Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Interceptor121

Are cropped sensor cameras dead for UW use?

Recommended Posts

I have been looking at possible options for upgrading my Panasonic GH5, a camera I am very happy underwater but is giving me some headache for astrophotography

Looking around for upgrades I have seen that in the DX 1.5x crop segment there are not really many appealing alternatives. Low light performance is not much better the cameras seem to have the same richness of colour. One thing that seems better is dynamic range however considering there is one stop difference with my micro four third the benefit is not that great either.

Years ago DX cameras were very popular if I think at Nikon D7X00 series but right now I don't see why I would bother with a Nikon D500 vs an Olympus OMD-EM1 or a Panasonic GH5

Am I missing something or this format is pretty much dead from an UW perspective?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got my D500 almost two years and really like it and sure wouldn’t say the format is dead for UW.

More DOF than FF - good for macro; easier to house WA lenses using smaller domeport; less expensive bodies.... I’ve yet to find anything that has made me think twice about moving back from FX (D800) to DX 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, TimG said:

I got my D500 almost two years and really like it and sure wouldn’t say the format is dead for UW.

More DOF than FF - good for macro; easier to house WA lenses using smaller domeport; less expensive bodies.... I’ve yet to find anything that has made me think twice about moving back from FX (D800) to DX 

I am not disputing the quality or the benefit compared to FX but but how different is it from an Olympus OMD-EM1 or a Panasonic GH5 in terms of real life performance? Maybe a bit more dynamic range when I was on a boat comparing shots with a photographer better than me I would say between his D500 and my GH5 I did not see noticeable differences

Edited by Interceptor121

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think cropped sensor cameras are not dead for UW use.   They compete to a certain extent with both the m43 and the full frame options.  The cropped sensor cameras may not be "better" than M43 per se, but offer some lens choices, low light abilities and focus speed abilities that may outperform M43 and at the same time,  while sometimes being far less expensive than full frame options and perhaps most importantly, offering good wide angle options without the need for mammoth dome ports.

I have been using a D500 for a while but have not yet sold my M43 stuff.   I find I get faster focusing, better low light ability, more ability to crop images and no M43 option compares to the 8-15 and 10-17 fisheye wideangle lenses.

I don't so video so no comment there.

If I could manage to do it, I would love to do a dive with the D500 and then repeat with the EM1, shooting similar subjects in similar conditions, and compare my results.   Since I travel to dive, that isn't going to happen.

On the other hand, I hear frequent speculation that the big manufacturers might be considering getting rid of cropped sensor cameras, and then of course, the situation changes.  

In the end, each format has benefits and downsides and we call make compromises depending on our own priorities.  

 

 

  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I have no idea whether the D500 is “better” than an M43 camera - but it sure works for me. Put the guts of the D5 focussing system into a smaller, cheaper body: what’s there not to like?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The fisheye zoom is surely one thing that is missing. I have looked into metabones experiments by architectus here and as the chromatic aberrations and other corrections are not active the tokina performs badly on Olympus body
That is the feature I would like to have for the rest I do for most video and wide angle and I don't see enough benefits per se
I do see benefits in full frame but also huge costs!!!

Sent from my SM-A505FN using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

The D500 with the Nikkor 8-15 in a 100 or 140 dome, with or without a 1.4 tc has been really great fun for me and that alone would likely keep me from going back to M43.  All my wideangle corner issues went away and yet I can still zoom when desired.

Edited by Draq

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you look at sensor performance the gap from the EM-1 MkII sensor to the D500 is very small in noise performance.  There is a significant gap from there to a full frame.  The only place the Nikon pulls ahead a little is dynamic range.  There is also a reasonable gap from the GH-5 to EM-1 MkII in noise and dynamic range.  This makes sense as the sensor performance comes from surface area to collect signal - light.  A m43 is 225 mm2, APS-C 330-370 mm2 while a full frame is around 860 mm2.  It provides a significant jump in light collecting area.  

