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08-16-2015, 11:04 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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The power of high resolution sensor (50mp)

So I've been contemplating the current crop of camera's out there these past few and it seems as though the choices have never been tougher. On the one hand
we have the faithful D810 with very good resolution, noise and phenomenal dynamic range. Then we have the A7R II sporting an all new sensor and which seems
to come so very close to the D810 in terms of noise and DR but with the benefit of added resolution. And then we have the 5DS/r. Canon's newest high resolution
wonder. With an all new sensor that promises better noise handling and dynamic range than any other Canon sensor to date.

But the question remains as to how good Canon's sensor really is in real world application as the studio samples seem to indicate that it's showing more noise
than the competition at the same sensitivity. And so I set out to try and figure this out without having to go out and buying these camera's myself.

As a landscape shooter, my main concerns revolve mainly around super clean files with as as much post processing latitude as possible. This usually involves
RAW files a very low noise ceiling, and very good dynamic range. Especially in the shadow areas. Since most of my landscape shots involve shadow recovery
to some degree or another as I compensate for lighting throughout the scene. Which will typically run anywhere between 1 and 3 stops in most cases.

And so to test my theory, I downloaded the RAW files for each system from Imaging Resources online and DPReview. Though I must add that I'm finding
DPReviews Studio samples to be rather unintuitive given that the entire setup rests on a vary shallow focal plane. Which in turn, doesn't leave much room
for spacial definition.

Whatever the case, it was at this stage that I began to see just how impressive the 5DSr RAW files actually are. And while there's no denying that there is
noise present at nominal ISO, the impressive part, is just how well the files clean-up and resist push processing afterward. ie, one aspect of higher resolution
sensors is that the noise patterns follow pixel definition. Which in turn, allows for better noise reduction in cases where the software makes use of
neighboring pixel data for edge and color reconstruction. Such as with Topaz Denoise for example. To which I'd add, "really" seems to like the 5DSr files.

And while I haven't had much time to play with the files beyond that of my own quick and dirty post processing methods, I'd add that these may be the best
high ISO noise reduction files I've worked with short of the 645z. And yes, they work out to be better than the A7R II and D810. though I'd also add that
I haven't gone beyond ISO3200 to date. And so this could change as I enter the upper end of the sensitivity range.

Anyways, in getting down to it, here's an ISO3200 image scaled to match the A7S which I thought was worth sharing. Granted the backdrop textures were
lost due to a heavy handed mid-tone NR. Though that's an easy fix with a little adjusting and so I'm expect this file to get even closer to nominal. Which is
no small feat for a 50mp FF sensor imo.


ISO3200 RAW, Photo Ninja Beta, Resize Magic, Topaz Denoise and horrible color profile conversion.

More to come...

I also wanted to add*(forgot) that one interesting aspect of the 5DSr files is that while the shadow areas contain more noise than with the D810, that the
limited recovery I did, seem to contain more information. ie, the D810 being flat and devoid of information, whereas the 5DSr seem to contain more tonal
information. - Make of this what you will, but this is what I've observed to date.


Last edited by JohnBee; 08-17-2015 at 02:00 AM.
08-17-2015, 03:01 AM   #2
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If you are a landscape shooter, not sure why you would take a 5DSr over a D810. Certainly you would have a little more resolution, but the difference between 36 and 50 megapixels is not huge -- sounds bigger than it really is. SNR should be exactly the same between the two cameras, based on DXO Mark's curves, but dynamic range is different below iso 800. The D810 with its low iso dynamic range close to 15 EV, while the Canon tops out at 12.5. That really would be visible in real world editing. Unless you seldom shoot images with high dynamic range, it would make more work in post.

My guess is that Canon folks use a lot more multiple exposures to cover situations where they are pushing up against the dynamic range limits. I prefer to use a single file for editing if possible and feels like that would be less of a possibility with Canon -- not because of noise, but because of lack of dynamic range.
08-17-2015, 03:35 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
My guess is that Canon folks use a lot more multiple exposures to cover situations where they are pushing up against the dynamic range limits.
Or use ND grads - which is something photographers like myself do. In which case, cameras equipped with a Sony sensors with their inherently higher dynamic range gain an even greater advantage over Canon cameras*. But use a Canon 5DSr with an appropriate ND grad, and a Nikon D810 without one, shot side by side, the Canon DSLR will beat it in terms of IQ every single time.

