Tuesday, 3 November 2009

G1 vs 5DMkII (bambi vs godzilla)

firstly I thought I would address the question of why the hell would I compare Bambi and Godzilla

well, just because I can ... Read on if this doesn't disturb you too much

I'm sure you know both of the players so perhaps they need little introduction. But I thought that I'd put them on the stage together so that you can get some idea of the differences

This of course ignores the heft in the hand and weight around the neck.

With the lens you're lookin at nearly 2.6Kg for the 5D Mk II and 660g for the Panasonic in the left corner. The Canon 5D is nearly 1Kg alone and when you add to the 24-105mm IS USM (670g) lens it becomes 1.6Kg, while the G1 with its lens is 0.639Kg

This is clearly a heavy weight vs a bantam if you look at it that way.

Now lets look at what they may have in common:
  • both have good rear screens
  • both have good sized viewfinders (although the 5D MkII is optical and the G1 is EVF)
  • both have interchangable lenses
  • both have Image Stabilised Lenses

Speaking of the lenses:

now, the zoom coverage of these two is quite close although again not the same, the Panasonic on the left is the equivalent of 28~90 while the Canon is 24~105.

As of writing the Panasonic kit will leave your wallet €600 lighter (costing €938/kg)  while the Canon kit will leave you €3100.(costing €1937/Kg). Interesting.

allow me to digress a moment

Clearly the 5D MkII (by dint of a physically larger sensor and more pixels) will produce a more detailed image than that of the G1, that is fairly obvious (or should be). The little G1 will however hold its own well against the Canon 5D MkII which is of course similar to the 5D in terms of the physical dimensions and weight. So in that respect the little Bambi can stand up to the father of Godzilla... Sure both will be quite good, but no doubts in my mind that Godzilla is more powerful. I'll leave that argument to the pixel peepers, as for me the G1 represents "good enough" and what I'd rather carry with me on a holiday.
However ultimate image quality between cameras is not really the main purpose of this post. Here I'm more interested to see how sensor progress can be determined in the future from these cameras.

The Canon as we all should know has a 36x24mm 21Megapixel sensor while the Panasonic has a 18x13mm 12Megapixel Sensor. This gives the Panasonic a higher density image capture but a capture area that is smaller. Some years ago I examined my Canon 20D vs my Nikon Coolpix 5000 and made a projection that we could see 26Megapixels out of APS cameras.

Naturally I didn't come here to bore you with only words, but to tell a story. Since it is said a picture tells a thousand words I'll use some of them.

I took on this occasion a 'brick wall' photo with both cameras (having limited time to access the 5DMk II as its not mine and I used JPG and let the cameras do the thinking), so, lets look at the overviews of each:

Panasonic at 28mm (effective, actual is 14mm)

Canon at 28mm(yes, I dialed in some exposure compensation, but forgot to redo the G1 image...)
I think that the Canon looks nicer without any touching than the G1 image ... but hey, you can fiddle with either till your hearts content if you use RAW and so desire (I normally do)

Now I don't wish to see which camera has a better detailed image, as it doesn't take much brainpower to work out that Godzilla wins that race hands down (like DUH its 5616 x 3744 Pixels spread over a bigger capture area than the G1 ...)

What I am instead interested to look at is just what happens when we forget about any "focal length multipliers" and look at what we capture with the same lens.

Why? Well I wonder if Full Frame will ever have the same pixel density as the G1 does.

I thought I'd go for the 45 end (which is not the better end of the Panasonic Kit lens btw) to see what each captures. Now recall that as I said above the has a 36x24mm 21Megapixel sensor while the Panasonic has a 18x13mm 12Megapixel sensor. So I expect that the Canon will be wider and hihger by a significant margain, but I'm very interested to see if the higher density Panasonic sensor produces more information from the same focal length lens.

Ok ... the overviews:

Panasonic with a 45mm focal length

Canon 5D MkII with a 45mm focal length

and exactly as expected there is the extra capture afforded by the double width in the sensor ... so now ... do we see more detail?

and the answer is a most clearly yes we do. The image is not only bigger, but it does render more detail. This means that if you want to travel light, and take a stitched pano with the G1 (take in portrait to stitch together a landscape) you'll have fantastic images of greater quality than the 5D for those occasions when you feel you really need it. (yes I know you can get even better from the 5D if you do that but you still have to carry it in your pack, which is what I'm trying to avoid)

Another way of looking at this experiment is to recall that back in the scanning 35mm film daze people were saying we need more, there's more in the film than I'm scanning.

Essentially a 5DMkII is a perfect 4000dpi scan of film, while a G1 is a 5500dpi scan of film.

So, there still is more to get from the excellent optics an precision afforded by modern cameras.


Well this means to me that the megapixel race is not yet over.

Sure the 5DMkII is just awsome in terms of high ISO, but if you are a landscape photographer that's not really so important to you .. heck I find myself using ND filters even at 100ISO to give me longer shutter speeds .. some of us like images like this:

sprinbrook stream

So it is possible we could get the same pixel density found in the Panasonic sensor packed into a full frame 5D (MkIII?) giving images which would rival those from 4x5.

High ISO is of most benefit to sports photographers and probably indoor event photography. Landscape photographers are often after details.

Back in 2003 or so I was examining the output of my Coolpix 5000 5Megapixel camera and looking RAW vs JPG. As well as finding that JPG contributed to significantly to perceptions of noise in camera produced JPG artifacts in that article, I also found that:

"... for a sensor the same size as the 20D could get (22.5 x 290) x (15 x 290 ) = 6525 X 4350 pixel area if packed to the density of the CP5000.That's about 28 Megapixels"

I might have been conservative as seems that looking at these results that that if a camera had the same sensor density as the G1 but over the same area as the 5DMkII that something nearing 40Megapixels is possible. Now that's enough to make me leave my 4x5 at home!

I wanted to test the 5DMkII against the G1 with some high quality prime optics, but stupid me left the FD 50 f1.4 at home ... so that'll have to wait :-)

Of course another conclusion to this is that a G1 provides an image which (I've tested and have given evidence to support) is as good as a 4000dpi scan of 35mm film in a package which is light, portable, flexible and cheap ... so while we're waiting for these mammoth cameras to push the limits of what we can get with existing technology go out n grab a G1 and take the weight off your shoulders cos its great value for money:-)


Anonymous said...

The 24-105mm IS USM is NOT 1.6kg! That is about the total weight for the 5d plus lens, battery etc., the lens itsself is only 670g.

obakesan said...


yes, that is right ... my wording does seem to imply that, which is not what I wrote. I will make the change from:

"The Canon 5D is nearly 1Kg alone and that 24-105mm IS USM lens is 1.6Kg"


"The Canon 5D is nearly 1Kg alone and when you add to the 24-105mm IS USM lens it becomes 1.6Kg"

obakesan said...

which is not what I wrote.

shuold be

which is not what I intended to write.

as of course I wrote it ;-)

thanks for pointing out my error.