You can fiddle around with ISO vs aperture a little for UW work, but there really is no substitute for chip surface area when it comes to astrophoto work and fast lenses really show their worth as there is so little light to work with.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like Draq, I've found the Nikkor 8-15 on the D500 terrific. And it works with a 100mm dome or 8". 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ChrisRoss said:

If you look at sensor performance the gap from the EM-1 MkII sensor to the D500 is very small in noise performance.  There is a significant gap from there to a full frame.  The only place the Nikon pulls ahead a little is dynamic range.  There is also a reasonable gap from the GH-5 to EM-1 MkII in noise and dynamic range.  This makes sense as the sensor performance comes from surface area to collect signal - light.  A m43 is 225 mm2, APS-C 330-370 mm2 while a full frame is around 860 mm2.  It provides a significant jump in light collecting area.  

You can fiddle around with ISO vs aperture a little for UW work, but there really is no substitute for chip surface area when it comes to astrophoto work and fast lenses really show their worth as there is so little light to work with.

Based on my personal experience dynamic range and to a good extent low ISO are not as important as color and tonal depth underwater because most of the shots are taken with strobes.

Dynamic range is sometimes useful when you have the surface in the shot however for a sunburst the real issue is lack of shutter speed to be honest. 12 Ev of dynamic range are plentiful. I have been on the same boat with the Olympus and the Panasonic models and there is very little between them I would say Panasonic are more colorful and Olympus a tad less noisy but you rarely see the gap.

The point I wanted to make is that the gap between MFT and ASPC is very little and MFT is clearly lighter on lenses, domes etc

Full frame is a whole different game for ambient light and night photography however right now am going to buy a Laowa 7.5mm f/2 and try with noise reduction...

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

Based on my personal experience dynamic range and to a good extent low ISO are not as important as color and tonal depth underwater because most of the shots are taken with strobes.

Dynamic range is sometimes useful when you have the surface in the shot however for a sunburst the real issue is lack of shutter speed to be honest. 12 Ev of dynamic range are plentiful. I have been on the same boat with the Olympus and the Panasonic models and there is very little between them I would say Panasonic are more colorful and Olympus a tad less noisy but you rarely see the gap.

The point I wanted to make is that the gap between MFT and ASPC is very little and MFT is clearly lighter on lenses, domes etc

Full frame is a whole different game for ambient light and night photography however right now am going to buy a Laowa 7.5mm f/2 and try with noise reduction...

That's the point I was making very little difference between m43 and APS-C with a reasonable gap to full frame and dynamic range is rarely needed, you are often stretching images for UW to bring up contrast.  I am quite happy with my EM-1 II if I do the right things taking the shot, the results are excellent.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I do not think that "cropped sensor" cameras (I think this is any camera with a sensor smaller than FF?) will dye out. To the contrary, several people here state they prefer DX over FX Nikon systems, because of smaller overall rig and WA lens choices.

Last week I was on an exciting UW-photo workshop at the Red Sea. The major goal was, of course, to learn photographic skills (hope it worked a little :)), but a minor goal of myself was to compare the different camera systems by looking at the different images, how they are processed and talking to people. Before the workshop I was strongly inclined to acquire an additional FF body plus housing (Canon or eventually Sony with adapter, as I have already three Canon-EF mount lenses that I am using on my Oly EM1II MFT body by using Metabones converters). After the workshop this inclination is reduced, at the moment I see only little reasoning to go for FF and several against. Here are my (subjective) impressions:

#1.: When viewed on labtop screens or the big HD-TV screen that was on the ship, it was not possible for me to judge, whether an image was acquired with a 1" compact or an FX Nikon D850 (at magnification to view the entire image. Of course, these screens are not good enough to see subtile differences).

#2.: The only differences that I could see easily were with cave photos: Here the photographers with FF sensors could switch to high ISO and use short shutter speeds. The MFT photographers could easily compensate the ISO weakness of their cameras by longer exposure times (made possible by the superior image stabilization). At the end, however, the light beams captured with small sensors appear uniformely smeared, while (some) images captured with FF sensors (at high shutter speed) showed razor sharp light rays within the big beam, what is, of course, more beautiful.

