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/ 43.mm 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

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121 Comments

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Dang, they all look so similar.

Thomas H's picture

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."

Jon The Baptist's picture

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.

David Ha's picture

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.

William Faucher's picture

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.

David Ha's picture

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?

David Ha's picture

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?

Ansel Spear's picture

No I can't.

Ansel Spear's picture

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.

Pete Whittaker's picture

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?

michaeljin's picture

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.

michaeljin's picture

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?

michaeljin's picture

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.

michaeljin's picture

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.

Tim Gallo's picture

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.

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