Can You Guess Which Camera Took Which Picture?

Can You Guess Which Camera Took Which Picture?

Do medium format cameras have a specific look? Do Micro 4/3 camera take horrible still photos? You tell me. 

I happen to have a range of different cameras in my possession and I thought it would be interesting to shoot the same image with each of them to see if we could actually tell a difference. This is not a resolution test, we will do that in another video. This test is strictly to determine if images inherently different coming from different sized sensors and manufacturers. 

I stood in one spot and shot my buddy Keith Bradshaw with 4 different cameras with 4 different sized sensors. To keep the field of view the same, I used a 50mm "equivalent" lens on each camera. To keep the depth of field the same, I changed the aperture as well. My cameras and settings are below. 

FujiFilm GFX 50R/ x 32.9mm sensor/ 64mm lens f/8

Canon 6D/ 35mm ff sensor/ 50mm f5.6

FujiFilm XT-3/ 23.6mm x 15.6mm sensor/ 35mm f4

Panasonic GH5/ Micro 4/3 sensor/ 25mm f2.8

I shot each of the images below in raw, I changed only the white balance, and stacked the images on top of each other. I cropped in on all of the images to hide the 4/3 aspect ratio of the GFX and GH5 and shrunk them to 1920 pixels in width. Can you guess which camera took each image? 

UPDATE: The results are in

Lee Morris's picture

Lee Morris is a professional photographer based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of

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Dang, they all look so similar.

Good job regarding focal length and aperture setting: I do not vote because that would be a pure speculation on my part. Vote should also contain a button "cannot distinguish."

This is why I shoot most of my commercial work on micro 4/3rds. You can tell which shot is from the XT-3, otherwise everything looks the same

That's cool. So, let's say I shoot with a Medium Format 110mm F/2 lens at F/2, what M4/3 lens would you use to create similar results.

This "test" is dumb since you don't buy a MF camera to shoot portraits at F/8. The reason you get a MF camera is that you can do things with that camera that is not really possible with an M4/3 camera. Like shooting with a 100mm lens at F/2. The equivalent would be a, quick head calc here - somewhere around 40mm F/0.7. How many of those are available for the M4/3 system?

Not really. Shooting ultrathin DoF becomes tiresome and impractical quickly. Who wants one eye OOF all the time? Or OOF noses and lips? Or even cheeks and ears? Plus you can compensate by shooting with a long tele for the smaller formats.

The primary reason for choosing MF must be resolution and DR. It is certainly not because of cost, convenience, portability, or the smaller choice of lenses.

110mm F2 in crop MF is 87mm F1.6 in 35mm camera. It's so easy to find 85mm F1.4 in 35mm camera.

"This "test" is dumb since you don't buy a MF camera to shoot portraits at F/8."
What a dumbest comment I ever saw. What makes you think that MF has a special aspect in terms of lenses? Need more shallow DOF? Get 35mm FF.

I respectfully disagree. One of the major perks of MF is the ability to get closer and have fantastic subject isolation from the background, and I don't mean getting razor thin DoF. I'm talking about something closer to the Brenizer Effect that a lot of people use to cheat the MF look with Full Frame.

Second, MF offers incredible highlight and shadow recovery, something you can't really fake with 4/3rds, or FF. The highlight falloff will be substantially better with the MF, because, well, physics.

While I have to agree, the shots, all at the same exposure, and same equivalent F-stop look remarkably similar. But in practice, having the flexibility that MF offers, along with its unique look (when you don't shoot at F8), gives it a substantial edge. I'd love to play with the raw files of a M4/3 and the MF to compare.

I don't even own MF, still with a D800 here. But damn do I want a Medium Format. This test hasn't swayed me one bit because it is a weird comparison.

The way I see it, you're crippling the Medium Format to get it to look like a M4/3 shot.

I disagree. I you look at fashion photography of the top tier, the MF camera is selected because of its stunning IQ. You will also note that the bulk of fashion photography is done at smaller apertures because clients want to see the detail.
For closeup cosmetic beauty shots the 35ff format is advantageous because at close range the DOF is needed.

