Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear => Topic started by: Brian Hirschfeld on January 28, 2013, 10:26:29 PM

Title: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Brian Hirschfeld on January 28, 2013, 10:26:29 PM
Here is something interesting. Petapixel reports that DxO Mark found that the new 24-70mm f/2.8L II "Has no peers in terms of sharpness" and it does seem to be a very good lens.
http://www.petapixel.com/2013/01/28/canon-24-70mm-f2-8l-ii-has-no-peers-in-terms-sharpness-says-dxomark/

But then, accepting DxO's ratings as gospel (whether you agree with them or not) they rank the D800e and the D800 as the best cameras
http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Ratings

Well, there is certainly a problem inherent in this since the D800 and the D800e are made by Nikon, and the apparently unbeatable 24-70mm f/2.8L II is made by Canon. This would seem to make the decision, especially when considering top models from both marques because how good is a sensor without the best glass?

If only the 24-70mm f/2.8 in question was made by Sigma, we could all be happy
^^^That was meant to be a joke, thats why it's in italics^^^
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: uaiomex on January 28, 2013, 10:41:52 PM
Short answer: The sharpest lens.
Best glass today will be best glass for at least a decade. Best sensors of today will be best for the next 3 years or so. In this case, I'd rather invest in good glass if I can't afford both. In my personal case as a Canon user. Since Canon is lacking now in sensor development but really excelling in lens technology, it is very logic to me to take this as an opportunity to update all my old glass and go for the best glass in the market.
Probably not the answer you expected. If I would be starting from scratch, possibly the same story. Starting as a beginner, the best sensor with the most pixels.
Eduardo

Here is something interesting. Petapixel reports that DxO Mark found that the new 24-70mm f/2.8L II "Has no peers in terms of sharpness" and it does seem to be a very good lens.
http://www.petapixel.com/2013/01/28/canon-24-70mm-f2-8l-ii-has-no-peers-in-terms-sharpness-says-dxomark/

But then, accepting DxO's ratings as gospel (whether you agree with them or not) they rank the D800e and the D800 as the best cameras
http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Ratings

Well, there is certainly a problem inherent in this since the D800 and the D800e are made by Nikon, and the apparently unbeatable 24-70mm f/2.8L II is made by Canon. This would seem to make the decision, especially when considering top models from both marques because how good is a sensor without the best glass?

If only the 24-70mm f/2.8 in question was made by Sigma, we could all be happy
^^^That was meant to be a joke, thats why it's in italics^^^
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: David Sutton on January 29, 2013, 12:02:51 AM
Good question and I can't disagree with Eduardo.
My answer: Neither. The one with the best bokeh and contrast.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 29, 2013, 12:29:42 AM
Hi,

I would choose a good lens with the best sensor over the best lens with a lesser sensor. Why? Because I don't think there is a lot of difference between lenses, at least stopped down to f/8, where I shoot. A sensor with higher resolution will take sharpening better, produce less artifacts.

On the other hand, if I was shooting high ISO, free hand and so on I would try to find a lens that is sharp at maximum aperture and a camera with very good AF.

As things look like right now, Nikon seems to have the best sensor. They have best resolution and best DR. You cannot shoot this years bear with next years camera. Some of your subjects never come back.

Regarding Sigma, they are moving into top quality. A Swedish monthly assembled a list of the ten best lenses they have tested and they tested pretty much everything. They do their tests at Hasselblad with Hasselblads equipment. One of the Sigma macros made the list. But they say that any of three the three Sigma macros would fit. None of the Leica lenses made it to the list.

http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=sv&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=sv&ie=UTF-8&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Ftidningenfoto.se%2Fde-skarpaste-objektiven-fotos-tio-i-topp-lista%2F

Best regards
Erik

Here is something interesting. Petapixel reports that DxO Mark found that the new 24-70mm f/2.8L II "Has no peers in terms of sharpness" and it does seem to be a very good lens.
http://www.petapixel.com/2013/01/28/canon-24-70mm-f2-8l-ii-has-no-peers-in-terms-sharpness-says-dxomark/

But then, accepting DxO's ratings as gospel (whether you agree with them or not) they rank the D800e and the D800 as the best cameras
http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Ratings

Well, there is certainly a problem inherent in this since the D800 and the D800e are made by Nikon, and the apparently unbeatable 24-70mm f/2.8L II is made by Canon. This would seem to make the decision, especially when considering top models from both marques because how good is a sensor without the best glass?

If only the 24-70mm f/2.8 in question was made by Sigma, we could all be happy
^^^That was meant to be a joke, thats why it's in italics^^^
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Petrus on January 29, 2013, 12:55:03 AM
Here is something interesting. Petapixel reports that DxO Mark found that the new 24-70mm f/2.8L II "Has no peers in terms of sharpness" and it does seem to be a very good lens.

Best midrange zoom yet. Zoom. Gets a score of 26 and ranks #103* (70-200 f:2.8 is best zoom #101). I was happy to find out that my cheap and humble Nikkor 85mm f:1.8 G is now the sharpest lens in the whole DxO lens database with a score of 35, ranking #1, costing 80% less than the new Canon. With the D800E I just got a few days ago I can say I have the worlds sharpest camera at my disposal. Now I just need to start taking those terrific landscapes instead of headshots of cats...

I would also take a sharp lens first, they last decades and the quality improvement is slow in that field compared to the innovation progress with sensors and camera bodies.

*) leafing through the DxO listing it is curious to notice that this Canon actually beats many Zeiss primes within the same focal length range. Also that the four top brands seem to now be Nikon, Sigma, Zeiss and Samyang...  Does anybody know why Leica lenses are not tested?
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 29, 2013, 01:18:39 AM
Hi,

Just a few points.

