OpEd: resolution, output, collector or photographer?

5dsr em5ii

The Internets have been alive with the noises of high resolution (if that isn’t a messed up metaphor, I’m not sure what is) cameras. “Finally, my photos will be better!” Let’s pause for a moment here. There are a lot of assumptions being made, and a lot which is not obvious. And I’m writing this article to address the flood of email I’ve been getting asking for an opinion.

Let’s clear up a few things first:

  1. It’s pretty meaningless to pass judgement on a camera that you have not used, and moreover not used to produce any meaningful images. ‘Meaningful images’ is important because if not, then is it the driver or the hardware that’s at fault?
  2. It’s even more meaningless to shoot some mediocre snapshots and then make a sweeping statement of the ‘best since sliced bread’ kind.
  3. I was not invited to either launch, internationally or locally, so I haven’t had the opportunity to even handle the cameras physically, much less use them. Apparently, camera companies* only like photographers who are willing to overlook any and all flaws to give a perfect score. Objectivity be damned!
  4. How is more resolution going to improve your images?

*I was recently told specifically not to review a product unless I was going to give it a perfect score. Worse still, the person in question did it by proxy. Needless to say, I have chosen to vote with my wallet.

I think the first two points are pretty obvious. Question #3 is the stickiest of the lot. Before we even think about the entire workflow chain and the translation of an abstract idea into visual output – which is the point of photography – we need to ask what is it that you are missing with your current setup. Every single person who has written to me has either explicitly expressed or implied the mistaken belief that more pixels or a different camera will magically improve their photographs, and should they therefore buy one?

Step back a moment: an image exists independently of the hardware. You can make an image with any hardware; a great composition is still going to be a great composition on an iPhone or a medium format digital back. Of course, one may suit the purpose/concept/idea of the image better than the other – but in the first place, you have to be conscious of both what that purpose/concept/idea is, and how the hardware is going to be an enabler rather than at best indifferent. Some subjects do not benefit from more resolution because they do not have the detail to begin with – clouds, for instance. Some subjects do – say, Forests.

Assuming we have a subject or idea that benefits from the increase in resolution, how are you going to deploy it? The highest resolution display now – a 5K iMac – will only show about 14M pixels at any one time. Unless you’re Ultraprinting, 50MP is about 30″ on the long side at 300PPI: do you even have space to display more than a few of those? Output matters: and if the output medium can’t keep up with the input (in most cases, it can’t) then you’re simply wasting money.

Notice we have not even talked about resolving power, optics, shot discipline, postprocessing and the whole topic of workflow. Yes, the lenses in native mounts might exist, but can they keep up with the demands of the sensor? If they can’t, then you might as well not bother upgrading the body. Can you focus them adequately? Are you making sure that something else isn’t robbing you of the resolution you’ve paid extra for, like camera shake or noise or subject motion? I’m sure it’s now starting to become obvious that having the resolution potential is one thing; actually deploying it in a meaningful way – both at capture and output stages – is quite another.

But it doesn’t matter, because the camera companies just want to sell cameras, and the popular aspiration has now become the blogger rather than the real photographer. Real photographers are not good for marketing because they can make any piece of equipment shine and only care about the image, not the tool; bloggers are willing to evangelise for pay. In any case, it seems there are very few of the former remaining anyway. I can understand the need to shift units and survive to fight another day – so, each to their own. But the notion that hardware makes you better and it’s easy to be a photographer has never been further from the truth – it’s harder than ever because the opportunities are fewer and barriers to entry are lower. And just like cars being faster, cameras may have more potential, but you can’t drive an F1 car on the road. And even under ideal circumstances, most people will stall it before leaving the garage. The higher performance a tool, the more education it requires to operate it and extract its potential. I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed they’re not seeing as much gain as expected after shooting with this duo; it already happened with the first wave of D800 adopters.

I have no doubt that both E-M5 II and 5DSR are going to sell like hotcakes. They do appear to be genuinely interesting, but for specific reasons: we’ve been using the E-M5 and E-M1 for video long before it was popular. Nothing else that small lets you shoot handheld and execute movements without jitter. The variable frame rates and higher data rate on the E-M5 II should result in some genuine output improvements, not to mention solving the flicker issue we have indoors with 30P/60P and our 50Hz power supplies here. I don’t see the 8-shot 40MP mode being that useful in practice because it’s effectively got the same limitations as stitching – and if I’m going to stitch, I might as well use the D810 (or 5DSR). 8 shots from either of those cameras gets you well beyond the 40MP mark. The 5DSR pushes the resolution envelope even further, and I can actually use that for printing. I can even use it with my existing lenses that have a hope of resolving 50MP, since they’re all fully manual anyway. But, it’s still important to remember that not all pixels are created equal.

Before anybody asks if I’ll be reviewing, the answer is I’m definitely interested because I can actually see how the changes would be deployed in practical application to give a tangible improvement rather than just ‘more pixels’. However, it’s only going to happen if the local Malaysian principals supply review units. I can’t afford to buy hardware for a review, and getting stuff in on loan from B&H has now become expensive – our customs officers are taxing me on everything that comes in even if it goes back out again. All in all, it’s quite disappointing how few camera companies actually seed equipment to people who can actually use it.

Edit: emphasis above added because people seem to be missing the point. I’m still getting messages and emails asking when I’m going to review these cameras. Please read the bits in bold again.

So, here’s my conclusion: both of these cameras are a Good Thing. They are really catering to a niche, and those of us who have specific requirements that can deploy the improvements can be excited. But I’m hoping that there’ll really be another side effect: those with upgradeitis will open their wallets, be disappointed, discover that the weak link in the chain is still the photographer – and hopefully discover education – OR, they give up and let the rest of us get on with the business of making images. The world only needs so many poor images of cats, and even less at silly file sizes. If you get the impression I’m annoyed, you’d be right. Cameras were for making images, not bragging rights, not winning forum pissing contests. I suppose I must be missing something.

Before you whip out the Visa, ask yourself this: 1) what will the new gear solve that is limitation of my current gear? 2) what new limitations does it introduce? 3) can I actually deploy all of the gains? If the answer to all of those questions is uncertain, then how about this: are you a photographer or a camera collector? MT


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  1. Excellent and to the point !

  2. Earl S. Garber says:

    I’m doing a personal review of the JK Kodak S-1 micro four thirds camera, since nobody else seems to be taking it seriously. Do you have any suggestions for what to concentrate on? I’m a Kodak collector, but I have an E-PL5 for comparison and will not play favorites.

  3. I’m very happy that finally we have uncovered a bad person like Steve, undoubtly all of the readers of this and some other blogs that are seemingly unable to share nice and meaningful photos are so because they bought faulty equipment, bad advised by that evil genius… “He wanted me to buy an E-M1, but that camera is plagued by shutter shock thus completely unusable by anyone! Shees, I’ve just spared 1400$!!!” BTW, this is NOT aimed to Ming, he clearly explained in what EXACT situations the problem arises, and that situations are a common occurence in HIS workflow, so for his job that camera is a no-no. But I think more simple minded people like to paint the world with broader strokes. It is simpler, after all… 🙂

  4. Nice article, agree with many parts.

    But asking how resolution improves your photography smells kind of fishy between all those ultraprint offers from the 645Z and D810…

    • It doesn’t improve your compositions. But if you can deploy all of the resolution at capture and print – I’m not say it’s impossible, I’m saying having seen files from hundreds of people, it’s rare – it will let you go larger. And I’m also pretty sure few people have access to the print capabilities I do. There is a visible difference which everybody who has seen the prints agrees to; making judgements of fishiness is rather premature.

  5. Ricardo Hernandez says:

    One of the best articles I have seen you write here. I can’t deny to you at one time I wondered if you were also “encouraged” to give m/43rds the review you were doing to some degree – since you know- it’s the internet and what you pointed out is going on.

    Anyhow, totally agree virtually with all you said.

    • Thanks. But no, I wasn’t encouraged; my priorities were simply different at the time and the E-M5 didn’t have shutter vibration problems – nor did the first preproduction E-M1 I used. The final units were a different matter, however. We worked with Olympus to identify and find a solution to the problem, but apparently somebody locally decided that I was too much potential trouble and cut me out. Oh well, that’s what you get for helping…

      • Ricardo Hernandez says:

        Amazing. Truly.

        And Robin Wong seemed surprised why I got upset when I read his advertorial on the 4/3rds E-5 back then. To his credit now, at least he puts clear disclaimers now, but I really hate a disservice by lack of objectivity either by being paid or because someone thinks their photography goes with a brand and their brand is the best or “the solution” for everything.

        By the way – interesting you mention that the units you tried did not have the shutter shock problem. In the PC video card industry, at least when there was the super heated ATI/Nvidia wars back then, it was pretty common that one or the other company would send a reviewer a “hot card”- i.e. a video card that had been built to high tolerance spec so it would show a wide range in over clocking even if it was not quite representative of the average item the end consumer would buy in a store.

        This is why Consumer Reports in the USA accepts no paid hotel trips, no free equipment, etc. It’s all a conflict of interest. Even if the reviewers mean well, the psychology comes into play.

        Thanks for being true to yourself.

        • David Jones says:

          “In the PC video card industry, at least when there was the super heated ATI/Nvidia wars back then, it was pretty common that one or the other company would send a reviewer a “hot card”- i.e. a video card that had been built to high tolerance spec so it would show a wide range in over clocking even if it was not quite representative of the average item the end consumer would buy in a store.”

          As a former ATI graphics and multimedia product manager (I created the ATI All-in-Wonder Series back in the day), I was never aware of a single instance of a “hot card” being sent to reviewers. Tweaked drivers, yes — but every single graphics card sent out to reviewers was off the assembly line and almost always packaged as retail gift-boxed product.

          • Don’t take offence, everytime someone reads an opinion not in line to his “estabilished final thruth”, he thinks that the other is a sellout or an easily deceived dupe…

            • No offense taken. However, that claim of ATI – or other graphics vendors – frequently sending reviewers “hot cards” is repeated so often that even the skeptical believe it. Truth is, nobody had the time or spare resources to fool with that sort of thing, and almost no reviewer was worth the effort or the risk.

      • As much as I admire their products, I think somebody at Olympus has to be delusional. As of February 16 they’re emailing registered owners special “sale” offers which price reconditioned E-M5s at $624.99 — that’s $25 higher than a new E-M5 from Amazon, B&H, Adorama or even the Olympus website!

        • Their prices are not consistent internationally at all; following the E-M1 launch we found the local store prices in Japan to be as much as 25-30% lower than Malaysia…and we’re usually amongst the cheapest in the world (no tax at the time).

  6. Well said Ming…

  7. Stephen Scharf says:

    This is one of the best, most insightful, accurate, and informed posts I’ve read about this subject (more megapixels, more megapixels, pushed even by the press and those other photography web sites) in a looong time.

    Thank you.

    PS More megapixels in the Canon 5DS and SR is not going to recover their tanking camera sales. Incrementalism is not a substitute for true innovation.


  8. First time visitor to this site. I liked and agree with your article… there may be use for some folks but not everyone just because it has more pixels. I see that with my Nikon D7100 (after upgrading from an entry-level DSLR after 7 years). For me the benefit was more from three-stop improvement in ISO than the 140% increase in resolution.
    I am interested in your comment “I can even use it with my existing lenses that have a hope of resolving 50MP” because 24MP on a DX sensor has the same pixel density as 50MP on a FF.
    Which Nikon and Canon lenses do you consider to have the power to resolve 50MP+? If you have already published another article on that subject, just point me to it.
    Thanks for your reviews.

  9. Clearly, we’ve all been reliant on (or spoiled by) Ming’s exacting, unbiased reviews which concern themselves with making better images, not technological advances for the sake of themselves. Sadly, I don’t think there’s another good source for this. We’re all left parsing press releases, trying to read between the lines. DXO and DPR work for technical reference, but I don’t know of another source which evaluates for haptics and, well, making images.

    The question is whether or not there’s a business model or other incentive which can fuel this resource. Ming looked into reader funding and found it lacking. Clearly affiliate links isn’t the model here.

    To me this feels like a problem which could be solved with a community. Ming doesn’t have the time or model to review everything one would like, but the comments here tend towards an educated discussion when posts like this appear. I for one would be very happy with long-term assessments from many who write here. We may not have the consistency of Ming individually, but at this point I’d wager the potential here is better than what exists anywhere else currently.

    Said community would have to be invite only, or have some sort of editorial oversight. And this wouldn’t be a resource for brand new gear. Rather, it would focus tools which have produced images. One could even tie author profiles to the Flickr API, pulling in images taken with the camera, allowing the reader to determine if a) said author seems qualified for this type of assessment and b) their images are similar to the ones the reader generally makes.

    In it’s early days, Kevin Kelly achieved something like this more generally with Cool Tools, http://kk.org/cooltools/, which sadly has evolved into yet-another-gadget-blog as of late.

    For the few pieces of equipment I own and use day to day, I’d gladly answer questions or expound on how it fits (or doesn’t fit) my workflow or the images I try to make. I’d imagine others would as well, increasing the information available.

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      If such a community gets started,
      it could accept reader donations or memberships.
      Suppose a community member gets interested in gear that is available for rent.
      If the readership shows enough interest this could pay for renting costs in exhange for a review up to community standards.
      ( Just an idea..)

      ( Re. DXO and DPR, let me mention also Optyczne.pl and their english lens info Lenstip.com )

      • Renting costs are one thing. But I suppose my time still has to be free…if I spend most of it reviewing stuff and not doing paid work, then honestly, it doesn’t make any sense to continue at all.

        • Maybe I didn’t make myself clear.

          This is not the ideal, which would be Ming reviews all things. Clearly, that model doesn’t work because the subscription funding may not be there and Ming’s time is worth more than that group is willing to bear. Let’s take that off the table.

          And this isn’t about renting, really. This is about detailed reviews about how equipment helps make images written by people who use the equipment regularly. Renting means testing, not using, though I’m sure there are exceptions.

          So the idea is more similar to peer review process, editorial oversight or invite only publishing. Leveraging the knowledge of the community here. Perhaps there’s a model thats sustainable where Ming isn’t a writer, but an editor.