Go back to the 80's , 70's and 60's and you will find the occasional image using shallow DOF. Today it is still infrequently used commercially but used with wild abandon by amateurs shooting pics of their GFs and breakfast.

That's not the point. Did you even read my comment?

"I'm talking about something closer to the Brenizer Effect that a lot of people use to cheat the MF look with Full Frame."
That's a hype already. Do you even use medium format cameras? There isn't Brenzier Effect from Medium format camera and it's a common mistake that people think of. If you never used MF, I don't see your point and I have a lot of proofs to against your hype. I shot Hasselblad X1Dii with 80mm F1.9 and it works like other FF lenses. What makes you think that MF has its own aesthetic? Btw, I've been using digital medium format for more than 5 years. Also, NOBODY ever prove your hype for a long period of time with proofs. I can't even find any sources of what you are saying from google.

"Second, MF offers incredible highlight and shadow recovery, something you can't really fake with 4/3rds, or FF. The highlight falloff will be substantially better with the MF, because, well, physics."
Even MF has a limitation with highlight and shadow recovery. Since you never used it, you are out of topic. Oh yeah I used Phase One XF with IQ3 100, X1Dii, Hasselblad H6D, and more. The flagship MF does have a great DR but not that better than FF. Sony A7R3 already have 15 stop DR. IQ3 100 and IQ4 150 have 15 stops too. The quality will be different but that doesn't mean MF has better H/S recovery.

The MF look is TOTALLY hyped since those MF look supporters NEVER ever provide proofs and tests about it.

Curious, what made you stick with MF, if it's not the look or the DR?

Define "the look". Im talking about the specific look of MF in terms of background separation, not others. For those believers believing​ that MF has its look in terms of background separation than 35mm cameras, that's totally wrong.

I shoot mostly with Sony FF cameras. What makes you think that I stick with MF? Of course, I use MF but that doesnt mean I regularly use it for ordinary works.

DR is better but not that better. Sony A7R3 has 15 stops while IQ4 has 15 stops. Don't you get it? The quality is the major difference between 135 and 645.

OK, so I gather that you like MF because of the look in terms of picture quality, not background separation, correct? So you mean things like tonality/resolution?

No I can't.

Oh, for a moment I felt as though I was back at junior school.


Did you edit the EXIF to hide the camera/lens or is the trick that you used the same camera for all?

I'm guessing that's a result of the images being stacked, meaning they all have the exif data of the bottom/first layer.


Shooting for web sized images in good light, all of these camera's crush it. In fact I think you should have thrown a camera phone in there just for good measure.

It would be interesting to know if any of these cameras produced files that were better at highlight recovery, since that seems to have been a challenging part of the scene.

I know it's a function of the lens and not the sensor size but I don't like the bokeh in image 1.

The skin tones seem most neutral in images 2 and 3, with image 1 being too yellow-green and image 4 being a little over saturated for me. When you adjusted the white balance Lee, were you trying to make the images look the same or trying to be tricky?

This is about whether there is such a thing as a "medium format look" or any other specific aesthetic associated with sensor size. I think we can all acknowledge that there are real differences in stuff like low light performance or dynamic range. Taking the photo in ideal conditions removes those variables and focuses on whether there are any intrinsic aesthetic differences or if people are just full of it when they make such claims.

You would be right but the test here intentionally negates this advantages

We are being asked to compare cameras when they have all been set to match the micro 4/3 camera where it performs best.

The medium format look is absolutely real. But your not going to get that shooting the way they shot this.

You can shoot a 65mm at 1.4 on the GFX and I can absolutely guarantee that would stand out.

I don’t shoot medium format and I don’t plan to but this type of test is misleading and counterproductive.

It’s exactly like buying a Ferrari and a smart car and arguing that the smart car is equal in performance if your forced to drive it under 10 miles an hour.

True, these kind of pointless comparisons are on the raise.

So the "medium format look" only exists at shallow depth of field?

That’s a reductive argument if ever I saw one but if your talking about 8 bit sRGB web resolution jpegs then yes. The only differences you would see would be the DoF.

Honestly I’m not sure what else you would expect?