DxO tests lenses with cameras. So their results depend on camera and sensor. Would they test lenses on the D800/D800E most of those lenses would probably be on top.

I never understood the logic behind DxO-s ranking. But you can look at their data in detail and learn a lot.

I don't know why DxO doesn't test Leica lenses, but I guess it is because the lens tests they make are mainly used to develop their lens modules used in the DxO converter.

DxO has themselves pointed out that Zeiss lenses are not really the best lenses in each group. Some are on top some less so. I'd suggest that there are many very fine lenses around.

Interestingly, LensRentals is doing a lot of tests as they test all lenses coming in. Lens rentals generally seems to find that the Zeiss lenses are best and they may also have less sample variations than others.

The old Canon 24-70/2.8 had a problem with a couple of bushings wearing out and lost sharpness horribly. If you have a 24-70/2.8 L lens with considerable wobble on the fron element you may consider sending it for repair.

Best regards
Erik


Best midrange zoom yet. Zoom. Gets a score of 26 and ranks #103* (70-200 f:2.8 is best zoom #101). I was happy to find out that my cheap and humble Nikkor 85mm f:1.8 G is now the sharpest lens in the whole DxO lens database with a score of 35, ranking #1, costing 80% less than the new Canon. With the D800E I just got a few days ago I can say I have the worlds sharpest camera at my disposal. Now I just need to start taking those terrific landscapes instead of headshots of cats...

I would also take a sharp lens first, they last decades and the quality improvement is slow in that field compared to the innovation progress with sensors and camera bodies.

*) leafing through the DxO listing it is curious to notice that this Canon actually beats many Zeiss primes within the same focal length range. Also that the four top brands seem to now be Nikon, Sigma, Zeiss and Samyang...  Does anybody know why Leica lenses are not tested?
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: BernardLanguillier on January 29, 2013, 01:29:54 AM
My answer: Neither. The one with the best bokeh and contrast.

Agreed, look is more important than absolute resolution.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Petrus on January 29, 2013, 01:42:10 AM

DxO tests lenses with cameras. So their results depend on camera and sensor. Would they test lenses on the D800/D800E most of those lenses would probably be on top.

For that reason it is prudent to compare only tests done with 3DX to tests done with 5D2 or 5D3, if comparing Nikon and Canon glass.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 29, 2013, 05:13:53 AM

Yes.




For that reason it is prudent to compare only tests done with 3DX to tests done with 5D2 or 5D3, if comparing Nikon and Canon glass.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: MrSmith on January 29, 2013, 05:52:34 AM
lens every time. Would rather work round any limitation in the sensor than try to fix abhorations afterwards.
I couldn't give a toss about contrast or what out of focus areas are like.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Sareesh Sudhakaran on January 29, 2013, 06:07:48 AM
I don't classify the two things as separate: After all, neither a lens nor a sensor can operate without the other. If only someone had the time and money to test every lens and camera combination!

The number one image-performer in the world: Canikon 9000DX with a 35mm f/1 ultracrapon lens at f/2.8 1/1000s at ISO 50 with the RAWpee processor with a list of settings for ultimate sharpness. Then, we can all use the exact same setting for our photos, or Sonyang can make a compact out of it and rid us of the pain of self discovery.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: scooby70 on January 29, 2013, 10:18:04 AM
I think I must be easy to please regarding lens sharpness but didn't someone say long ago that lens sharpness wasn't an issue? If it was true then in these days of computer aided design, exotic materials and precision manufacturing it must be truer than ever.

Lens wise the specification such as the max aperture, USM or not etc. matter to me as does the overall look including bokeh and what also matters is the experience of using the lens, ultimate sharpness matters less so.

Sensor wise (or perhaps some of these things are more to do with other bits of the camera) it'd be nice to have one that allowed ISO 100 (some don't seem to offer it these days) and a nice dynamic range and good noise performance.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: langier on January 29, 2013, 12:59:30 PM
From Ted Orland's Photographic Truths poster:

When man invents a sharper lens, nature invents a fuzzier subject.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: NancyP on January 29, 2013, 03:35:39 PM
Best lens. I think that there are more rapid engineering advances in sensor technology. I have a Canon 60D and some classic L glass (70-200mm f/4 L IS, 400mm f/5.6L). That glass will move with me to the next iteration of APS-C sensor for birding and action photography. All that said, bring on the 7D2 with improved sensor noise, f/8 autofocus, and the current best AF algorithms and burst rate.

As for best sensor plus sharpest lens, for landscapes, I have the DP2M.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 29, 2013, 03:53:02 PM
Hi,

I just made a small experiment. I'm playing with MF lenses on DSLRs. So I put a not very good Pentax 67 lens on my Sony Alpha 77 APS-C camera and very good Sonnar 150/ 4 on my full frame Alpha 99. The Alpha 77 has 1.5 times the resolution of the Alpha 99. If I check MTF at say 40 lp/mm I would have:

Sony Alpha 77 + Pentax 67 lens:   MTF 40 lp/mm    46%
Sony Alpha 99 + Sonnar 150/4 lens: MTF 40 lp/mm 40%

My guess is that the Nikon D800 and the Nikon zoom would give better results than the Canon 24-70/2.8LII on todays Canon. But I don't think you shift makes that easily. Also, I actually think most stuff is good enough.

Best regards
Erik
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: AFairley on January 29, 2013, 04:38:28 PM
Serendipitously, Roger over at lensrentals.com has just addressed with with the respective 24-70s on the Canon 5DIII and Nikon 800E.  He gives the nod to the Nikon combo although the Canon is the superior lens.  http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/01/a-24-70mm-system-comparison.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 29, 2013, 04:46:23 PM
Thanks!