          • I honestly don’t see that working, either – if the reason people are here is because of my experience and ability to apply that experience, being an editor isn’t going to have the same results at all.

    • Unfortunately, I think the answer might be a subscription model. It doesn’t work economically otherwise, especially given the higher level of support that would make sense (e.g. Q&A on related topics) and also acts as a handy troll filter. The question is, are there enough people willing to pay to make it work? I’m inclined to say no based on previous responses, but perhaps I am underestimating.

      • Gerner Christensen says:

        Ming you know we are quite some who would do anything to let this blog live. What is brought up here and discussed I feel is taking place in my own living room. I is my daily lubrication of my photographic process and It has become a part of my life.

        It’s difficult in forehand to predict how many of us would subscribe. A poll might neither indicate reality? But would it seem too risky to give it a year to see?

        • You’re right, polls have no indication of reality whatsoever. We’ve been running for three years now. I think that’s probably enough time to see that the current model is really not sustainable in the long run, and the quality of participation on average has just gone down. It takes me longer to deal with the outflow, more hassle to create content – especially reviews, which seem to be the only thing that drives traffic, and honestly..the mental return/ satisfaction of work is no longer there. I am therefore questioning with increasing frequency why I am doing this because I seem to be the only one not benefitting from it. For the amount of work I put in, and without the satisfaction, I would really be better off going back to a desk job. At least I would be paid for the majority of my work!

  10. Great article.

    Don’t understand why people want to brag about their equipment and put down others. Maybe they should brag about their photos.

    I still love using my m43 tools. Good enough for me for my purpose. Sufficiency as you had said it previously. I will be upgrading to the new OMD for the faster shutter speed and electronic shutter. Probably won’t use the hi-res mode. The upgraded IBIS and Video features are bonuses for me.

    When will I see you in HK again?

    • Derrick, you hit the nail on the head in one: people brag about gear because they have nothing else worth saying/showing.

      HK: I suppose it depends on how the exhibition plans are coming along and if there are any new projects to photograph? 🙂

  11. Pritam Singh says:

    Hello Ming. I drop by here from time to time for a decent read and have nearly never been disappointed by your words or photographs. This thread seems to have attracted many responses from your readers on myriad aspects, photography- and/or ethics-related and more. Of the comments that I’ve read, I particularly enjoyed the one with the word ‘sensor’ used to mean ‘censor’. It’s a sign of how deeply steeped in digital photography some of your readers are!

    Your article begins “The Internets have been alive… ”

    I’ve not seen the plural (of ‘the internet’) used quite so deliberately in this fashion and find it intriguing. Is there something I’m missing? Something new?

    Ignore this if you think it’s just nitpicking.

    It is a general bane to see that the importance of grammar is certainly on the wane. (Wow! Unintended rhyme)

    • “The Internets have been alive… ”

      It’s deliberate sarcasm. Since you’ve read the rest of my work, you’re probable aware I’m a stickler for proper grammar – and if something is out of order, there’s a reason.

  12. 280 comments. Set up an ifund account. We donate $5 each x 280 = $1,400…enough for Ming to rent both (or buy the E-M5II and a 45 1,8). Done and done…

    • The funny thing is such a poll didn’t work previously. In fact, I got so much negative flak off it offline, I wondered if I should keep going at all.

      There is a bigger question with the EM5II, though: should I continue to help a company that have decided to be difficult because they object to objectivity?

      • Being difficult to “you” and objecting to “your” objectivity shouldn’t be enough of a reason to “blacklist” a camera as solid as the E-M5MKII IMHO, surely you have thicker skin than that Ming. I can’t know the exact circumstances, obviously, but having pieced the rift together from your article and subsequent comment section, the whole thing seems a bit overblown. I don’t necessarily disagree with how you feel or agree with their handling of the situation, but it seems more personal than productive. I’m a MT fan and I wouldn’t want you to change a thing here, but if I were a product manager or heading up sales, I would take my chances in the market without you. If I were a powerful figure of the same organization, I would seek your input very early in the R&D process. In other words, your particular style is much more suited to the front end, rather than the back end of the cycle. If you are really interested in having things change relative to this type of situation e.g. review cams sent to you as a priority rather than an after thought, then you will need to find a way to make yourself more desirable to certain manufacturers (without compromising your ethics of course)…which will be difficult, but not impossible. If not, I’m certain that all the parties will ok 😉

        • Scott, it’s very simple. I’m not buying one because I don’t need it. I’m not going to buy one to review. I can get a loaner from outside the country but would have to pay for that because of import duties. Nobody locally is going to supply one. So, basically, I have to pay to write a review and receive abuse from trolls and maltreatment from the company in order to help them sell more products? Sorry, that’s just stupid. They have already decided they don’t need me because they have people willing to shill for them – I wish them luck. It has been made plenty clear that the local entity has no ethics based on what they have told me. It is not possible for me to bypass them without a lot of effort and cost on my part, and since there is no benefit to me in any way, why do it?

          • Hmm…it feels like this conversation has us traveling in different directions, which is fine, I certainly respect your decision. That said; I disagree with your assertion that there is no benefit to you in any way. For example; I found your site in 2012-13 or there abouts, while searching for reviews on a certain premium camera (similar in quality and reputation to the E-M5MKII). Since then, I have progressed from a pixel peeping, self-proclaimed gear-head, to someone who appreciates photography for what it is, an art form. I also take my photography education much more seriously than I ever did. I owe a great deal of my maturation to your site. Let’s assume for the sake of this argument that I’m not alone and that you have converted many of whom now return to your site for the reasons you prefer….thus the benefit of putting up with all of the hassles that come with gear reviews. Clearly though, this time you feel sufficiently wronged and I fear no amount of silver lining objections will provide the satisfaction you need in order to acquiesce. ..not even G.A.S 🙂

            • Scott,
              It’s wonderful that you have learned to appreciate photography as an art form and matured as a photographer by reading Ming’s site. The only way your progress truly has benefit to Ming is if you purchase his lessons, take his classes, buy his prints or at a minimum order your equipment through links on his site.
              The bottom line is that unless you, and me, support Ming’s work in a meaningful way then how can we expect him to spend hours reviewing equipment, writing reviews, receiving abuse from Trolls, and paying related taxes and fees?

              • I suppose it’s because I work and live in Asia, and everything is cheap or free here so a $5 donation per review is enough to cover the four days it takes to write it, the 10% import fees, rental, electricity etc. 🙂

            • That’s great. It’s clear judging by the number if ‘Is’ in your statement that you’ve gotten plenty out value of this, which is great. I’m sure plenty of people are in the same boat. But I cannot survive on good feelings alone, especially when it’s not just limiting my time to do revenue generating work that lets me do free work like this, but also costs me money on top of it and delivers an inordinate amount of headaches and trolls.

  13. The Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R will be the first DSLRs that exceed the resolution of my 42 MP cell phone (Lumia 1020). 🙂

  14. I had been shooting film, and came to digital late, with a big gap of time when I just shot work subjects on copy stands and through microscopes. I bought a Canon 60D APS-C camera (18 MP), and think that it is pretty amazing, particularly when I look at my beloved all-manual 135 format film SLR camera, Mamiya-Sekor DTL 1000. I did get a 6D full frame camera (20 MP) when I started doing a fair amount of night-time shooting, it does have about two stops improvement in noise compared to the 60D, plus the replaceable focus screen for better manual focusing. More pixels? Meh. I am still having fun using some of my best old M42 mount lenses (and my father’s AIS Nikkors). Those lenses are still pretty decent, if not at the same level re: aberration correction as modern computer-designed lenses. Hint: I live in a small flat and see no reason to print larger than 16 x 20″ for my own use. It does surprise me to see landscape photographers not use tripods and remote releases/ delay timers. The image quality / cost ratio is more favorable for a decent tripod and head that one likes to use (doesn’t sit in the closet) than for another 20 or 30 MP with the new 50 MP Canon camera.

    I don’t want to read a review of a camera by someone who isn’t serious about using it. So I don’t mind at all that you have no plans to review a camera for which you have no current use. I will stop by Roger Cicala’s blog to see what comments he makes about various cameras and lenses, because he has a large sample number of each item due to his rental business. If nothing else, you get an idea about sample variation and failure issues of various cameras and lenses. I am having a G.A.S. attack over the new Canon action-oriented APS-C DSLR, the 7D2, if only for the jump from 9 not-very-sophisticated AF points to a modern AF system for my bird photography. Hey, it’s like hunting, without the mess and without having to gut, pluck, and cook the duck.

    • Kristian Wannebo says:

      Re: Roger Cicala’s blog
      Thanks for the tip, I had a quick look and will certainly add it to my (short) reading list!

  15. You had me a long time ago with “Where are you going to hang a print greater than 11×14 inches or 12×18 inches, plus the added matt and frame? The sweet spot 16-24MP sensors we already have are more than adequate for that, and they also allow for ample cropping without loss down to a 5×7 inch web or book print size. Like most of use, I have more than adequate equipment now. Great Olympus m4/3 lenses that will clearly outlast the camera into several new generations of sensors. What’s needed is not MP size improvements, but improvement of the quality that emerges from the sensor. The nice 16MP sensor in the GR, for example, that is used in so many cameras is a good example. Why the convergence towards that sensor; cannot just be the 16MP alone.

    So, the GAS is rapidly declining and with it, I suppose, sales as well. The other problem is that the current equipment doesn’t want to “break” anytime soon, so it’s not giving us any excuses to upgrade either. I’d love to buy a better monitor–don’t we spend as much or more time looking at our monitors than through the viewfinders? But it just won’t break down! Where is planned obselescence when you need it. Despite this drop in incentive to upgrade, we all still like to read the reviews of new equipment, especially when the reviewer can take nice images with the equipment. And that’s why we want your reviews. I completely dismiss any blogger’s reviews who are incapable of taking a good photo him/herself. dpreview’s images are useless for evaluating a camera or lens.

    Have you ever tried asking your local custom’s officials for an exception to the import tax from B&H until proof of re-export can be shown within a certain time period. In the old days, they used to put the serial number of your camera or laptop in your passport to make sure you brought it out again, otherwise you had to pay the import duty. There must be a way to do this with B&H mailed imports. Keep up the honest reviews. We really are starting to ignore the other ones.

    • It breaks down when you least expect it to, and works perfectly whenever you think about an upgrade 🙂

      Let’s not even bother with customs here. They are only interested in taking bribes to line their own pockets. For a small ‘processing fee’, they are willing to waive import duties. I’m not going to encourage that. It’s disgusting and unethical.

  16. Long time viewer, first time poster here– I can empathize with your situation Ming. You’re staying within your integrity while other sites have crossed the line into promotion. This decision makes you a reviewer that people trust, yet they won’t pay for reviews. And while it seems like a losing proposition, I just encourage you to think long term. I’m far more likely to use your link for a camera you don’t review than a site that promotes, because I value your integrity. As for the companies who are buying off reviewers, it’s not a good look.

    • It is a losing battle, Austin. There is no long term game here. If everybody has gone to promotion, nobody is going to say anything about buying off reviewers because then the gravy train stops. And you must be in a very small minority if my referral fees are anything to go by. Certainly not enough to justify spending several days of time on each review; not even several hours, to be honest.

  17. It’s the old question: which will bring you the greater photographic dividend: a new camera or an air ticket plus a few hotel nights?

  18. Golly – More comments than I can read, but here’s my two cents worth. I’ll think about getting a 50 MP camera only after Adobe fixes Photoshop to run much faster, and Apple releases a MacBook Pro that will take double the amount of memory and utilizes a processor that is twice is fast. Otherwise, all I’ll see is rotating beach balls.

    • Hmm…I’ve been dealing with files of this size and upwards for the last year or so on a 2012 Mac Mini (which has the same processor as the older MBPs), and really only run into problems when I go above the 500MP or so level; I wonder if the latest versions of OSX are the culprit – still running 10.8 here quite happily.

  19. As someone who has been looking to upgrade to a more responsive camera, I for one appreciate the demand the marketing departments have been ginning up.

    See, I’ll be picking up a used E-M5 for under $400 from one of those upgrading.

  20. I was so much happier using my Hasselblad and 3 lenses for 10 years, All I considered was should i shoot EPP or RDP..Obsessing about cameras and lenses becomes almost like an addiction. At least on this site one can appreciate a level of intelligence and integrity sadly missing on most other blogs and web based caverns of emptiness. You know what they say about empty vessels? Craving for cameras is mostly an excuse for not producing satisfying photographs, and unsatisfying “images” are the ones that never get off the computer. If folk spent more money on printing their pictures and less on upgrading, they would be an awful lot happier. My most treasured pictures are those I took years ago on my Nikon FM and I’ve shot thousands since, I’m convinced one cannot ever get true picture satisfaction until it becomes a print. Now, apart from my work cameras which have to be digital, I shoot on my Mamiya RZ on Portra 400 rated at 200, get a set of contacts, hand print those chosen, then drum scan the 16X12, moderately retouch for colour and skin blemishes and digitally print the finish. It’s a long and pretty expensive route, but hugely satisfying. As for the likes of Steve Huff, he’s making a living, which is what we’re all trying to do, but would you buy a car as recommended by a guy who can’t drive?

    • Hear hear on printing. That’s the missing link at the moment: plenty on the capture side, less on postprocessing, almost nothing on output, and even less still on education. It really saddens and annoys me when people deride anything print-related without ever having seen a print; how can you judge output based on a web jpeg? That’s under 1% of the information in the whole file. To extend your “would you buy a car as recommended by a guy who can’t drive?” analogy, it’s like buying a car after only looking at half a door panel. Illogical madness.

      *On the car review note, Chris Harris’ videos are really, really excellent.

  21. Wow, lots of comments. I do agree with the gist of your post, though I have slightly differing views of some technical points;

    – Given that the 5DRS has, according to reports, similar dynamic range as the 5D3 and lacks video I see it as less universal than the Nikon D810. In particular the high dynamic range of the Nikons is very useful in real-life scenes, while 50 mpix is not in practice that big of a resolution improvement over 36 Mpix. I’m sure Canon users will contest my view 🙂

    – I wouldn’t think of the sensor shift technology of the Olympus as the same as stitching for practical purposes. The shift would be very useful for product photography and produce really smooth and detailed pictures in the studio with minimum hassle. In the field the applicability would depend heavily on the subject. Stitching, OTOH, permits wider angles of view and higher resolution, but would typically be slower and requires more hardware if done on a tripod. Stitching can be done without a tripod, something sensor shift wouldn’t do.

