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Is micro 4/3 dead?

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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Is micro 4/3 dead?
    Posted: 01 November 2018 at 14:25
Some interesting thoughts about the future of micro 4/3 by Tony Northrup on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjXSnNMZ0PU

Some of Tony’s main points in the first video are that:
(1) micro 4.3rds cameras were introduced because FF sensors were very expensive and smaller sensors made cameras much cheaper. But now sensors are so much cheaper that using an FF sensor no longer makes a camera significantly more expensive. So why bother, particularly if you have limited R&D funds and you’ve just introduced a new FF format.

(2) smaller sensors were said to allow smaller lenses to be made, but that is only true if you keep the numerical aperture the same (F no.). If you insist on the same light-collecting and thin-DOF qualities as the FF camera, then the lens’s optical aperture (entrance pupil) must stay the same, which means the lens diameter at least must stay the same, and in order to fit enough pieces of glass inside, probably the length does too. (I exempt here the older long teles with acres of empty space inside).

(3) If you keep the angle of view the same and also the optical aperture then the sensor collects the same amount of light whatever the sensor size you use, provided that the FL and F no. is altered to suit. FF has no more or worse dynamic range nor noise level than APS-C or micro 4/3 over the whole frame.
Of course the sensor size does affect the relationship between pixel density and Mp size, and for the highest Mp it may well be easier and more effective to get this in a larger sensor. But if we stick with (say) 12Mp for low light use then the sensor size makes no difference provided we can get lenses designed to suit.

This is where the theoretical arguments fall down, of course, since as consumers we need the lenses to be available.

(4) Tony also claims that claims of smaller-sensor compact cameras (including APS-C) are falling through the floor (my phrase), though I’m not convinced they are heading to zero.

So what’s my conclusion?
Tony is essentially right, with reservations. The advantage in small sensor sizes disappears when you demand equal low-light performance and DOF (which the lower end of the enthusiast market never did), and when you want to combine this with high pixel count then bigger sensors (currently) have a practical advantage. So in the current market, the demand for high Mp numbers and the availability of FF lens designs make more sense to make FF cameras with an APS-C option than micro 4/3.
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Jonas A-R View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Jonas A-R Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 14:36
Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:


(3) If you keep the angle of view the same and also the optical aperture then the sensor collects the same amount of light whatever the sensor size you use, provided that the FL and F no. is altered to suit. FF has no more or worse dynamic range nor noise level than APS-C or micro 4/3 over the whole frame.
Of course the sensor size does affect the relationship between pixel density and Mp size, and for the highest Mp it may well be easier and more effective to get this in a larger sensor. But if we stick with (say) 12Mp for low light use then the sensor size makes no difference provided we can get lenses designed to suit.


This is plain wrong. If you expose for the same ISO, FF will provide 4 times as much light energy for the same AoV and aperture and will thus provide a 2 times better signal-to-noise ratio.

That is, if you can use longer exposure times in natural light or can increase the light with strobes, larger formats have inherently better noise performance if everything else is equal.

Pixel size does not play a very big role in noise and dynamic range performance (at the image level). If anything, smaller pixels tend to provide better image level DR contrary to popular www mythology



Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:

So what’s my conclusion?
Tony is essentially right, with reservations. The advantage in small sensor sizes disappears when you demand equal low-light performance and DOF (which the lower end of the enthusiast market never did), and when you want to combine this with high pixel count then bigger sensors (currently) have a practical advantage. So in the current market, the demand for high Mp numbers and the availability of FF lens designs make more sense to make FF cameras with an APS-C option than micro 4/3.


My take is that Olympus looks awfully lonely following the launch of the L-mount alliance

Edited by Jonas A-R - 01 November 2018 at 14:40
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Post Options Post Options   Quote BearairCactus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 15:03
1. MFT is not a sensor size, tony is simply wrong with what he says about sensors being cheaper originally. Four Thirds was introduced specifically with digital photography by Olympus with the E-1! Four Thirds is the sensor size not MFT which is the mount.

It looks like Tony and a few others have decided that MFT is the new whipping boy for click bait champions like him, be interesting to see what Olympus do on the 100th Centenary next year.