Erik

Serendipitously, Roger over at lensrentals.com has just addressed with with the respective 24-70s on the Canon 5DIII and Nikon 800E.  He gives the nod to the Nikon combo although the Canon is the superior lens.  http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/01/a-24-70mm-system-comparison.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Ray on January 29, 2013, 10:23:51 PM
I think it is underappreciated just how much additional sharpness and detail a high resolution sensor can produce from any lens whatever its quality.

Part of the reason for this underappreciation is due to the fact that most manufacturers tend to dribble out small increases in sensor pixel count so there's no significant increase in resolution, due to the sensor, that's obvious.

For example, within the Canon APS-C range, I progressed from 6mp to 8mp to 10mp to 15mp. The next upgrade, the 18mp 7D, is a mere 3mp more, which I didn't buy because Nikon seemed to be offering a level of performance which I preferred.

The biggest jump in pixel count in the Canon models is between the 10mp of the 40D and the 15mp of the 50D.  Having taken the trouble to compare resolution, visually, using a good prime, such as the Canon 50/1.4, I found that the 50D produces sharper and more detailed images at all F/stops (except F22) to an extent which is so obvious that, were I testing different lenses in a shop before buying, using the 50D, and I saw such differences, there would be no doubt at all which lens I would prefer.

In fact, I'm asking myself the question if any prime lens exists, at any price, which could match, when used on the 10mp 40D, the level of detail possible with an average zoom used at the same focal length on the 15mp 50D, using each lens at its sharpest aperture of course.

I doubt such a lens exists.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: BartvanderWolf on January 30, 2013, 05:31:39 AM
I think it is underappreciated just how much additional sharpness and detail a high resolution sensor can produce from any lens whatever its quality.

Hi Ray,

That's correct. What people seem to underappreciate is that when a good lens projects a given image quality on 2 sensors with only a different sensel pitch (and thus sampling density), the resolution jumps almost proportionally to the difference in sensel pitch.

A high quality lens will benefit more from the denser sampling than a lower quality lens, and the combined system MTF will be higher with a good lens. Therefore in general, resolution is determined by sampling density, MTF response is determined by lens quality.

In the 2 attachments I show the effects between a good lens which produces an effective blur radius of 0.7 sigma, and a mediocre lens which produces an effective blur radius of 0.9, under otherwise the same conditions. The loss of MTF response for the lower quality lens can be somewhat restored by deconvolution Capture sharpening, the resolution can not be created where there was none to begin with. Obviously, the combination of a good lens and a high sampling density will produce the best results.

Therefore sensor resolution will contribute to increasing image quality as sensor generations (and time) go(es) by, and I would therefoer first start with getting a better lens because it will probably last for several sensor generations. What's more, the proportional resolution jump from denser sampling can already be achieved by using a longer focal length (assuming the longer focal length quality is also good) and the use of stitching to increase the field of view. So good lens quality always pays off, now and in the future. A good lens will probably also exhibit overall better image quality, e.g. improved glare resistance and more pleasing bokeh.

Cheers,
Bart
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: scooby70 on January 30, 2013, 03:35:51 PM
But does all this really matter?

It's a question that we have to answer for ourselves. Personally I've never printed an image larger than A3 and most of my images are printed a lot smaller than that, if they're printed at all.

At the moment I'm perfectly happy with the images my 5D and G1 (at lower ISO's) produce when mated with any lens I own. Even my Rokkor and Zuiko lenses give me images that look perfectly sharp enough when mated to my G1. I really can't complain about sharpness or resolution. Maybe I'm easy to please.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 30, 2013, 04:00:33 PM
Hi,

Personally I never print smaller than A2 and sometimes up to 70x100 cm.

What I would say that I have seen less difference between 12MP APS-C and 24MP full frame than what I would expected in A2 prints. I also think that sharpening matters a lot.

This discussion is very interesting. My take, right now, is that sensor resolution is more important than an excellent lens. I think that a good lens with an excellent sensor outperforms an excellent lens on a good sensor. This kind of discussion may be helpful in spending our assets wisely.

Best regards
Erik

But does all this really matter?

It's a question that we have to answer for ourselves. Personally I've never printed an image larger than A3 and most of my images are printed a lot smaller than that, if they're printed at all.

At the moment I'm perfectly happy with the images my 5D and G1 (at lower ISO's) produce when mated with any lens I own. Even my Rokkor and Zuiko lenses give me images that look perfectly sharp enough when mated to my G1. I really can't complain about sharpness or resolution. Maybe I'm easy to please.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: jrp on January 30, 2013, 04:56:39 PM
This http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/01/a-24-70mm-system-comparison (http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/01/a-24-70mm-system-comparison) answers the question
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: BarbaraArmstrong on January 30, 2013, 06:47:12 PM
If someone hasn't seen a file, shot under good circumstances, from the DP2M, then you may have trouble understanding what I am talking about.  This camera, which produces absolutely stunning, gorgeous, sharp files, uses the same sensor as the Sigma SD1.  And I don't remember anyone outside of Sigma raving about that sensor.  But put that same sensor with the lens on the DP2M, and you have an utterly different story.  I am worried that any camera I may buy, at any price short of 30K or more, will not give me as sumptuous files to work with.  I enlarged and printed one file this week to 13-5/8 x 20-1/2".  It retained its sharpness and all other qualities.  My next iteration wil be larger, to assess the results.  I have to say my experience with the DP2M has made me very conscious of the importance of the lens.  --Barbara
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Ray on January 30, 2013, 07:08:46 PM
Therefore sensor resolution will contribute to increasing image quality as sensor generations (and time) go(es) by, and I would therefoer first start with getting a better lens because it will probably last for several sensor generations. What's more, the proportional resolution jump from denser sampling can already be achieved by using a longer focal length (assuming the longer focal length quality is also good) and the use of stitching to increase the field of view. So good lens quality always pays off, now and in the future. A good lens will probably also exhibit overall better image quality, e.g. improved glare resistance and more pleasing bokeh.


