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Reader Comment: Image Quality of 2019 Cameras

Jason W writes:

Looking back at your Hasselblad H6D-100C images posted just one year ago, I'm kind of thrown by how has happened since then. At the time, short of the 150 megapixel back, it was the very best image quality available and it really towered above the rest. It was the best image quality you'd posted up until that point, and it was so by a good margin.

But yet, in just one year, the Fujifilm GFX100 and Sony A7R IV have matched or toppled it for a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, with the Nikon 850 Monochrome and frame averaging techniques, you've again posted the highest quality field images I've seen to date. You have to wonder what will be available this time next year that will make the current options seem sedate.

DIGLLOYD: golden age of photography!

Jason W writes again:

I completely agree with James K about the GFX100 je ne sais quoi and these are your best images. I'll offer my theory, which is subjective, but this is a subjective point.

1) You personally shoot more compelling compositions with the 4:3 aspect ratio than 3:2. I believe I told you this before when you posted your early impressions of the GFX50S. The only time I think you're as good on 3:2 is shooting 25mm. I feel like that's true with Batis or Milvus variants.

2) Native 100 megapixels is more natural than anything produced by Gigapixel+A7RIV. Good as it is, I see artifacts in Gigapixel on tight rock formation lines and especially oceans that remind me of the "wormy" artifacts you pointed out on X-Trans sensors. Not as bad and results vary but native is native.

3) Fujifilm GF lens draw. Unfortunately impossible to put these on the A7RIV to compare but they don't look like Zeiss, Voigtlander or Sigma and you can put most of those lenses on the GFX. I see all variety of lenses adapted on the GFX and you can still tell when what's mounted isn't the native glass.

DIGLLOYD: I do like 4:3, this is true. I have made some very fine images this trip on the A7R IV (many yet unpublished), so I’m at a loss to validate this idea.

100 megapixels is a plus on the oversampling front for sure, but if the pixels are less sharp or there is less depth of field (or more diffraction trying to get it) or more field curvature (definitely on the GF lenses), then there is a narrowing difference between 60 and 100 megapixels, which is a 1.3X linear resolving power difference (if the aspect ratio matches).

I never considered the GF lenses to be exceptional in rendering style, but I do think they are pleasing and very good. At any rate, I cannot afford a Fujifilm GFX100, not even close. So if the camera makes the photographer, I’m out of luck!

James K writes:

I still think that the images you made with the Fujifilm GFX 100 were excellent- your best. The GFX has the secret sauce for you the others don’t. Hopefully Fuji will fix the problems you noted and deliver a better shooting experience.

Greenstone Lake 2019-08-04 20:16:27
White Mountains 2019-08-10 5:49:15
Conness Lake 2019-08-04 20:11:33
Self Portrait seated close could not find the image.

The “feel” of the images is unique.

[diglloyd: I cannot easily locate images by keyword and date (the above ones), but with some effort I found the images above. URLs to the page are what I need, please. I guess I should write some more server search code for such stuff.]

DIGLLOYD:

I have published so far only a tiny fraction of the images made with the Sony A7 IV. But the images below I think fairly portray the camera quality, and I don’t think it plays second fiddle to the Fujifilm GFX100.

There may be a je ne sai quoi factor at work in favor of the GFX100, but I'm not seeing it in an obvious way. Possibly the aspect ratio and focal length are involved, or possibly it is about subject matter. Or it may be color rendition—I’d bet on that for starters—Sony has never put the work into improving color rendition IMO. The GFX100 might also handle highlights better. But proving this... hard.

Note that just two (2) frames with frame averaging reduces Sony A7R IV noise levels below that of the Fujifilm GFX100 medium format camera. Indeed, per-pixel noise levels are essentially identical for the two cameras (in a single frame). So at that point it boils down to pixel count. But...

Even megapixels (100 vs 60) can be dubious in terms of results over a variety of images—superior lenses deliver a big boost to achievable image quality—nothing in its range on GFX100 can even approach the Voigtlander 65mm f/2 on Sony A7R IV or the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art (the GF 23/4 can be good, but it’s one lens!) or the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art, which in spite of the latter two be less than optimal samples, impress mightily. If you capture at 60MP with an impeccable lens, then this narrows the gap to 100MP considerably.

CLICK TO VIEW: Lloyd’s “go to” outstanding lens kit for Sony A7R IV

Colorful Plants Approaching Alpine Pond
f8 @ 6.0 sec electronic shutter focus stack 3 frames, ISO 100; 2019-09-26 19:09:52
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art @ 14mm
ENV: Twenty Lakes Basin, altitude 10300 ft / 3139 m, 53°F / 11°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +100 Shadows, -73 Highlights, +57 Whites

[low-res image for bot]
Pine Lake at Dusk before Moonrise
f5.6 @ 30.0 sec electronic shutter frame averaging 4, ISO 100; 2019-10-12 18:50:29
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art @ 14mm
ENV: Pine Lake, altitude 9950 ft / 3033 m, 30°F / -1°C
RAW: LACA corrected, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

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