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Frequent Contributor
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎07-11-2020

Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?

[ Edited ]

(Note that this is copy/pasted from my post on dpreview, so a few points might not be entirely accurate here, basically the ones regarding earlier posts.)

Weeks ago, I had quite a number of threads on here trying to ascertain why I couldn’t match certain photos with my Canon M50 (being fully aware that it is a pretty entry-level camera and that perhaps there really are technical limitations.) Overwhelmingly, the responses were that the problem was with the shooter and not the gear. Light, EXIF data, shooting positions, and many other things were flung about in these conversations.

I never left convinced. Might sound strong headed of me as a relative beginner, but:

- A) I would look at pictures and pictures on here taken with pro gear, I don’t mean heavily edited and prepared photos, more like “hey I just snapped this to see how this lens is”-type shots and there was absolutely no comparison to anything I could get out of my M50. Zooming in showed a level of clarity and detail and sharpness I have never seen over thousands and thousands of my own pics taken in all manner of conditions.

- B) Along the lines of that last point: there is certainly variation in my shots as far as image quality, owing to the usual suspects of light availability, focus, and the like, but across literally thousands of photographs taken with the M50 not a single one looks like the pro gear shots. If it were up to me, once in a blue moon an “it” shot should’ve emerged, but the best it ever gets is never what I see at the top (and again, I’m talking unedited at the top). But to be sure and approach things thoroughly...

- C) I scoured the Internet for people’s pictures taken with M50s, you know, to really rule me out as any variable and get a broad view of what this gear is capable of. Once again, not a single shot approaches what I’m after. They all look like what I’m getting out of my own M50.

I was expecting, when I first first broached this subject many weeks ago, to get a standard breakdown of how megapixels are important or the better cameras’ image processing or sensors are higher end or something of the sort. Instead it was a lot of emphasis on my shooting, and after fully exploring this and others’ shots taken with my gear, I stand by my assertion that this gear is hard-limited. I mean, why else would one body cost $600 and another $4000? Sure diminishing returns might be at play but there has to be something to this. Especially as, again, just simple little backyard test shots from the pro gear is obliterating what I’m getting under ideal conditions and processing with mine.

So ignoring shooting conditions and EXIFs for a sec, what are actually the attributes that improve as you step up, no pun intended, in gear, and what are the major steps along that path (e.g. once you go from a sprocket to an HD sprocket, this will happen, and once you get a camera with this doodad, the following emerges, etc.)? Basically I just really want to know what the major price jumps get me. My partner/collaborator and I were expecting to basically relegate the M50 to the role of video camera once we could afford something better for stills, and so I really want to get a sense for what lies ahead. I’m really just champing at the bit to start getting top end photos (yes, yes, assuming all my fundamentals are in play Smiley Wink.)

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,349
Registered: ‎01-25-2018

Re: Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?

I will take a stab at this, the lens is usually the limiting factor and lower cost cameras are very rarely used with top end glass so you aren't likely to see the same quality of photo.  One day I am going to buy some film and see what my 1980s EOS 650 film camera will do with my EF 400 f2.8 lens on it Smiley Happy

 

Of course few people start out with a top end pro body or top glass.  I first used an AE1 many years ago and have gone through a lot of camera bodies over the years.  My first good digital was a 1D Mark II back in 2003 and its capabilities have long been surpassed by very low cost consumer bodies but it produced some excellent images.  By the time most people buy a top end camera body, they have been shooting for a long time and learned a lot and have equipped the body with the proper glass.

 

I shoot more sports than anything else but also some wildlife. The biggest quality jumps that I see moving up in price and technology are better low light performance and better dynamic range. 

 

Beyond basic sensor performance, AF improves under difficult conditions with the higher end bodies and for sports and wildlife action shots that is a huge deal.  Burst speed and buffer depth is also important but I never come close to using the buffer capacity of my 1DX series bodies shooting RAW (which is what I always shoot).