    – I checked out some video stills on DPReview and it seems that while the bitrate increased on the Olympus, the video encoding did not similarly improve and the results are mediocre compared to what the competition does.

    To sum it up, I feel that both cameras are more evolutionary rather than revolutionary despite the impressive spec sheets. The Canon is really a niche camera, while the Olympus is the universal one. I’m completely ok with you not reviewing these; your rationale is completely sound and previous testing time should really be spent on equipment you plan to use yourself or offers something so radically new that you need to try it out and see if it fits. Spend time where your personal priorities are.

    • I’d still like to see a MT review of the Olympus. A change of heart was had with the D750 so I guess theirs always hope 😉

      • Only if Olympus sends me one. I’ve had a neutral relationship with Nikon from the start, so nothing changed there. But the attitude I’m getting from the principals here is really off-putting.

        • Sadly, this may lead said principals to think they have colored your judgement, thus no review unit, ad infinitum = vicious circle.

          • Well, they obviously have…in any case, they have themselves judged that they’d rather not take any risks of any sort of negativity or objectivity. But who knows if they’ve read this far, or at all, anyway?

        • Ps, for the record I read your review on the original E-M5, and ended up buying. You should have had a click-buy link in there Ming !


    • good points.
      i would add that if you are currently a nikon D810/800/800e shooter w multiple lenses on hand who likes sizable prints (like myself) the new Canons will not give any real reason to switch over. when i went from 12MP to 36MP (triple the resolution) the improvement at output was obvious. shooting from a tripod at ISO 64 is a beautiful thing.
      36MP to 50MP is a much less dramatic shift, especially if you loose some dynamic range.
      however if you are a canon shooter with lots of canon glass already and like to print very big i can clearly see the (potential) appeal (if the camera is well implemented and you take care with your shooting technique at base ISO, tripod, etc etc).
      22MP to 50MP is a serious improvement IF you are printing 3-4 feet across at max possible quality from a single exposure. very visible.
      IF however you rarely if ever print over 20″ across and most of the images simply live on the hard drive/internet and/or small prints for family/friends (a vast number of users)….50MP seems like an utter waste of money (to upgrade) and HD space/processing time even if it functions perfectly.

    • 1. No video? That’s a surprise, I thought it just didn’t have 4K. 50 is definitely better than 36 but only if the pixel quality is also the same or better – the 645Z, for instance, has slightly better dynamic range and comparable acuity, which makes the net gain quite visible. But what I’m seeing out of the 5DSR (and perhaps the samples were not well shot or processed) suggest that whilst acuity might get close with the right lenses, dynamic range still lags. And it doesn’t seem to handle highlights the way the D810 does – i.e. a very smooth rolloff to overexposure. In fact, I’m not aware of any other digital cameras that can match it in that area. That said: could I actually deploy more resolution? Yes. Having already done so in the past, would I switch/add another system for the 36-50 gain? Probably not.

      Stitching can also be done in reverse: use a narrower lens for the same FOV to increase resolution. I usually decide FOV first, resolution next, and then figure out what FL I need from that. Not the other way around.

      I saw the same thing on other EM5II video samples too: bigger files, but not more information. Shame.

      • I see I had a small typo in my original comment 🙂 The 5DS has video, but only 1080/30p, no headphone jacks and no clean HDMI out, which I think is pretty poor in 2015. Who knows what other things they left out and consider that getting good high ISO video from a 50 Mpix sensor would require some serious processing, I’m pretty sure this won’t be the camera for video.

        It’s true that if everything else was equal and given the choice to have 50 Mpix compared to 36 the former wins if the work ones does makes use of high resolution. But definitely not enough for a system change and even if one was choosing a system to buy, the features of the D810 are in my mind more well-rounded.

        I agree that one can use stitching for superresolution, I used to do that more often when sensors had less resolution. I was attempting to highlight the differences in application between sensor shift and stitching. I would love the idea of sensor shift since the equipment could be very lightweight, no panorama brackets to carry, but I also see it as a very specialized technique and stitching to be more flexible. If the shift would incur only modest extra price, I would be interested.

  22. Michael Reed says:

    for the sensor shift images from the EM52 is not so much about the MPs, but the cleaner color fidelity by getting around the bayer filter limitations. Its a niche which may be very useful for product photos. Initial images definitly show an advantage in this area vs higher native MP cameras. the biggest gains for the .2 over the previous version is in the area of video and somewhat better image stabilization. for many, the improved video capabilities with image stabilization would be enough to buy/upgrade

    • You could oversample/stitch from a higher MP camera and land up with similar or better; I already do that routinely for that very reason.

      Improved video bitrates/choice of frame rates is definitely helpful. Early samples don’t seem to show as much improvement in actual visual quality as the numbers would suggest, though.

      • Michael Reed says:

        Olympus sensor shift basically moves a pixel so it is exposed to r, g, and b. then does a half pixel shift for a result that has greater color fidelity and so far in sample images 0 moire (without using a foveon type sensor). All with one click of the shutter button. Oversample/stitch is again (like a bayer filter) interpolating (not recording) what the color is at each pixel.

        Only one other camera on the market even comes close to possibly having this capability (sensor shift): Sony A7II. Can Sony duplicate Olympus with a firmware update! Just think what a Sony higher MP/dynamic range sensor could acheive

        This is definitly a niche, not a mainstream capability with the restrictions needed to make this work. But for what it can do, results so far are impressive. Kudos for Olympus innovation.

        As I mentioned earlier, the Video improvments with image stabilization are the number 1 reason to buy/upgrade to this camera.

  23. david mantripp says:

    When I saw the E-5ii feature list, I just thought “hallelujah”… Why? Because finally Olympus have reintroduced the swivel screen that allowed me vast viewpoint flexibilty with the E-3 / E-5. That kept me from buying any OM-D so far. Pity they didn’t put it on the E-M1 though. The hi-res thing? Guess I’ll try it, but actually the hint that it gives a Foveon-like rendering interests me more than the resolution. I have no earthly need for more than 16Mpix.

    • It’s far more useful for vertical low angle shots than most people think. I’m always a bit worried about accidentally snapping those types of screens at the single hinge point, though.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Why don’t we all ask for that!

        – – –

        I’ve often wondered why they don’t use this simple geometry for an articulating screen:

        A vertical hinge on the camera plus a horizontal hinge on the screen (or vice versa) connected with a metal “L”.
        A little less flexible maybe but more rugged.
        Electrical connection wouldn’t be a greater problem.

        ( I thought WiFi plus a smartphone would be an alternative, but some reports mention delays in updating the connected screen… Sigh.)

        • Smartphone apps don’t seem to work that well for refresh rates/lag and high resolution – there’s a lot of data to be streaming wirelessly, and the connection bandwidth isn’t always guaranteed.

        • Well, with the metal “L” concept you wouldn’t be able to pivot the screen down for high-angle shots. The A99 hinge is probably one of the most versatile, but it’s ungodly complicated (requiring 3 sets of hinges and an intermediate plate…).

          • Maybe it just needs to be on a flexible/posable arm of some sort like a streamlined Gorillapod.

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            With e.g. the hor. hinge on the camera and the vert. hinge on the screen to the left
            (if buttons are to the right) and protruding 5-10 mm outside the camera,
            you have both high and low shooting.
            ( For small size the “L” could move ~ +/- 1 cm sideways.)
            There would be no choice between visible and protected screen.
            With a good EVF I would prefer protected.

  24. One more thing to add to all this talk about “I need a medium format or full frame camera with more megapixels.”
    When I view the photographs you produce with the little Ricoh GR they are amazing and that says
    it all. I also have the Ricoh Gr but my photographs do not come as good as yours Ming so I do not think a full frame
    camera would improve my style. Once again it is the body of work not the camera .
    But then again I am the average Joe I mentioned before. (:

  25. “They would rather pay people like Huff to evangelise and gloss over shortcomings they can’t even see or understand due to their own lack of knowledge ”

    I so agree with you. Out cheer curiosity I hopped over to his site and checked out the post(won’t even bother linking it) and I couldn’t believe the amount of crappy images he took for his so called mini reviews. 2 days in Bermuda and he shot was some blurry dolphins and the staff, unbelievable. I also hate how he generalizes these so called reviews with here SOOC images. He won’t even bother to process any images to see what the cameras are capable of. He’s a complete disgrace to the community imho but I guess the manufacturers seem to be enamored on how he seems to rave about every camera that’s released and I mean every camera.

    Continue doing what you do Ming, forget reviews unless you literally purchase the camera for your own purposes, and don’t even give it a 2nd thought.

    • I certainly won’t be flown to Bermuda for a launch (or even invited to one in the same city, it seems) – so you have no need to worry about me 🙂

      • Sadly I think the trend will be more companies compensating “reviewers” to promote their cameras. As you can see from this article from Friday, the culture of giving kickbacks is strong in some companies: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/06/olympus-settlement-idUSL1N0VG1Q420150206.

        • It’s even starting to pervade the professional photographic industry here in Malaysia – I’m increasingly asked for kickbacks by the decision makers in return for work…which of course I decline because it is completely unethical, but that also means quite a lot less work.

      • Will Crockett has experience the same antagonism from Olympus because he said he’d be reluctant to invest in a system which company has tremendous financial difficulties due to fraud of the CEO…

        • Company health aside, the good news is that if it works for your now, that means there will always be some degree of spares available. Fortunately the cost of entry isn’t that bad, either. I can imagine why his comment would have gotten some serious backlash – but come on, I’m only mentioning something a whole slew of other people have also found.

          • Right. If it works for me today, it’s probably gonna work for me tomorrow, and beyond. I still have some blockage putting so much money in a smaller sensor camera… Plus, back in the 80s, Olympus was a very good alternative to much more expensive gear. But today? It seems too expensive for the size of the sensor – which I believe is the most expensive part of a camera, right? Anyways, thanks for warning us about the shutter shock of the EM-1. You saved me $1400 here! What was the deal with the EM-5 again? May be that now v2 is out, v1 is is very good options price/quality-wise.

  26. Fred Saunders says:

    I recently bought a (lightly used) EM1 partly on the basis of your reviews – dissapointing companies can’t see the benefit of a balanced write up. Anyway, it’s all the camera I’ll need for many years (in fact, much more than enough). It’s amazing what people let tech companies push on them… every other TV purchase in Australia is 4K, even though there is virtually no 4K content readily available for people to watch and they cost more than double Full HD. The sales line is that it’s “future proofing” your TV!

    • Frank Murphy says:

      I also bought some Olympus gear partly based on how you wrote up your experiences. Everything is a compromise, and I really appreciate your approach to gear. Your output requirements are clearly different from mine, and you seem to be quite consistent. I was able to start from your baseline and know what I could expect, and have been happy with what I bought! I understand where you’re coming from, but it’s too bad.

      Thanks for the reviews you have done. I hope you’re able to do more in the future!

      • FWIW, I also bought my E-M1 and many lenses based on your recommendations, Ming. And recently again with your recommendations, I sold off my entire m43 kit, and switched to the Nikon D810, and hopefully soon some Otii and/or more PCEs! 🙂

        Of course, I did my own evaluation and due diligence by renting the kit first, but I think your recommendations were highly influential in getting me to even consider it in the first place. It’d be silly for any manufacturer to ignore you, I think.

        • Thanks Andre. One or two listen, most ignore me, and I suspect a lot wish I would shut up because I point out obvious flaws that wouldn’t have made production if a photographer actually tested the damn things beforehand and management took notice. But they don’t need me to promote cameras, they’ve got the paid bloggers 🙂

          Still, it’s important to bear in mind that when I buy/sell something I have very specific requirements in mind. Something I pass over initially might still land up making the kit later if those requirements change. And I will also buy very niche stuff if that’s the only thing that does the job; do I recommend the Cube for everybody? No. But in this case, having seen you work, I think our needs are fairly similar, Andre.

      • Thanks Frank.

  27. A well-written article highlighting that while 50MP is not for everyone, you still recognize that there is a specialized niche for it. What annoys me about the internet noise is how they always proclaim that they don’t need 50MP, then come up with some straw man to proclaim that no one needs 50MP (and that 12MP is more than enough for every application known to man).

    Disappointed about the local PR stand on reviews, but I’m not surprised. Having had past experience as a freelance writer for tech magazines, this kind of attitude has existed in the past.

    • It is always possible to justify something and thus create a perceived ‘need’, but the more specialised something gets, the more difficult the justification and the smaller the audience. I’m sure there’s also an element of aspiration in there – ‘I believe I’m good enough and I need it’ – even if reality is very different. Objective we are not.

  28. Tristan L says:

    Your frustation is very understandable but I though you had divised a solution for that very specific problem a few months back: Readers interested in the review of a camera pool together the amount you need to do it. And one randomly chosen reader get the gear(s) at the end of the review.
    For one I will put the first one hundred $ toward a review of the EM5 mark !!

    • I tried, but there weren’t enough interested parties and enough negative feedback online and especially offline that I scrapped the idea.

  29. Ming, maybe you would better to forget about camera reviews unless of course you see one you like and buy it for your
    own personal use. Then you can really give your own objective review. I would rather spend time reading about your
    travels and photographs then reviews of cameras. This obsession on the internet about more megapixels and I must
    have a full from camera are getting old. It is the body of work that a photographer displays not the camera that separates
    the good from the average joe with a full frame camera with megapixels galore.
    “Anyway that’s my story and I am sticking to it.”

  30. Ming,
    again a great statement for photography against gear. Thanks for your work!

    Just before I read this article I checked some of my 13 year old photographs from 2002 made with the Nikon Coolpix 995 (very expensive at that time!) with about 3 MPixel and loaded them up.

    In 2002 I was very exited about the possibilities with digital (after about 50 years analog 24×36, 24×56, 6×6, 9×12). In 1997 I started my first online gallery. The maximum Internet speed at that time was a 56k modem and the normal screen resolution was 800×600! The resolution of the Coolpix 995 with 3 MPixel was great for this screen resolution. I even printed images of A3+ for exhibitions.

