Digital Compacts and Sensor size
Ever since Digital cameras became available to the professional and the Consumer market alike there has been an ongoing debate about the sensor size that the manufacture selects for each Model.
You can see all the possible types and sizes of sensors here : Image Sensor types and sizes
As well as SLR cameras , I own two cameras that have sensor sizes below what most people, stereotypically would consider are professional, by which people mean that you would be able to sell the images to be printed in magazines or used for commercial reasons.
Most of the time I use these cameras when I know that their images will be used for the Internet or for personal reasons like Holidays or Family pictures.
However the Boss of Nikon-USA last year made a statement that the size of the sensor is now being made less important than ever before, simply because the image quality being produced by most sensors over that of a pocket camera or an i-phone was increasing year on year.
His statement was sure to and did raise some debate, specially from the owners of very expensive Nikon Cameras !
So , over the last few months I have taken a closer look at what he was talking about and the results are very interesting, below I have posted six images taken by a Nikon P7000 and then a Canon G1x , which as you can see from the diagram above on the left, has a much larger sensor that the other camera used here a Nikon P7000.
Many top end compact Cameras have a sensor size of 7.60mm x 5.70mm in size, the Canon G1x has a much larger sensor that measures 18.70mm x 14mm.
Many Photographers who make money selling images fell that the Canon G1x has a very acceptable image quality for a good 80% of image types and keep this compact-camera as a backup or as a carry anywhere camera. Sometimes a large and heavy SLR is just a pain to carry and makes you very conspicuous !!
So the question I was asking myself is , is there a big difference in image quality between these two Cameras here ?
Well the images below don’t appear to show many if any at all, the Nikon has a 10mp output and the Canon 14mp so if your are printing the images you could get a 36x27cm print from the little Canon and a 30cm x 23cm print from the Nikon, both at 300dpi.
This is a large surprise to me and I am sure could and would be questioned in a camera review lab but I am taking real world images from both sensor sizes and comparing them.
In all other respects I can see little defects in the RAW images coming from the Nikon as opposed to the Canon, the Colors are very good they both contain about the same level of detail in the shadow areas and the highlights such as bright areas of sky and clouds and have an image noise level that is acceptable.
So is the Boss of Nikon America correct, well yes, in many respects from looking at the results of most cameras with a sensor size of and over the 1/1.7″, with these sensors you will get some great images provided the camera itself is designed to let you do so!
Will I be throwing my full sized sensor SLR in the bin , well NO! not just yet but it is very reassuring to know that at last you can take these kind of cameras anywhere (Holidays, long walks, tops of mountains and family events) and get very good results , something that has not always been the case!
Just as some final comments,
At some point I will compare these cameras to my SLR and study these difference’s, However the very fact that a close study of the image quality difference’s is even needed shows just how good top end compact cameras have become.
I started the post by saying that this area , sensor size has always been a hot topic and it always will be but you will hear many people tell you that a type of camera is not good, when you ask “OH!!! why ?” they will bring up areas such as depth of field being Shallower with full frame sensor slr’s, very true , what they will not say however is how often they need this ability and how often they use it !!
What they also leave out is that in Macro photography you want a much deeper depth of field, otherwise that Bee your trying to get a picture of will only have its head and not its body in focus!
Three images of the same image scene
Canon G1x followed by Nikon P7000
By Claudia Emerson
One rusty horseshoe hangs on a nail
above the door, still losing its luck,
and a work-collar swings, an empty
old noose. The silence waits, wild to be
broken by hoof beat and heavy
harness slap, will founder but remain;
while, outside, above the stable,
eight, nine, now ten buzzards swing low
in lazy loops, a loose black warp
of patience, bearing the blank sky
like a pall of wind on mourning
wings. But the bones of this place are
long picked clean. Only the hay-rake’s
ribs still rise from the rampant grasses.
Twelve Months with a Canon G1x (Comments and Gallery)
It is just over a years since I purchased a reconditioned (Canon G1x) from Canon in the Irish republic.
I posted a personal review of the camera at the start of March here: “Canon G1x review“, so to avoid myself doing a repeat here you can read what I felt about the camera back then from this link.
I have taken about four thousand images with this camera in the first year and I have to say I just love it, before I decided to get it I was looking to replace a Contax G2 camera as I was finding it very hard to get film processed without posting it back to the UK. The idea of a compact system camera i.e. one that can work with extra items like a external flash gun, had been something I was very interested in.
For many years compact digital camera’s have not been of a good enough quality to consider purchasing and using if you intend to produce marketable images, I.e. anything from stock photography to commissioned work. The sensors where just to small to produce clean and detailed enough images.
