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Resolution limits of MFT sensors ?
Obviously the resolution limits of a sensor are no more the sensor itself but the glass in front of it, we can see lenses struggling already at 40-50MP full frame which are 4 times larger than MFT.


I have nothing against MFT, and I am considering a walkaround MFT body myself what is keeping me from that is they are not  available for sale locally nor they can be serviced here.


Of course when you go MFT you are not after the  highest  resolution possible (there's medium format and scanning backs large format for that) however  a theoretical questions: reasonably what do you think the highest resolution that can be taken out of a MFT camera using a good lens ?

Hi toni-a,


The resolution of the glass is not the limiting factor, actually, the sensor is, from different viewpoints, i.e, actual resolution and signal depth. IOW, no different from film in the past.


The theoretical limit for a lens is the diffraction limit, which only very few lenses achieve, or get close to it, at specific apertures. Considering the diffraction limit at say F/4, using Rayleigh criteria (, which for all intents and purposes works for photography, you get 400 lp/mm. Even an MFT sensor gets at best 150 lp/mm (that is the 20 MP sensor), and considering a really good lens may go up to 250 lp/mm easily, I don't see how lenses are the limiting factor. They never have been.


The thing is, however, that the system resolution of a lens plus camera is always lower than the lowest resolution of the two.

For the above example, sensor capable of 150 lp/mm in an ideal case, lens capable of 250 lp/mm, you do get 94 lp/mm as a resulting system resolution.


Do note that with MTF-50 you get lower resolution, but then, that is not a realistic way of shooting (either black or white). At MTF-50 the resulting system resolution is 82 lp/mm. For green light, BTW; it is slightly higher for blue light, and less for red.


Now, based on my experience, you get the same resolution with an MFT camera as with a FF camera, roughly speaking, if the sensors have a more or less equal MP count.


BTW, if you do like Canon and the way Canon's lenses render, I am sure you will also like Olympus.


HTH, kind regards, Wim

<a class="bbc_url" href="">Gear: 5D Mk II, a gaggle of primes, a lone zoom, an accessory plague, and an Olympus OM-D 1 Mk II, Pen F and Panasonic GM5 with 13 primes, 8 zooms, and 3 Metabones EF-MFT adapters ....</a>
I'm just wondering ... how many MP do you need?


e.g. the Concorde was faster than anything today, yet it was a commercial failure because almost nobody was able to afford it.

That reminds me of the situation with high-end DSLRs and high-end lenses. 


When is X good enough for the mainstream market? I think x=20mp is good enough for 95% of the market. 

Maybe a reminder - the Canon EOS 1Dx II and Nikon D5 have 20mp ... and these are the most expensive and most professional grade DSLRs around.

What we actually see is that the 40-50mp FF sensors offer more resolution than lower res FF sensors. So will 80mp FF sensors.


What you will see is that the smaller the pixel pitch gets, the sooner you will see diffraction softening affect resolution. So, higher res. sensors make sense with bigger aperture useage. 

I see the reason for your reasoning, Klaus, but both cameras have their primary customers not in fashion, landscape, macro, portraiture. They "only" have 20 MP to stay fast enough for their tasks in sports. While in the other advertisement fields a lot of MP are a cool thing for a pro, less so a lot of fps. And also bigger sensors than µ 4/3 has to offer.


Speaking about affordable or not: If you can make enough money with it and customers see the difference, the investment of 100 k$ for camera and another 150 k$ for lighting will be no reason to not go for the best, biggest color depth and finest detail - as long as one can get an impressive enough picture out of them. I'm sure not to belong in this category of photogs and so far, I don't count many of us photozoners in, either. So why asking for MP you couldn't handle well?


Toni-A is just in a playful theoretical mood, throwing in some questions which simply disobey the purpose of µ 4/3. Seldom, not to use "never" as a word, I saw, heard or read owners complaining "if it only had more MP" or "if only the sensor could outresolve the lens". It was already at reaching 30-36 MP when some lenses having a hard time to deliver satisfying results in the corners before, now were showing how bad they were.


Quote:we can see lenses struggling already at 40-50MP full frame which are 4 times larger than MFT

Wrong, define "struggling". All lenses don't perform equally in center and corners. The funny thing is, I read that very often from Klaus and am very interested how much it will bother Markus once he gets his hands on a D850. I wonder how much sensor design plays a role in this 50 MP limit, but Olympus does it very clever by sensor shifiting, which helps a lot for static objects and doesn't come with the downsides of ultra high pixel densities.

Quote:What we actually see is that the 40-50mp FF sensors offer more resolution than lower res FF sensors. So will 80mp FF sensors.


What you will see is that the smaller the pixel pitch gets, the sooner you will see diffraction softening affect resolution. So, higher res. sensors make sense with bigger aperture useage. 

That doesn't answer why you need more resolution. What is the use case for the average photographer?