#3.: After dinner there was always the "image review", where every participant could submit two images that were critically discussed,  also postprocessing was improved. Here I had the impression, that the "reserves" for post-processing (e.g. increasing the shadows, stretching dynamic range, clarity etc.) increase clearly with the sensor size, beeing the smallest with 1" compact and biggest with FF (APS-C, DX and MFT in the middle). With "reserves" I mean the extend a slider in LR can be adjusted, before the image starts to look "artificially" overprocessed. The differences are there, but they are not overwhelming. Alex Mustard, who organized and hold the workshop and held all seminars, said that a FF raw image that is acquired under critical conditions and not exposed to the optimum (e.g. low light in caves) will have less IQ than an image of the same subject, acquired to its optimum, on a camera with smaller sensor.

#4.: Sharpness of the images: Regardless of the electronic poperties of a sensor, bigger sensors have the potential to yield sharper images, just because of the laws of optics (Huygen's principle, i.e. light behaves as a wave and it is intrinsically impossible to resolve an indefinite number of detail in a given area). This means that on a sensor that has 4x larger area (the relation of different sensor areas to MFT (1x) is as follows: Canon APS-C (1.46x), Nixon DX (1.65x) and FF (3.84x)) one can resolve, just by the law of optics,  2x the amount of detail (e.g. lines resolved per height of the image, what is often takes as a measure of sharpness), using the same lens at identical settings. This, of course, can be only seen when the digital resolution of the sensor is not rate limiting. In practice, however, image sharpness is mostly compromized by motion blurr (even when body/lens have image stabilization) and/or unprecise focus. Only with images without any motion blurr that are perfect in focus one might see better sharpness using FF (I doubt this would be possible to see on a normal screen without heavily magnifying the image).

In summary there IS, of course, better IQ with FF cameras, but the differences are not gigantic...

I also could see clear disadvantages of FF systems: Of course, the enormous size, especially when using the WACP, but also the big domeports that had to be used for rectilinear WA lenses. Second, the lens choices for very wide WA (the workshop was entirely on WA photography ): While many APS-C and DX cameras were using the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye as standard lens (I was using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye, adapted with my Oly EM1II MFT camera (=> at least as good, I think)), the FF photographers had to use 15mm fisheyes, sometimes with teleconverters, for comparable angles of views (there is no zoom fisheye available for FF that would cover  a comparable range).

Still I feel a little like testing out a FF rig, but this probably will not take place in the near future ("thumbs up" for cropped sensors for me personally). But who knows for sure? :crazy:...

 

Wolfgang

Edited by Architeuthis
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/9/2019 at 11:05 AM, Architeuthis said:

I do not think that "cropped sensor" cameras (I think this is any camera with a sensor smaller than FF?) will dye out. To the contrary, several people here state they prefer DX over FX Nikon systems, because of smaller overall rig and WA lens choices.

Last week I was on an exciting UW-photo workshop at the Red Sea. The major goal was, of course, to learn photographic skills (hope it worked a little :)), but a minor goal of myself was to compare the different camera systems by looking at the different images, how they are processed and talking to people. Before the workshop I was strongly inclined to acquire an additional FF body plus housing (Canon or eventually Sony with adapter, as I have already three Canon-EF mount lenses that I am using on my Oly EM1II MFT body by using Metabones converters). After the workshop this inclination is reduced, at the moment I see only little reasoning to go for FF and several against. Here are my (subjective) impressions:

#1.: When viewed on labtop screens or the big HD-TV screen that was on the ship, it was not possible for me to judge, whether an image was acquired with a 1" compact or an FX Nikon D850 (at magnification to view the entire image. Of course, these screens are not good enough to see subtile differences).

#2.: The only differences that I could see easily were with cave photos: Here the photographers with FF sensors could switch to high ISO and use short shutter speeds. The MFT photographers could easily compensate the ISO weakness of their cameras by longer exposure times (made possible by the superior image stabilization). At the end, however, the light beams captured with small sensors appear uniformely smeared, while (some) images captured with FF sensors (at high shutter speed) showed razor sharp light rays within the big beam, what is, of course, more beautiful.

