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  • steveChance - Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - link

    [please disregard this post if this topic has been covered already in the readers' comments as I have not read all twelve pages of them]

    I find it odd that you would test cameras using printed matter as sample subject. Like digital images printed matter (esp. 4-color process) has its own errors that will (IMHO) negatively effect the photographic results.

    Use a loupe to view at the actual item shown in the crops...
    Reply
  • jcbenten - Friday, April 25, 2008 - link

    Nice article. I presume I have come across this with all the corrections. I look forward to comparisons to the XSi, K200, and A300. I am "attempting" to purchase my first (D)SLR and I continue to out think myself. Your A350 crops came out much better than I anticipated. Maybe there is still life in the CCD. Reply
  • punchkin - Tuesday, April 08, 2008 - link

    ... before performing another "comparison". Reply
  • cputeq - Wednesday, April 09, 2008 - link

    You should also consider the text of the review before making snide comments.

    The review indicated all camera white balance settings were set to Tungsten. If one camera or another has a warmer look than another, that's the "fault" of the camera.

    The issue of the image comparisons was noise, not color accuracy.
    Reply
  • Zak - Wednesday, April 09, 2008 - link

    I'm not saying the review was bad or good, I can't care less for SONY's cameras, and I don't want to put down your efforts, but I think AnandTech is losing focus. Please return to your roots: computer stuff and leave the camera reviews to other established camera review sites that don't do computer stuff review;) When I come here I want to read about about computer stuff. If I want to read about cameras I go to DP Review, Steve's Cams, Digital Camera Resource, Fred Miranda, The Imaging Reource just to name a few. Honestly, I see at least 50% drop in number of interesting articles on AT. Oh, and the same goes for game reviews. XBox game reviews on AT? Please…

    Zak
    Reply
  • MKFAGAN - Monday, April 07, 2008 - link

    I was wondering why everyone is down playing the in camera zoom feature this is huge..The way I see it I have a 50mm 1.4 which is actually a 70mm with the 1.6 crop I press the button to get 1.4x zoom this gives me a 98 1.4 lens I press it again I get 2x zoom so I get a 140mm 1.4 thats huge It is like having 3 prime lenses in 1 so what if I lose a few MP This is big could you imagine a 135mm 2.8 with crop factor 216mm 2.8 press the button to 2x zoom I have a 432mm 2.8 this is a huge feature Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, April 08, 2008 - link

    The auto-teleconverter is convenient, but it is really just a crop of the 14.2 megapixel image. You can do that by croppping images from any digital camera. I was also disappointed that the auto teleconverter does not work in Live View mode.

    In fact, there is no real zoom mode in Live View to assist in focusing, as I learned the hard way in trying to set critical focus for the resolution/noise crops. The tiny viewfinder and no zoom in LV made accurate manual focusing a real chore. While Sony's Live View is the fastest and most convenient LV we have tested, both the Pentax K20D and Olympus E-3 allow you to select an area to enlarge in LV and then magnify it (7X, 10X) for manual focusing - which does work real-time on both cameras. That made manual focusing MUCH easier for the test series on those two cameras.
    Reply
  • haplo602 - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    Briliant Wesley ... THIS is that kind of information that should have been in the review !!!

    That's also what I meant in my earlier post. Camera handling and the little quirks that either get in the way or aid in actual shooting.

    Maybe I missed the part in the review, but I do not recall you mentioning the auto-teleconverter. Also the LV limitation on focusing (coupled with the horrible viewfinder) are a critical point that should have been in the review.
    Reply
  • retired hiker - Monday, April 07, 2008 - link

    I have a problem with the title of your review. Tell me how I can Live View at 14.2MP. Certainly the tiny display on the camera can't give me that resolution. Reply
  • krakman - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    also they sell fer around 30$ on amazon.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    Can you please post a link to the $30 price for the Sony NPFM500H battery? The battery for the new A700, A350, A300, and A200 is the same, but it is different from the earlier battery for the A100. The earlier A100 battery is both cheaper and available as a cheap generic, unlike the FM500H so far.

    I just checked and Amazon has a price of $54 with an "Out-of-Stock" for 1 to 2 months. Sony Style is $69.99. If it is now available for $30 ANYWHERE I'm sure a lot of Sony users would appreciate the link.
    Reply
  • 0roo0roo - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    typical sony arrogance. i would not give such a camera a second look because of the battery alone. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    The battery price was pretty annoying to a pot of posters on Forums and I thought it should definitely be discussed as most buyers don't discover this "gotcha" until after their purchase. As we mentioned, with Sony using the same expensive battery in all their new DSLRs there is some hope for a reasonably priced OEM battery in the future - unless Sony has something in the technology completely tied up with patents.

    Interestingly chargers for the old A100 battery work fine with the new FM500H. It appears the A100 batteries would work fine in the new cameras if they had the center groove that is on the FM500H. Perhaps some enterprising Asian source will come up with a battery at a decent price that will work in the new Sony cameras.
    Reply
  • danddon - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t resist helping out Mr. Fink with his K20D technology – in particular, the 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor.

    Just a few searches on the net uncovered the Pentax marketing material that describes this sensor, as well as a slide from an Asian presentation showing the structure and size of the individual photosites of the sensor.