Hi Bart,
Doesn't the question imply certain budget constraints and/or weight considerations. If money is not a concern and one travels everywhere in an SUV and one rarely walks more than a few steps carrying one's photographic equipment, then one would automatically buy both the best lenses and the latest, highest-resolving camera. One wouldn't need to ask which would be the better option, an expensive lens with an older body, or a moderately good lens with the latest sensor.

Unfortunately, high quality lenses are sometimes not only impractically heavy for some uses, but exhoribtantly expensive. I was recently looking at the Nikkor 200-400/F4 VR which has the FL range that I'm interested in. I got a shock when I saw prices ranging from $7,000 to $8,000. I got another shock when I saw the weight of 3.36kg.

But supposing the weight is not such a major concern and one is prepared to lug around a 4.3Kg package (telephoto lens plus camera), but price is a concern. Let's imagine one already has a D700 and a few good lenses up to 200mm or so, but one really wants a longer focal length up to 400mm.

The D800E seems the best upgrade to the D700 with 3x the pixel count, and the 200-400/F4 VR is undoubtedly a sharper lens than the 80-400/F4.5-5.6 VR.

Which is the best option? A D800E at $3,500, plus an 80-400 at $1300 making a total cost of $4,800, or just the 200-400/F4 at a bargain price of $7,000? The assumption here is that I can't afford to buy both the D800E and the 200-400/F4. If I opt for the 200-400/F4, spending $2,200 more, I know that I won't be able to afford (or justify the purchase of) any more photographic equipment for a few years.

Cheers!
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: zlatko-b on January 30, 2013, 10:30:00 PM
Sensor and lens are equally important, as are other factors such as ergonomics.  I'm not convinced that Nikon's D800E has the best sensor.  It may measure best for certain parameters, but I prefer Canon color and overall rendering.  And I prefer Canon's variable raw file options to Nikon's single raw file size.  So for me, Canon has the best sensor and now the best mid-range zoom.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Ray on January 31, 2013, 12:41:32 AM
.... but I prefer Canon color and overall rendering.

Some of us prefer to do our own rendering in post processing, adjusting color to taste.  ;)
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on January 31, 2013, 12:57:00 AM
Hi Ray,

I would also consider a 24MP APS-C camera combined with a very good zoom. I don't know Nikon numbers but I'm sure there is a 24MP APS-C. Getting a really good zoom is a different issue. The Sigma 100-300/4 is said to be a very good performer.

Personally, I use a Sony Alpha full frame with Sony 24-70/2.8 and 70-400/4-5.6G lenses. For telephoto I always use my Alpha 77 (24MP APS-C). I'm quite happy with that combination.

Best regards
Erik


Hi Bart,
Doesn't the question imply certain budget constraints and/or weight considerations. If money is not a concern and one travels everywhere in an SUV and one rarely walks more than a few steps carrying one's photographic equipment, then one would automatically buy both the best lenses and the latest, highest-resolving camera. One wouldn't need to ask which would be the better option, an expensive lens with an older body, or a moderately good lens with the latest sensor.

Unfortunately, high quality lenses are sometimes not only impractically heavy for some uses, but exhoribtantly expensive. I was recently looking at the Nikkor 200-400/F4 VR which has the FL range that I'm interested in. I got a shock when I saw prices ranging from $7,000 to $8,000. I got another shock when I saw the weight of 3.36kg.

But supposing the weight is not such a major concern and one is prepared to lug around a 4.3Kg package (telephoto lens plus camera), but price is a concern. Let's imagine one already has a D700 and a few good lenses up to 200mm or so, but one really wants a longer focal length up to 400mm.

The D800E seems the best upgrade to the D700 with 3x the pixel count, and the 200-400/F4 VR is undoubtedly a sharper lens than the 80-400/F4.5-5.6 VR.

Which is the best option? A D800E at $3,500, plus an 80-400 at $1300 making a total cost of $4,800, or just the 200-400/F4 at a bargain price of $7,000? The assumption here is that I can't afford to buy both the D800E and the 200-400/F4. If I opt for the 200-400/F4, spending $2,200 more, I know that I won't be able to afford (or justify the purchase of) any more photographic equipment for a few years.

Cheers!

Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: BartvanderWolf on January 31, 2013, 06:48:09 AM
Hi Bart,
Doesn't the question imply certain budget constraints and/or weight considerations.

Hi Ray,

Sure, budget is always an issue on the short term, but on the longer term one will benefit from having a better lens. As I said, in a better lens the overall image quality is likely to be better (CA, glare resistance, bokeh, resolution). I have used more (increasingly better) sensors per lens than the other way around. That's because my lens choice has always been for the better quality alternatives at that time. Good lenses last a long time, so saving a bit longer for a better lens will pay off in the end.

Quote
Unfortunately, high quality lenses are sometimes not only impractically heavy for some uses, but exhoribtantly expensive. I was recently looking at the Nikkor 200-400/F4 VR which has the FL range that I'm interested in. I got a shock when I saw prices ranging from $7,000 to $8,000. I got another shock when I saw the weight of 3.36kg.

