A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

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bakubo
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A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby bakubo » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:18 pm

Interesting write-up by Nordstjernen:

http://www.astroweb.no/a900/a700-vs-a900.html

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby stevecim » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:41 pm

Hmmm, has anyone tried a 102 x 68 cm (40 x 27 inches) print from a a700 or a350?
biggest I've done is 10x15 inches and was very suprised at how much better the print looks compare to how the photo looks on my 19" screen :)

Cheers, Stephen

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby Bodak » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:41 pm

I'll be interested to see what David has to say about the article.

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby KevinBarrett » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:52 pm

Having no intention to print larger than 18x12, this article makes it a bit easier to live with an a700...now I just have to get over my viewfinder envy.
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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby Argonaut » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:32 am

Very interesting. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that the justification for upgrading from a KM 5D to the A700 is going to be more about action photography features (faster continuous shooting, programmable preferences, etc.) than about the jump to 12mp, and now it appears the same goes going from the A700 to the A900 - but the A900 has no such operational edge over the A700. Also, for the penurious, one can make very nice large photos using the more sophisticated panoramic and mosaic software out there. If you are going to spend the time setting up for a fine-detail photo it's only a little more time to make a panorama. That way you get all the megapixels you want without springing for an ultrawide lens and a 24mp sensor. Of course if you're in the biz of selling such shots, time is money. I be amateur.
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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby Vidgamer » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:35 am

I've long felt that upgrading cameras is a case of diminishing returns. There was a huge leap from 1 or 2 mp to 3mp. Pretty significant leap to 4 or 5. Harder to see the leap to 7. To improve quality, I not only went to 10mp, but from P&S to DSLR, and I think it's the DSLR part that was more of an improvement than raw pixels, although I do think pixels help. But at some point, you have sufficient resolution for the intended printout.

The largest I've done is 30"x20" (from my A100). It looks really good from normal viewing distances, although if you get real close it is a tad soft, but considering the size, I'm really pleased. The detail holds up pretty well. The only real negative is that the sky is a bit pixellated, and that is probably because I used an out-of-camera JPEG (hiccup!) where I should have used RAW. I have no problems printing at 11x14, where I wouldn't have done that before this camera. Do I really need pixel-perfect 20x30? Actually, I have more post-processing I can do in order to do a better job with what I have! I don't have a huge desire to upgrade right now. (Yeah, I know there are more reasons other than resolution, but that seems to be the main point here and the main thing people consider, it seems...)

As for making panoramas, I have used several programs, and most are tedious, and often show seams, ghosts, etc. I think the best one (certainly easiest) is Microsoft's ICE. When you have a really good stitch, though, I bet you could rival an expensive camera.

Another technique is "super resolution". Software that can take a stack of photos and produce a higher-resolution (and lower noise) result. $3000+ for a new camera? Or take 6 photos instead of one and use inexpensive software? Decisions, decisions....

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby stevecim » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:40 am

Vidgamer wrote:I've long felt that upgrading cameras is a case of diminishing returns. There was a huge leap from 1 or 2 mp to 3mp. Pretty significant leap to 4 or 5. Harder to see the leap to 7. To improve quality, I not only went to 10mp, but from P&S to DSLR, and I think it's the DSLR part that was more of an improvement than raw pixels, although I do think pixels help. But at some point, you have sufficient resolution for the intended printout.


Yer, I have a Pana FZ10 4MP and was never happy with it's output, even 4x6 prints looked bad when placed next to 35mm Film prints, but I'm more than happy with the prints from the a350

Vidgamer wrote:As for making panoramas, I have used several programs, and most are tedious, and often show seams, ghosts, etc. I think the best one (certainly easiest) is Microsoft's ICE. When you have a really good stitch, though, I bet you could rival an expensive camera.


I've used PTgui a bit and it can produce some really good photos, just printed a 7"x18" and it looks perfect (with regards to seams, ghosts, etc....)