Well there's no real way get around the 8-bit sRGB thing as long as you're posting a JPEG to a website even if its full-sized. It makes little sense to post full-sized images if you're trying to conduct a blind test since we would easily be able to tell from resolution alone.

Also 99.99% of images shot will ultimately be displayed in 8-bit sRGB on the web in the appropriate "web resolution" and the rest are likely to be printed in magazines or poster advertisements through a high volume 4-color printing process that cannot reproduce subtle tonal shifts with any accuracy so this test actually reflects real world use far more than if you compared fine art prints or RAW files, the latter would also make for an impossible blind test.

So perhaps the conclusion we can draw is that if the "medium format look" exists, it doesn't matter outside of fine art printing.

And depth of field and resolution by your own logic.

Saying you didn’t do something because it would make it obvious is exactly the reason this rest is flawed.

But if you do discount, resolution, colour depth, dynamic range in the files and depth of field. Your right... they will look identical.

The entire point is to see whether the sensor size itself imparts a specific look. In order to do that, you have to equalize out the other variables. If the only thing about the "medium format look" is DoF and resolution, you could theoretically mimic it by using a high resolution full frame camera and developing a fast enough lens which would mean that the look has nothing to do with the sensor being medium format.

The "large format look" is a bit more complicated because those cameras are capable of movements that are simply unavailable to traditional cameras of smaller formats.

Personally, I don't believe that there's such a thing as a "medium format look". I think the aesthetic qualities attributed to it are not a function of the sensor or film size, but the specific optics that were developed for those cameras. I think that if you were to be able to develop a perfectly neutral "speedbooster" and used a medium format optic on a full frame, APS-C, or M43 camera, it would end up looking the same.

"I don’t shoot medium format and I don’t plan to but this type of test is misleading and counterproductive"

I don't think so. It mostly shows that MF isn't useful for web viewed images. And we all already know MF prints are ludicrously better than the rest.

This. For web, at f4-8, with a picture not bigger than 2500 px wide, anything goes :).
big megapixel sizes, big MF glass starts to become apparent in retouch, in print and... thats it maybe :). I recently made a cover and a feature with m43... nobody cared lol. I managed to make files look the same as d850 that I was shooting with side by side, but it does not mean I want to do it again though... retouching on m43 files is a pain in the ass. for A4 aps-c seems to be a perfect spot if not much trimming involved.

also everybody know that in good lighting even iphone pictures look great. give those cameras something more complicated to chew on. sunset backlit something/someone would be appropriate... and we see where it goes.

The MF look is not real. The characteristic of shallow DOF is pure lens.
When we shot film, the MF look was NEVER the shallow DOF but the smooth tonality that 35 was unable to deliver except at small print sizes.
A 16x20 from a 6x7 neg was immediately spotted as MF not by its DOF but the fact that the grain of 35 was apparent and slightly more contrasty.

Around 2000 a local police station asked me to print some digital files they had from their new Kodak digital camera. I believe it was 1.2MP or so. I had printed a lot of consumer grade files and expected the usual snapshot rendering. What was astonishing is the files looked like MF images because of their tonality. We realized that Kodak in their wisdom and experience in film created a curve for the digital file that rendered a beautiful soft look that was instantly recognizable as quality.

We recognized the look because it was how WE recognized the MF look from our experience in photography with film. The reason we never looked for shallow DOF was because pros were not obsessed with it. they were obsessed with the tonality of larger film formats and were buying 4800 w/s power packs to get enough light onto their 64ISO transparency film to shoot at f22 or 45 or even f90 if needed for 8x10 sheet film.

I have Kodak 2mp camera... and as you mentioned it looks like film. Also enough for insta :)

Also, you don't buy a medium format camera to shoot portraits at F/8. This test is "scientific" in the sense that it measures what each sensor is capable of in an artificially constrained environment for all but the smallest of the sensors. You get a bigger sensor camera in order to do things that the smaller sensor camera can't do, or will struggle with at least.

A proper test would be to test with with the parameters where the big sensor would be the optimal solution and then ask the other cameras to match that, not to take the least capable camera and limit the other cameras to operate under the same conditions. So, what would the test be?

