D800E's a year ago so the D7100 was not an option at that time and after holding recently one I'd say they still aren't.... I am considering rebuilding a compact system though as the weight of this setup is hard to manage with my spinal issues these days. Perhaps a new Sony FF system?

Last edited by bossa; 10-15-2013 at 02:11 PM.
10-15-2013, 02:14 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Taken with a K-5 and Sigma 8-16, the level of detail is ridiculous, some might argue, un-necessary. The question is, would a D800 image look better, or even more ridiculous?
I did own a Sigma 8-16mm and whilst is is a nice lens it's not in the same league as my Nikon 14-24 f2.8 or Ziess 21mm f2.8 Distagon.

I see no further point in participating in this discussion as I can see you're on your hobby horse again, still trying to prove APS-C. I recognize each format for their particular strengths and for the uses they can be put to. It's never "either or" unless you insist.
10-15-2013, 02:56 PM   #13
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Useful discussion and notes Norm.

As the IR results suggest, even in a lab environment it's hard to deliver resolution results from a high MP full-frame like the D800 that are hugely ahead of the resolution results you could get from a D7100 or K-5. And the difference may not be visible unless conditions are ideal.

I think we are probably pushing against some ceilings now in terms of the levels of resolution mere mortals [ie cash-strapped amateurs] might be able to achieve at the moment with their gear, and deliver in print, even if their camera bodies can go past 20MP. To extract even 95% of the theoretical resolution 'power' out of a 645D, D800, D7100 (or even K-5 arguably), top tier lenses may be needed, as well as top-tier tools (printers, software etc) and expert technique (in the field, in the print lab, and on the computer).

Life gets easier, of course, if you are happy (like me) with just bumbling through utilising only 70%, at the very best of times, of the capabilities of your gear.

At the end of the day, I find myself prioritising at a lot more other features in a camera (or lens) nowadays aside from resolution - like it's AF, or low-light capability.
10-15-2013, 03:11 PM   #14
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I posted this elsewhere but it may be useful here too. The following shots are hand held and screen grabs from Lightroom.

The following are LR screen grabs.
K-5 & DA*200 @ f/2.8 v D800e & AF-S 300mm F4 @ f/4 (same DOF and handheld so not 100% accurate framing). Notice the DA*200 is not quite as sharp but matches the image qualities when seeing the full frame under these condiditons.



The same again but where the DA*200 is set to f/4. The DOF is no longer matching but the accutance is about the same.



These images are using cameras where the sensors have the same pixel pitch so I would expect a 24MP APS-C image to be closer in scale using the equivalent lens but where the same lens was used the 24MP camera would get that extra level of "reach".

A D800E would have no real advantage over a K-5 where you were cropping to 1:1. (pictures of single birds or the moon etc) but a 24MP APS-C camera should be better for Macro and telephoto work though. It is only where the entire sensor is used for the image that the D800E has a real advantage over the K-5.

Feel free to click on these pictures to see the full files at Flickr.

Last edited by bossa; 10-15-2013 at 03:21 PM.
10-15-2013, 03:12 PM   #15
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I usually don't compare jpegs, but someone posted a jpeg to show how great their lens was, and the difference on Imaging Resource, when they test jpegs and raw is quite small, and sometimes the on some camera models there is no difference between the jpeg output and the RAW out put is identical.

I usually don't compare $800 lenses with $2000 lenses but hey, if you want to go there. I expect if you pay $3000 for D800 and 2000 for a 14-24 you're going to get something for your money. I also expect if you pay 1300 for a k-3 and 800 for a 8-16 you'll also get something for your money. I've even come up with a number. You get 30 % higher resolution. I odn't see how pointing such things out makes me "trying to prove APS-c is better." But for what I do with wildlife, usually with heavily cropped images APS-c is better be it D7100 or K-3. The proof is there, you just have to look for it.

QuoteQuote:
At the end of the day, I find myself prioritising at a lot more other features in a camera (or lens) nowadays aside from resolution - like it's AF, or low-light capability.
At the end of the day, the Ricoh promise to have the best AF in the business, is the brightest thing to come out of Pentax in years.
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