 

For still scenes under good lighting, put a very good lens on a M50 and it ought to be capable of producing professional quality images.  But under more demanding conditions, the better bodies will start to pull away.

 

With higher price, you also start moving towards better durability and weather resistance.

 

A $6,000 camera body isn't going to consistently shoot images that are 10X better than a $600 body.  Put the same glass on both and under good conditions you should get very similar output.  Yes, the better sensors in expensive bodies have some advantages and I can even notice the improvement from my 1DX II to 1DX III with some images but most of the time that involves pixel peeping.  Take a photo with a 1DX III and a M50 using the same glass under easy photography conditions and you will probably be able to tell the difference but where the spread really occurs is with low light, fast erratic action, extreme dynamic range, or horrible weather.  In that case the M50 may get nothing or die from rain exposure while the expensive body will continue to capture good images.

 

But bottom line, it is the LENS.  Buy the best glass you can, never buy an expensive body and use mediocre glass.  A decent camera body with great glass used properly is what will provide pro quality images that often need little post processing.  

 

Rodger 

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 120
Registered: ‎09-13-2014

Re: Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?

Being a hobby photographer, I basically opted for what I could afford all through the years, your question, and I don't mean to be rude, but you get what you pay for...
When individuals ask me how did I get this or that photo to look so good and I want to take pictures like that, what camera should I buy?
My answer will always be, the camera is just the start, lenses, software, it all plays an integral part, specs need to be looked at carefully, large megapixel specs can look impressive, however if the image sensor is small then results will vary, just read an article comparing the Canon flagship 1DX vs the Samsung S21, interesting comparison and someday the technology may be equal, however... Not yet.
What are you trying to do? What is your subject? Specific or specialized?
The reason there are "still" different cameras and different lenses is the sheer diversity of the desired application.
Determine the subject first, Determine a budget second, then choose the model that best fits "you"
Mirrorless will take over the market completely, eventually, I for one will not upgrade from the 5DsR until I see specs that surpass it, it's just that it is my preference.

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎07-11-2020

Re: Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?


@wq9nsc wrote:

I will take a stab at this, the lens is usually the limiting factor and lower cost cameras are very rarely used with top end glass so you aren't likely to see the same quality of photo.  One day I am going to buy some film and see what my 1980s EOS 650 film camera will do with my EF 400 f2.8 lens on it Smiley Happy

 

Of course few people start out with a top end pro body or top glass.  I first used an AE1 many years ago and have gone through a lot of camera bodies over the years.  My first good digital was a 1D Mark II back in 2003 and its capabilities have long been surpassed by very low cost consumer bodies but it produced some excellent images.  By the time most people buy a top end camera body, they have been shooting for a long time and learned a lot and have equipped the body with the proper glass.

 

I shoot more sports than anything else but also some wildlife. The biggest quality jumps that I see moving up in price and technology are better low light performance and better dynamic range. 

 

Beyond basic sensor performance, AF improves under difficult conditions with the higher end bodies and for sports and wildlife action shots that is a huge deal.  Burst speed and buffer depth is also important but I never come close to using the buffer capacity of my 1DX series bodies shooting RAW (which is what I always shoot).

 

For still scenes under good lighting, put a very good lens on a M50 and it ought to be capable of producing professional quality images.  But under more demanding conditions, the better bodies will start to pull away.

 

With higher price, you also start moving towards better durability and weather resistance.

 

A $6,000 camera body isn't going to consistently shoot images that are 10X better than a $600 body.  Put the same glass on both and under good conditions you should get very similar output.  Yes, the better sensors in expensive bodies have some advantages and I can even notice the improvement from my 1DX II to 1DX III with some images but most of the time that involves pixel peeping.  Take a photo with a 1DX III and a M50 using the same glass under easy photography conditions and you will probably be able to tell the difference but where the spread really occurs is with low light, fast erratic action, extreme dynamic range, or horrible weather.  In that case the M50 may get nothing or die from rain exposure while the expensive body will continue to capture good images.