Shoot the portraits on a 100mm F/2 medium format lens at F/2. Now, what would the other cameras have to do? The Canon would need a lens around, what 70mm or so, at F/1.4. OK, something similar should be possible. The APS-C would have to find something in the F/1.0 range. Sure. Can probably do that. Finally, the M4/3 camera would ned a lens with an F/0.7 aperture. Now, that would be a tad harder, would it not?

You don't buy a large sensor camera to shoot with it completely crippled (limiting your self to F/8 as the biggest aperture). You buy it to do things the smaller sensor cameras simply can not do at all, or at least do well.

Any errors in math are mine, but do not alter the conclusion in a major way.

110mm F2 in crop MF is 87mm F1.6 in 35mm camera. It's so easy to find 85mm F1.4 in 35mm camera. What makes you think that MF lenses have more shallow DOF? MF have limitations of having shallow DOF with MF lenses. Are there any F1.4 lenses available for MF system? NO.

Medium format is focused on having more image quality than the 35mm system. What MF can do while small sensors cant do?

Today one buys MF for shallow DOF fashion. Earlier, it was the tonality of image that could never be achieved with 35mm film.
Top fashion shooters still use small apertures on MF for detail.
Shallow DOF is hobbyist fashion just like safari jackets for fat Leica owners

Stupid test, sorry. Deliberately made to hide any differences. At this size a reduced pixel image, crushed into a web jpeg, you expect us to see a difference? Of course you won't. Every image here is shown below the capabilities of all the cameras used. Why not add an iPhone as well? It'd look the same in this skewed test.

It's like putting a Hyundai and a Ferrari in peak hour traffic and then claiming they go the same speed.

Do some highlight and shadow recovery and then print them A1 and then tell me you can't see a difference.


There are tons of people that will talk about a "medium format look" or a "large format look" and they will swear all day that it's an aesthetic thing. There are similarly people who will knock M4/3 for lack of shallow DoF.

If these things are true, they should be plainly evident even in JPEG compressed for web.

Not when the photographer shoots the pictures doing everything he can to hide the advantages. Shooting a portrait at f/8? That's stupid.

Why is shooting a portrait at f/8 stupid? I regularly shoot portraits at f/8 on full frame. Shallow depth of field is not always appropriate for portraiture.

"not always appropriate" is different from "regularly". If you're doing in regularly, you're most likely doing it out of habit.

Actually, I regularly take corporate headshots where they definitely do not want shallow DoF and I also regularly take environmental portraits where blurring the hell out of the background would sort of defeat the purpose. So yes, I do portraiture at f/8 more often than not since that tends to be the sweet spot where you get a deep DoF, but not too much for environmental and also before diffraction really starts to set in on most lenses.

Not everyone is into the eyeball in focus while eyelashes are blurred aesthetic.

Just want to point out that your argument can be used against shooting DOF "regularly"...

Yes, of course :).

Micheal Jin. I agree. And often shoot around f8 myself. In that case I could take my PenF and get the results I need. For work, I almost always use 35mm for the system, not the IQ. 99.999% of the time even that's overkill. That's not the point.

The point is this type of test is deceptive, in that it deliberately removes the differences in the systems. Even the cropping is intended to disguise. There may be only a 10% difference between each format as you step up but it's that 10% we pay the extra money to get. I may shoot 90% of the time at f8. But if I need more resolution or want less DoF the larger formats will give me more options than the smaller ones.


I completely agree that if we were to push all of these cameras to their maximum capabilities and be able to view/manipulate the RAW files, the differences would be quite evident even without looking at the EXIF data. This test is extremely limited in scope in searching for an aesthetic difference based upon sensor format. In that sense, I do not see it as being deceptive because after equalizing all of the other factors, we are left only with the aesthetic imparted by the sensor itself rather than the optics, resolution, or aspect ratio.