#3.: After dinner there was always the "image review", where every participant could submit two images that were critically discussed,  also postprocessing was improved. Here I had the impression, that the "reserves" for post-processing (e.g. increasing the shadows, stretching dynamic range, clarity etc.) increase clearly with the sensor size, beeing the smallest with 1" compact and biggest with FF (APS-C, DX and MFT in the middle). With "reserves" I mean the extend a slider in LR can be adjusted, before the image starts to look "artificially" overprocessed. The differences are there, but they are not overwhelming. Alex Mustard, who organized and hold the workshop and held all seminars, said that a FF raw image that is acquired under critical conditions and not exposed to the optimum (e.g. low light in caves) will have less IQ than an image of the same subject, acquired to its optimum, on a camera with smaller sensor.

#4.: Sharpness of the images: Regardless of the electronic poperties of a sensor, bigger sensors have the potential to yield sharper images, just because of the laws of optics (Huygen's principle, i.e. light behaves as a wave and it is intrinsically impossible to resolve an indefinite number of detail in a given area). This means that on a sensor that has 4x larger area (the relation of different sensor areas to MFT (1x) is as follows: Canon APS-C (1.46x), Nixon DX (1.65x) and FF (3.84x)) one can resolve, just by the law of optics,  2x the amount of detail (e.g. lines resolved per height of the image, what is often takes as a measure of sharpness), using the same lens at identical settings. This, of course, can be only seen when the digital resolution of the sensor is not rate limiting. In practice, however, image sharpness is mostly compromized by motion blurr (even when body/lens have image stabilization) and/or unprecise focus. Only with images without any motion blurr that are perfect in focus one might see better sharpness using FF (I doubt this would be possible to see on a normal screen without heavily magnifying the image).In summary there IS, of course, better IQ with FF cameras, but the differences are not gigantic...

I also could see clear disadvantages of FF systems: Of course, the enormous size, especially when using the WACP, but also the big domeports that had to be used for rectilinear WA lenses. Second, the lens choices for very wide WA (the workshop was entirely on WA photography ): While many APS-C and DX cameras were using the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye as standard lens (I was using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye, adapted with my Oly EM1II MFT camera (=> at least as good, I think)), the FF photographers had to use 15mm fisheyes, sometimes with teleconverters, for comparable angles of views (there is no zoom fisheye available for FF that would cover  a comparable range).

Still I feel a little like testing out a FF rig, but this probably will not take place in the near future ("thumbs up" for cropped sensors for me personally). But who knows for sure? :crazy:...

 

Wolfgang

My comment was not about cropped sensor in general but about DX DSLR cameras. Clearly there is a trend to move to mirrorless however the lenses are not there yet. Today the gap between a cropped sensor APSC DSLR and a 2x crop mirrorless is very small I believe this is going to be the first category to die. If I look at canon who is the market leader in cameras their best seller is the EOS50M a 1.6x crop mirrorless they still sell plenty of mid range DX compacts etc however the whole purpose of a DX was to be a more economic DLSR and with the growth of mirrorless this is going to fade quickly.

The other point about FF vs any cropped sensor camera is also that actually there is not a single category where a mirrorless or APSC beats a full frame camera because if you need to have smaller apertures the camera can take it and surely a full frame is better for ambient light.

What is clear is that FF is a significant investment in camera equipment and glass together with a larger size port everything gets bigger significantly

I have been on similar workshops and it is true that photographer with smaller set ups pulled out at times shots better than bigger rigs but this had to do with the technique not with some inner ability of the camera. Viewing images on a HD screen it is not really the way to judge the quality of an image you need to go 1:1 or have at least a 4K screen.

What you noticed on point 3 is the invariance of some of the larger cameras to ISO so if the shot was too dark or too bright a full frame sensor will have more latitude for recovery than smaller ones

So I do not think at all cropped sensors are dead but if there is going to be a first victim of the market evolution after small compacts is going to be cropped DSLR simply because they have nothing to offer than a mirrorless can't give especially with the new high resolution EVFs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...