 

But bottom line, it is the LENS.  Buy the best glass you can, never buy an expensive body and use mediocre glass.  A decent camera body with great glass used properly is what will provide pro quality images that often need little post processing.  

 

Rodger 


Very useful and informative stuff. I appreciate it immensely!

 

Let me ask you something- my go to right now is a basic Canon 50/1.8 attached with the EF-EFM adapter. So that, for me, is the gold standard as far as my modest little kit is concerned. How much do you think I'm losing in all that? (Lens + adapter?)

 

Let's assume you're right and it really is glass and not body. I have the native kit lens for this camera, you can imagine that quality Smiley Happy. I've also tried renting $2K Canon lenses for a day and shooting on here with the adapter- the 50/1.8 actually looked better pictures and in no time I swapped back to it during the day's shoot. 

So I guess what I don't have experience with yet is great glass directly shining onto the sensor, which, obviously, is not technically possible.

 

Anyway, do you think the nifty fifty lens + adapter are causing the differences I'm seeing?

 

And just to be safe and clear here, this is not a case of somebody spending $800 and wondering why they are not producing the work of someone who spent $6000. This is someone wondering what pieces lead to the biggest differences.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,349
Registered: ‎01-25-2018

Re: Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?

bigbrother,

 

I think the best way for use to help you on here is to post a couple of what you think are your better images AND why you feel there is a gap in quality from what you expect.  That will let forum members better assess what you might do to come closer to your expectations.  Be sure that the jpg files you upload have the exif data intact.

 

I have never used the EF 50 f1.8 so I looked at a couple of reviews for it.  It seems like it can produce very good results but a limitation is that when the lens is shot wide open (aperture set to f1.8) then the sharpness suffers and it doesn't produce excellent sharpness across the frame until the lens is stepped down to f4.  Even very expensive glass is often a bit sharper, especially nearer the edges, stepped down slightly from wide open but that weakness tends to be much more pronounced with less expensive glass.

 

The take away is with the 50 f1.8 if sharpness is a key concern, then stepping down the aperture from wide open is needed.  But as you do so you increase depth of field so if you want the look of a subject sharply in focus offset against a highly blurred background with nice bokeh then this becomes a balancing act between sharpness and "look".  Decreased aperture also has to be compensated for in the exposure triangle and will require either slower shutter speed (increasing the possibility of blur due to subject or camera motion) and/or increased ISO which will start to increase noise and reduction of this noise in post will reduce some detail as the ISO is further increased.  This is an area where you do more quickly hit a limit with lower cost cameras because the sensor, low noise amp, and analog to digital conversion components become more expensive when low noise is required under these conditions so compromises are made with less expensive bodies.  But if you have really good lighting, this doesn't become a concern.

 

The only time I have shot recently in jpg was when I unpacked my new 1DX III last year and the first shots were in JPG because I didn't expect this camera to come from the factory with the default setting as jpg output Smiley Happy  With RAW files, the image sensor data is fully preserved in the output so you can make all of the sharpening, noise reduction, color temperature balance, etc. decisions when you process it.  My goal is a good capture with minimal post so for most images I apply a basic recipe using DPP that sets white balance, minimal sharpening, and sets the default cropping choice to free so that I can quickly crop to what I want.  From there I will adjust exposure slightly when needed and make any needed adjustments to highlight and shadow gain.  You can, and sometimes will have to, make more extreme changes in post but the goal should be to get the best quality capture possible.  I am a firm believer in the old computer programmer saying, GIGO (garbage in, garbage out).  Adobe can do a lot in skillful hands but it is still best no to try to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

 

At some point you will be limited by your current gear depending upon your shooting situations and that is the nature of things but your M50 is very capable and will suffice in most situations.  In decent lighting, my 2005 era 8 megapixel EOS 1D Mark II can still create very decent images.  Sensors, like the one in your M50, have come a LONG way over that period of time and is much more capable than pro-grade sensors of only a few years ago.  I shot these bee photos when my 1D Mark II was pretty new, they were in decent lighting with a sharp EF-100 macro lens but heavily cropped and only use about 15% of the already small by current standards 8MP image sensor.