Simply put: Does the "Medium Format Look" exist?
If it does, what constitutes it? What are the specific elements that create that differentiation? If it's simply a matter of DoF, that's not a "look" because you could theoretically create design a lens to create an equal DoF on any system (this doesn't mean that they exist for practical reasons, only that it's theoretically possible). Is it the depth of color? Obviously this wouldn't translate to an 8-bit JPEG on the web, but then one has to wonder how much this actually matters given where the vast majority of photos will end up. Is it the resolution? There are 50-megapixel medium format cameras, but there are 45+ megapixel full frame cameras, too so how much of a difference is there between the two?

People talk about the "medium format look" all day, but when you ask someone to actually define it, it seems that nobody can describe or quantify it. One cannot help but be suspicious in such a circumstance. Photography is physics and physics suggests that there's no "look" that could be attributed to a sensor size. There are certainly capabilities such as low light performance that are afforded to larger sensor sizes outputting the same resolution, but there is no specific aesthetic quality that can't be compensated for to produce similar results on a smaller sensor. In practice, this obviously fails because regardless of the format, we more or less have the same aperture limits such as f/1.4 for primes or f/2.8 for zooms and we all know that f/1.4 on an APS-C sensor is not equivalent to f/1.4 on a full frame sensor as far as DoF is concerned. So maybe the "Medium Format Look" is just a function of the available optics rather than the sensor size.

With regard to the physics involved, as far as I'm aware it has to do with the longer lens required to get the same angle of view when on a larger sensor and it's really only visible some of the time and when the format is pushed closer to its limits.

I have systems from m43, APSC, 35mm and minMF. Yes, I see a difference, sometimes. There's a subtle difference how DoF fall off with the larger sensor. Some of this is due to lens design but not all. However..... Each of the modern sensor sizes is only a relatively small increase from the previous one. Up to a stop but not much more (1.2 stops for APSC to 35mm). At these changes it's hard to see the subtle differences because they're often tiny. Easier to see when jumping from m43 to 35mm or APSC to miniMF. That doesn't mean they're not there if you recognise them.

In the film days the differences were much much larger, in general. We had in between formats (127 etc) but mostly 35mm, 120/220 roll film, 5x4 and 10x8. Big differences and the effect was obvious. A 50mm in 135 format is close to an 80mm in 6x6 and about 320mm on a 10x8 camera. You see that, even at smaller sizes. miniMF standard is 63mm compared to a 50mm in 135 format. A much smaller difference with much smaller differences in the look.

Just because it's subtle doesn't mean it's not there. But I've been shooting up to 4x5 for the last 30 years so it seems obvious to me. I do understand when someone who's looking at a 44x33mm sensor as a large imager wouldn't see the differences.

In the film days it was clear as night and day partly because we didn't even have the concept of speed boosters (however imperfect they are) and partly because the negative size from something like a Mamiya RB67 completely dwarfed any 35mm film. Also, film had much more limited resolution so unless you were shooting 50 ISO film or something on 35mm, you'd run into grain pretty quickly as you enlarged it whereas the film grain was far smaller in relation to the details of the image with medium or large format. Obviously these things don't really apply to digital.

4x5 is much more obvious and I do think it has a "look" that goes beyond resolution which can be attributed to the unique movements capable with a 4x5 camera. For me, the coolest thing about medium format digital is the modular systems such as the Phase One. The newer handheld systems are certainly impressive, but they essentially amount to bigger full frame cameras in their use.

As to your point about the longer lenses to achieve the same field of view, it's possible that this could be the difference. I'm not so sure, but I wouldn't discount it.

I have long maintained that the MF and LF "look" was always the tonality exhibited by these formats in the film days.

Exhibit A would be any print made by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, John Sexton or any of the easily recognizable large format icons.

We would look at prints and immediately know if the photographer was using larger formats by the smooth tonalities that only a fine grained film could make. Even the virtually grainless tech pan films in 35mm could not duplicate this look.
It was never , ever the DOF.

These are all really interesting points and it's got me thinking. I'm going to do a shoot and compare. With real medium format. Maybe do a survey of sorts. The wheels are turning.

As the vast bulk of image end up on the web and as the vast bulk of amateurs never even print their work, it is valid.
The outrage is the evidence of defensiveness by hobbyists over their purchases and prejudices.

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