From the moment I took collection of this camera I have to say it’s impressed me, I have most often used Film or Digital slr equipment apart from the Contax G2 that I had for many years. The camera is of good enough size a weight to feel like a good pro level compact and it is built to last that’s for sure. The body is equipped with every feature that an advanced user could need and is identical to a Digital slr.
I was looking for a camera that I could keep in a bag as a backup to my slr’s and this camera has been that, however I have found myself looking at what it is I need to do before I go out and deciding what type of Camera I need with me. I feel that If I have been booked to do some work then a customer needs to see an slr and the results are of a higher quality, but not by much. How and ever for personal work like this blog or books, holidays and events then this camera is perfect. I have produced double A3 wide prints from its images and they look as good as my Nikon pro equipment. It has all the needed quality, is fast to use acts exactly like I need it to and produces great results.
I was looking for a compact camera that didn’t make me feel like I wished I had packed an slr and this Canon camera is it, it has always filled me with confidence and been a pleasure to use.
Canon G1x Gallery
So since I sold my Contax G2 kit on ebay.ie last summer and then purchased a Canon G1x what have I be using it for and what’s my feeling about this Camera.
I am a big believer that a camera has to fit its owner before good images can even be approached, if you’re going out to get images with something that you just don’t feel good with then yes you may still get some good photos but you will always feel that bit removed from what you’re taking pictures of.
To me when you get your camera out of its bag and move toward the things you want to record, if you just don’t feel good about the camera in your hands then any issues you have with it will be in the front of your mind and not your subjects. Good photography is all about mind just like any other areas of life.
So what about this little Canon, I have to say from the first time I held and took some shots it was clear that I could just get on and use it. I don’t care that much about camera spec’s. It’s been a long time since any camera lacked a feature that I needed and I think that most photographers just know the kind of camera to pass on.
What counts for me is how the camera feels in my hands and how simply I can make a change to a setting that I need. The Canon G1x is about as good as it gets in both these areas. Yes its different from an SLR but not so different that it takes more than ten minutes to feel at home.
I can only point out one thing that I didn’t like, this being the placement of the video button. It’s far too simple to press it when you just holding the camera and walking around. You will also find that its not fast to cancel this mode when you want to, it takes at least two second to get out of recording and go back to stills mode. Next to the video button is a rubber rest for the thumb, make sure your thumb stays on this and this problem won’t happen.
The one thing that I felt I would have a problem with was the viewfinder or lack of it but even after using 100% view, optical viewfinder cameras for so long like Slr’s or rangefinder cameras I did’nt have any problems from the start. The single reason for this was the LCD screen, its crystal clear and I have always been able to see it in any lighting conditions.
The process of holding the camera in front of yourself is very different but I felt that it went hand in hand with the type of photography this camera is so good at, this being photography in the environment. Just being outside and going on a walk about, heading in town and doing some street photography or up the top of a mountain with a camera that’s not so heavy that its all you can think about. Using the LCD screen to frame your shot somehow keeps you feeling involved with the very things you’re taking pictures of.
I will post much more about this camera and talk about the C1 and C2 modes and how I have set them up to store things like my preferred focus length (35mm) and how to use the front dial to zoom to fixed focus positions.
The following pictures below are just some samples from the first few weeks I have owned this camera, as you can see its got me out taking lots of subjects. The image quality is second to none when put against the size and usability of this type of camera.
If I had one simple comment it would be, well done canon for making a camera that with no fuss gets people involved with the subjects they want to photo, while not spend any-time thinking about the camera you just sold them. Well done!
Black and white landscapes
Canon G1x, Boats strand, Co Waterford
Just after the New Year I decided to pick up a second hand Canon G1x as part of a project that I have been undertaking for some time, this being to replace a missing part of my camera kit.
Since the end of the 1990’s I have owned Nikon digital slr’s, having dumped film cameras and moved to digital in about 1999.
For a long time I worked with a Contax G2 film camera and have not owned a compact system since, so the aim was to fill this gap. The purchase of this camera is I hope the start and finish of this aim for some time to come.
This morning I put the camera in a bag and along with my dog headed to a place called Boats strand, Co. Waterford, the following images are some of the results.
These images have Canon G1x filter effects applied in camera.
I will be posting the others soon.
As for the Camera well, yes I think it’s going to be everything I expected. I had read that the autofocus system was a little slow, however it’s not that bad for a contrast based system and I would much prefer correct than lighting fast.
I will keep posting my G1x impressions and images.