DxO Mark: µ4/3 versus APS-C

February 15, 2010

DxO Labs has released their sensor test results for two Micro Four Thirds cameras, the Panasonic GF1 and the Olympus E-P2.

Since DxO provides a handy comparison feature, here’s a link comparing both cameras with an APS-C sensor DSLR, the Nikon D5000.

DxO Labs Comparison, m4/3 vs. APS-C

Leading µ4/3 models versus typical DSLR

Note that the D5000 is Nikon’s second-cheapest DSLR, which you can get in a kit for $750. These two µ4/3 models cost more. (Although you can find the Olympus E-P1 for a bit under $700 now.)

I’m not “cherry picking” the D5000 for any particular reason (it is not the best-performing APS-C sensor DSLR). It’s just a current-technology APS-C model which matches the 12 megapixels of the µ4/3 models.

According to DP Review, the sensor used in the cheaper Pentax K-x is very similar.

But the larger, APS-C sensor simply means larger pixels (5.5 microns wide, versus 4.3). And if you click the “dynamic range” and “SNR 18%” tabs, you can see what a huge difference this makes.

For any given noise level, the APS-C camera gains nearly one whole f/stop of ISO sensitivity. The dynamic range is two stops greater.

As always with DxO tests, note that they evaluate just the sensor, based on raw images. They ignore any differences between different cameras’ JPEG processing quality, or any consideration of camera handling, etc.

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