    In 2005 I got my first DSLR Nikon D70 with 6 MPixel and got even more exited – but the resolution was still not enough for the prints, I wanted to do. So I started stitching my landscapes and printed images up to 50x150cm and was very happy with the results.

    Today I use a 30″ screen and print my images up to 1x2m. I love the Sony A7R (and the NEX-7 infrared) and even with these cameras I still stitch most of my landscapes and stills and sometimes end up with 30.000 and more pixel wide images of 100 to 300 Mpixel. If I find someone, who wants a 4m wide panorama I would love to print this size for him 🙂

    Output matters: and if the output medium can’t keep up with the input (in most cases, it can’t) then you’re simply wasting money.

    Back to my Coolpix 995. I love the images, that I made in 2002 but I really would love to have more resolution of these pictures. But it may happen, that they loose some of its charm, if they would be perfect in today terms?
    If someone is interested, what 3 MPix was 12 years ago:

    Roque de los Muchachos, winter 2002, La Palma, Islas Canarias

    4. How is more resolution going to improve your images?

    Exactly the right question (love new gear as most of us). Not resolution but exercises are improving my images – and looking at all the great images of so many great photographers and learn from them.

    Again, thanks for your work and running this site!

    • Nice images from the Coolpix 995. Macro shots made with that same camera (macro mode, same lens) were spectacular.

    • Thanks Dierk.

      You and I are on the same page: output matters only if your output keeps up with input. But we are also exceptions in that we do actually use the extra resolution; I know I print, I know I print a lot, and I know we can (and do) put about 1GP down on 1sqm. But even then, there comes a sufficiency limit for us – if I had a hypothetical 20GP camera system, I wouldn’t be able to deploy it in output, and it would be wasted. The only difference is that most people past that sufficiency point a long, long time ago – but don’t realise it.

      • Dan Lehman says:

        “we actually use the extra resolution”. I have an interesting response on DPR re my questioning the latest megapixel jump –to wit:

        [him –it’s gotta be *him*!] From all the photographers I know – only minority prints their photographs or think about prints quality while buying a camera.
        [me] So then what is their need for superior IQ –“100% crops” posted on Net forums?
        [him] Editing, cropping, viewing images on a screen, enjoying high dynamic range, high ISO quality, and so on, and so on…
        If you can’t see other benefits of high image quality than making a huge prints than I cannot help you.

        • Well, he’s kinda right, except we’re now so far away from what you need on screen that the argument is moot. The number of pixels has nothing to do with postprocessing latitude or dynamic range. ISO quality maybe if you downsample heavily. Cropping only if you have no clue whatsoever about composition. Then again, I forgot we are talking about DPR fora denizens…

          • Dan Lehman says:

            >> “Cropping only if you have no clue whatsoever about composition”
            Myself, I quite differ here, and feel the “get it right in-camera, no cropping” mandate that some argue is specious : you have a fixed framing per camera (save for multi-aspect Panys, or otheres’ in-camera cropping in effect), and a given good image might well not conform. Is one to carry a set of cameras per framing –5:4, 4:3, 3:2, 1:1? I remember being surprised at your remarks of the LX7’s multi-aspect and saying that you preferred to be in some particular vision/framing so didn’t use it. I’m quite pleased with it precisely to be able to make the appropriate framing to what I see which will be of different framings (of late, much has been square!? :-). AND I often enough find myself later seeing within a “capture” something I want to extract/isolate as an image. Blame me for being slow to realize it … ? Recently, the NYT Metro section featured Luis Mallo, a large-format shooter (Cuban/Spanish ex-pat;
            http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/16/layers-that-conceal-and-reveal/?_r=0); he told of spending 10s of minutes figuring his composition. Holy time-stands-still Batman, that sure shoots holes in HCB’s Decisive Moment, and makes rough going in the golden hour, where tick, tock, tick … and the sun’s strength, angle, availability changes. Often I’ve seen 3:2 images that I cannot help but feel suffer from the tyranny of that framing; why were the top/bottom cut off there… ? –because of what wasn’t wanted left & right! It was a 4:3 ideal forced into camera’s framing, let’s say. In Luis Mallo’s Interruptions #3(2012) of above article (#11 of ref. below), I can find some crops I’d want to extract –w/o thus saying that they are better, just good also : a chop of much left-side image, and a square upper right that omits the bush. These things might only occur to me after the moment (which we’ll say is adequately dominated by the initial vision). http://www.lensculture.com/articles/luis-mallo-interruptions-facade-and-reality-in-the-city#slide-11

            I like his (& your) stuff. And I share –though w/more handy gear– his mode of looking, by bicycle (often) : “were taken in the late summer afternoon as he biked through Brooklyn or Queens with his 4×5 camera strapped to his shoulder”! I do not have to strap my LX3/7s, nor will I my E-M5.

  31. randomesquephoto says:

    Wow. I’m surprised this hasn’t turned into more of a troll De force.

    Thanks for talking sense Ming.

    Maybe if you ever get back into the corperate world. A major camera company would be the way to go. And you could talk some sense into them too.

    • A major camera company would be the last place I would want to work, especially having seen how most of these places operate from the inside. The only one I’d want to work for unfortunately requires I speak German, learn how to design lenses and move to Oberkochen…

  32. I agree with the thrust of what you say, Ming, but it is not so long ago that, eg, my Nikon D3s was 12mp and I paid the price of a small car for what was considered exotic, the superb 24mp D3x. Now even Leica have 24mpx and cameras of that resolution attract no interest. More recent Nikons have better resolution, noise and dynamic range performance, as well as improved AF performance all of which are beneficial to the final result. The pixel wars are not going to stop any time soon.

    What will make me upgrade from current Nikons to a new generation? More of the same, with no emphasis on the resolution per se. But for my opportunistic / walkabout shooting, what is even more important is that my camera and lenses are with me. This is where the Leica shows its strength, albeit at the cost of autofocus and ergonomics 2-4 generations behind the Asians. Those Leica lenses, wich is where the pounds/kg are, are small and high performing, with character. I have no doubt that in 2-3 iterations, however, Sony+Zeiss will offer a lighter full-frame experience with better performance (AF, noise, lens range). (That is if Olympus don’t convince us that full frame is unnecessary.)

    I wouldn’t bitch too much about the review stuff. The current phase will pass, as consumers become wise to the product placement approach to marketing and they go elsewhere in search of authenticity.

    • The entry level DSLRs these days are actually very impressive, and even the cheapo lenses that come with them aren’t bad. The ‘Leica tax’ is a bit stiff unless you’ve got the disposable income; for a working photographer it’s completely unrealistic (or maybe it’s my part of the world), even if you do it cheaply without Leica lenses or accessories:
      M240 x2 (you do need backups, no excuses to clients) = $13,500
      Olympus EVF = $300
      Zeiss 21/2.8 = $2,000
      Zeiss 50/2 = $800
      Leica 90/2 second hand, non-APO = $2,000
      Total inc. spare batteries etc = $19,000 – and we are purely assuming we only need documentary capabilities and haven’t even gotten into telephoto territory or special purpose lenses like shift or macro.

      Nikon D810 x2 = $6,000
      Nikon 20/1.8G = $800
      Nikon 50/1.8G = $250
      Nikon 85/1.8G = $350
      Total = $7,500 after spare batteries etc. I think it’s pretty obvious from a business standpoint.

      But this is the crux: it’s actually seldom a business decision. You’ll find few pros on forums or debating what to buy because they already know what they need, and the cheapest way to get it. This is also the reason I doubt consumers will bother about product placement etc. for some time; the obvious sells. Perhaps it’s the start of a much greater shift in market than we thought.

  33. I suppose it is a lot like golf equipment. The technology increases, the price goes up, status attaches to ownership, and looking for balls in the weeds just gets that much more frustrating. 🙂

    • Haha, yes. I did try golf for a while but know my limitations – and it wasn’t the clubs. I figured if I was going to walk in the woods looking for things I might as well be carrying a camera instead…

  34. This article is a refreshing contrast to the DPReview comment section under each of the previews.

    I admit it’s easy getting caught up in the hype and GAS. The EM-5 Mk. II looks to be the camera I want(better video codecs, microphone input and a compact size), but the cost is pretty high and I think I’d rather get some new lenses for my Canon AE-1(which also is pretty portable and “full frame”) and a EVF for my RX-100 Mk. II. And perhaps buy some of your videos, Ming.

    • Instead of the RX100II EVF, you might want to try sticking one of those viewfinder loupes onto the LCD – ergonomically it’s better, cheaper, and the image is probably better too…

      • Something like a Hoodman? It looks weird, but if it works(and that EVF is really expensive) I will look into it.

        • Yes, similar – the Zacuto is a bit larger/stronger/better built, but same principle.

          • I also see there’s something called a “Clearviewer”. It seems like a more simple solution(and more compact as well)

            • Kristian Wannebo says:

              I made a tube of stiff cardboard with a loupe and taped it to my camera,
              like a Clearview but blocking out the light.
              ( I have the beginning of an idea for a quick-(un)folding tube of thin metal
              with a ~10 dioptres loupe landing beside the camera.)

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                EDIT : ( I lost a word.)
                I meant a folding cardboard tube with a loupe.

                • I think I’ll take my chances with the Clearviewer first. It’s only $65 for the “sharpest” model(a far cry from the $420 that the Sony EVF costs over here) and if it works well, I might just build my own casing for it.

                  • Kristian Wannebo says:

                    Personally I like the loupe about 3″ (-4″) from the 3″ screen, closer makes it harder for me to judge the composition.
                    Finding a design for a folding casing for the Clearviewer won’t be difficult, just keep some stiff paper and tape handy to play with when the ideas come! 🙂

  35. John Sobel says:

    Ming, your thoughts on camera equipment are always enlightening, but what you really bring to the table are your thoughts on making photographs. Your photographs are phenomenal. The set of Chicago photographs that you recently posted were inspirational.
    I agree that many photographers enjoy collecting and using various cameras more than in developing their photographic skills.
    That said it seems that most photographers are also love well made, nicely designed camera equipment and if we are not careful they seem to jump into our “carts” by magnetic force.
    I am making a very conscious effort to spend my money and time on developing my photographic skills. In addition I’m now concentrating on making prints so I get my photos out of my hard drive and on to my walls.
    Perhaps the next time you do a class in Chicago I’ll be able to join you.
    Your excellent work is much appreciated.

    • Thanks John. I have to walk the walk (make the images) to back up the claims…and yes, well-designed, well-made, tactile equipment is more enjoyable to use than the opposite; I don’t deny that. But it won’t make your composition any better.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Isn’t there a question also of (individual) sufficiency of handling the equipment,
        so it doesn’t distract from gettig into (the occasional) flow when shooting?

        • Sure, but the level of the average user is far, far below what any piece of equipment can deliver these days.

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            Yes, but for many of those it would make sense to by haptics instead of performance.
            Except that there is no haptics/price relation, if you are not careful you might end up anywhere within the performance/price relation
            When will marketing start thinking in those directions?
            Maybe it’s a question of more women in design and marketing?

            • They did start thinking in that direction. We landed up with the Df 😛

              • Kristian Wannebo says:

                ( I suppose I missed it, I thought the Df was more about nostalgia than haptics? )
                Perhaps Leica T? Or LX100 if it had a manual zoom ring?

                So it’s (not unexpectedly) the same as with VHRs and microwave ovens.
                Either a hard to understand interface that can do most everything (and often pretends to more than the machine can do).
                or a couple of haphazard buttons and dials that manage only part of what the machine would be capable of.
                Exceptions? Certaily, but few, and hard to find.

                • The T took a good shot at rethinking the UI, but the ergonomics are not very comfortable either; the whole thing is too slippery. LX100 is nostalgic but does a decent job with balancing traditional and digital controls.

                  Frankly, only the iPhone really gets it right…and even then, it’s only because there’s a lot of simplification going on and processing to make intelligent guesses.

                  • Kristian Wannebo says:

                    I guess I’ll have to reconsider my aversion to be locked in by Apple OS and try an Iphone… 😕

  36. Late to the party with a comment, but this post has content I should print out, laminate, and affix to the drawer where my photo equipment spends too much of its time.

    The habit of looking through your reader pool, reacting to an image, then checking to see what camera, lens, and settings were used must stop. When I see what you and Ian Carroll and Gerner Christensen are doing with hi-res Nikons I want one. When I see what you and others are achieving with the little pocket-sized GR I want one. When I find that the latest Carroll or Christensen image was made, instead, with a 16MP Olympus E-M1 not only do I want one — but maybe I could even afford an E-M5 at this point!

    And then somebody comes along and posts an amazing image made with a Nikon D-40 or a 4MP Canon Powershot S400 (jp_atkinson 2007 VW GTI detail) and it becomes clear once again that it’s a combination of eye and skill that make the picture, not the camera.

    This delusional concern with hardware — the lingering idea that somewhere, out there, awaits the magic camera that will make my stuff better — is a buzzing gnat in need extermination.

    Thanks for the occasional swat to the back of the head. I needed that.

    • Thanks Mike mentioning little me. I couldn’t express myself better and what remains the highest value for me is when I see photogs going the extra mile and start developing themselves making better photos. The inspiration I get from Ming personally, his education and the work of the members and followers of his user group is way above the value any camera would give me.

      As long as I can bond to a camera it is good enough for me.

    • You might enjoy my iPhone set, then 🙂

      The only thing you can (and should) take away from the reader pool other than inspiration is the fact that the camera does not matter. If you look a little closer you’ll also see that the biggest improvement from the start of the pool til now are from those photographers who shoot regularly and really take the learning part seriously, too.

    • Whoa…my ears were burning! Mike…thanks for the appreciation, seeing something like that, especially in what are “hallowed halls” to me, is just humbling. Thinking of my images being a part of someone’s routine, the way that Ming’s are for me (well maybe not exactly like that…I mean, his are incredible…but you know what I mean!) is just mind blowing. And the fact that you regard Gerner similarly tells me that your judgment is very sound indeed, which otherwise I would have doubted!! 😀 Gerner is one of my go-to-for-daily-inspiration too, so I feel in very esteemed company!