Olympus have always taken their own way with much of the industry catching up later!
Live View, mirrorless and tilting/swivelling screens spring to mind!

https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/features/olympus-om-d-e-m1x-what-we-want-to-see-and-what-were-likely-to-get
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sybersitizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 15:26
It's high fashion to proclaim the death of small sensor formats across the board. This was at first being driven by the observation that the average (non-photographer) person no longer buys cameras at all, so low-end compacts are dead. That's probably true ... but high-end enthusiast compacts are alive, especially in the Sony line-up.

Now, in the wake of the recent full frame mirrorless revolution, we're being told there's nothing particularly attractive about 'real' cameras with smaller than full frame sensors either.

Funny ... I keep moving toward smaller instead of larger. Digital full frame was not appealing to me when I tried it, and it still isn't. Not financially and not in terms of results. My APS-C system handles every job I can come up with; its only drawback is that it's not portable enough. When portability matters - and it often does - I'm shooting more and more with 1" and smaller sensor cameras and getting results I like.

I've never even handled an m43 camera, but I'll bet that format is also satisfying users on a daily basis no matter what pundits choose to say.

It's true that small sensor options might be forced out by economic factors alone if companies decide they can't sell enough of them to keep them profitable. I hope that doesn't happen.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote QuietOC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 15:28
Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:


(1) micro 4.3rds cameras were introduced because FF sensors were very expensive and smaller sensors made cameras much cheaper. But now sensors are so much cheaper that using an FF sensor no longer makes a camera significantly more expensive.

A full-frame sensor will always cost considerably more than 2.34x an APS-C one or 4x and Four-Thirds one. What those costs are currently, I don't know.

The Micro Four-Thirds lens system seems more expensive than FE to me, which is enough reason for it be discontinued. It is too bad. I really like the Panasonic bodies. Olympus seems to have some of the best sensors available today.

Edited by QuietOC - 01 November 2018 at 15:38
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Jonas A-R View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Jonas A-R Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 16:24
Originally posted by BearairCactus BearairCactus wrote:

1. MFT is not a sensor size, tony is simply wrong with what he says about sensors being cheaper originally. Four Thirds was introduced specifically with digital photography by Olympus with the E-1! Four Thirds is the sensor size not MFT which is the mount.

Four thirds is the aspect ratio. The size of the sensor was nearly identical to 110 film. Kodak likely thought it made sense to continue with that format in digital. mFT is simply a FT mount positioned closer to the sensor because it was repurposed for mirrorless.
Olympus clerverly marketed it (the original FT) as “made for digital”
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addy landzaat View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote addy landzaat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 16:39
Originally posted by Jonas A-R Jonas A-R wrote:

Four thirds is the aspect ratio.
It is more the sensor size then - which includes the aspect ratio, but not every four thirds aspect ratio is four thirds.

Anyway, here is a curious observation by Thom Hogan. I think he is spot on, m43 needs to find its USP and that is size.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote QuietOC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 16:57
Originally posted by Jonas A-R Jonas A-R wrote:

Originally posted by BearairCactus BearairCactus wrote:

1. MFT is not a sensor size, tony is simply wrong with what he says about sensors being cheaper originally. Four Thirds was introduced specifically with digital photography by Olympus with the E-1! Four Thirds is the sensor size not MFT which is the mount.

Four thirds is the aspect ratio. The size of the sensor was nearly identical to 110 film. Kodak likely thought it made sense to continue with that format in digital. mFT is simply a FT mount positioned closer to the sensor because it was repurposed for mirrorless.
Olympus clerverly marketed it (the original FT) as “made for digital”

Four-Thirds is a size. It is a vacuum tube size. Same with One Inch.

"Four Thirds is a reference to the size of the image sensor. The image sensor for Four Thirds cameras is what is commonly referred to as a 4/3 type or 4/3 type sensor. These describe the type of sensor not the actual size of the light sensitive area, which is normally much smaller

The sensor measures approximately 22.3mm diagonally, not four-thirds of an inch, which would be about 33.87mm. Traditionally, the nominal size of image-sensing devices has been based on a method of calculation that was introduced when vacuum image-sensing tubes were first invented.

At the time, the outer diameter of these early 'vidicon' tubes was used to indicate their size. Unfortunately, this convention has remained despite the many advances in imaging technology that have since been made, and so the designation, "a four-thirds-inch sensor," can be a source of confusion. For this reason, many people now prefer to use the word "type" instead of "inch" when discussing the size of digital image sensors."

