Quality

I was amused to see Leica announce recently that they would not be issuing any micro four-thirds lenses. In a recent Popsci blog, Leica’s VP marketing is quoted as saying:

“One reason why we’ve decided not to move into Micro Four Thirds is that we have looked at the sensor size and realized that it cannot produce the image quality that we need. Therefore we decided to stick with the full format in addition to APS-C. It’s all about the ratios”

Interesting. Really? So why is Leica selling rebranded Panasonic cameras at the bottom end?

So let’s see what a real micro four thirds Panasonic, my new GF-1 with fixed 20mm lens, can do against the top of the line Canon, the 1Ds Mark III with a prime 50mm lens. Crazy comparison, eh? Who’d be crazy enough to shoot the same object with a highest-end SLR versus a point and shoot?

Me.

I just shot my most patient model in the studio, lit by a couple of Bowens strobes.

  • Both cameras set to manual, 100 ISO, f/9, 1/125th second (as measured with the light meter). One shot focus, focus point on the eye.
  • 1Ds Mark III: 50mm f/1.4 lens on this full-frame 23 Mpixel camera
  • The 12 Mpixel GF1 was fitted with a 20mm f/1.7 lens. Because the sensor is four times smaller than a negative, this is equivalent to 40mm “real” length.

So the shots:

Full shot, Canon:

Canon 1Ds Mark III, 50mm f/1.4 lens

Canon 1Ds Mark III, 50mm f/1.4 lens

Full shot: Panasonic:

Panasonic GF1, 20mm f/1.7 lens

Detail, Canon:

Canon 1Ds Mark III, 50mm f/1.4 lens (detail)

Canon 1Ds Mark III, 50mm f/1.4 lens (detail)

Detail, Panasonic:

Panasonic GF1, 20mm f/1.7 lens (detail)

Panasonic GF1, 20mm f/1.7 lens (detail)

In all cases, click to see a larger picture.

These were RAW images that have been read into Lightroom and edited slightly for white balance and exposure. No sharpening or noise reduction was done.

What does this show me? Yes, I suppose at higher ISOs I’ll see more of a difference, but at these low ISO settings, any megapixel count over ten is “enough”, and the difference in the case of such a controlled shot is minimal.

Certainly, this does not in my opinion warrant the comments by Leica.

While I am not about to hang up my DSLRs, I am impressed by the small camera’s ability to produce professional work.

So to Uncle Fred (and you are not Uncle Fred, or you would not be reading this):

  • It’s not about the equipment;
  • It’s about the picture.

There! Let’s start thinking more about the image than about how we make it.

Snaps

One great thing about having a small, small camera with a great lens and a larger sensor is that you can use it all the time. I don’t often take snapshots, but why not?

Michael Willems, by Michael Willems

Michael Willems, by Michael Willems

Daniel, forgetting to look his almost-sixteen-obligatory-grumpy-self:

Daniel, by Michael Willems

Daniel, by Michael Willems

Sears Oakville. Avoid.

Get good service, tell a few friends; bad service, tell them all. And that is what I am doing here, in an off-topic post.

Executive summary: Avoid Sears Oakville, and in particular their clock and watch department.

I took  my Omega watch in to them a few months ago to have the battery, which had recently finally died after several years, replaced. This is a thin watch and is hard to handle. The last battery was installed there too, but by a watchmaker.

The current manager of the clock department, Nancy Kaye, told me she was not a watchmaker.

That became obvious. She broke my watch. I got it back not working, with the dial turned. She tried again: now completely broken, and the dial dented.

“We have no way of knowing it was working when you brought it in”, she and Sears say. Cost: $350 plus tax. My cost, they say.

So beware, when you bring a perfectly functioning watch (and not a cheap one either) into the clock and watch department at Sears, and they break it, you end up paying, and they wash their hands of it. Implicitly accusing you of lying.

This is not acceptable. My letter to the Better Business Bureau has gone out. Facebook is next. Small claims court too, maybe. Thousands of you now also know that having Sears do anything is taking a huge risk. I assume this will cost them much more than owning up would. I hope so: this kind of running roughshod over the customer is not acceptable.

Hyperfocal what?

What is a “hyperfocal distance”?

In essence, the hyperfocal distance for any given camera, lens and aperture combination is:

“The focus distance you set your lens to for that camera, lens and aperture combination that gives you a focus distance that goes exactly to infinity, no farther”.

You see, if I set my lens to infinity, for instance, I am focusing well beyond infinity, and “wasting” some of my sharp range. By focusing before infinity, I can set the lens just so that the far edge of my “acceptably sharp”area goes exactly to infinity, not more. And now I am not wasting any sharp area.

In the past, on prime lenses we had a focus indication dial, with aperture numbers indicated on the focus ring to help us set the hyperfocal distance. On today’s zooms, this is absent; plus, since a lens can be used on cameras of various sensor sizes, it would not work anyway.

So today you go to DOFMASTER, via this link here, to calculate the distances for your lens/camera/aperture combination.

Nice to know, so you can set your lens to the right distance for manual focusing, for instance. And nice to know just so you get a feeling for what you can achieve in a shot.