Which begs the question, how often does one shoot at 200mm, or at 400mm? Wouldn't a 200mm fixed focus lens cover 90% of the situations and, if that is so, why lug around all that dead weight if perhaps a good 200mm (+ extender), perhaps even an f/2.8 (or whatever is on offer for ones camera platform), will perform just fine. Not everybody exclusively shoots birds (the feathered kind ;) ) all the time, and 200mm is a great focal length for many subjects and less sensitive to camera shake than a 400mm.

I do know what the benefits of multiple focal lengths in a single package are (such as smaller volume than multiple lenses, tighter crops, etc.), especially when traveling, but I also know that most zooms are mostly used at their extremes if one is trained to previsualize the composition (zoom with your feet). Intermediate settings are often only used when there is no time to swap lenses (or environmental conditions are unfavorable), which may weigh more heavily for some users.

Quote
But supposing the weight is not such a major concern and one is prepared to lug around a 4.3Kg package (telephoto lens plus camera), but price is a concern. Let's imagine one already has a D700 and a few good lenses up to 200mm or so, but one really wants a longer focal length up to 400mm.

The D800E seems the best upgrade to the D700 with 3x the pixel count, and the 200-400/F4 VR is undoubtedly a sharper lens than the 80-400/F4.5-5.6 VR.

I'm not familiar with the quality of the focal length extenders from Nikon, but maybe the want for 400mm can be fullfilled with that, assuming one invested in a good 200mm to begin with, which closes the circle. Quality helps (and may even be cheaper) in the longer term. If one really 'needs' a 400mm, then it may be best to go for just that. There may be a good used lens on offer somewhere.

Quote
Which is the best option? A D800E at $3,500, plus an 80-400 at $1300 making a total cost of $4,800, or just the 200-400/F4 at a bargain price of $7,000? The assumption here is that I can't afford to buy both the D800E and the 200-400/F4. If I opt for the 200-400/F4, spending $2,200 more, I know that I won't be able to afford (or justify the purchase of) any more photographic equipment for a few years.

That makes it a short term decision, which also needs to use current technology, so one should go for the best quality combination available for the least amount of money. It is almost guaranteed to be a more expensive choice over time, but that's just what it is, a short term decision. Again, I would consider dropping the 400mm 'requirement', which may lead to acquiring a much better quality solution in the shorter term, and cheaper in the longer term.

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
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: risedal on January 31, 2013, 09:31:17 PM
Sensor and lens are equally important, as are other factors such as ergonomics.  I'm not convinced that Nikon's D800E has the best sensor.  It may measure best for certain parameters, but I prefer Canon color and overall rendering.  And I prefer Canon's variable raw file options to Nikon's single raw file size.  So for me, Canon has the best sensor and now the best mid-range zoom.
well, make your own profile as Canon alike as you want to the Nikon camera, I can show you pictures rendered by a Nikon and you think you are looking at a canon picture and vice versa.
take a look here www.qpcard.com

Tell me , which sensor  is a better sensor than the d800? D600 sensor? None of the Canons for sure.
here is http://www.sensorgen.info and http://home.comcast.net/~nikond70/Charts/PDR.htm where you can compare sensors, and then you have  DXO .
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Fine_Art on January 31, 2013, 09:53:27 PM
Hi,

Personally I never print smaller than A2 and sometimes up to 70x100 cm.

What I would say that I have seen less difference between 12MP APS-C and 24MP full frame than what I would expected in A2 prints. I also think that sharpening matters a lot.

This discussion is very interesting. My take, right now, is that sensor resolution is more important than an excellent lens. I think that a good lens with an excellent sensor outperforms an excellent lens on a good sensor. This kind of discussion may be helpful in spending our assets wisely.

Best regards
Erik


I agree, good lenses are far ahead of all but the finest sensors.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Ray on January 31, 2013, 10:45:02 PM
I would also consider a 24MP APS-C camera combined with a very good zoom. I don't know Nikon numbers but I'm sure there is a 24MP APS-C. Getting a really good zoom is a different issue. The Sigma 100-300/4 is said to be a very good performer.

Personally, I use a Sony Alpha full frame with Sony 24-70/2.8 and 70-400/4-5.6G lenses. For telephoto I always use my Alpha 77 (24MP APS-C). I'm quite happy with that combination.

Hi Erik,
I am considering a 24mp sensor, the D3200. I'm just a bit disappointed that the camera does not have autoexposure bracketing, and that its potential performance is compromised at least a little by its 12 bit processing. It has no 14 bit option.

When the reach of one's longest lens is the limitation, the 24mp of the D3200 should provide an advantage compared to the D800E. In other words, a 200% crop of the 24mp D3200 image, which would result in a 6mp image, should be noticeably sharper than a 300% crop of the same general scene using the same lens on the D800E, which would result in a 4mp image with the same FoV. Have I got my maths correct?

Perhaps the difference would be hardly noticeable, but an A3 size print should reveal it. The other advantage of the D3200 is it's so light it would allow me to carry two cameras and avoid frequently changing lenses.

Cheers!



[/quote]
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Ray on January 31, 2013, 11:04:35 PM
Sure, budget is always an issue on the short term, but on the longer term one will benefit from having a better lens.

Hi Bart,
Doesn't this depend on one's definition of 'better'. The better lens is not necessarily the sharper lens, but the lens which one uses more often, perhaps because of its image stabilisation, its range of focal lengths, its light weight and its general convenience, all of which in total may be more significant than a modest increase in the sharpness of an alternative option.

Of course, I would agree if one has a choice of two lenses which are similar in terms of features such as focal length, FL range, and weight etc, then it would be advisable to spend a bit more money on the sharper lens, whether it's a prime lens or a zoom lens that one is considering purchasing, provided the increase in price is not too ridiculous.