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby pakodominguez » Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:20 pm

I can tell you that pixel count matters when you are printing.
A good file from the A700 can do it fine, but same image from the A900 must print better.
Try it: 16x20 @ adoramapix for 4.95 each
Cupon code: PXTW16
Enjoy
;-)
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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby bakubo » Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:45 pm

It makes me feel slightly less inadequate with my lowly A700. :-) I like the size and weight of the A700 and lenses for backpack travel, so I guess I can go a bit longer and not feel too bad that technology has passed me by. Maybe if there is an A800 that is similar to the A700 body with a built-in flash and a full-frame sensor for $2000 I will be tempted though for non-travel photography. :)

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby bakubo » Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:06 pm

Take a look at this article discussing 13x19 inch gallery exhibition quality prints from the tiny sensor 15mp Canon G10 digicam and medium format sensor 39mp Hasselblad H2 and Phase One P45+ digital back:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/kidding.shtml

Here is part of the text:

Over a two day period I invited photographers and local industry professionals to come to my print studio and look at a series of 13X19" prints from an Epson 3800 printer made on Ilford Gold Fiber Silk paper which were then hung side by side on my floor-standing print viewing box. This collection of seven people included experienced photographers, people from the commercial print industry, and other trade professionals. Between them there was at least 200 years of photographic industry shooting and printing experience.

In most cases I did not tell them what they were looking at, simply saying that I had been shooting with two cameras, and that they should divide the prints (about a dozen) into two piles – Camera A and Camera B. They were asked to judge resolution, accutance, colour reproduction, highlight detail, dMax, and any other factors that they wished to consider.

In every case no one could reliably tell the difference between 13X19" prints shot with the $40,000 Hasselblad and Phase One 39 Megapixel back, and the new $500 Canon G10. In the end no one got more than 60% right, and overall the split was about 50 / 50, with no clear differentiator. In other words, no better than chance.

In fact it was the H2 system's narrower depth of field that occasionally was the only clear give-away. Some viewers eventually figured out that the prints with the narrower depth of field were from medium format, while other photographers chose the G10 images because with its wider depth of field it created an overall impression of greater sharpness.

Needless to say there was much shaking of heads and muttering. Could this be? Could a $500 digicam equal a $40,000 medium format digital system in image quality, at least in prints up to 13X19" (Super A3)?

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby bakubo » Sat Mar 14, 2009 5:13 pm

I don't recall seeing that quote from DK before. Do you have a link for it? I have always been a bang-for-the-buck type of person so always carefully do a cost/benefit analysis in my head before spending much money. Sure, the A900 looks great, but to get the most out of it would also mean another major expense buying new lenses and when all that is done I would have a much larger, heavier system that I would have to leave home for most of my travel photography. Also, as is becoming pretty clear from various sources, even in most prints, except very large ones, there is not much difference between the A700 and A900.

By the way, we got back to the mainland, Austin, a week ago and are planning to head out on a long road trip in the next day or two. Maybe a month or so. Heading east along the Gulf Coast, I think, as far as the Florida Keys and then up the Atlantic Coast as far as North Carolina or thereabouts probably. Then back west maybe to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and then on to Texas. Nothing definitive though because I never make plans on a road trip. Generally the night before or in the morning I decide which way to drive. If we find an interesting place we may hang around for a few days or even a few weeks, but other times we just stay for the night and then move on. :) I hope to get some alligator photos in Louisiana and Florida like I did on a road trip in 2000. Maybe some birds too although I am not well-equipped for that type of photography -- just not something I do much. Maybe stay a few days in New Orleans since we have done that on a couple of occasions. The French Quarter is interesting and a good place for photos. The Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach is another cool place. We have stayed there a couple of times and it is interesting for a couple of days. Always eat some Cuban food while there. :) St. Augustine, Florida is also an interesting place. Anyway, these days wifi is almost ubiquitous so I hope to have internet access fairly regularly while traveling so I will try to check in from time to time.