I'd postulate that 8K (33mp) will be the end of line for TVs/screens. For posters of sane size that you'd actually mount to a wall, you don't need more anyway.


That leaves cropping ("zooming in") as a use case. True - that one is valid and we see that this is widely used on smartphones ... because you only got 1, maybe 2 primes in there. But is that a valid use case for system cameras (other than applying small adjustments) ?


Maybe habits will change - technically a 250mp camera with an ultra-wide prime lens is cool for a 20mp tele crop? We aren't quite there yet though ...
This "enough MP! We don't need more resolution" we read all the way from 5 MP to 50 MP. How fat is your car's max. speed and how often are you using it? so, why not buying a slower one? When did you ever use and enjoy your stereo's max. volume? 


I think Nikon put in full res, half and small size RAW for those who feel secure enough to tell in advance that the next dozen pictures could be taken with low res. I didn't buy a D850 because of it's MP, there are so much more things in it which are more interesting and useful to me. Pity, if Canon only made the sensor bigger. If it would have been "only" 10 MP more than the D850, Nikon could have kept it. Although it really is nice to use the crop more than before.


I don't understand your complaints, Klaus - this site is living on new lenses, new bodies, you're part of the photo-circus, so to say. I also don't understand why you hesitate to rate lenses performing or not on 50 MP. I also don't see a reason to stay with a 24 MP camera, a real reason (on the Nikon side of things) because how could one estimate lenses performing on nearly MF level (at least, years ago that was a limit for 135 film camera glass. If you don't see a reason, other people do.

Joju, this site is no longer commercially viable. That ended in 2016 latest. It's really more like a funded hobby now.

Thus I am just expressing my opinion (which I always did anyway).

The industry (nor induvidual camera makers) will not be rescuded by more megapixels. The shift towards smartphones and in certain segments actioncams are the perfect proof points.

Sure, there'll always be 'old dogs' preferring classic cameras but that's a dimishing market.

So Toni's question may be viable but it ignores the market realities that we have seen in the last 3-4 years. The more important question is which killer features will help those companies to survive.

Maybe remember the days just before digital. Back then Canon mentioned that they are keeping their camera business because of tradition rather than commercial aspects. We are approaching that state again. If they don't find answers, it'll shrink to a tiny niche market.
Klaus, I tried to ask DeepL for a translation of "viable" - there were so many of them it appears to be one of this fill-in words which developed an own language.


realisierbar adj

durchführbar adj
The project seems viable in the long run. Auf lange Sicht scheint das Projekt durchführbar.
umsetzbar adj
The new regulations are perfectly viable.  Die neuen Vorschriften sind vollkommen umsetzbar.
less common:
lebensfähig adj  Â·  existenzfähig adj ·  tragfähig adj  Â·  rentabel adj  Â·  entwicklungsfähig adj  Â·  brauchbar adj  Â·  zukunftsfähig adj  Â·  machbar adj  Â·  funktionsfähig adj  Â·  realistisch adj

I that sense I don't know what you mean because you use the that word in an economically context. toni-a's question and the meaning of your site, next the overwhelming spread of smartphones, and then the "old dogs". I wonder how the young dogs will take their animal pictures. Flying drones to the bird nests, I guess.


If you paint it that black, why not stop? Toni's question apparently is something quickly becoming less important to him as he just fired and forgot it two days ago. Olympus came up with a solution and calls that pixel-shift. I don't think their sensor maker will double the sensor MP count as I also don't think we'll see 80 MP for a 135 sized sensor any time but who am I to predict.


To me it's just another nonsensical question from someone who maybe wants a more pocketable camera and doesn't want to give up his windows phone. He's considering countlessly things to buy, this time µ 4/3 to open a new barrel and at the end sticking to his winning teams. If his walk-around camera resolves 40 or 50 MP doesn't matter much as he will continue to stick to his winning teams.

Quote:I'm just wondering ... how many MP do you need?

This is a very valid question.

I'd be interested in an honest answer to this question from everyone.


More is better, isn't it? After all, it's not that surprising. When you look at camera ads the first thing you see after the brand name is pixel count. It's been relentlessly advertised for the past 15 years or so. No wonder it's ingrained in people's minds.


Sure, 40-50MP sounds great in theory, but in practice, what real and tangible difference will it make in your photography versus say 16 or 24mp?

In my case I shoot 16MP and I can say this in all honesty: it won't make the slight difference in 99% of my shooting.


Sure, I could crop more with more MP. But how often do I massively crop and print very large (a cropped picture) and display it on my wall? Almost never. And if I do, how far away will I look at the poster on my wall? 10cm? a few meters? More likely the latter.

On the other hand, I print A3 photo books quite often and for this purpose 16MP is more than enough.


I believe most people are in the same boat but have a hard time admitting it ;-)

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