Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pixel Peeping - E-P2 v G12

I am often amused by the "dirty look" I get from my photographer friends when I mention pixel peeping ;) What's wrong with wanting to pixel peep?

According to the Urban Dictionary, a pixel peeper is:

1) A digital photographer who magnifies photographs on the computer screen to critically evaluate image resolution at the pixel level. Commonly used as a derogatory remark to describe:

a) A photography n00b who erroneously believes that the quality of a digital camera is determined solely by the number of mega pixels.

b) Insecure troll who frequents digital camera forums to religiously proclaim how his/her camera pixel count is greater than yours.

c) Wanna be photographer who debates about pixel count all day but doesn't have the talent to take a half-decent photograph.

Talk about being nasty ;)

I for one, pixel peep all the time; not in the noob or troll way, before I archive my fresh shots, I always zoom in to 100% on screen on selected shots.

This is the only way I can be sure that the image is sharp and at the same time I look out for digital artifacts and blemishes.

What prompt me to do this test was after Chris Bing, a friend and Nikon die-hard; drop into my office yesterday.

Chris brought with him some enlargements of selected shots he did on his last trip to Hong Kong and Viet Nam. There were some stunning shots, but the one that really grabbed me was a night shot of the Bank of Hong Kong building he took with his wife's Canon S90.

The sharpness and saturation of that A2 blow-up is spectacular! It is hard to believe a tiny sensor in the S90 (smaller than your little finger nail) can retained all that resolution and information! I must replicate the scenario and see for myself.

I called Chris and request to use the bank shot. Within the next hour I receive the hi-res 10 MB JPEG file from him! Thanks Chris!

He said...

"Hi CY, the reflection is the Hong Kong Bank.

Canon S90, 6mm focal length(the widest), ISO 100 @ 1/6 sec f2.8; hand held with support on the balcony .

PS.. the shot took about 5 min to set up in manual mode. If I had my D3 it would have taken 30 sec to set up the shot!"

The night shot taken by Chris with a S90 point & shoot.

Above is a 100% slice from the picture, looking at the detail I am sure the print look better, sharper! Then I remember Chris got the enlargement done at Imagelab, their Lambda print division must have done a great job!

No matter, with Le General at a MLM meeting, I pack my cameras and head for my favorite "lens testing spot" near our Oversea Terminal at the waterfront.

Today's exercise is to compare and pixel peep the results from my Olympus E-P2 (12.3 megapixels) and the Canon G12 (10 megapixels).

The E-P2's imaging sensor however is SIX TIMES LARGER than that of the G12!

G12 is using the 1/1.7" sensor, while the E-P2 is the same size as the Four Thirds System.

In my previous indoor test of this two compact, my results was inconclusive; it seems the G12 was nearly as good as the 6X larger E-P2. Is that possible in the real world? We are going to find out today!

My favorite Oriental Bay vista was shot with E-P2 on the left and G12, the right. Both cameras were set to ISO 200 and auto white balance were used. See how different the colour are!

These are the 100% cuts, top E-P2; bottom, G12. Lets zoom in even more, say; 200% of these?

Top, E-P2; G12 below. Can you see the difference? More?

Still can't see the difference? More??

At more than 600% we can only see a very subtle difference between the two image files!

The E-P2 file at that GIANT magnification, look a bit smoother than the G12. But that is to be expected, at six times larger than your rival; I expect Olympus to do better!

Famous Last Words:

So I have proven once and for all that...

1. Point & shoot cameras with smaller sensors can be nearly as good as those with larger sensors.

2. In the real world you will not see the difference anyway!

3. So all of you noobs and trolls, get a life and go shoot pictures without worrying about your pixels! DUH!!


Anonymous said...

I've spent weeks trying to decide between a G12 and a Lumix G2 which was heavily discounted. This has helped me decide in favour of the Canon. The cheap price of the G2 is a false economy anyway. I'd have to factor in the price of replacing the plastic mount kit lens--as well as getting into a new lens system when I already have an SLR.


cy.leow said...

Glad my posting actually help! I think you made the right choice! Enjoy your G12, I am still loving mine ;) - CY

Anonymous said...

After all the rationalisation when I got to the camera shop I discovered a Lumix GF2 with the 14mm pancake for much less than the G12 so I bought that instead. It's such a great little device. And within a week I'd already bought the new Sigma 30mm to go with it. So much for not getting into a new lens system. I've been comparing my Pentax KX (with Pentax 40mm pancake L) photos and that combo stomps all over the Lumix in colour, contrast, dynamic range and high ISO performance. And it's obvious without pixel peeping. But guess which camera is with me all the time? So now I have two upgrade paths. Eventually a new Pentax body (in a year my guess is there'll be a K-01 upgrade with an EVF and maybe a cheap runout G3 or G1X. Where does it all end? FJ