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:05 pm

My opinion (for what it's worth) has not changed about APS-C vs FF, there are some advantages in a 24MP FF over a 12MP APS-C but there are more disadvantages, too actually take advantage of the increased pixel count one would have to use very carefull and most likely expensive lens selection and subject framing/composition.
The pixel/density as already stated by others elsewhere is roughly the same for both cameras, so to my mind the APS-C camera has format advantages in such things as sports/action photography, nature photography and macro photography, it has been said that you can afford too crop the FF to regain equality with the APS-C camera, well I say if you do that you have then sacrificed any advantage in having a FF camera in the first place, so..as far as I'm concerned if you want too persist with a FF camera in those sort of activities you will have too invest in much larger more expensive lenses to actually realize any advantage in pixel count, then you have to lug around a much heavier/expensive more cumbersome outfit just to get more pixels under your image that you will never see in any normal sized print.
Where FF has an advantage over APS-C is in the studio (not much),also events (some) like weddings, commercial and scenic type photography (potentially a lot), but I still wonder if filling up memory cards and hard drives faster is worth the advantage if you rarely/never print any larger than 10X8's, or you don't have a giant high-res monitor.
Greg

ps The Canon G10 is apparently a good little available light camera...as long as there is plenty of available light.

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby douglasf13 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:33 pm

Greg Beetham wrote:My opinion (for what it's worth) has not changed about APS-C vs FF, there are some advantages in a 24MP FF over a 12MP APS-C but there are more disadvantages, too actually take advantage of the increased pixel count one would have to use very carefull and most likely expensive lens selection and subject framing/composition.
The pixel/density as already stated by others elsewhere is roughly the same for both cameras, so to my mind the APS-C camera has format advantages in such things as sports/action photography, nature photography and macro photography, it has been said that you can afford too crop the FF to regain equality with the APS-C camera, well I say if you do that you have then sacrificed any advantage in having a FF camera in the first place, so..as far as I'm concerned if you want too persist with a FF camera in those sort of activities you will have too invest in much larger more expensive lenses to actually realize any advantage in pixel count, then you have to lug around a much heavier/expensive more cumbersome outfit just to get more pixels under your image that you will never see in any normal sized print.
Where FF has an advantage over APS-C is in the studio (not much),also events (some) like weddings, commercial and scenic type photography (potentially a lot), but I still wonder if filling up memory cards and hard drives faster is worth the advantage if you rarely/never print any larger than 10X8's, or you don't have a giant high-res monitor.
Greg

ps The Canon G10 is apparently a good little available light camera...as long as there is plenty of available light.


Assuming similar pixel pitches, I would say the only real advantage that APS-C has over FF is economics (and potentially size and speed,) and that's mostly why APS-C was used in the first place. Economics meaning: camera cost, lens cost, hard drive space, memory card space, computer hardware cost, etc. APS-C has the potential to be much better in regards to size and speed (like fps,) although I don't think that potential has been fully realized. As an owner of both the A700 and A900, I never choose to use the A700 due to it being a bit smaller, and I don't own APS-C lenses, so I'm not getting any size advantage there. The "extra reach" that APS-C provides is being nullified with these newer, high MP FF sensors. I'm excited about the prospect of pocketable APS-C cameras, and hopefully Sigma's DP-1 opened the door for more of that from other companies.

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby douglasf13 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:27 pm

Sonolta wrote:a) Relative deeper DOF properties of the APS-C format can be a significant advantage for some users. This allows the use of lower sensitivity, smaller apertures, and faster shutter speeds on subjects such as macros etc.

B) The economic thing is a bit deeper than you might think as APS-C format lenses use the sweet spot of a full frame lens, so some lenses that are not great on FF can be very good on APS-C. This is an APS-C advantage for tele shooters (and others as well) for sure as they get a usable 1.5x lens and the FF guy is stuck with a 1x nothing paperweight.

C)File sizes and processing time are another advantage for APS-C...unless you shoot your a900 at reduced resolution.

