Aug 112015
Downgraded Aps-C cameras ?

Downgraded Aps-C cameras ?

It can sound a little bit negative topic but I thought about it a lot. I don’t want to go in the negative zone too much.

The starting point for this Aps-C FF argument was I feel Canon Aps-C cameras much more downgraded in image departments, than the Nikon counterparts, even at lower isos. (Lots of noise, not so nice colors, etc). For a birder/wildlife photographer a higher end Aps-C would be preferable, Nikon also seems stopped the D300 line to guide folks towards Full frame. I don’t really need Full frame and especially not want to pay a price of a car for a proper wide angle, apart from a super expensive telephoto. It was interesting to read the rave reviews of the new Canon 7d II, which according to my perception still a long way to go to reach the picture quality of the Nikon d7000, but has a professional quick autofocus system.

Recently Canon released the new Canon 5ds and 5ds R cameras, with 50.6 megapixel resolution (I guess the idea of such cameras comes from the marketing department). When I first thought about the new camera I was interested about this huge resolution. To understand the matter a little bit better, I divided the 50.6 by 1.6 (crop factor) and after again by 1.6. The end result is around 20. This megapixel count would be this 50.6 megapixel FF sensor on an Aps-C format (the area is two dimensional this is why need to divide twice).

So in reality the Canon 5ds or 5d R has an up-sized Canon 7d II sensor. So it is more obvious that why the restricted ISO range of the camera. The Canon 5ds and 5ds R has an ISO range of 100-6400, while the Canon 5d3 (or the other Full frame models like the Canon 6d or the Canon 1 DX) has an iso range of 100-25,600.

“Noisy little pixels”

this is what I expected, but I thought resolution can be better at lower isos. The Canon 5ds is a kind of studio / poster camera, but can be used in wildlife as well.

But the story doesn’t ends there. Dxo measured both cameras, and the results can be checked below:

Camera Canon 5ds Canon 5ds R Canon 7d II
High ISO: 2381 2308 1082
Color depth: 24.7 24.6 22.4 bits
Dynamic range: 12.4 Ev 12.4 Ev 11.8 EV

The two camera with the same pixel size behaves completely differently. The Full frame myth (bigger pixels, better quality) has nothing to do with reality. The Canon 5ds has more than one stop advantage in high isos over the Canon 7d II, although they share the same pixel size (the 5ds pixels a tiny bit bigger). In fact the new Canon 5ds almost equals the Full frame 6d in this regard according to DXo measurement. The two camera has been released almost at the same time.

But don’t focus only on Canon let’s check Nikon as well. Nikon released the D800/D800e/D810 cameras. The 36 megapixel is essentially the same regarding pixel pitch to a 16 megapixel Aps-C or Dx sensor. So how the Nikon d7000 fares against the Nikon d800? We see the same things. The better quality has nothing to do with a pixel size.

Nikon D800
Nikon D7000
High ISO: 2853 1167
Color depth: 25.3 23.6
Dynamic range: 14.4 13.9

The Nikon d800 simply works as a usual Full frame camera, regarding DXO results, much better than the Nikon d7000 with a same pixel count.

There is an argument about the size of the sensor as well with the same pixel density. For example a 8Mp Aps-C camera has the same sized pixels as a 20 Megapixel FF camera (For example Canon 30d and the Canon 5d Mk II). Here between these two Canon models the difference is huge.

But for example the excellent Canon 5d is almost catched by a 24 Megapixel Nikon DX camera in high iso department. At the other two areas bettered according to measurement. The story otherwise is much more complicated than these numbers, what is really count how the end results looks. At resolution the Nikon wins hand down I think, but in look, many prefer the “Canon look” over the “Nikon look”. To add a little bit more info, the Nikon desaturate higher isos, and the real iso of the old Canon is much higher at higher sensitivities. The Nikon has better software for noise reduction.

Nikon D7200
Canon 5d
High ISO: 1333 1368
Color depth: 24.5 22.9
Dynamic range: 14.6 11.1

What do you think ?

 Posted by at 4:00 pm