I'm not taking a shot at you, but there seems to be a culture of photographers who are lazy with technique and don't think about what they are doing at all.... and assume that all their inadequacies can be covered up in post.

QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I prefer to use a single file for editing if possible and feels like that would be less of a possibility with Canon
It is possible, you just have to think about what you are photographing and how you go about it. It requires you to work harder, having more DR won't change that, you still have to process the raw files before you print/display them.

Last edited by Digitalis; 08-17-2015 at 03:42 AM.
08-17-2015, 03:49 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
Or use ND grads - which is something photographers like myself do. In which case, cameras equipped with a Sony sensors with their inherently higher dynamic range gain an even greater advantage over Canon cameras*. But use a Canon 5DSr with an appropriate ND grad, and a Nikon D810 without one, shot side by side, the Canon DSLR will beat it in terms of IQ every single time.

I'm not taking a shot at you, but there seems to be a culture of photographers who are lazy with technique and don't think about what they are doing at all.... and assume that all their inadequacies can be covered up in post.



It is possible, you just have to think about what you are photographing and how you go about it. It requires you to work harder, having more DR won't change that, you still have to process the raw files before you print/display them.
There are always ways around things. The question is if you were given a choice between a camera with a few more megapixels and less dynamic range and a camera with a few less megapixels, but more dynamic range -- and the one with more megapixels cost 800 dollars more -- which would you choose?

My goal is always to have things as close to perfect in the camera, but I personally would prefer to have a camera with better dynamic range at base iso (and a lower base iso) than one with a few more megapixels.

08-17-2015, 04:00 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
The question is if you were given a choice between a camera with a few more megapixels and less dynamic range and a camera with a few less megapixels, but more dynamic range -- and the one with more megapixels cost 800 dollars more -- which would you choose?
I would go for the camera with higher resolution - it allows you to print bigger, it also allows you to crop more and also because I already know how to extend DR beyond original limits imposed by the sensor.

Dynamic range is nice thing to have, but does every image you take make full use of the 15.5 stops you sensor is capable of capturing? nope.
08-17-2015, 05:07 AM   #6
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There have been patents filed for sensors with global shutters and pixel level control of exposure. Eventually we will see this. No more clipped highlights. No more blown reds. The camera would produce a truly flat RAW file for post processing. I think the first version of the technology will based on color channel. The camera would have a shorter exposure for the red channel.
08-17-2015, 06:02 AM - 1 Like   #7
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my advice: choose your ideal lens setup first. Then match it to a body. The bodies are going to continue to evolve every two years going forward but your lenses will be with you for much longer. It is for this reason I ended up with a K-3: I chose the DA* 60-250mm as the perfect travel telephoto zoom over every other lens out there by any manufacturer (size, weight, and constant aperture weighed very highly in my requirements). And it just so happens that the K-3 is the best crop sensor body available so I'm totally pleased with my methodology.

Michael
08-17-2015, 06:43 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
I would go for the camera with higher resolution - it allows you to print bigger, it also allows you to crop more and also because I already know how to extend DR beyond original limits imposed by the sensor.

Dynamic range is nice thing to have, but does every image you take make full use of the 15.5 stops you sensor is capable of capturing? nope.
You could make the same point about resolution that you made about dynamic range.

The 12 megapixel difference between your Canon and Nikon cameras in this comparison is smaller than a 2.5 EV difference in dynamic range. But each photographer will choose differently based on their needs, size they print, glass they own, etc. If I owned a bunch of L lenses, and had 3800 dollars to drop on a camera body, I certainly would consider the 5Dsr.

08-17-2015, 08:54 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
The 12 megapixel difference between your Canon and Nikon cameras in this comparison is smaller than a 2.5 EV difference in dynamic range.
Assuming the lens optics and ergonomic design of the cameras are perfect, would having a camera with an 8mp sensor with a 15.5 stop DR be more important even if 75% of the scenes you capture don't use all of the tonal range, would be more appealing than having a 20MP sensor with a 12.5 stop tonal range?

