Which pic would YOU pick?

  1. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,534
    Gold Member

    I've borrowed a friends' DSLR on pretense of buying it.

    To test its quality, I took some pics and compared them to my point & shoot and to my camera phone. I find the results surprising.

    Attached is a newspaper, shot from ~2ft away with a 500watt halogen light.
    That capital Y is about 1.5mm high.
    The pics are white balanced and enlarged by 200% (so each 1x1 camera pixel is 2x2 in the attached images)

    The 3 pics are (randomly):
    • LG Smartphone 8MP (new)
    • Canon 630 6MP (5 years old)
    • Canon Rebel 10MP (5 years old)

    1] Which pic do you think is best?
    2] Can you match the pic to the camera?

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. drizzle

    drizzle 478
    Gold Member

    The mid one.

  4. Curious3141

    Curious3141 2,943
    Homework Helper

    The third pic (rightmost).
  5. lisab

    lisab 3,188
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    My choice, too.
  6. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,534
    Gold Member

    Is anyone concerned about the relative lack of difference between them, seeing as one is a camera phone, one is a point & shoot and one is a DSLR?
  7. AlephZero

    AlephZero 7,244
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I enlarged the image you posted to 400% in photshop so the individual pixels are easy to see. To my eyes the left one looks over-compressed by JPEG. The middle one looks like it has gone through an over-enthusiastic image-sharpening filter.

    The right hand one looks the "best" to me, except it's a bit out of focus, and the "unprinted" paper seems rather uneven in color (unless it's supposed to be like that, of course).
  8. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Not really. All three use the same principles and most likely the same technology with the major difference being the size/shape of the lens and size of the pixels. The DSLR should be the best for photography as a hobby, as it should have way more options available for it, while the other two are more for people who just want to point and shoot and not worry about all the details. That is my guess at least. I barely shoot any pictures other than astrophotography, so I'm basing this on my knowledge of optics and cameras I've gleaned from the hobby, so I could be wrong.
  9. I'd pick the one that messes with the color of the paper the least, since I don't know what the color of the paper "actually" looks like, I can't say which one I'd prefer.

    probably the one on the right though, based just on what I've got
  10. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    No. You purposely set up the test to be easy. You'll see more differences if you make the test more difficult.
  11. Moonbear

    Moonbear 11,955
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    I'd have preferred seeing them before they were white-balanced, since the balancing didn't come out uniform anyway. Better to figure out which captures the best color/light in the raw image than the corrected one.

    Otherwise, I like the one on the right the best. The one on the left seems most pixelated and the one in the middle looks a little out of focus.

    I was pretty impressed with the photo quality on my new smartphone too. It has an 8 MP camera, which is a much better detector than my old point and shoot, but I was skeptical about not having any optical zoom and limited ability to adjust anything (the point and shoot does have manual options). I got some great photos in a range of lighting conditions and distances. Of course, I'm not going to be attaching macro lenses to either of those, and the phone doesn't have a tripod app. :wink:
  12. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,534
    Gold Member

    I wanted it to be easy. Easy means the camera is worth it. But the expensive camera doesn't stand out nearly as much as I hoped it would.

    Why would I bother spending several hundred dollars for this small difference?
  13. dlgoff

    dlgoff 3,158
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    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    Yea. I just checked it out in Paint. No question about it. The Right One.
  14. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    I think he means that shooting a piece of paper from 2 ft away isn't much of a comparison. Try a couple different objects in different light levels and different distances and at different zooms.
  15. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,534
    Gold Member

    I'd be interested in suggestions about some tests I could run to compare.
    Low light, movement, colour, etc.

    Not easy to do. This test was in highly controlled conditions, and it was quite a pain to get all three cameras to produce comparable images (partly due to focal length and partly due to auto-colour correction).
  16. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,534
    Gold Member

    Yes. I intend to. But the first comparison I wanted was one of raw crispness "horsepower". Would the expensive camera resolve better without all the sharpness compression and blurry edges??
  17. Moonbear

    Moonbear 11,955
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    Try more 3D objects where depth of field matters more, dim light, or overlaid objects without much contrast. And you partly answered your own question with regard to focal length. I'm guessing you'd get more range from the DSLR.
  18. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Huh? You spend the extra money because you won't always have the option of carrying a 500W halogen light around with you and shooting from 2' away!

    In the real world - in the vast majority of real pictures you will take - the difference will be huge.
    I wondered about that - were they really all 2' away and at no zoom or did you have to have some closer and some further due to resolution and focal length differences?
    No, of course not. In optimal conditions, any camera will be able to produce a sharp image at it's full resolution. All you did was prove there isn't much difference between 8MP and 10MP.
  19. I think the differences are surprisingly small. The rightmost looks best to me, i.e. good quality right out of the camera instead of an overload of post-processing.

    The color balance of the naked sensor is irrelevant. You allways need some kind of white balance and color profile anyways. Color balance is easy to tweak in post-processing - if it is important, shoot a gray card or a white sheet of paper just before or after the "money shot". Blurry images and noise are more difficult to correct, and - for me - therefore sharpness and low-light performance are more important.

    What lens did you have on the DSLR?

    I would expect huge differences
    • in depth of field, if you can shoot the DSLR with aperture wide open. Shoot along the length of a tape measure, for example, with plenty of light. This is a property of the lens
    • in low light performance: Take a pic on a tripod or bean bag in very low light. Look at the noise in the near-black parts of the image. This is a property of the sensor.
    • in distortion: Shoot graph paper at the wide end of the zoom. Note that the phone probably has built-in post-processing to correct distortion. For the other two you would have to do that semi-manually in DxO or Photoshop or the like. This is a property of the lens.

    For me personnaly, the DSLR has three main advantages, and one major disadvantage:
    + you can change lenses to match your needs. I can use a 20mm for landscape and a 300mm+TC for birding, and a 24-105 for travel.
    + viewfinder. Works under all light conditions, what you get is what you see.
    + depth of field and the ability to play with that - shoot af f/2.8 when I want, and at f/16 when I want.
    - Size and weight. A lot of pictures were not taken because I could not be bothered to lug the thing+lenses around. I have just bought a P&S, which will only make me even more lazy...
  20. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm curious why the picture on the right is not properly focused - assuming it is set up the same way and at the same location as the camera taking the center picture.

    I would not be inclined to spend several hundred $ more for a system that yield no better picture quality.

    As Moonbear and Russ indicated, test other capabilities, particularly ranges of illumination, depth of field and distance.

    One problem I've had in nature shots is trying to focus (with a cheap through the lens 5 MP camera) on a small target in large complex field. The focus tended to shift to a different object nearby. That's one reason I've preferred fully manual cameras.

    My favorite lens has been a 35-200 mm on a Canon F1.
  21. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    There is another difference that may not be obvious, a consequence of the unlikely coincidence of them all having exactly the same pixel scale: the fields of view are different and the higher resolution one is cropped more.
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