Recently I sold my Sony RX100 which is an excellent compact camera and it’s image quality is impressive for its size but I didn’t like the interface and how it felt in hand. Today I use either the Ricoh GR or the Panasonic GM1 if I need a pocket size camera.
They are totally different cameras but they have one thing in common: Excellent image quality in a very compact package. The GR’s image quality is even slightly better and almost rivals todays full frame cameras but the GM1 is not bad either. The GM1 is comparable to the Canon 5D on a per pixel sharpness level and that put’s it clearly ahead of all but the newest APS-C cameras.
In 2014 a m43 camera gives you practically the same image quality as a Canon 5D full frame camera released in 2005. That’s on base ISO – high ISO looks much better on the GM1!
Just take a look at the image above. A snap shot portrait using the available light that came from a window. I closed aperture down a little to f2.8 to gain some DOF because I was very close. Auto-ISO has chosen ISO 2.000 to keep shutter speed at 1/100s. ISO 2.000! I think that this is nothing short of amazing! I can’t believe how sensors developed since I converted to digital in 2002. I would have been exited with this shot at base ISO on my Nikon D1. I would have been more than happy if my Canon 5D had such an amazing high ISO performance! When the 5D came out it was the DSLR with the best image quality ( if we ignore the 1Ds mkII for a second ). Nikon didn’t have any full frame camera back than so all professional photographers were using cameras inferior to the Panasonic GM1 just a couple of years ago.
I would not say that sensor size doesn’t matter anymore. A Canon 6D offers a much better high ISO performance than any m43 or APS-C sensor camera available today but unless you are shooting high ISO in low light does it really matter?
The last real world advantage of full frame I see is DOF control. Amazing things can be done with fast primes or even fast zooms on full frame cameras. Apart from that there is no reason to lug around heavy gear when great results can be achieved with such compact cameras. Regarding digital cameras we live in wonderful times.
BTW: Thank you Harald for playing the model while we had our coffee.