      I would also point to MT group member https://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewstark/ as a shining example of it being more about the man than the machine when it comes to image-making…the first shots of his I loved were with a a Canon Power Shot! Whilst I am at it, where are you Matthew? Have missed you!

      By way of just adding something to this discussion, other than my thanks to Mike for saving me time and money for therapy this week, is to say that the gear matters more from the point of view of being a tool that aids you to create your intended image more easily/efficiently, so in that sense does matter, but cannot compensate for what isn’t there. In my own recent style developments I have found the Olympus EM1 actually produces files which help me achieve the look I am after far easier than the Nikon D800, even though the D800 files give me so much more processing malleability. I think it is the lack of AA filter and colour rendering.

      I can only echo also what MT has said above, education is FAR more important than gear, and my biggest advancement, by far, in my own image-making came with lesson 1 of his email school.

  37. It’s funny how you wax lyrical about how some camera companies won’t let you be honest in your reviews, yet you sensor every criticizing comment in your ultra print posts.

    It’s a two way street, dude.

    • Actually, you’re wrong: I don’t censor any posts. People just don’t bother to comment. If you bothered to go back through comments on any article, you’ll see there’s plenty of vitriol flying. My wasting time replying to your pointless comment is already proof of that.

      If a person chooses to make an uninformed comment/ judgement without ever having seen a print, then you’re just showing your own ignorance and lack of understanding of any print process. I know who’s seen them and who hasn’t, because up til this point I’ve either shown every viewer in person or packed every shipment myself.

  38. I read many simillar articles but nobody compares immages quality by a pixel-monster
    (eg. Pentax 645Z) with short lenses (eg. smc PENTAX D FA 645 55mm F2.8 AL (IF) SDM AW)
    & “normal” DSLR
    (eg. Pentax K3) with some telephoto lens (eg. smc PENTAX DA Star 300mm F4 ED(IF) SDM)
    at the very end of lens (300mm)

    It would be interesting to see resoults by comparing a photo of the same composition … because we must crop the photo of 645 to get the composition of K3 (or conversely?).

    So the main question: “Do I need big, havy lenses by a pixel monsters (Canon 50 Mp, Pentax 645Z ..?”

    I just wonder .. it my be a stupid idea ..
    ps: sorry that my English is not perfect

  39. John weeks says:

    Ming…great read…thanks…

  40. PS: new financial model for your business:
    offer a spot on one of your photo safaris if someone purchases and lets you use the item of your choice for the duration of the trip.

    • That makes no sense at all. I might be stuck with a) a person who has no interest in photography, just cameras and b) a camera I don’t like with the wrong hardware trying to make images to inspire the rest of the paying participants – that wouldn’t be fair or beneficial to any party other than the web trolls, assuming I even write a review!

  41. Interesting how the pixel wars continue, far beyond the ability of human technique and vision to distinguish the output. I would rather see improved sensor shift stabilization to improved low light performance or image quality. (There was an interesting comparison for example, in how the oly had less color noise than the 810 because each pixel location had real data for each of the three colors of the Bayer array (a la Sigma) and therefore no interpolation to Bayerize was done to guestimate colors.) Or perhaps subgrouping the pixels into two sets and exposing them differently to double dynamic range (something the fuji x-10 and the fuji slr did. But then again, you only see men comparing the size of their organs, not the aesthetic beauty.

  42. Ron Scubadiver says:

    Ming, you have produced an excellent explanation of why I have not purchased a body or lens in almost two years. The possibilities for improving the photographer are 10 or 20 times greater than the possibilities for improving gear when starting from a base of a D800 and a couple of decent Nikon lenses.

  43. I really do love those new high resolution monsters. They make people give away their D700 for just a little amount of money. Wow… I now do own this Nikon D700, I dreamed about for months. And I payed almost nothing. Just because people want those new cameras.
    I am satisfied with my 12 MP – plenty enough for my work. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
    Oliver 2.0

    • Yeah, just now E-M1’s are starting to show up for sale for half what it cost at release a little over a year ago. I’ll wait a few more months and I’ll finally be able to afford a second E-M1. I’m currently using an E-M10 as a spare, but I’m having a hard time coping with the different controls. I keep pressing ‘menu’ when I’m trying to press ‘info’, and I’ve missed a few shots because of that.

      • You are right.

        • And the original E-M5 is even cheaper, and doesn’t have shutter shock…

          • The original E-M5 can be had for less than a quarter what it was at launch. Unfortunately it won’t solve the issue I have with the button layout being different from the E-M1. The E-M1 shutter shock is truly an annoying problem, but I’ve learned to live with it. I have the anti-shock mode set to 0 and shutter delay to short, and in single shot mode I can pretty reliably fire off 4 shots per second. The E-M5mkII allows sequential shooting with anti-shock on at 5fps. Perhaps they will find a way to implement this in firmware for the E-M1, but I don’t see much hope there because of the way the mechanical shutter works.

          • Please stop telling people about the original E-M5 – I want this to remain a little secret.

          • Dan Lehman says:

            IIRC, someone posted on DPR a well-shot proof of E-M5 shutter shock, though noting that it wasn’t earth-shattering, “deal-breaking” in degree. (That said, from one fashion pros raving of its sensor’s beautiful output (“color separation” I think was his term) –and who shoots 1DX, 5Dii, S2, E-M1 (which he praises as a camera but for the sensor vs. -M5), and cost considerations, I newly have an E-M5 (+12-40/2.8)). And I don’t expect to be spending a lot of time LOOKING for shuttershock, whatever. –nor wishing for shifty ways to have huge files!) (-;

            • It might well exist, but certainly not to the same degree as on the E-M1 and E-P5. I certainly didn’t see it enough to think something was amiss, but I might well have gotten lucky with my camera.

    • Ha! You took the words out of my mouth. I relish every new camera announcement as it encourages the ‘upgraders’ to dump their hardly used gear and allows people like me to pick it up on the cheap. Last month I got a D700 with 17,000 shutter actuations for the equivalent of US$900. I swear, the body was absolutely perfect – no signs of use at all. I’m sure the seller got rid of it because he/she ‘needed’ a D600 which they then sold to buy a D800 which they then traded for a D810 etc. etc. The rumours of a D5 had me jumping for joy as it might bring a nice, hardly used D4 into my price range which would be lovely for my football (the proper English, round ball kind) photo work. Carry on upgrading everyone, you’re doing the rest of us a huge favour!

  44. I’m happy with my 16mp olympus and NEX 6 as far as sensor size and pixel content. So if I had emailed you I would have been the exception to your statement. As far as hardware “improvements” for me it’s all about the EVF. That’s what will make me buy new cameras. I think it is the EVF quality (size, dynamic range, color accuracy, etc) that will help me make better images. And also how well the EVF works for those of us who wear glasses full time 🙂

  45. Shame that Olympus is taking such a tact, Ming. But perhaps not surprising. The camera industry in Japan is under siege as sales continue to plummet … so for many, trying to control the message has probably become de rigueur.

    I do think that the sensor shift Olympus employs is an interesting technical workaround until there’s a new breakthrough in sensor advancement, though. While DR won’t be as good as a larger sensor high megapixel camera, it does seem to avoid moire issues while providing equivalent resolution in a very diminutive package … and simultaneously gets around the need for completely new lens designs to keep up with the higher megapixel count, as the heavy lifting is being done by the sensor shift’s multiplication effect.

    Being quite a diminutive kit, I see this as being advantageous for folks who hike into the wilderness to shoot landscapes and don’t want to hire a pack mule to carry DSLR or medium format gear. The E-M5 Mark II thus ought to be interesting when paired with their forthcoming 7-14mm f/2.8.

  46. When these cameras were launched with all these talk about resolution, I reminded you and your talks about shot discipline to extract proper pictures with maximum resolution with the D800 :). Specially the Canon – if 36mp were already hard to use its full potential, imagine 50mp…

    Some very skilled people will be able to use the Canon’s resolution – but a lot of these probably will go to the most advisable track to work in this level and will buy a 50mp medium format like the Pentax 645z; in fact, now we have a very curious situation: a medium format camera with higher ISO sensibility than a full frame one.

    About the lenses that could handle 50Mp, looks like that the manufacturers already are listing the ones that could. The Otii (don’t remember if it is Otii or Otis – my language is derived from latin but don’t know the originals) are obviously there, and some of the Sigma’s Art. Looks like that Canon is making a list and (not a surprise) some of the L glass are missing the mark.

    About the Olympus: the sensor shift high resolution mode have one interesting point – as someone stated before, Olympus is not just stitching. They are making two passes: one for the resolution, and one to expose with each one of the filters of the Bayer sensor (R,G,B). No more moiré and better color accuracy, at least in theory. Obviously this mode is severely limited – full potential only explored in studio with still objects. Maybe some resolution gain with a VERY static person (but I guess not).

    I probably will buy the E-M5 II to replace both my GX7 and the E-M10 – the former was used for video, the second for shoots (I’m far from being a professional). The stabilization of the E-M5 II is amazing, and will be useful, but the video quality is lower compared to the GX7 in all the videos that I’ve saw until now – much better that E-M5 and E-M1 (high details area problems were solved with the high bitrate) but the low light looks much worse than GX7. But will be used for video only in good conditions – my new first camera for video probably will be the NX500, 4k with (probably) the amazing quality of the NX1 with a astonishing price.

    Would like to see you reviewing this couple, but you’re truly right about pay to review something, or being obligated to give a perfect score.

    • Well, it can certainly be done – I just don’t think it’s quite as easy as expected. The practical change from a 5DIII to a 5DSR is probably not much different from going from 12MP to 36MP.

      The 645Z has relatively big pixels, and the higher – up to 12k – regions are very usable; even 51k if you oversample by four and downsize to about 13MP. It does not have Otus-level lenses, though. The vast majority are not good enough for the sensor, and those that are are closer to ZF2s than Otii.

      That said, even if the EM5II samples at every pixel location, what’s to stop us from stitching a pair of D810 or 5DSR images and downsampling a bit? It’d be faster, too, and there’s less chance of subjects moving between one half of the frame and the other ruining the image.

  47. Ming

    From my point of view I’ve ordered an EM5 mkII not because of the 40MP thing (I might have a play at some point), but because I’ve finally admitted that I could do with a second body (to my EM5) and I’ve not been able to persuade myself that I want the obligatory increased bulk of the EM1. Now comes along a camera that has most of the things I like about the EM1 (EVF, better seals, better buttons and dials – though not better tracking AF) in the size body I want to work with. It’s as simple as that as far as justification goes.

    I like the video possibilities, but that’ll be part of my development rather than a reason to spend.

    The sensor-shift thing – way at the bottom of the pile.

    I’ll definitely be interested in what you have say about it if you get a review copy as I like how you think about things.

    Thank you for all your work on the blog. Don’t get put off by the hassles.


    • That makes sense, though. They’re logical reasons.

      Review copy: again, unlikely. Local principals not interested, B&H loaners attract tax, and buying one for a review is silly.

  48. John Brady says:

    Ming, it’s very disappointing that Olympus hasn’t provided you with an E-M5 mk II review unit. It was your E-M5 review which originally brought me to your site, although I’ve stayed for the images and your philosophy about image-making. I’ve no doubt that if your reviewed the unit you would point out its shortcomings and strengths with equal objectivity; Olympus might not appreciate hearing about the former but many of your readers would!

    On a related note, it’s also disappointing that you are getting such abuse in your inbox. You must wonder if it is worth the hassle at times, so I’d like to register my thanks for your continued exploration of all things photographic – you have given me much food for thought over the last couple of years, and I’ve learned a great deal from your videos. All the best.

    • I think you’ve figured out precisely why I don’t have a review unit of the E-M5II or the 40-150 or any of their recent releases. 🙂 That said, apparently a lot of people are not happy that the reviews point out flaws, any flaws at all; it’s one of the many reasons I wonder why I still review anything at all. I suppose I could end each review with ‘the camera can produce great images, but only if the photographer knows what they’re doing’. That said, the half that don’t complain I didn’t like something complain my reviews are meaningless and hypocritical because my images don’t look bad! I suppose you cannot please everybody. 🙂

      • It’s really a shame… I’ve always found your reviews to be fantastic for actually deciding what to get; I really want to know where the limitations and compromises are for a piece of gear that I’m interested in. The fact that you aren’t raving about everything has sold me on a number of cameras and lenses (for example, the Olympus EM-5 and the 60mm) more than the glowing sugar coated reviews that are found elsewhere.

        As for being able to continue on with doing reviews… Dealing with the endless vitriol and trolling is really demanding and I’m quite sure pretty emotionally draining for you, Ming. While I do love a lot of the conversation on here, feel free to get rid of comments if that’ll let you continue to write and review more.

        • That’s only half the story. I can’t review stuff if I don’t have it, and I’m not going to pay money to obtain gear to review (manufacturers here aren’t interested in providing it because the review is not an advertorial, B&H loaners attract import tax) because it doesn’t give me anything in return.

          • Yeah, that part is really frustrating, I didn’t comment on that part since I wasn’t sure what I could add to that part of the conversation… There doesn’t seem to be any good way around it, unless there is the local equivalent of B&H. Hopefully some of the camera companies will come around to appreciating more diverse reviews, but I’m definitely not optimistic about it either.

  49. Thanks Ming as usual for your lucid thoughts, I couldn’t agree more. It seems the camera companies think all they have to do is increase the MP’s and people will be happy to upgrade. I’m over it, I’d rather have better dynamic range, better focusing and better connectivity etc. But what do I know I’m still using my D700.

    • I believe there was something once said about a lack of value in sharp images of fuzzy ideas. The same can be extended to high resolution/ large file sizes…

  50. It seems some landscape and architecture photographers are excited by the Canon announcement. Diffraction limit on either of these happens before stopping down to ƒ8 and chromatic aberration on many lenses will be another issue. Perhaps if more tilt/shift lenses were released, then there would be some potential of seeing noticeable improvement, as opposed to simply larger file sizes.