Edited by QuietOC - 01 November 2018 at 17:33
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 19:11
Originally posted by Jonas A-R Jonas A-R wrote:

Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:


(3) If you keep the angle of view the same and also the optical aperture then the sensor collects the same amount of light whatever the sensor size you use, provided that the FL and F no. is altered to suit. FF has no more or worse dynamic range nor noise level than APS-C or micro 4/3 over the whole frame.
Of course the sensor size does affect the relationship between pixel density and Mp size, and for the highest Mp it may well be easier and more effective to get this in a larger sensor. But if we stick with (say) 12Mp for low light use then the sensor size makes no difference provided we can get lenses designed to suit.


This is plain wrong. If you expose for the same ISO, FF will provide 4 times as much light energy for the same AoV and aperture and will thus provide a 2 times better signal-to-noise ratio.

That is, if you can use longer exposure times in natural light or can increase the light with strobes, larger formats have inherently better noise performance if everything else is equal.


Sorry, but your analysis is incorrect, and mine is right!
For a given angle of view and a given scene, the amount of light entering the lens (and heading toward the sensor) is determined only by the size of the lens opening - the entrance pupil = optical aperture = Focal length/numerical aperture.

Apart from the fact that the lens opening is circular and the sensor is rectangular, so some light is always lost in the corners, all the light reaches the sensor whatever size the sensor is. If you have a big sensor the light is spread out, if it is a small sensor it is concentrated. But it's the same amount of light.

I agree that if you use the exact same lens for both sensors then clearly a small sensor intercepts less light, but that is not the issue. Tony and I are both discussing a system where the lenses are designed to suit the sensor, and he makes the good point that camera systems with small sensors suffer because they don't have fast enough glass to suit them, not because of the sensor per se.

As Tony points out, much of the confusion occurs because people who should know better keep referring to 'FF' equivalent focal lengths without using 'FF equivalent' apertures.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote BearairCactus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 20:34
Originally posted by addy landzaat addy landzaat wrote:

Originally posted by Jonas A-R Jonas A-R wrote:

Four thirds is the aspect ratio.
It is more the sensor size then - which includes the aspect ratio, but not every four thirds aspect ratio is four thirds.

Anyway, here is a curious observation by Thom Hogan. I think he is spot on, m43 needs to find its USP and that is size.


There are other advantages to a smaller sensor, not least of which is in body stabilisation, the less mass the easier to move, stop and move again. Ironically I would still be using MFT if they made a body big enough for me, not everyone wants small bodies! I would of loved an E30 sized Olympus MFT. Well I would of until I discovered Sony A Mount!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote addy landzaat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 21:12
Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:

Originally posted by Jonas A-R Jonas A-R wrote:

Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:


(3) If you keep the angle of view the same and also the optical aperture then the sensor collects the same amount of light whatever the sensor size you use, provided that the FL and F no. is altered to suit. FF has no more or worse dynamic range nor noise level than APS-C or micro 4/3 over the whole frame.
Of course the sensor size does affect the relationship between pixel density and Mp size, and for the highest Mp it may well be easier and more effective to get this in a larger sensor. But if we stick with (say) 12Mp for low light use then the sensor size makes no difference provided we can get lenses designed to suit.


This is plain wrong. If you expose for the same ISO, FF will provide 4 times as much light energy for the same AoV and aperture and will thus provide a 2 times better signal-to-noise ratio.

That is, if you can use longer exposure times in natural light or can increase the light with strobes, larger formats have inherently better noise performance if everything else is equal.


Sorry, but your analysis is incorrect, and mine is right!
For a given angle of view and a given scene, the amount of light entering the lens (and heading toward the sensor) is determined only by the size of the lens opening - the entrance pupil = optical aperture = Focal length/numerical aperture.

Apart from the fact that the lens opening is circular and the sensor is rectangular, so some light is always lost in the corners, all the light reaches the sensor whatever size the sensor is. If you have a big sensor the light is spread out, if it is a small sensor it is concentrated. But it's the same amount of light.