 

Rodger

 

NZ1W1098.JPG

 

NZ1W1103.JPG

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 48
Registered: ‎11-28-2020

Re: Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?

Here is the thing that people in this forum need to realize who are trying to help others...

 

If they don't share the photos that show "the problem", it ain't worth telling them jack ****.

 

In fact, they're probably just trolling because Google will pick this post up next time someone searches "Is the M50 professional quality" and they will see this complainer whining about it and buy something else. Let me guess, at some point he comes back and says he bought a Sony camera.

 

I'm waiting to hear about your exciting new Sony camera, let us know when you get it so we can pat you on the head and send you on your way.

VIP
Posts: 13,786
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?

[ Edited ]

I generally avoid these questions but here goes.  The best photos are mostly created by two things. Neither of which are or involve the camera and or lens. The first is the person and second is the post editing.  A poor lowest bottom of the rung camera/lens in the hands of a talented photographer is better than the top dollar equipment in the hands of a "shooter".

 

Point in case, look at what the old greats like Ansel Adams, Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, etc. and others with very minimum bare bones gear did. There are many more, but most people will recognize those names. They were talented and  dedicated people that mostly did their magic in the darkroom. Not in the camera.

 

Another fact, pros buy a 1 series gear not because it is the best IQ gear but because it is the toughest built gear on the market designed to work day in and day out under extreme circumstances. In fact a 5D Mk IV will likely out perform a 1DX Mk III, even a 90D to make a stronger point. Don't get me wrong 1 series gear is outstanding but so is a lot of lesser gears.

 

You can fool yourself all you want by spending huge amounts of money on gear and thinking, hoping, it will make you a better photographer but if you ain't got the gut, it's still going to be a hill to climb. In truth, sometimes it works. Most times it doesn't!

 

My beef with the M50 is, it is dead tech. It was from the beginning. It is basically a renamed Powershot. My two cents and worth every penny. 

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 120
Registered: ‎09-13-2014

Re: Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?

[ Edited ]

Ernie's reply is classic and so true, it jogged a memory of watching my father in about 1960, 70mm black & white, dogging out some objects on a photo of myself under the glow of the red bulb in the background, asking me if I wanted my ears smaller.


Persistence, Patience, Listening to others, Educate yourself and enjoy the craft, That is imperative, For we preserve the memories…

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎07-22-2017

Re: Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?

Anyone taking pictures with a modern digital camera is using a camera that is so far advanced from what the great photographers had in the past that the entire primus of the OP is ridiculous. It is the knowledge and experience of the photographer that takes a great picture not the gear used. It boils down to how much effort and time one is willing to put into it that makes the difference between a good to great photographer from a hack.

Stop using automatic mode as well as stop using auto focus. Learn why one chooses various apertures and shutter speeds over others. Keep the ISO at one setting. Don’t let the camera add any features such as highlight priority. Avoid stabilization and learn how to hold your camera. Learn breath control so when you press the shutter you don’t jerk the camera. Use a good tripod.

There are an endless number of things a photographer needs to learn. One of the most basic thing is being able to judge the light. And always shoot in RAW.

I have seen really good photographs taken with a phone. The reason people buy expensive gear, and the M50 is expensive compared to some cheap gear, is to get more flexibility and capability. Reliability is also an important consideration. All Canon cameras use great sensors. They are solid performers. Each is capable of doing outstanding work in the hands of a knowledgeable user.

There is an old adage “it is a poor workmen that blames his tools”

Read the manual.

New Contributor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎02-19-2021

Re: Quality increases with better and better digital cameras beyond my M50?

[ Edited ]

I found this article helpful, maybe it will help you also, very simple and easy to follow commands...

 

5 tips to take better quality pictures with your digital camera. | Learn Photography Skills

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