Last edited by Digitalis; 08-17-2015 at 09:02 AM.
08-17-2015, 09:25 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
Assuming the lens optics and ergonomic design of the cameras are perfect, would having a camera with an 8mp sensor with a 15.5 stop DR be more important even if 75% of the scenes you capture don't use all of the tonal range, would be more appealing than having a 20MP sensor with a 12.5 stop tonal range?
8 megapixel versus 20 megapixel? Really? If you are going to do comparisons, make them similar. Lets talk about an 8 megapixel sensor with 15.5 stops of DR and an 11.2 megapixel sensor with 12.5 stops of tonal range. To me, that is a lot tougher call. Obviously if you have 8 versus 20 megapixel, then I probably would take 20 megapixels and deal with consequences. But the difference in resolution is not nearly that clear cut (36 megapixel versus 80 megapixels?).
08-17-2015, 09:52 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
The D810 with its low iso dynamic range close to 15 EV, while the Canon tops out at 12.5. That really would be visible in real world editing. Unless you seldom shoot images with high dynamic range, it would make more work in post.
The interesting thing about DR is that we never actually get to use it anywhere near it's measured capacity. That said,I don't think I've ever pushed passed 4.5 eV's for anything other than for demonstration purposes myself. Whereas in reality, most of my landscape shots seem to hover around the 1.5 - 3 stops for all but the most extreme of shots. Still, there's no denying the D810's cleaner shadow recovery capabilities.

Having said that, on the resolution side of things, I actually find the 5DSr to be much better than the D810 in the sense that it appears to produce better spacial detail. Though I won't be able to quantify this without getting my hands on the actual camera's and doing some real world comparisons.

Last edited by JohnBee; 08-17-2015 at 09:58 AM.
08-17-2015, 10:22 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnBee Quote
The interesting thing about DR is that we never actually get to use it anywhere near it's measured capacity. That said,I don't think I've ever pushed passed 4.5 eV's for anything other than for demonstration purposes myself. Whereas in reality, most of my landscape shots seem to hover around the 1.5 - 3 stops for all but the most extreme of shots. Still, there's no denying the D810's cleaner shadow recovery capabilities.

Having said that, on the resolution side of things, I actually find the 5DSr to be much better than the D810 in the sense that it appears to produce better spacial detail. Though I won't be able to quantify this without getting my hands on the actual camera's and doing some real world comparisons.
I'm sure they are both good. Obviously, the Pentax full frame that will be forth coming will be closer to the D810 than the 5Dsr based on its using a Sony sensor and I'm fine with that. I seldom max out resolution at 24 megapixels now with regard to printing/cropping. Having anything north of 30 megapixels is probably over kill for my purposes.
08-17-2015, 10:25 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I'm sure they are both good. Obviously, the Pentax full frame that will be forth coming will be closer to the D810 than the 5Dsr based on its using a Sony sensor and I'm fine with that. I seldom max out resolution at 24 megapixels now with regard to printing/cropping. Having anything north of 30 megapixels is probably over kill for my purposes.
One other issue I have with the 5DSr RAW samples is that they were taken with the FE 50mm compact macro. Which isn't that great on the resolving end of things. And where some of the newer lenses will outperform it by a significant margin. And so in this regard, I'm thinking the 5DSr can do much better than it being measured here.
08-17-2015, 10:37 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJSfoto1956 Quote
The bodies are going to continue to evolve every two years going forward but your lenses will be with you for much longer.
Unless of course Pentax does what Canon did and completely changes the mount structure.
08-17-2015, 12:12 PM   #15
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About time they changed the contents of the test subjects, they've been using the same one for the last few years. This means it's about as real world as a test chart and I'd rather watch paint dry than view test charts. Test charts and their like are for gear heads not photographers. Yeah, ok this shows what the camera can do theoretically under test conditions. How much does it tell you about the camera in the real world? Naff all.
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