D) Larger lens selection for APS-C.

E) I won't argue the tele/crop thing...but I will say using the crop mode on the A900 is no real equivalent to shooting straight APS-C.

F) Smaller cameras are unobtrusive and this is of great benefit when shooting candid and street.

G) With less money put towards the sensor, an argument could be made that a stronger feature set could be incorporated with APS-C..articulating LCDs, Video, etc.

H) Personally I like the eye-start AF my A700 has...the a900 does not have it.

I) I am long end shooter and the move to FF would cost me some $$$ beyond the body.

1. My 80-200 is effectively an 120-300 2.8 and that's how I use it.
2. My (2) 135 2.8's are effectively a 200mm 2.8 and I use this one a ton
3. My 70-300 is effectively 105-450mm 4.5-5.6 this is my most used outdoor lens.

So to shoot what I am used to shooting now in a similar fashion I would need some fantasy zoom lens 120-300mm 2.8, a prime that costs me a bundle, and a long zoom lens that costs me a bundle...not to mention the fact that my other 8 lenses that may or may not serve me as well as they did in the past. I don't do a lot of wide angle stuff, the shallow DOF is nice at times, but to be honest the full-frame advantage is really not that compelling to me. A few years ago I thought for sure I would move to FF for better noise characteristics but Sony messed that up by not producing a camera that up to the 5DII or the D700/D3 in noise control and APS-C is now doing excellent resolution and noise control.

If the a900 was great in low light, or had live view and video I would be interested. As it is now, it really serves me no advantage to move to FF, and may in-fact be a disadvantage for me to purchase one if I were to only purchase the body alone.

-Sonolta


I agree that the A900's advantages are not worth it to many, and I think most of your points also hover around economics and size/speed. It think a lot of shooters are realizing how great the A700 is after the A900's release. Granted, it should be said that you would get an increase in noise performance with the A900 over your A700, assuming like print size, but I understand that it might not be enough of a difference to be worth it.

The DOF issue you mentioned is negated if you shoot the A900 in crop mode, since the DOF of aps-c and the DOF of the A900 in crop mode is the same. Outside of the small pixel pitch difference, there really isn't anything that I can do with the A700 that I can't do with the A900 in regards to the actual image. Granted, if Sony had the Nikon viewfinder masks, shooting in APS-C mode on the A900 would be more pleasant.

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Re: A900 vs. A700 print quality comparison

Unread postby douglasf13 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 9:50 pm

Ah yes, I remember that thread. The KM 5D definitely still does well in the noise department. Having shot the A700 and A900 for around 4 months now, I've drawn the following conclusions.

- The A900 and A700 are very similar at the pixel level in regards to noise (in RAW.) However, when downsizing the A900 to match the A700, the A900 takes a nice little lead. (in Capture One)

- Never, ever use Adobe ACR/Lightroom with the A900, especially at ISO 800+. I wish Adobe would listen to you, Don, because they're still butchering EXMOR.

- Incredibly, as suggested by Iliah Borg, if one needs to shoot at, say, ISO 3200 with the A900, the best results occur if you shoot in manual, meter appropriately at ISO 3200, lock the exposure settings, and then lower the ISO to 400 and shoot. Then, boost the exposure +3EV in RAW....assuming you're using a RAW converter that works well with the A900 (ie not IDC or Adobe.) I haven't had a chance to try this with the A700, so I don't know if the same holds true. This obviously isn't a convenient way to shoot, so I don't do it much.

- if a scene is low enough in contrast to fit entirely in the camera's dynamic range, boosting ISO from 200 to 400 gives more shadow detail.

Geez, it really takes a lot to get used to the nuances of different cameras! :)


Oh yeah, I almost forgot to talk about DOF. I think that we're miss communicating. I'm saying that there is no DOF field difference between the A700 and A900 in crop mode. The only problem is that you have to use the crop marks in the viewfinder, because the viewfinder doesn't black out like the Nikons.


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