    I’ve already spoken with many D800/D810 users doing portraits, about how much retouching they do, especially on images for women. Just as painters did not need to include every blemish, wrinkle, and pock mark, portrait photographers can work with nearly any camera made in the last several years. As long as skin tones can be post processed to what seems to be natural, subjects of portraits should be happy with the end results. However, I think many enthusiasts will gather up the high megapixel cameras to photograph people, then not be completely happy with the results.

    Of the two the Olympus got my attention, but for a different reason. My thinking is that the sensor shift may get around some Bayer interpolation issues, potentially rendering smoother tones. I may be wrong in that, but some sample image files I have seen appear to suggest that. However, the limitations of working in sensor shift may prove to negate the potential benefits.

    • John Brady says:

      Gordon, I had similar thoughts. I saw some samples comparing the E-M5 40MP image with a D810 image, and the Oly images had considerably less moire. I wonder if it might also improve tonality, e.g. for mono conversions. However, it also seems that you will need a plug-in for Photoshop if you want to work with the 64MP / 100MB RAW file rather than the 40MP down sampled JPG. So it’s not clear to me yet if this will fit in with my Lightroom-based workflow.

      • Have any of the 64MP RAW file conversions been posted yet? I’ve only seen 40MP JPEG examples.

        • John Brady says:

          I’ve seen one mentioned on 43rumors.com – the link is at http://www.43rumors.com/full-e-m5ii-manual-available-for-download/. It apparently opens in RawTherapee which I don’t use, so I can’t comment on the quality. Presumably Olympus Viewer will also support it, although I suspect a new version might be required.

          • Thanks. I don’t think that’s a useful comparison though since workflow differences can make quite a big difference in output; I will be the first to admit that I won’t be able to get everything out of other converters (certainly not as much as I can achieve with ACR). I can wait 🙂

            • I am curious to play with a RAW from the Olympus in LightRoom, just to see what is possible. Some of the early medium format digital backs had this type of feature. The limitation years ago was avoiding anything moving in the image, which meant studio only. Of course m4/3 cameras are often bought for the smaller size, and I don’t see that many end users running around with tripods, though perhaps that will change.

              Diffraction issues and chromatic aberration are still the biggest obstacles in small pixel sizes. The smaller the pixels get under 6 µm (micron), the more noise is generated, meaning more correction in the A/D converter. We’re seeing more “cooked” RAW in-camera, and that may be part of why the results look the way the do now.

              • Indeed. It’s a bit of a strange thing, isn’t it? M4/3 goes light but now we need a tripod again…

                I’m back to thinking that I’d still rather stitch a pair of D810 images than go the 8-shot cooked small raw route. Especially if it results in better pixel level quality once downsized to the same level, or less chance of moving objects getting smeared (it should only happen across the stitch border; the Olympus would have it everywhere in the frame).

                Of course, there’s one more unknown quantity: is the software conversion up to it? Bayer conversions have gotten quite good now; this multi-pixel thing has had far less development time.

                • Is this stitching technique strictly equivalent to the stacking one as employed here? This feature is about stacking pixel shifted shots to give effective oversampling (and de-Bayer). This strikes me as not quite the same as stitching (tile together multiple single shots), and then for both you should down sample to something fit for purpose. I admit I don’t yet know enough about this, but maybe we end up (almost) at the same place having taken different routes. Anyway I get the feeling Olympus’s idea may be good enough – Time will tell.

                  Nothing strange about a punter wanting a feature to be able to do something in a handy package. Even if he takes tripod to do some landscape he still has a tripod and small camera. Seems do’able to me…

                  I applaud Olympus to bring this to the reach of the consumer market, in something so usable and attainable. Accepting some compromises for ease-of-use is not necessary a bad thing – Engineering is all about compromises. Personally, I would put my hands up and say I’m useless at stitching shots (even with fancy tripod). Yes technique is always the answer but the reality is who has all that time to invest in technique (and find time to go out and shoot too). Like it or not all these additional (handy) features that come with your camera are good for cameras, because we ARE in the iPhone, smart-phone, tablet and smart-TV generation, so camera makers had better innovate, whats the alternative?

                  Oh – I seem to have rattled on a bit to much! Never mind, it’s pay-back as I always have to take a bit of extra time to read your site Ming.


                  • Ps, Electronic shutter capability right? So why do I need a tripod – cant I just prop it up on a wall/rock/pile of mud?

                    • Ps-II, we should be able to do this, or perhaps technology just hasn’t go there yet. The the new feature for the mark-III…

                    • Assuming that those things don’t move, sure. But slippage can always occur, especially because it’s only electronic *front* shutter, and the rear curtain still moves, triggering vibration and possible motion etc.

                    • I suppose someone with a math degree could figure out the shake frequency of that sensor. If it is steady enough, then anything would work, but considering that the motion is over a few microns distance, I’m not sure placing the Olympus on top of something would be steady enough.

                      Nothing wrong with someone using a good tripod with a small camera. My point was that I just do not see that done in practice. The few I see doing that are the exception. There are some quite good small tripods now, so maybe habits will change a bit.

                  • No, but if you’re taking 8x36MP files and downsizing to 40 or 60MP, the oversampling level is high enough that you effectivley negate the Bayer effects. The point is comparing the 8-shot thing to a single FF shot isn’t really fair, because the 8-shot thing has some serious limitations (time, stability, moving content) which if we allow for the other camera, we get to a much superior result. By the same token, before anybody screams about price: we could take an even cheaper entry-level DSLR and do the same stitching – 8x24MP – and still get to a superior result.

                    I agree that it’s good we’re seeing any innovation at all though, and all of this tech has to start somewhere. Better than just cramming in more pixels…but we can only hope they’ve resolved the shutter shock problem otherwise the rest is all in vain.

          • And if you compare this E-M5II RAW example to the D810 ACR sample from IR at ISO200, the Olympus is sharper…WOW!

  51. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Except for the price, we might have an excellent 12.5 Mpx camera,
    with all colours in every pixel.
    Provided DR is enough after downsampling.
    ( I believe Ming mentioned a similar idea for future sensors in an earlier post.)

    • It depends on how the downsampling is done. We don’t currently have control over this – the Bayer interpolation happens first regardless – nor do we have a luminance pixel.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Of course!
        And I wasn’t really serious, the price of the camera would be widely out of range.
        I just wanted to remind of a possibly better use of high density pixel technology. 🙂

        And well, two green, one red and one blue pixel might be a temporary substitute for a luminance pixel,
        but who will write the software for the different (in camera?) raw data handling?
        If Canon starts selling the sensor someone might combine it with a white/green/red/blue filter.
        But I guess that happens first with 60 Mp downsampled to 15,
        and then only when production costs have gone down a bit.

        • Pardon my ignorance on this, but did anybody ever build 3-chip still cameras? Video cameras, decades ago, were built with three chips (R,G,B) and an optical splitter.

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            I have no idea, but the video resulution was then, I think, around 0.4 Mp.
            Consider the higher precision needed (for splitting) for still resolution then, I think, 2-3 Mp, and now…

          • Not to the best of my knowledge. Foveon/Sigma is the closest we got. There are sensitivity/SNR and optic alignment issues at the resolution required for decent stills.

          • I helped test a 3 chip DSLR, though it never did get into production. Sensor costs were simply too high. One other issue was that without apochromatic lenses, there were some odd colour issues. The software guy this was handed to did work out a few issues, but alignment of the sensors was a separate issue. At the time that was CCD technology and CMOS was getting better improvements. There may be some possibility something like this ended up in a machine vision camera, though I no longer follow developments there.

          • Minolta RD175

            And maybe the Minolta RD3000

        • Well, getting halfway there with 50>25 is probably going to be an improvement even if there’s only half the interpolation going on? But that again isn’t simple downsizing, it requires some new algorithms.

  52. It’s called GAS. Some people look at the new camera as the coming of the new Messiah, then they tear their vests apart when they see no practical improvement on their results.
    Those questions you listed are the mantra that keeps that gear acquisition syndrome away from me. 🙂
    Yesterday I saw a 40 mp shot taken with Em5II. On instagram. A good place to put an adv, but come on…

    Anyway, we’re going to read revews and hands-on about the new cameras, and it always made me grin the passion some “testers” put in these reviews, claiming to have found the camera of the year. Until next year.

    You should write the name of the Company asking you for a non objective review and opinion: not only this is a shame for the Company brand itself, but it’s also how a PR should NOT work to push a product.

    • Absolutely. Name this company. It is profoundly unethical to request only a positive review.

      • You’d be surprised how often this happens. And do you really think if a company flies mediocre bloggers and even more mediocre photographers to Bermuda for a product launch, all expenses paid, those mediocre bloggers and even more mediocre photographers are going to write a review with any negative points? Or even know how to? If a company is an advertiser in a magazine or on a site, do you think the editors/publishers are going to risk having that revenue pulled because of a review that is negative in any way?

        • I saw this happen in the motorcycle industry in the 1990s. The few objective magazines found themselves unable to get test rides. The magazines left writing articles churned out drivel that looked like marketing. Slowly the good writing faded away from the industry, magazines merged, until so few writers remained that it was often better to just get a brochure from the manufacturer. Now I see the same thing happening amongst the camera manufacturers. Once again, the marketing people at these companies appear clueless, and simply trying to hang onto their jobs. As some famous advertising people often say, the ideas that seem the “safest” are often the worst choices. Manufacturers need to move out of their closed shells and really change their approach, because more megapixels is no longer enough to sell many cameras.

          • Do you see this changing? I don’t, and it concerns me because this attitude becomes pervasive throughout the public, which then affects the professional/commercial part of the job. Perhaps it’s time to start job hunting again…

            • I think it would take CEO and board changes. These are usually conservative Japanese corporate culture companies, so it would be revolutionary to have one person truly guide a company. Big maybe on whether it will happen anytime soon. My best guess is that instead we see labor reductions at the camera companies. Maybe one of the smaller players can try something. When Fujifilm came out with retro style cameras, it appeared to prompt other companies to follow that niche, but that’s limited. The Nikon Dƒ introduction appeared to go away from the usual marketing trend, and the D750 is another direction. What I think we are missing is that ease of use so many smartphone and computer users now think they experience. Cameras still have hefty manuals, too many menu choices, and way too many controls. So maybe if products change, the marketing will change too.

              As a profession, photography is becoming quite difficult for many. There are still good gigs to be found, though the competition is tougher. In corporate, the budgets are tighter, and many companies try to do it themselves, or recycle old images. People will work with you because they like working with you, and not because of your gear. It is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, and that’s probably what got me more into writing. Maybe you don’t need to shift to something else. Your writing is good, and that may be another area to explore. If something else gets you moving in a different direction, then go with it. You’re very ambitious Ming, so I’m sure you will do well.

    • Read between the lines of the post and comments. I’ve already made it clear which company it is.

      • I understand that there might be no proof written on stone that that happened, but I don’t see why someone should invent a story like this.
        I say that the Company should be named (it’s quite clear who they are 😉 ) just to give them a chance to “justify” or explain their behaviour.
        As for me, I think you are one of the most talented and professional photographers around, also when it comes to reviews.

      • Was it the “Company” or by extension the company’s rep in Malaysia? Cuz those boys have gotten into trouble before and spanked by the Mother Ship 🙂

      • 😦 Thanks for the hint. A good friend used to say that ignorance WAS bliss. I know many of the companies and “reviewers” are quite often not above board in their relationships, as was/is the case in the audio industry from my past experiences, but it still stings a bit to find out that a lot of your gear is from a company that has been outed. I have too much gear to change out, but this has only re-enforced my skepticism about future purchases.


  53. Great Article, Ming. I totally agree : “The higher performance a tool, the more education it requires to operate it and extract its potential”; how many pictures taken with the best lenses available today are disappointing because not in focus; same for high resolution cameras. And what about Post processing work flow… I think we should look first for our “weakest link” and improve it… Numbers are nothing, pictures are the only results.

    • Well, I’ve been trying to point this out for a long time, especially when there’s something missing in the gear offerings – but hey, companies don’t want to listen. Apparently education isn’t important 🙂

      • Companies DEFINITELY don’t want to listen. Thom Hogan said about the Nikon V3 or a different model a few months ago that Nikon’s been designing “closet cameras”, which obviously you’re told you need to buy and then end up sitting in a closet to collect dust (I snagged a Nikon D300 recently that had less than 1000 shots on it).

        With supercars and education, if you wreck your first one, you just go buy a new one. Considering your insurance won’t cover it, the supercar companies actually make money off your stupidity. It’s only if the camera companies saw real profit in selling education that they’d start promoting it over wanton gear acquisition.

        • But they do: if your consumers knew what they were buying and why, it’d be easier to design and sell niche gear – which has much higher margins and longer lifespans. I know I have a core group of students who’ve gone from wherever to M4/3 on the basis of my logic, and now we’re all using D810s and Otuses. I’m sure there are more, but I don’t keep track of their hardware. Surely that has to have some value…even if it is to make halo products financially viable to make something aspirational for the masses.

    • Just because someone can buy a Porsche, does not mean the driver will get anywhere near what the car can do. Same goes for high performance motorcycles, and high megapixels cameras. Pencils, pens, and keyboards are incredibly easy to master, yet we still don’t see an explosion of writers; maybe they’re all doing videos. 😉

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Porshe (alone?) used to offer driver courses to their customers – at least in Germany !
        Ming has suggested – to deaf ears, it seems – that camera firms should.

        Motorcycles are marketed by cm^3 (or in^3) as cameras are by pixel counts (as you suggested).
        And who are the people who buy the Königseggs, Lamborginis etc., not expert drivers there either, or?

        In the first decades of personal computers the computers grew and the programs fattened,
        but their usefulness hardly increased. Not until they grew capable of handling photos and then video.

        Bloatware and declining endurance almost everywhere.
        I’ve long believed, that expensive products would, in the long term, be better, more efficient and evolve better,
        if we leased them instead of bying them.
        Large firms have a tendency to lease their cars.

        • I randomly chose Porsche as the example. The Porsche drivers school is excellent, though few Porsche drivers take advantage of that training. In the camera world, Nikon does run workshops, though I’m not sure how many attend those.

