Being the first is overrated. What matters is being the best. Google wasn’t the first search engine, but it’s the best. Facebook wasn’t the first social networking website, but it’s the best. Nikon was the first to deliver autofocus in video mode. But Canon now has the best implementation as seen on the recently released EOS 70D, thanks to the new on-sensor dual pixel autofocus technology. Take that Nikon and Sony.
We had to wait a little for it, but with this kind of technology I’m all for Canon Inc. taking their time to come up with a good solution rather than a crappy first implementation. This is also why we haven’t yet seen a flip out LCD screen on the higher end models, and why there’s no electronic viewfinder in our DSLRs yet. Trust me on this, once we get our electronic viewfinders out, combined with fast on-sensor phase detection AF, it’ll revolutionize photography.
I wanted to elaborate a little on the recent podcast I did with Planet5D. I mentioned some stuff that I want to clarify a little more.
First is the 70D image quality. I still don’t understand what it is about the fucking megapixels that makes people go crazy. On bigger sensors it makes sense, but not on smaller sensors. At least not right now with the current state of our technology. Increasing the amount of pixels only degrades the image quality more in terms of noise especially at the higher ISO values. The images get to look too rough and grainy and I fucking hate that. Not to mention the fact that the colors look more washed out as well. Even on the 7D this is a problem. I am fucking tired of complaining about this to Japan. The sensor in the 70D could have been kept at around 12-16 megapixels and that would have been enough. The image quality would have been so much better.
Check out the above image at 100%. It’s a fucking travesty. Sample images are from Canon Inc.’s website. That landscape photo is shot at ISO 100 at f/11. Check out the noise in the sky. If I didn’t know better I would think that image is shot at ISO 400 or perhaps even ISO 800. But ISO 100??? Jesus fucking christ. My God, my God. And keep in mind that this is probably JPEG with noise reduction turned on. I really don’t want to see the RAW image. It’s probably a fucking nightmare. And at f/11, check out the fine detail in the forest and water. This is what all this extra resolution is for right?? RIGHT?????????? Instead of trees and leafs what we have is fucking green mush. I’m getting fucking tired of pointing out that increasing the megapixels while having to apply noise reduction to keep the noise levels low is FUCKING POINTLESS. All detail gets lost anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DON’T YOU FUCKING MORONS IN JAPAN UNDERSTAND THIS????????
And look at the image with the parrot. That’s at ISO 400 but look at the noise and dithering going on in the image. Then there’s this image of butterflies, if I didn’t know better I’d swear it was taken with a crappy smart phone. Look at it at 100%, it has that rough texture feel to it that’s clearly digital and looks downright ugly.
I swear to God, if I had a weak heart I would have died by now. One of these days my brain is going to start bleeding in my skull. I had complained about this shit when the 7D came out. Remember the melted hay post? Read it again. You would think that after 3 years Canon would have learned something about this.
Of course it’s not just Canon Inc. that’s to blame but also the fucking moron consumers who think more megapixels is always better. Fortunately we’ve seen recently that people are wisening the fuck up. Many complained about the piece of shit D800 having 37MP while most would have been satisfied with 16MP. I had warned back then that it makes no sense to compete on megapixels. Nokia now has a goddamn phone out that takes images at 41MP!!! The fierce market competition Nikon mentioned got a whole lot fiercer now. What do you think people are going to be choosing now? A bulky D800 that costs so much with a professional lens, or a Nokia Lumia 1020 that is small and easy to carry around and offers you SO MUCH more apart from the 41MP images?
Ya gotta love the camera grip accessory as well. Pure genius. For just a couple of bucks more, not only do you have a killer smart phone with a pretty decent 41MP camera, but you can also have a compact camera as well. The image quality is grainy at the pixel level to be sure, but for a phone it’s phenomenal quality and really more than most people would need. If you have this, why get a dedicated compact camera? Hell, why get a DSLR??
It’s clear that megapixels just won’t cut it anymore as far as Nikon, Sony and Canon are concerned. The smart phone industry is becoming a force to be reckoned with. And the only way you can compete is by offering better image quality — something that’s an advantage of the lager sensor in compact cameras and DSLRs that phones will never have.