In my view, the ideal lens is a zoom lens which is as sharp, or at least nearly as sharp, as most good primes at focal lengths within the zoom's range. Such a lens is the Nikkor 14-24/F2.8. This lens is the reason I switched from the Canon system I'd been using for the previous 10 years, to Nikon. If Nikon had not produced this lens, I would have upgraded my 5D to a 5D2, and my 50D to a 7D, and would then possibly have felt too trapped to make the switch to Nikon when later discovering the significant DR advantages of the current Nikon sensors and the attractive performance of the D800E.

However, the main point I'm trying to make here is that I didn't buy that Nikkor 14-24 just because it is such a fine lens. I bought it because I knew I would be using it frequently, because of the history of my usage of the Sigma 15-30mm with the 5D.

Furthermore, I bought it also because on some occasions I'd experienced disappointed with the performance of the Sigma 15-30, particularly at the edges of the frame. I didn't buy the Nikkor just because of a theoretical awareness that it was a better lens than the Sigma.

Another reason for not spending significantly more money on a sharper lens, which will undoubtedly produce a greater increase in detail when later coupled with higher-resolving sensors, is that one can't predict what improvements in lens features and FL range will be offered in the future.

For example, the Canon 70-200/F2.8 and 70-200/F4 had fine reputations for being sharp lenses for many years. Some folks preferred the 70-200/F4 because it was lighter and less expensive, yet almost as sharp as the F2.8 version, but these lenses didn't use to have IS. The F2.8 version was the first to be upgraded with IS, then the F4 version sometime later. Now Nikon have come out with a VR version of the 70-200/F4.

Just because a lens is particularly sharp doesn't mean you will be satisfied with it for ever more. The main criterion in my view is to get a lens which you know you will use because it has the ergonomics and features, and the range of focal lengths which are most useful for your style of photography. I think one can be too easily seduced by the glowing reports of the sharpness of a lens, buy it, then find that one hardly ever uses it, except perhaps when comparing the performance of different sensors.  ;)

I think the last time I used my Canon 50/F1.4 prime was to compare the performance of a newly purchased Canon 50D with an older 40D, photographing the Australian $50 banknote taped to the wall.  ;)

Quote
As I said, in a better lens the overall image quality is likely to be better (CA, glare resistance, bokeh, resolution).

Glare was occasionally a problem with the Sigma 15-30, but only when pointing the lens in the general direction of the sun, which one tries to avoid doing whatever the lens. CA, barrel distortion etc, can now be fixed automatically in ACR or DXO Optics, so one need not place too much significance on such defects unless they are really bad.

Quote
I have used more (increasingly better) sensors per lens than the other way around. That's because my lens choice has always been for the better quality alternatives at that time. Good lenses last a long time, so saving a bit longer for a better lens will pay off in the end.

So have I, yet I've never bought any really expensive, first rate primes, and those which were moderately expensive, such as the Canon 50/F1.4 and the Canon 90/F2.8 TSE, I have not used much simply due to the general inconvenience of a single FL.

Whatever the quality of one's lenses, one will appreciate some degree of improvement as sensors become higher resolving, unless the lens is really bad. My only superzoom is the Canon 100-400/F4.5-5.6 IS which I bought with my very first DSLR, the 6mp D60, about 10 years ago. There is no doubt whatsoever that the 15mp 50D produces sharper images with this lens, than the D60 ever did, yet this is not a particularly sharp lens. At 400mm it's sharpest at F8. For me, the alternatives are too heavy, too expensive and too restrictive if they have a fixed FL.

Cheers!

Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on February 01, 2013, 02:19:59 AM
Hi Erik,
I am considering a 24mp sensor, the D3200. I'm just a bit disappointed that the camera does not have autoexposure bracketing, and that its potential performance is compromised at least a little by its 12 bit processing. It has no 14 bit option.


Has anyone actually ever proved that there is an advantage with 14 bits on a dslr sensor in the real world?
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Ray on February 01, 2013, 03:18:20 AM
Has anyone actually ever proved that there is an advantage with 14 bits on a dslr sensor in the real world?

Hi Ben,

Yes! Me!

When I received my D7000, after being persuaded by reports on the Net that it had remarkable dynamic range, the first test shots I took were to confirm for myself that it really did have better dynamic range than any other camera I owned, including the D700. I later took a few shots of the identical target in identical lighting, using the 12 bit and 14 bit options to see if I could detect a difference in image quality.

It appears there is a noticeable difference in the deepest shadows. Refer attached images comparing 12 bits with 14 bits in the 13th stop and the 14th stop of DR (underexposing by 13 stops). The differences are less obvious in the 11th and 12th stop, but still noticeable. Whether or not such differences would ever be of concern in real-world images would depend on the degree of cropping one does and the amount of detail one wishes to retrieve from the shadows, and also I suppose the ISO used. I imagine a D3200 would produce more shadow noise than a D7000 in 14 bit mode, when used at high ISOs.

The high image count shown in attached photos is due to my forgetting to format a card that had been used in my D700.

Cheers!
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: BartvanderWolf on February 01, 2013, 11:11:04 AM
It appears there is a noticeable difference in the deepest shadows. Refer attached images comparing 12 bits with 14 bits in the 13th stop and the 14th stop of DR (underexposing by 13 stops). The differences are less obvious in the 11th and 12th stop, but still noticeable. Whether or not such differences would ever be of concern in real-world images would depend on the degree of cropping one does and the amount of detail one wishes to retrieve from the shadows, and also I suppose the ISO used. I imagine a D3200 would produce more shadow noise than a D7000 in 14 bit mode, when used at high ISOs.

