Can the Pixel Shifting on the Olympus E-M1 Mark 3 Micro Four Thirds or the Sony a7R4 Full Frame match a Fujifilm GFX 100 Medium Format? Let’s see.
Today’s segment is sponsored by LensProToGo. They provided all of our cameras and lenses for this review. LensProToGo is a great place to rent equipment. They’re awesome, especially if you have a longer rental. I love having them ship a camera out. I keep it for a week or two weeks and then ship it back. Really affordable rates. I love those guys, great place.
So we went out and shot the GFX 100. And we wanted to see how the Olympus E-M1 Mark 3 and the Sony a7R4 with pixel shifting would look as far as resolution and clarity to the Fujifilm GFX 100. So we’re redoing this segment because of some of the comments we got in the format comparison saying you need to look at pixel shifting and it really is a valid point. Can you do a pixel shift image with a micro four thirds or a full frame and does it look as good as a GFX 100?
You know it really was the very first sensor comparison we did someone said you guys should have tested high res mode on the Olympus. And we thought it was a really good idea. So we decided to go and try it out. Obviously, just out of the box, there are limitations for pixel shifting high res photo mode because you’re taking multiple exposures over time. So if you are shooting on a bridge like we are, you can’t do that with a one second shutter. They’re simply photos you cannot take using high res mode. So it’s not going to be applicable for every situation. But if you’re doing stuff like tabletop, landscape, things where there isn’t motion in the frame, then it could really up the overall look of your images at no cost. So we went and shot on the streets of LA and we took one exposure of the Broad as an example. The Broad is a nice building. It has a lot of edges and corners and shapes which will show things like anti-aliasing. Also, we have a light side and a dark side. You can see some of the noise in the shadow and the detail or lack thereof.
So let’s take look. The reality of photography is, if it’s creative, and it communicates and people will pay you for it, that’s commercial art. It doesn’t matter if you shot it with a shoe box with a piece of tin with a hole poked in the front of it, it really doesn’t matter. So these kinds of conversations are interesting. But the reality is this is nice to know technical stuff. Or for those who really want incredible large image prints.
Here is the GFX 100 image. It looks incredible. You can blow that up for days. Let’s compare it to the Sony. This is just a normal image, this isn’t pixel shifted. There’s a lot of detail in the Sony image. It’s very comparable to the point where you almost really can’t tell which is which in terms of sheer detail.
Now the Sony can shift in two ways. It can stack four images, or it can stack 16 images. What’s interesting is the four image stack is the same final resolution as the single file. This is the stacked image for the Sony. You can definitely see more detail. Even though it’s the same pixel, same number of pixels, it does look clear. It’s just crisper. You see more detail in the grout lines and you don’t see as much of that line on the edge of the shadow area. And we compare that to the GFX the colors shifts because some were processed in Photoshop. The Sony images were processed in Sony’s proprietary software. They all look a little bit different with the color and the way they came out. Look at the grain in the blue on the right hand side. You look at the Fuji first. It’s pretty clean. The Sony also looks pretty clean. They honestly look pretty dang similar. I would actually say the four image stack from the Sony looks right up there with the GFX 100.
Now let’s pull up the 16 image stack from the Sony. One of these exposures took like 10 seconds to shoot the 16 image stack. There’s such a smoothness in the image. It’s so clean. And there’s almost no noise. You see a little here which is probably JPEG compression. It is very clean. At this point, we can punch in on the GFX even a little further. Look how far you can zoom in on this Sony 16 image file. Look at all the detail in the shadow area. You see the highlights and the detail on the shadow side and the texture. That is just amazing. The speckles of the white on the left hand side. The GFX 100 doesn’t even get close to it. And that makes sense because you’re shooting way more pixels. It’s way more information. That’s a great comparison there.
The step down from a medium format to a full frame is not going to be near as challenging as it is for a micro four thirds. So let’s take a look now at the Olympus and see how a micro four thirds compares. We processed the Olympus in two different ways just out of curiosity. Let’s pull up the original file first. So this is a single RAW file. We processed this through Photoshop. This is a 20 megapixel file, so it’s just not going to have the same amount of detail to begin with. Look at the grain in the sky. We shot this at 200 ISO. Which is the lowest the ISO can go. I processed this in Photoshop I was not impressed. very soft. It does smooth out a lot of the noise. But the details are a bit blurred. So we downloaded the Olympus proprietary software. So this is a high res image we processed with the Olympus E-M1 Mark 3 Workspace software. It’s pretty impressive. It’s very clear and looks really nice. If we compare this to the Photoshop version, it is definitely clear. All the edges are sharper. The edge definition is way better with the Olympus software. So the Olympus is taking four images for the stack, kind of like the Sony was. I want to compare it to that Sony stack image. The Sony, as we would expect from a more expensive camera, does look significantly better, even when you’re stacking the same number of images. But how about the Olympus versus the original Sony image? The Olympus is still not as good. This is actually a really good comparison because this Sony image is 16 megapixel straight out of the camera as a single RAW file. And this Olympus is 80 megapixels and it’s stacking 4 images and it still doesn’t quite look as good. The detail in the highlights and the detail like the flecks of white in the granite are clearer with the Sony. There’s more detail there. I feel like this is a good illustration of some of the limitations with the Micro Four Thirds. The original Olympus file looks really grainy with not a lot of details and it is 20 megapixels. So it does look much better with your high res mode on that. But even with high res mode, even when you’re getting more pixels out of it, you’re still not quite as good as the Sony just shooting a regular RAW file. So I feel like that does actually illustrate to some degree some of the limitations with this tech. On the other hand, the Sony does kind of match if you’re stacking 4 images with the Sony it does kind of match the Fuji GFX 100 and if you stack those 16 images, it’s just astronomical. So the jump from full frame to medium format is not as large as a micro four thirds to full frame. You have a lot more information to start with there with the full frame. It doesn’t surprise me that Sony is competing with the GFX 100. We’ve discovered several times over the last few months that you usually get what you pay for.
That’s a universal axiom that you can’t get around most of the time. But you know what, you should pay for what you want. For some people GFX 100 is a ridiculous thought. There’s just no reason to spend that kind of money. Why would you spend that kind of money if you’re taking certain kinds of images that are going to be used in a certain way that doesn’t require huge prints. You don’t need to spend that kind of money. When phase one came out with a larger phase one back Cheyne Walls bought it and shot with it and he said his prints look just as good on the older back and the increased cost was huge. So he went back to the to the original back that he had been using because it gave him what he needed to make the large prints that he sells. So that’s a really good example. Choose what will fit the needs of what you’re doing. What’s hard for me to understand is when people do purchase a micro four thirds less expensive camera, when they get very adamant that it is just as good as a medium format. There are limitations to what you purchased but you purchased it because it fits your needs. So just be happy that it fits your needs and don’t become a crusader for why it’s as good as the GFX 100. To be honest, we’ve shot a bunch of these cameras over the summer. A lot of really expensive cameras like the Hasselblad and the GFX 100 and the Sony a7R4. I liked the GFX 100. It is a really cool camera. I liked shooting with it and the feel and everything. But to be honest, I prefer the images from the Hasselblad. And it’s half the resolution. The color is more important to me. I preferred the color for the Hasselblad. So everyone has their thing, everyone has their need and what they’re looking for. So decide what is most important to you and just stick with that.
So there’s a look at pixel shifting and high res mode on the Olympus. I think it’s a great comparison and gives you some information. Leave us some on our YouTube channel. I want to hear exactly what you think about it, and how you think your camera faired. We’d love to hear any other comparisons you’d like to see. Make sure you subscribe, ring that bell, make yourself part of our family. Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’.
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