Why I like my Sony a6000 more than my Olympus E-M1: Part 6: The 3:2 aspect ratio

I guess now that I'm writing part 6 of this little series on the reasons I prefer the a6000 I should mention again that I can also write a series of posts (and I do plan to do that) as to why I prefer the Olympus E-M1 over the a6000.  Both cameras have their advantages and disadvantages.  And both have reasons to prefer it over the other.

Below I have written about my Olympus images from a June trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada. I didn't bring the a6000.  That's because Olympus has one big trump card... LENSES.

Although I used the Olympus E-M1 on this trip, the camera unfortunately (in my opinion) has a 4:3 aspect ratio.  This is what most point and shoot cameras and my iPhone have.  It's a bit squarer than the 3:2 aspect ratio of the Sony a6000.  The 3:2 ratio is the standard format on dSLRs and film SLRs. For travel photos I prefer the 3:2.

The other night I uploaded a set of favorites from the PEI trip to my Web site. If you are interested, please take a look here:

I noticed in this batch that although there were 25 landscape-oriented images from my Olympus, I cropped 20 (80%) of them to 3:2, and two of them were cropped even narrower, to 2:1.  It's too bad to waste the pixels, but the cropping improves the composition in my opinion... or I wouldn't have done it.

At 16 mp, the Olympus resolution measures 4608 pixels x 3456 pixels.  Crop to 3:2 and you have 4608 x 3072. This calculates to 14.2 mp.

I like what you get from the a6000.  With its native 3:2 ratio and 24 mp sensor with resolution of 5059 x 3373, one can employ the full 24 mp when capturing a landscape at 3:2.  This is quite a bit more resolution than what I am getting with the Olympus. Combine this with the fact that each pixel from a 24mp APS-C sensor is slightly larger than each pixel from a 16mp mFT sensor, you can see that the Sony provides both more and larger pixels. I am not sure this makes a difference to the human eye, but all things being equal more and bigger pixels is a good thing.

[Here's my math.  The squared dimension of the a6000 sensor is 60% bigger than the squared dimension of mFT sensor.  And 24mp is 50% more than 16mp.  Therefore, because the a6000 is 60% bigger and only has 50% more pixels, then each pixel is bigger on the Olympus.]

4:3 (native Oly aspect ratio)

3:2 (my preference)

4:3 (the result of some recent fly tying)

3:2 (my preference)


Peter F. said...

Hey peter , stumbled across your blog. I'm also a micro four-third (oly em-1 and Panasonic GM1 user) and previously I had used APSC and full frame camera systems as well.

The sony A6000 is an incredible mirrorless model from sony - excellent IQ for the size with consumer price tag. With regards to your megapixel calculation - image quality to our eyes when viewed on 27 inch 4k monitors or printed to A1 or A0 size has little to do with resolution sizing. 4000+ x 3000+ pixel on let's say a 24inch monitor - and 6000+ x 4800+ resolution picture on the same 24" monitor - the human retina eye cannot perceive any resolution differences.. you absolutely cannot tell the differences on normal viewing distance over a LCD display or printout around A3 or A2 size...

Viewing a sony image at 6000X4800 at 100% ,and oly 4000+3000+ at 100 percent , at times you might find the olympus is even sharper. The reason is it is easier to produce good lens optics to resolve smaller sensor than to produce the lens with similar sharpness to resolve a large sensor size - in order to have the same sharpness perception.

That's the reasons why a lot of people who moved to full frame sensor for the 1st time were complaining that their images look soft at 100%. It is difficult to produce lens ( and keeping cost , size and weight in consideration) that resolve to the same level of a big sensor size comparing to m43 or 1 inch sensors..

The only advantage that sony high resolution image files has over the olympus is when you print gigantic wall prints - example wall murals - where in order to keep a specific print resolution , so that it looks sharp - example :600 DPI , your file resolution needs to be extremely huge for example : 18000 x 14000 etc. and if you use a full frame sensor , you probably use software to interpolate it 2 times to achieve that, whereas if you use a micro- four third , you interpolate it 3-4 times.. try upsizing a 800x600 image to 4000x3000 , it looks hideous.. that's the point I was trying to say.

We all know that digital interpolation is "computer algo" scaling it up and putting in extra pixels. Again .. if you interpolate a little, your naked eyes can't tell the difference at the normal viewing distance.

Thus , to summarise , if you were to use photoshop to upscale your Olympus 16megapix to 24 megapix sizing resolution , when viewed on a 27inch monitor, I can bet with you my last dollar , you cannot tell the differences at all. we are limited by the human eye retina capability to notice any differences.

The megapixel war is ready starting to look foolish . There are not many out there who will upgrade bodies from 20 megapix to 24 megapix, comparing where 10 years ago, a 6 megapixel DSLR vs a 10megapix DSLR , you can really notice the resolution differences from naked eyes. now the competition is stiffen to produce more functionality advantages to the bodies than chasing for megapixel improvements.

Peter F. said...

Hello VH from Singapore. Thanks so much for your comment! I deleted your original comment in error from my iPhone (big fingers small phone) so I cut and inserted above from the email notification I received. Sorry.

Everything you said makes a lot of sense. I share your view of the pixel war. I have some beautiful 20x30" prints from both the 16mp Oly sensor (thought to be made by Sony) on the EM-1 and the 16mp Sony sensor on my NEX-6. [I am currently using the a6000 Sony, but have not made any large prints from it.] I personally would rather the effort be made in making cleaner files from 16-24mp sensors, rather than making larger pixel count sensors that are of the same "noisiness" as the current 16-24mp sensors.