          The bigger is better mantra in motorcycles in the 1990s, and the quest for higher horsepower, resulted in machines that fewer riders being able to tell the difference. Differences of 1/10th of a second in the quarter mile would sell many machines, despite that most riders were lucky to get within a second of that quarter mile time published in the magazines. So then the prices went higher with the performance, and the machines got scarier for most riders, until the high performance motorcycle market gave way to cruisers. We’re not quite at cruiser level in photography, so perhaps that’s a revolution yet to appear.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHp3jqRj-jg – Lamborghini Huracan crash M7 motorway

          Finally with computers the endless talk about processor speed as a marketing tool has largely vanished from conversation. I use to ask people whether they could type faster, since their computer processor was faster. 😉 The computer companies now appear to understand how people use computers most of the time.

          I think we will see a technology backlash in the near future with cameras. We’re past the point of sufficiency and usefulness for more megapixels for many users. Sure, there will be some who can take advantage of more performance, but that pool of end users is becoming smaller. What I think we really need now in cameras is faster and more accurate autofocus, easier connectivity for getting images out of cameras, less confusing menus and controls, and better build quality.

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            Good for Nikon, maybe feed back from the pupils sometime starts spilling back to construction / design ?

            I bought a 250 cm3 (Honda offroad) bike and learned to drive in my 50:s.
            I read a lot of (Swedish) MC magazines, but it was in the end their abuse of language I enjoyed.
            Well, even many cruisers are marketed with the “bloatware” in them.

            Hungary Crash video: I guess the videographer was just as much asleep (not) cutting as he was in the car not getting his camera up in time again.
            When I moved to Germany (from Sweden, -72) I had to relearn driving on motorways.
            The front passenger seat was always called Beifahrersitz, i.e. codriver seat.

            Computers: Yes they used to hype speed, but in the first decades software bloated and swallowed the speed without getting really more efficient.
            I sometimes wondered who payed whom for that pretended progress.
            ( But I guess it was often higher languages with less efficient compiling.)

            Let’s hope you are right about cameras.

            And we need schooling against advertising.
            Why not as a school subject, let kids bring what has impressed them for discussion in class.

            As a kid I was once very much disappointed by the reality of a toy compared to the advertising.
            That more or less inoculated me, my scepticism has stayed.
            When I lived in Germany an old lady I visited said:
            “I must try that (whatever it was), it’s been on television.”
            And she gave the impression that that for her was a stamp of approval!
            I guess most people are somewhere in between though.

            • It seems that quite a few enjoy Kai over at DigitalRevTV and his “revues” of cameras, though many think he is not serious enough. Mostly the DigitalRev guys are the exception, in that the approach is about taking images. A great example is the serious of professionals being handed a cheap camera.

              I’m really not sure where the camera companies go from here. I suppose they have to try the higher megapixels, but the bulk of sales and revenues is from the low end, and that market is fading. A camera with features like a smartphone would get slammed on the internet, as all the enthusiasts collectively scream about the lack of controls, lack of buttons and dials, and lack of lack of obscure menu settings they are sure everyone needs. Despite that, the average person wants ease of use, not looking at an owner’s manual, or maybe having a friend show them how to use it, which completely describes a smartphone.

              It would be cool if a company would launch a camera as simple as a smartphone. Panasonic may be onto something with their better camera smartphone, if enough people buy that over an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. Nikon tried with the original Nikon 1 launch, but price points were far off that market segment, enthusiasts whined about the lack of physical controls, and the marketing missed the target. The Leica T seems interesting, at least in the looks, simple controls, and menu direction, but high price and lack of lens choices means most people will never see one.

              • I thought Nikon actually got a lot of things right with the 1 series – sufficient resolution, really really good AF, size, etc. but marketed and priced it terribly. They should have axed the low end DSLR line, made some cheap f1.8 primes for the 1 series, then handed them to people who could actually shoot to figure out how the cameras could push the envelope (sport, family stuff, spontaneous documentary, for starters). Instead we get models in reds and pinks and targeted at women. Sigh.

                • I do too, and I still have my Nikon V1. The lack of fast lenses is the biggest issue. Autfocus performance is amazingly quick and accurate. No idea what Nikon was thinking with the marketing, though I think the ideas went over better in Japan. If Nikon brings out more lenses soon, then maybe they can salvage the Nikon 1 system, but slow zoom lenses are not going to help. We don’t need more colours either, though maybe an AW2 in safety orange would work well. 😉

                  • I wanted one, but couldn’t stomach the price and now they’ve disappeared. So much for that. Open thought: the later higher MP versions would be pretty good for wildlife work, especially in remote locations where hauling gear is a disadvantage. Then you could stitch for landscapes…

                    • The V3 seems good, if you don’t want to use a flash, because it’s viewfinder or flash on one. That 70-300mm would be the wildlife lens, and quite the surprise in the Nikon 1 system. What I would like is some sort of flash adapter, so I could at least put a Pocketwizard on one. I’ve tried the EyeFi card in the V1, and it seems like a great Polaroid replacement when combined with a tablet (Google Nexus). There is a patent suggesting a 24-70 ƒ2,8 zoom (equivalent), and while I don’t care for zoom lenses, that ƒ2,8 would help. What’s curious is that more megapixels didn’t appear to help performance (DXOmark and low light samples). There is no V4 in my future without faster lenses.

                    • But the cost! You are not really gaining that much over other things you can buy for the same money. Nikon’s own D7100 comes to mind. The 1 series really need to be cheaper, or at least have a more accessible entry point to convince people by letting them try it. And the only way to do that is reduce the barriers to entry – in this case, cost.

            • Sadly not. These classes are more about photographing models than learning photography or even worse, getting design feedback.

          • We also need an optical solution for diffraction (more tilt shifts) and lenses that can actually keep up with the sensors…

        • Porsche and BMW do it in Malaysia, and I think it’s necessary to have some degree of understanding of your vehicle – especially with high power and RWD for people who are used to FWD and low power (majority of buyers).

          There are also a lot of accidents involving supercars and inexperience – people tend to learn fast because there are mortal consequences. Not so with a poor image; you just buy another camera/lens thinking that will be the solution 🙂

      • Or artists for that matter.

        I think they’re all on paid company junkets taking selfies with the latest camera and posting them on instagram…

  54. Woah! Not the only one apparently detecting a “tone” to this post…well, although I enjoy very much your “user reports” on gear that you use, I was one that voted against more reviews on your site. Education, technique, and visual results are worth so much more. But to be “told” not to review something unless…maybe I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am. 😡
    Customs charging you? I thought cameras and other electronic items were duty free here in Malaysia; am I out of date, or has something changed?

    • What’s changed is our customs officials have gotten more zealous, and frankly, local management thinks they are god. Cameras should be tax free but I guess they’re practicing taxing everything in anticipation of GST. I have not had a single parcel arrive in the last three months that has not attracted some kind of duty. Having to pay money to do a review – the A7II and lenses were close to $400 – and endure abuse from trolls and demands from camera companies is just not worth it.

  55. I saw the preview of the camera a few days back in a video from Jared Polin, and instantly the same question that you made came to my mind: is the current generation of lenses capable to cope with 50MP of resolution? I have seen many photographers promoting the 85 1.8 over the 85 1.4 when using those lenses with the D800/810 for the simple fact that the lens imperfection is more visible due to the higher MP count; I wonder how is Canon going to cope with that.
    Regarding photographers and “photographers” (those who are in this Business just for the sake of getting the highest MP camera, a.k.a., a longer d..k than the guy next to him) it still surprises me that, after most of the mainstream of photographers said once and over again that the medium does not guarantee a “good” photograph, they still behave like a Pavlov’s dog in front of a new release with more MP.
    As you can see, you are not the only one annoyed about the public’s reaction. Only two days back, upon seeing my portfolio, two completely different people told me “your camera must be really good”, to which I replied: “You can have a nuclear warhead, but if you don’t know how to detonate it you just have an expensive U-238 paperweight”.

    Don’t change man, keep it up.


    • Well, I’m sure Polin, Huff and co think it’s the best thing since sliced bread 🙂

      • Actually, he just pointed facts of the camera, what it can do, as well as who is it pointed towards to. He said what’s true: is a camera that will be useful to a niche of the photography community. Pretty sober comment.
        Regarding Huff… had no idea he existed, just googled him and I lasted literally one minute there; seriously, how can somebody have that kind of early 2000s layout in his website? 😛

        • Easy if you think everything is great and plaster it with ads!

        • This might shed some additional “light” on the subject >> http://huffparanormal.com/

          • A colossal WTF here. I’m sorry, but I just can’t take this guy seriously anymore. Apparently spirits require use of filters, too. I suppose the popularity of this explains the aesthetic of his photography in general though…

            • I’m shocked to know that you took him seriously before you found out he was a Ghost Buster! 🙂

              • Let’s just say I have always judged the validity of a ‘photographer’s opinion by the quality (or lack thereof) of their images – not to mention the number of ads they carry from the brands they review…

                • Wow, what a low level.

                • He’s a salesman and a blogger and is super enthusiastic and infectiously bubbly. He doesn’t think he’s an artist and only claims to do real world reviews. You are at a totally different level of visual sophistication, that is clear to anyone who takes even a quick look at the quality of your work. There is an artistic development and a struggle to reach a level of expression. Camera companies are all about selling more, it’s a business but the really great manufacturers do have a commitment to the art. I would hope Nikon, Zeiss, Pentax etc do value your input!

                  • Surely it’s simple to justify: good output -> first thought, ‘good equipment!’ Crappy snapshots…er…what, exactly?

                    Nikon is not interested, Pentax is not interested unless it’s one of their subsidiaries looking for product shots to steal, and Zeiss…well, they’re probably the last one of the good guys. 🙂

            • “…So how do spirits use a scanning radio to leave messages from beyond the grave? It is not how you think. After years of study and research and thousands of pieces of evidence captured I have realized a few things.”

              That ghosts prefer to communicate using the electronics I’m hocking on this site?

              It all kinda goes to sh*t right there, doesn’t it?

              More disturbingly, all part and parcel of America’s re-emerging fascination with pseudo-science, even as studies in the STEM fields decline.

              I imagine sociologists could find the corollary between declining education / declining middle class / uncertainty about the future … and an uptick in superstitious belief systems, but that’s another topic altogether.

    • A bigger issue is using these high megapixel cameras hand-held, especially at slower shutter speeds. I suspect most of these cameras will be used that way. I know a long time professional photographer who uses a D800E stopped down to ƒ22 for the depth of field. Many end users do not understand the limitations in using these high megapixel cameras. Ming is one of the few advocating proper technique, even amongst professionals.

      • Even then, I’m not sure I have the workflow/ technique 100% perfect – we keep veering into unknown territory every time a new iteration of hardware is released. Even with a significant amount of controlled experimentation, there are so many edge cases and complex interactions between hardware, light, subject etc. that the results may not be what we expect, and worse still, they’re counterintuitive enough that we can’t really figure out why, either.

        To get the most out of the 36MP+ cameras, forget about handholding. Forget about light tripods. Forget about anything but the best lenses and even then, tilt shifts are your friend both for the larger image circle and DOF control without running into diffraction. But of course none of the manufacturers want to admit that, because it reduces the audience and sales…

        • Oddly nothing tilt/shift in m4/3 offerings. Olympus made one during the film era. I’m not sure if off-axis light would cause other issues on m4/3.

          • It might because of the very thick filter pack.

            • Michael Reed says:

              seeing how both Panasonic and Olympus are filling out their lens lines, plus what other companies (canon/nikon) offer, and this is a niche, a tilt/shift was probably very low on their list. Besides, if a tilt shift is important for your business and you want to use an m43 for this, an m43 adapter could possibly work.

              • No, I explained in a previous comment this isn’t an option because of weight/ lack of precision and gearing on the adaptors. It’s a good idea but the execution is usually so bad it doesn’t work in practice. And for small sensors only very small movements are required to begin with.

                • Michael Reed says:

                  Every camera, lens, system is a compromise, a set of strengths and weaknesses. trying to make one camera to rule them all is a folly. I noticed that some photographers that make a very good living at selling their photo/video excellance have mulitiple tools (cameras) in their arsenal and will use the tool they feel will best meet the paying customer’s goals. this way they can also bid on many types of jobs and keep the money rolling in all year long. what ever brings home the bacon be it an m43 camera or the Nikon D810 is in thier equipment cabinet.

                  Now adapters run the gamut from verry, verry good to the other extreme (trash) with basiclly the better ones costing more. some people do very well with adapted lenses, but again it is very dependant on the lens/camera/adapter combination.

                  If tilt/shift is important for you, and your willing to pay for one of these lenses, then why mess with an m43 adapter? From a cost perspective, the price of the better adapters is the better part of the cost of last years good Nikon/Canon bodies. And in some markets, there are very good deals on used bodies in excellant condition due to some people who have to rush out and buy the latest and greatest and dump their current stuff.

                  • I’m not. I was curious.

                    • Michael Reed says:

                      and for the curios, a site recently reported a conversation with an Olympus general manager of product planning: no tilt shift from Olympus due to being such a small niche and implies no profit (probably a loss). To cover the tilt/shift market, Olympus would need 4-5 lenses just like Canon and Nikon. The olympus tilt/shift lens quality would not only need to compete with the Canon/Nikons in this market but also the Schneider lenses. that would be a pretty hefty investment for Olympus for lots of pain (loss). the lenses would be pretty expensive with not a lot of sales. I personnaly would like to see Olympus to be profitable (stay alive).

  56. johndriggers says:

    I generally agree with your observation:

    “I don’t see the 8-shot 40MP mode being that useful in practice because it’s effectively got the same limitations as stitching – and if I’m going to stitch, I might as well use…”

    But I am still intrigued by getting a one pixel value for R, G & B and the resulting impact on both colour and moire that might offer. Initial (and therefore quick) tests already posted elsewhere show that there is some great potential, albeit locked down on a tripod with good glass and a stationary subject.

    With the caveat you (correctly) offer, that these features can be somewhat narrow tools for limited shooting situations, I still look forward to a Ming-style thoughtful analysis and hope you have the inclination to explore this colour related feature and what it means in final images.