Hi Ray,

What you are describing has more to do with dynamic range and signal to noise performance in shadows (where read noise dominates). So differences between sensorss and support electronics can play a large role here.

IMHO, the real difference between 12 and 14-bit ADC quantization will manifest itself in the highlight tonality, as it will be much smoother and will hold more detail. The attached charts (of a scanline from a synthesized stepwedge with Poisson noise added) should illustrate that it becomes increasingly more difficult to discern the differences between the relatively coarse steps in brightness as we lower the number of bits. It becomes especially troublesome after a gamma 1/2.2 adjustment, in particular in the highlights regions. More subtle detail with smaller brightness differences will lose all definition in the lower bit versions even faster.

Also remember that this originates at the Raw level, and it will therefore affect the demosaicing accuracy as well.

But this is getting a bit off topic, so I'll stop here. It can of course be discussed further elsewhere, should there be a need to.

Cheers,
Bart
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: bjanes on February 07, 2013, 12:57:11 PM
Hi Ray,

What you are describing has more to do with dynamic range and signal to noise performance in shadows (where read noise dominates). So differences between sensorss and support electronics can play a large role here.

IMHO, the real difference between 12 and 14-bit ADC quantization will manifest itself in the highlight tonality, as it will be much smoother and will hold more detail. The attached charts (of a scanline from a synthesized stepwedge with Poisson noise added) should illustrate that it becomes increasingly more difficult to discern the differences between the relatively coarse steps in brightness as we lower the number of bits. It becomes especially troublesome after a gamma 1/2.2 adjustment, in particular in the highlights regions. More subtle detail with smaller brightness differences will lose all definition in the lower bit versions even faster.

Also remember that this originates at the Raw level, and it will therefore affect the demosaicing accuracy as well.

But this is getting a bit off topic, so I'll stop here. It can of course be discussed further elsewhere, should there be a need to.

Cheers,
Bart

Bart,

Your graphs are very informative, and your analyses are almost always informative, but your conclusion that a higher bit depth leads to better highlight gradation is not in accordance with my understanding. This is going off topic, so I have started a new thread here (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=75004.msg598126#msg598126).

Regards,

Bill
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: NancyP on February 07, 2013, 03:38:46 PM
Nikon has a hole in its lineup for the sharp, less expensive long telephoto prime user.
This, plus the inimitable macro 1x - 5x lens, is why I chose Canon when I started out - lots of options for the nature photographer. I, like many other Canon users, swear by the 400mm f/5.6L, $1,350.00 new, 1.25 kg., for birds in flight and birds in general. Maybe there's some old (discontinued film era) Nikon glass that may fill the bill.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on February 07, 2013, 03:41:25 PM
Hi,

Once things are good enough, being best or second best may matter little.

Best regards
Erik

Nikon has a hole in its lineup for the sharp, less expensive long telephoto prime user.
This, plus the inimitable macro 1x - 5x lens, is why I chose Canon when I started out - lots of options for the nature photographer. I, like many other Canon users, swear by the 400mm f/5.6L, $1,350.00 new, 1.25 kg., for birds in flight and birds in general. Maybe there's some old (discontinued film era) Nikon glass that may fill the bill.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: theguywitha645d on February 07, 2013, 08:15:00 PM
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.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on February 07, 2013, 11:35:45 PM
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.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: MrIconoclast on February 12, 2013, 10:08:57 AM
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. 
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on February 13, 2013, 02:12:52 AM
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
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Ray on February 13, 2013, 09:38:53 PM
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.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Ray on February 13, 2013, 10:58:53 PM
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.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Bullfrog on February 16, 2013, 07:35:43 AM
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.


Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Guillermo Luijk on February 17, 2013, 08:35:53 AM
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 (http://www.guillermoluijk.com/article/rawbits/index.htm) 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
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: LKaven on February 17, 2013, 10:10:05 AM
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.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on February 17, 2013, 10:13:08 AM
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.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: hjulenissen on February 17, 2013, 10:18:27 AM
...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
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Guillermo Luijk on February 17, 2013, 12:56:46 PM
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.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: LKaven on February 17, 2013, 06:24:02 PM
Lossy compression is there as an option for anyone who wants it.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: risedal on February 23, 2013, 01:48:37 PM
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
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: BartvanderWolf on February 23, 2013, 02:28:37 PM
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
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: LKaven on February 23, 2013, 02:57:37 PM
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.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on February 23, 2013, 04:39:04 PM
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.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: risedal on February 23, 2013, 05:44:19 PM
Canon does have a 0.18 µm generation CIS wafer fab process, featuring a specialized Cu back end of line (BEOL) including light pipes . It is possible to speculate that Canon may be preparing to refresh its FF CIS line to supply devices for a new FF camera system.

http://www.chipworks.com/blog/technologyblog/2012/10/24/full-frame-dslr-cameras-canon-stays-the-course/
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: risedal on February 23, 2013, 06:09:11 PM
Canon can not today make FF sensors like Sony, Toshiba Panasonic  with column ADC and the  small pixel size today  . Canon needs go down even more with their manufacturing lines which are too coarse. For example  Sonys lines goes down to 90nm.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: LKaven on February 23, 2013, 06:23:39 PM
I defer to the details on Canon sensors.  I don't know all the factors involved for them.
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: John Camp on February 23, 2013, 06:42:39 PM
Regarding the Lens Rentals tests, here is the key comment (the "third zoom" is a Tamron):

"The real bottom line here is that there are no losers. The resolution numbers all of these combinations show are nothing short of amazing. For example, all three zooms are equal to, or slightly better than, the superb Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro Planar at equal apertures on the same camera."

