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Nikon/Canon/Sony Image Quality SUCKS vs Multi-Shot High-Res Mode — Golden Age of Photography Makes me Gripe that Best Ever Cameras Could be Way Better!

See my L-mount mirrorless wishlist and Leica M wishlist.

We are in the golden age of photography, which naturally makes me so eager about what can be achieve with computational photography that an existence proof of field-usabble computational photography makes me frustrated that it exists on only one camera.

For some, the golden age of photography means the ease of the iPhone and its computational photography including panoramas, multi-lens integration into one image, and other super easy-to-use goodies. The iPhone disapoints severely unless I shoot RAW/DNG where it does quite well for what it is, but it falls flat as a general tool for numerous reasons.

For me, the golden age of photography excites because of technologies Multi-Shot High-Res Mode in real cameras, and because so much more is possible. I chafe at the delay and sparse 'delivery'.

* iPhone JPEGs are garbage (this need not be so!), with massive smearing-away of detail and outrageous posterization which makes images hyper brittle for 'post'—fine for Instagram of course, at postcard size.

Computational photography with Multi-Shot High-Res Mode

Back in late April in Thoughts on Ultra High Resolution Imagery with Multi-Shot High-Res Mode, I was feeling enthusiastic about Multi-Shot High-Res mode. This post updates my thoughts.

Latest thoughts

Here in June when I see a Nikon Z7 or Sony A7R III image now, as I have over and over with recent published images, I am gobsmacked that by comparison, the standard Bayer matrix capture quality with Nikon/Canon/Sony is CRAP compared to what is possible with Multi-Shot High-Res mode. It doesn’t matter to me that some images need to be taken in single-shot mode; I can do that when necessary. The point is that so many images I make could benefit tremendously from Multi-Shot High-Res mode. Except that Nikon and Canon and Sony have no such mode. Sony’s pixel shift is worthless in the field; every time I try it the checkerboarding ruins the image.

These Sony/Nikon/Canon cameras lacking HighRes mode grate on me in delivering images with all sorts of digital artifacts free of real per-pixel detail—the images they produce are noisy, pixellated, brittle, artifacted approximations of what is actually possible. They suck.

Panasonic has figured out computational photography well enough to deliver the most stunningly useful feature (in terms of image quality) that I have ever seen in a digital camera. So I hope it is not patented somehow, precluding these other players from implementing it.

I don’t really want to buy a Panasonic S1R because it’s all about the lenses. What I want is or* Nikon and Canon and Sony to get their shit together and implement Multi-Shot High-Res mode as good or better than Panasonic. Nor will this feeling change if we see a 70MP Sony A7R IV—it is just not going to compete.

* Either, or, all.

See my April 25 post for more thoughts.

Claude F writes:

I’ve been reading the Multi-Shot High-Res mode reviews. Your observations regarding detail, in my case Sony, are spot on. The disappointment with the current crop of camera and lenses is just that a disappointment.

Multi shot interests me but I can’t see buying a camera that does not have the glass to go with it. If I take a single shot backup and have to use the single shot and the single shot does not cut it quality wise due to an inferior lens, that’s something I’m not going to trust and certainly not going to purchase. If camera, lens, multi shot worked reliably that would be a hands down game changer. Until then, stitching, take a look at the new Hasselblad.......

DIGLLOYD: based on past conversations, Claude prefers something in the ~35mm range. On the assumption that the Leica 35mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH will satisfy like its 75mm and 90mm siblings, and that the focus instability workaround* applies as with the 75mm and 90mm, the Panasonic S1R Multi-Shot High-Res mode ought to please Claude like no digital camera beyond measure.

The S1R does have the glass to go with it—the Leica SL lenses. If a lens can deliver for Multi-Shot, then it delivers just as well for single shot, to the extent that that the single-shot Bayer matrix capture delivers. If the lens is disappointing in single shot, then it’s a non-starter for MultiShot.

I can say without an reservation whatsoever that in optical terms the Leica 75mm f/2 APO Summicron-SL ASPH and the Leica 90mm f/2 APO Summicron-SL ASPH are two of the finest lenses I have ever used. I expect the same of the Leica 35mm f/2 APO Summicron-SL ASPH, which I am eager to test, but my order/loaner at B&H has been back-ordered a long time.

A key concern about Leica SL lenses , and based on too many credible sources telling me incroyable things about Leica S build quality as well as my own experience, reliability over time should be a concern, particularly internal parts and AF motor, which necessarily implicates service response time and cost, and warranty. I can see pending $5K on a Zeiss Otus which should last forever barring physical damage, but Leica SL lenses make me frown with reliability concerns. I would like to see the quality of of the Leica SL internal parts are (teardown), and I’d like to see at least a five (5) year full warranty along with US facilities for rapid turnaround (or a loaner while being serviced).

* See Unstable Focus: Orange Pine Tree Trunk and how to deal with it in Panasonic S1R: Notes on Focusing in HighRes Mode.

Actual pixels crop from 187 megapixel image
f8 @ 1/4 sec Multi-Shot HighRes, ISO 50; 2019-04-24 19:21:57
Panasonic S1R + Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2
ENV: Lee Vining Canyon, altitude 7400 ft / 2256 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]

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