    John Driggers
    Adelaide, South Australia

    • Sorry, but as I said in the article, it’s only going to happen if I’m offered one to review locally. I’m not paying money to buy one out of curiosity just to write a review, nor are internationally-sourced loaners practical because of import tax. And given that the company has decided not to work with people who give reviews that aren’t perfect scores, the chances of any review happening are virtually nil.

  57. Hi Ming, I totally agree with you, However I’m happy for companies to push this stuff onto to the professionals or any sucker willing to pay. All it does is make the current technology cheaper for creatives that might actually have a use for it. I can see sub$1000 “low res” FF being a close reality. Reaganomics works!:P

    • Don’t D700’s go for that kind of money now? They are no less good or capable just because higher resolution options exist.

      • True. I guess I was talking new retail, or that full frame might become the new affordable, like the current aps-c dslrs

        • Same question though – what would you expect from a new, lower-res FF camera that you can’t get already from a second hand one? If anything it seems that build quality, AF ability etc. is likely to be sacrificed for price – these weren’t in the previous models.

          • Compact mirrorless. Something smaller than a d700

            • Yawn i know.. But really it was the fact that I could get could image quality comparable to film in a form factor comparable to film at a reasonable price that got me into photography in the first place. As I grow in photography, the idea of something full frame comparable to what i currently use is very appealing, and something I would actually have use for and would have effect on elements of my work absolutely. I dont have much use for a d700 becasue it doesnt fit my way of working, so I will stick with what I have. The talk of sufficiency is one thing, but there is a huge variation in image quality between cameras and their form factors even less than 2 years ago. This is in evident the quality of images being made with mobile phones. We thought 1g HDD where HUGE in the late 90s, we chewed that idea pretty quickly. Ultra prints where not a possibility a few short years ago. Photography is a completely medium orientated artform, The more I learn about photography the more I understand that. It does actually matter what equipment you use vs results you want. Sure its achievable with lesser equipment, but if there is a better option available… and if not then someones going to ask for it. Stanley Kubrick with all his vision simply could not have shot the interior scenes in Barry Lydon (and been happy with them) without his million dollar Zeiss loaner from NASA.

          • I’d expect the sensor to punch pretty hard despite the price. D700’s sensor was good, but these days it really can’t compete in noise or DR. That and a lighter body which would be nice.

  58. Thanks, that was a great article, I totally agree.

  59. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Except, that the upgradeitists pay for the larger production that makes these toys.. ahem, tools more affordable to those who need them.


    ( Me? I’m looking for the right affordable mirrorless for large prints plus tilt/shift adapter for SLR lenses, Canon EOS-M3 might turn out to be the one, or maybe Fuji comes out with its rumored new sensor – is Nikon asleep?
    There are e.g. T/S adapters for Canon EF lenses for M4/3 and Sony E-mount cameras, and adapters from EF to other lenses.)

    • If you can wait a little bit, we might see an excellent T/S lens with an Sony E-Mount coming! But this is unfortunately still condfidential!

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        ( But I think I’ll try to avoid Sony for now, Ming has warned us enough about their RAW file compression.)
        For much of my use (see my note to Ming below) I’ll want a couple of different focal lengths.
        With dedicted T/S lenses that gets (for me) prohibitively expensive.

    • I too thought those TS adaptors were interesting until I discovered on a trip to Tokyo and some time with various examples that none of them are geared, which means they lack the ability to precisely move the lenses. Worse still when the tripod mount is on the body, the lenses are heavy, and you only need very small movements with smaller sensors…in practical terms, unfortunately they are not usable.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Ming, thanks for sharing your experience!

        My only experience is with a Zörkendorfer tilt adapter on my SLR with a tripod.
        Although it was ungeared, it was fairly useful with not to heavy lenses.
        I used it for infinite DOF with close-ups e.g. on ice,
        finetuning the camera position compensated for the lack of precision in setting the tilt angle.
        It was sometimes slow work, of course.

        Would you consider that possible with any of the adapters you tried?

        I can certainly see also your point on stability as most SLR lenses are heavier than those I used,
        e.g. a Tessar 1:3.5 / 75 .
        I see I’ll have to get my hands on something first…

  60. Personally I’m much more curious about wether Canon catched up with DR or not.
    I’d really like to know which company had the nerve to ask you for a perfect scoring review. IMO they derseve to be named. But I also respect that you wouldn’t do that!

    • Jackson Jones says:

      I agree. Name this company. Expose them for what they are. There is no reason at all to protect such dreck.

      • No need for me to descend to their level of unprofessionalism, either.

        • Jackson Jones says:

          How is this unprofessional? Rather it more likely seems that you are protecting their unprofessionalism. I would never, ever associate with a company that directed you to give a positive review. Thanks to your protection, I cannot make that choice.

          • Read between the lines of the post and comments. I’ve already made it clear enough which company it is. There’s no need to accuse ME of protecting them.

            I’m also aware that since nothing is provable, it’s possible they will come back and accuse me of libel. I also need to protect my own interests.

    • Canon is saying DR is similar to its previously released cameras (or something to that effect).

      • Which means they’ll still trail a stop or more behind the D810. Limitations of physics with the current limits of electronics: smaller pixels mean less DR, unfortunately.

    • Let’s say they launched one of the two cameras I mentioned, and previously I’d have been invited to review a final production unit before the embargo was released.

  61. Ming,

    I’ve think you’ve nailed it by asking whether the type of images you shoot is resolution dependent. I mostly shoot people. The question for me is whether the eyes, wrinkles or other such details are sufficiently sharp within the 16-24 MP range I shoot. But maybe I’m missing something? If so, I’d be curious to hear an argument for more resolution. For my purposes, an Otus 55/85 is an overkill unless of course someone wants to insist that the reflection of the photographer in the subject’s iris could be a tad sharper.

    • You’re not missing anything. 50MP on a person’s face is not just overkill, it can be unflattering and an enormous amount of retouching work even with good starting talent and makeup. I bet few have said they want sharper irises to see the photographer’s reflection in a waist level portrait…

      • I understand this perspective in principal but don’t people use 80MP phase ones for fashion/portrait all the time? i’ve seen some really nice MF digital portraits with next to no retouching (certainly no “liquify” in photoshop).
        I also think that flattery (as defined by how visible are wrinkles) is maybe not the only goal of portraiture (it can be obviously but I’m a big fan of those massive chuck close head shots).

        • Honestly? It’s because art directors want ‘space to crop’ so they can use one (expensive) image with one (expensive) model etc. for multiple purposes. More pixels means more room; the output never has enough resolution to justify 80MP. Store posters are never more than about 100 real PPI.

          • Interesting.
            Naturally I’m sure prestige/status is another element.
            I’m sure the most ritzy fashion related companies prefer the association with the most expensive gear.

            • That has nothing to do with photography and everything to do with showing off…

              • exactly…the name of the game in that sector i would guess.
                i remember seeing a D800 vs MF shootout on a fashion gig and the last line from one of the participants had to do with using a phase one as a way of separating himself and his company from potential competitors, images notwithstanding. in other words he would not want to show up at a gig and have others be able to say “i use that same camera!” and thus reduce his brand value….and flashing a highly niche $60,000 camera that very few people have (relatively speaking) makes the client think he is “one of the best”.
                sad but true….

  62. MING, an excellent report, you’re 100% on the right track!

  63. Jackson Jones says:

    “what is it that you are missing with your current setup..” Absolutely nothing. I was out today with my Nikon FM2n loaded up with Neopan 400 and shooting through a Nikkor 24mm f/2 AIS lens. A beautiful day, perfect for a walk with a small SLR. Tonight, after a rest, I’ll mix up some HC-110 and soup up my film and if history is any guide, enjoy the results from my day.

    I’ll leave these cameras mentioned above to the measurebators.

  64. All i can really say is that i AM surprised you can fit 50MP on a 35mm sensor effectively. i remember when people thought 36MP was barely possible…but that has turned out quite well indeed for my use. when they invented the “compromise format” of 35mm i’m sure they had no idea such things were possible.
    The chances of me switching my rig to Canon just for those extra 14MP is basically 0% but just for the sake of entertainment i am eager to see what you have to say about it Ming when you deploy w Otus, etc.
    going from 12MP (D700) to 36MP (D810) essentially meant i can now produce prints at least 1/3rd larger with equal or even superior easily visible sharpness on a 2-3 foot print…but they had to TRIPLE the resolution, drop base ISO, and redesign the shutter to get there. It was completely worth the investment and the improvement is obvious.
    36 to 50 is a smaller leap and there is no chance that an equal jump in quality is possible there. If i want to go insane and fill a wall with a print I’m going to be stitching either way and the DR seems unlikely to be improved on a 50MP 35mm sensor with those tiny tiny photosites.
    either way…i am no Nikon fundamentalist and I look forward to your no doubt super thorough review even if it’s purely for educational purposes.
    thanks again!

    • If you´d use the pixel-size of an Oly EM-1 on a full-frame sensor, you end up with 64 MP. Take those of a Nikon 1 V3 and you´ll get over 130! 50 MP on full-frame is almost nothing in these terms, there will be more soon I am afraid. Diffraction and glas are the limits!

      • Yes. And even if the glass can resolve at a sufficient level – curiosity leading to experiments with Otii on Nikon 1 tend to suggest they still can resolve very well at 130MP equivalent – diffraction is quite another matter. 50MP on FF means f5.6-f8 for the practical limit before visible softening, and in a lot of circumstances, this is simply not enough. There are tilt shifts, but these aren’t exactly practical to use off-tripod, either.

    • I’m sorry to disappoint you, Eli, but perhaps you missed the bit where I said there won’t be a review unless one magically turns up. I am not buying one, loaners now cost me money, and none of it is worth the abuse that comes through my inbox.

      • yeah i read the part about no cameras directly from canon, etc. but you don’t think you might happen to run into one along the way?? I think there will be quite a few around and not hard to access. since you are much more demanding than the average reviewer i bet it would be interesting to see you really put the 50MP to the test.

        • ‘Running into one’ wouldn’t be a meaningful test. What you don’t see behind the scenes with my reviews is that there’s a week of work/ testing with several units to rule out sample variation (more common than you might think). That needs manufacturer or dealer support.

  65. Ming,

    I’m a long time reader, first time poster. Never seen you this annoyed, to the point of petulance. I for one am looking forward to the m5-II for the video improvements. Love my M1 but the video could grade better. And yes the IS on my M1 makes my shots so much better than they would be otherwise. Anyway, I’m not really sure what these two cameras you include in this post have to do with one another, other than they were announced this week. They are different tools with vastly different advantages. They advance the opportunities for pros and hobbyists and I take it that your point is some of these opportunities will not be realized by a lot of people. I would argue though that the canon will undoubtedly be the more difficult tool to extract all the value from.

    • To me it sounds like Ming got an influx of emails after these new camera launches (granted he probably gets them after every launch) asking for his opinion, and he got sick of them.

    • Both get users into resolution ranges that were either previously inaccessible without a lot of faff, money, or presumably some degree of skill/capability. Unfortunately the majority of those users still do not really understand what they’re getting into, but expect me to sanction it so their wallets don’t feel so guilty. That is why I am annoyed.

      • Fair enough Ming. I have no idea what pressures you face as a reviewer. You’re site remains an excellent resource to close readers. Plus, you’ve started a good debate. I still think these cams have almost nothing in common other than they take pictures.

        • Thanks Justin. You made a good point: they take pictures. Most ‘photographers’ these days don’t seem to do that anymore. What they have in common is that they stretch the performance envelope (good) and put it in the hands of people with smaller budgets (also good) but unfortunately no clue how to use it (not good). Kinda like making Ferraris available at $15,000…

    • Ming has actually posted about the underlying problem before: People insolently demanding reviews without a second thought about opportunity and/or costs involved. It’s neither fair nor sensible to expect Ming to spring into action upon every new release – he stated clearly that he cannot and will not review everything indiscriminately. I think that the E-M5 II might actually hold enough interest for him to get his hands on one eventually, but if Canon or someone distributing their products don’t come through with a review unit, I doubt we’ll see a review any time soon – which is absolutely okay with me, and should be with other readers. Ming’s a working pro, not the industry’s paid lackey – that’s why I trust his reviews a whole lot more than others! I am grateful if he does one – but I wouldn’t think of requesting one if I wasn’t willing to provide a review unit. I think people should think along those lines a little more – or subscribe (or donate or whatever).

      • Matthias, I don’t plan to buy the E-M5II either. We in the same situation there as the Canon.

        If I were running these companies I’d want objective reviews of my products out there, especially if I was confident they were good products to begin with. The more credible scores given, the better; the more good images produced, the better. But hey, I don’t evangelise or use the filters, so what do I know? 🙂

        • Ming, subjective reviews like yours help products become more refined and just better for the end user. I for one appreciate your reviews and have made purchasing decisions partially based on what you’ve had to say. To your greater point, I’ve acknowledged that my gear is much better than me long ago.

          • The camera companies do not think so. They would rather pay people like Huff to evangelise and gloss over shortcomings they can’t even see or understand due to their own lack of knowledge. An ignorant consumer is a happy one, and an easy one to sell an upgrade to!

            • I think some of the bloggers give rave reviews for all new cameras so they get more money from referral links… In fact I am fairly certain of this…. 🙂

              • That’s what I’m doing wrong! My referral links don’t quite even cover my hosting and bandwidth costs…

                • Lyle Kimms says:

                  I agree with other comments regarding how reviews can be so one sided, namely glorifying the product while dismissing or not even bothering to mention its shortcomings (e.g., Sony A7M2 by one popular reviewer). Rarely do I see objective product reviews from other sites.

                  But I think you have enough followers here to support you for your review/opinion of cameras. What I means is, we can see who are willing to donate for your review of a particular camera. You can run a poll on what cameras people want to review. People who do want to review can donate enough for you to purchase and review the camera. I for one want to see your review of Canon 5DsR.

                  • We did run a poll. The results were not encouraging, or the silent majority was enormous. I doubt people would be willing to pay $200+ to read a 5DSR review, though that said – it’s very cheap compared to the financial risk/cost of buying that whole system.

                    • Lyle Kimms says:

                      I was thinking like maybe you had enough people (500+ people) to contribute between $5-$20USD for a camera review

                • Bang! the penny drops….

                  You want to make money or sell an ideal?

                  Oh cynical I know.

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