Trying to figure out which combination is best is a fool's errand -- I doubt that there is anybody on this forum who could exploit the differences between these lenses, if mounted on cameras with precisely equal sensors, even without taking Photoshop into the equation. And given the level of photography that we're talking about, I suspect that there are few of us who don't use post-processing software.

So basically, this is an angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin argument.

Ask yourself another question: assuming that you always want to get the best feasible resolution for whatever situation you're in, which would be the best camera/lens combo for shooting gang-banger dope dealers in MacArthur Park? I personally would choose a Sony RX100, because either the Canon or the Nikon with a 24-70 could get me killed. The point being that the quality difference between the two lenses dwindles to insignificance when almost any real use is considered, even including landscape or still-life.   

   
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: BartvanderWolf on February 23, 2013, 09:01:52 PM
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.

Hi Keith,

I share that analysis. As a Canon shooter myself, I wouldn't mind an increase in sampling density (while retaining or improving Dynamic Range) but, frankly, my 1Ds3 keeps producing fabulous source material for the majority of required output. I have developed the technical (stitching and/or exposure bracketing) skills to push the envelope (if subject motion constraints allow) though. And those technical skills on average produce better quality than a single exposure ever could.

Cheers,
Bart
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: ErikKaffehr on February 24, 2013, 02:26:15 AM
Hi,


It seems that Canon has different priorities. According to DxO-mark, the Nikon cameras using on chip converters gained a lot in DR, why development in DR was little at Canon. DR is the factor mostly negatively affected by reducing pixel size.

Canon already has the 7D. Would that sensor be upscaled to FF it would offer 46 MP. So Canon could do it.

My guess may be that Canon has slightly different focus than Nikon, geared more to high ISO, where they are very good. I guess that landscape shooters using tripod at base ISO are a minority.

Best regards
Erik


"So, back to the rumors of Canon allegedly readying a high resolution competitor to the Nikon D800 [3]. Will Canon finally move off that 0.5 µm generation? It is worth noting that September 2012 marked the 10 year anniversary of Canon’s announcement of the world’s first CMOS FF sensor, the EOS 1Ds. While Chipworks didn’t analyze that camera, every Canon FF sensor analyzed since has used the same 0.5 µm design rules. It is a credit to Canon that it has remained competitive by continuing to optimize its pixels fabricated in a relatively mature process.

Canon does have a 0.18 µm generation CIS wafer fab process, featuring a specialized Cu back end of line (BEOL) including light pipes (shown below). It is possible to speculate that Canon may be preparing to refresh its FF CIS line to supply devices for a new FF camera system. Samsung and Panasonic currently use Cu fabs to produce APS-C and micro 4/3 CIS devices. It seems that Canon is destined to do so for APS-C and perhaps ultimately FF. Part III of this series will discuss CMOSIS/STMicroelectronics’ combined effort to produce FF CIS using sub 0.18 µm design rules for the first time.

Aside from the pixel process, there are also design considerations for Canon. Of the Canon DSLRs analyzed, the imaging chip has remained analog, with Analog Devices’ analog front end (AFE) chips handling A/D conversion en route to the Digic-branded ISPs. Perhaps the column-parallel ADCs favored by others can’t be implemented using 0.5 µm design rules, but more likely Canon is satisfied with its system design and performance.  In the spirit of speculation, if Canon does migrate to a more advanced node for fabrication, could the transition coincide with a major overhaul of the CIS and system design?"

Canon does have a 0.18 µm generation CIS wafer fab process, featuring a specialized Cu back end of line (BEOL) including light pipes . It is possible to speculate that Canon may be preparing to refresh its FF CIS line to supply devices for a new FF camera system.

http://www.chipworks.com/blog/technologyblog/2012/10/24/full-frame-dslr-cameras-canon-stays-the-course/
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: risedal on February 24, 2013, 08:24:20 AM
Erik
the sensor from Canon is almost good as from Sony/Toshiba. Canon are little bit after in real QE  with 50% compare to the best Toshiba 65%  Sony 56%.
The problem starts when Canon reads out the signal from the sensor , here Canon have long analog signal path way.And this shows at base iso with high read out noise, pattern noise banding and therefore 11-11,7 stops DR compared to others like Sony with 14 stops and even little more.

To use the latest APS line and make a 24x36mm sensor with the same structure as the 18Mp sensor in 7d  will  be expensive, and time consuming because APS line will be occupied,  Canon has no steppers, lenses to expose a 24x36mm area in one time with smaller geometry as its needs for a new sensor tech as Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic  with for example  column wise ADC on-board the chip. Canon can stitch sensors but also that is time consuming and costly
Canon has neither the whole  assembly in house, the turn themeselves to Fujitsu
Compared to Sony who has 5-7 lines and down to 90nm  (and even smaller) Canon has two older lines
Title: Re: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?
Post by: Fritzer on February 24, 2013, 01:31:38 PM
Hi,

I would choose a good lens with the best sensor over the best lens with a lesser sensor. Why? Because I don't think there is a lot of difference between lenses, at least stopped down to f/8, where I shoot. A sensor with higher resolution will take sharpening better, produce less artifacts.

On the other hand, if I was shooting high ISO, free hand and so on I would try to find a lens that is sharp at maximum aperture and a camera with very good AF.


Very good point .

Sensor first, always ; with film, you always wanted to have good lenses, and that hasn't changed much - but with digital, a decrease in sensor quality and size can't be made up as easily as using a less grainy film .
Also, sharpness and resolution depends a lot more on sensor quality than it ever depended on choice of film .