I agree that if you use the exact same lens for both sensors then clearly a small sensor intercepts less light, but that is not the issue. Tony and I are both discussing a system where the lenses are designed to suit the sensor, and he makes the good point that camera systems with small sensors suffer because they don't have fast enough glass to suit them, not because of the sensor per se.

As Tony points out, much of the confusion occurs because people who should know better keep referring to 'FF' equivalent focal lengths without using 'FF equivalent' apertures.
This is a strawman argument. You are talking about different situations, you are both right. But please, do not talk equivalence, as it always seems to turn out nasty and it is completely irrelevant. I do not take pictures to try to emulate a picture I could have made with a different camera.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Jonas A-R Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 22:12
Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:

Originally posted by Jonas A-R Jonas A-R wrote:

Originally posted by Miranda F Miranda F wrote:


(3) If you keep the angle of view the same and also the optical aperture then the sensor collects the same amount of light whatever the sensor size you use, provided that the FL and F no. is altered to suit. FF has no more or worse dynamic range nor noise level than APS-C or micro 4/3 over the whole frame.
Of course the sensor size does affect the relationship between pixel density and Mp size, and for the highest Mp it may well be easier and more effective to get this in a larger sensor. But if we stick with (say) 12Mp for low light use then the sensor size makes no difference provided we can get lenses designed to suit.


This is plain wrong. If you expose for the same ISO, FF will provide 4 times as much light energy for the same AoV and aperture and will thus provide a 2 times better signal-to-noise ratio.

That is, if you can use longer exposure times in natural light or can increase the light with strobes, larger formats have inherently better noise performance if everything else is equal.


Sorry, but your analysis is incorrect, and mine is right!
For a given angle of view and a given scene, the amount of light entering the lens (and heading toward the sensor) is determined only by the size of the lens opening - the entrance pupil = optical aperture = Focal length/numerical aperture.

Apart from the fact that the lens opening is circular and the sensor is rectangular, so some light is always lost in the corners, all the light reaches the sensor whatever size the sensor is. If you have a big sensor the light is spread out, if it is a small sensor it is concentrated. But it's the same amount of light.

I agree that if you use the exact same lens for both sensors then clearly a small sensor intercepts less light, but that is not the issue. Tony and I are both discussing a system where the lenses are designed to suit the sensor, and he makes the good point that camera systems with small sensors suffer because they don't have fast enough glass to suit them, not because of the sensor per se.

As Tony points out, much of the confusion occurs because people who should know better keep referring to 'FF' equivalent focal lengths without using 'FF equivalent' apertures.


So exposure time does not matter?
You agree that the light is spread out more on the larger sensor (for the same AoV and aperture)? That means that the larger sensor is exposed less under your equivalent conditions, This can be mitigated by increasing the exposure time or increasing the scene brightness (using strobes).

A m4/3 set to f/2, 1/400 and a FF set to f/4 1/100 does not have the same SNR although they have identical apertures. The FF system will have captured 4x the light energy, precisely as I stated above.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sybersitizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 November 2018 at 23:25
Originally posted by Jonas A-R Jonas A-R wrote:

A m4/3 set to f/2, 1/400 and a FF set to f/4 1/100 does not have the same SNR although they have identical apertures. The FF system will have captured 4x the light energy, precisely as I stated above.

That's true if you expose for the same ISO, as you said earlier.

If you instead keep shutter speeds the same and let ISO float as needed, then everything - including motion blur and camera shake - remains equal, right?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote QuietOC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 November 2018 at 01:34
Originally posted by addy landzaat addy landzaat wrote:

But please, do not talk equivalence, as it always seems to turn out nasty and it is completely irrelevant. I do not take pictures to try to emulate a picture I could have made with a different camera.

A photographer doesn't have to know anything about equivalence to make the images they want. Do you adjust the depth-of-field of your images? Or do you just use auto exposure?

See, I mainly use Aperture priority since I like controlling depth-of-field directly. I am not always using lenses wide-open. I understand depth-of-field is always a trade-off with image noise and exposure time. That is a trade-off that works exactly the same on all formats.

F-numbers and focal lengths don't shape images exactly the same on different formats. The effects of both on images scale with crop length whether you understand the math and physics or don't.

A photographer who actively chooses how their images look will unconsciously choose equivalent settings on different cameras.



Edited by QuietOC - 02 November 2018 at 02:20
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