Soon uncle Bob will be making 41 and higher megapixel images at the events you cover. You can’t impress clients by showing up with your puny 36MP D800 that captures grainy images and requires a dedicated heavy duty tripod to take sharp images. Nor will the grainy, mushy and digital looking 20MP images from the 70D be enough. The only way your images will surely be able to stand out is with the smooth looking images, even at very high ISO in low light situations, where uncle Bob’s images will start to look like crap. And with beautiful saturated colors free of digital noise and artifacts, where uncle Bob’s images will look dark and grainy as fuck and completely washed out.
>>>> If you can offer a compact camera or DSLR that can take 12MP images in low light shot at ISO 6400 that really look like ISO 400, or even better like ISO 100, then I think you have a chance at competing with smart phones. Otherwise fucking forget about it.
Also important in all of this is lightning fast and accurate autofocus, of course. But smart phones have a much better chance at competing here. They can improve their autofocus performance in various ways, but will never be able to compete with sensor size and thus image quality, as long as the megapixels are kept at reasonable levels. Look at what Fuji is doing with the X100s, the image quality is way ahead.
That’s why in all the years of blogging here I’ve kept hammering on image quality. Fuck the megapixels, give us exceptional image quality instead. Most pros are satisfied with 12-16MP. Look at the 1DX. It’s “just” 18MP, but the images are absolutely gorgeous. Even Kelby ditched Nikon and is now using the 1DX because it’s the fucking best camera on the planet right now. And remember, this is the same Kelby who was hugging a Nikon D4 last year like his firstborn baby.
This was my first time shooting with the 1Dx, and I gotta tell ya — it is a camera absolutely born to shoot sports. I shot at 2,000 ISO all night and you don’t even see any noise (I did no noise reduction). Michael says the Falcon’s crew routinely shoots at 5,000 ISO and you just don’t see any noise, but after the way they had raved about it, I was expecting insanely low amounts of noise, and that’s what I got.
Better than the low noise…
…the auto-focus system on the 1Dx. It’s AF is insane! It’s so fast, and so precise that I know I’m picking up shots I would have missed otherwise. That’s the part that really surprised me. I need more time with it to really get the little nuances of setting it up for my style of shooting, but of everything on this camera, that was what impressed me most.
Everything about the 1Dx feels fast. I was shooting at 12-frames per second and I know that’s only 2-frames faster per second than what I’m used to shooting, but it felt like it was 10 frames faster.
The 5D Mark III would have been so much better with the sensor from the 1DX inside it. I seriously hope Canon Inc. learns from all of this and starts to understand where their focus should be. Either they get it now, or they are going to see a massive decline in business as the smart phone industry becomes an even bigger threat.
The 70D is great with the on-sensor phase detection AF, and the 19-point AF system (thanks Canon Inc., seriously), but it’s a pitty that the image quality isn’t what it could have been, I’m very sorry to say. And not only the stills would have benefitted from this, but especially the movie mode (clean high ISO movies) where the new autofocus technology can really be put to good use. Let’s hope that on the next 7D we get a 16MP sensor instead with on-sensor phase detection AF, and no moiré and stupid crap like that. AND STOP INTENTIONALLY CRIPPLING THE PRODUCTS. There’s no reason why Canon Inc. couldn’t have made the video in the 70D free of moiré and aliasing like the 5D Mark III.
That’s why I liked Dave Dugdale’s rant in the video above starting at 2:50. More people should grow a pair of balls and start telling it like it is.
Another thing I mentioned in the recent podcast I did with Planet5D is the fact that we’re going to see more computational photography in the compact cameras and DSLRs in order to offer unique advantages to the smart phones, apart from image quality and speed. One of the things I’m surprised hasn’t been included so far is multiple exposure noise reduction — taking at least one or more additional shots very quickly after the real one, to be used for noise reduction. This has huge potential for capturing even cleaner low light high ISO shots. We’ve seen in-camera panoramic photography and in-camera HDR, but I think the multi-exposure noise reduction needs to get here fast. The same also goes for in-camera focus bracketing, which Canon Inc. had on some compact camera models in the past, for greater dept of field in macro shots.
Anyway, I’ve got Mitarai on hold on line 2 right now, gotta go.