    Unfortunately, this material only proves that my method of calculation of photosite area was correct: the Pentax sensor has a photosite size of 5 microns, with an intersite gap of .13 microns. I said we should ignore this gap, because it is difficult to find the exact dimensions for all sensors in the literature.

    I did not calculate the size of the photosites for the K20D sensor, but, for the sake of clarity and completeness:

    23.4mm/4672 pixels = 5.009 microns
    15.6mm/3104 pixels = 5.026 microns

    Please note that this number should really be 5.13 microns, so my calculation is not 100 percent accurate. However, I felt it close enough for the purposes of this review. I will leave it to the reader to be the final judge.

    What Mr. Fink was really referring to was the size of the photodiode at each photosite. The photodiode, as we all understand, is the device that actually does the conversion of the incoming photons to electrical energy. And, as we all understand, since it is not yet technically possible to construct a photodiode that covers the entire photosite, a microlens is placed over the top of the photosite assembly to focus the incoming photons onto the active area of the photodiode.

    With good engineering, the combination of the structure of the microlens and the size of the photodiode, will result in an approximation of a photodiode that effectively covers the entire photosite. Of course, each manufacturer has their own techniques for optimizing this approximation, and probably much of the engineering could be considered a trade secret.

    I tried to avoid all this complication by simply giving Mr. Fink the benefit of the doubt, and assuming in my calculation that the photodiode did, in fact, cover the entire photosite area. I thought this was in keeping with the tenor of the review itself, and subsequent discussions in this forum – keep it simple.

    What Pentax claims to have achieved is a photodiode size that is larger than the photodiode size of the Sony A700 12.2 megapixel sensor. This size is measured as being 40 percent of the area of the photosite, which would be 40 percent of 25 or 10 sq. microns. I will give them and Mr. Fink that. However, this does not change the size of the photosite itself, which is: 5 microns.

    Finally, Mr. Fink claims early in his response – “… the photosite size for the K20D does not scale as you indicate.”

    I can only refer Mr. Fink to the folks at Samsung/Pentax, as well as to at least two other photography sources. These people would say that , in fact, yes - it does. And, I am constrained to point out – as my own calculation suggests.

    But, I fear I have gone far, far astray from the original intent of the review, which was to simply look at the crops and determine the comparative noise attributes. Maybe I will try that sometime in the future, but don't hold your breath.
    Reply
  • jake123 - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    Danddon, I doubt if you even knew the difference between a photodiode and photosite beforehand.

    But a clarification of terminology is a good thing.

    Also, you should just compare the photos as Wesley tells you and judge for yourself.
    Reply
  • danddon - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    Actually, Jake123, I didn't even know what a digital camera was until I happened upon the AnandTech site. But, I am trying to learn.

    I have used the instant film cameras on occasion, but only when I could sell enough cans and bottles from my shopping cart to pay for them.

    Thank you for your helpful words of advice, and appreciate your patience. I will be comparing those photos as fast as my limited intelligence will allow.

    I apologize if my feeble attempt at technology was not appreciated. I hope you weren't too offended.

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    What is your point? The article does not mention photosite size except in passing. Did you really expect an in-depth treatise on the impact of photosite size in the front page discussion Forum of this review? There are many variables that affect the ability of a pixel to respond to light and the size of the pixel is one of them. It is important, but it is not the only variable, as you well know.

    The K20D and Canon 5D are CMOS sensors and the Sony A350 is CCD. I can point to articles at respected sites in the past who argued that CMOS sensors would always be inferior to CCD. Of course the entire Canon line is now CMOS, and all the new sensor introductions have been CMOS except this Sony 14.2 sensor. Even the A700/D300 is CMOS. Obviously manufacturers found ways to get around the inherent limitations of CMOS sensors. Photosite or pixel size is another inherent limitation.

    The images are there for you to decide for yourself. If they aren't controlled enough for your liking you can perhaps find what you seek elsewhere on the web. Thank you for your research and for bringing your findings to my attention.
    Reply
  • Barbu - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Last time I checked, being a PRO meant that you got your rent, your car and your equipment paid from the photography job. Mr. Fink might try to pose as a PRO, but no professional photographer would go on semi-auto mode in low-light. Really, that sentence looks like a high-school brag and for the real pros it's simply laughable.
    It's sad to see that the author ran out of valid reasoning and ended up using his fists to defend his... opera.

    People, try to get this: even if the article is written in layman's terms, it has no practical value; mistakes over mistakes, and any beginner would make *different* mistakes or sub-optimal settings; the article is simply not relevant *for anybody*, enthusiast, prosumer, amateur or plain beginner.
    _____________________________________________________

    I'm almost certain of a thing: there would be no more polite replies, so I won't continue this thread. But (as many others will do) I'll have a very critical eye for WF's next articles, and any further error in dSLR testing will be sorely pointed out; the consequence will either be building mistrust in Anandtech (wich is a shame, considering the other very good articles), or -as an alternative- the author will be guided to other... workplace.
    So, Mr. Fink: be very careful, you're watched.
    Reply
  • Maxington - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    I've never seen a post more full of horrific levels of "YOU'RE NOT A PRO PHOTOGRAPHER" snobbery.

    Ken Rockwell is a pro photographer based on your criteria, and I'm not sure if he even knows how to take a photo in anything but full-auto, jpeg mode. And he reviews cameras!
    Reply
  • Deadtrees - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    I agree Ken Rockwell doesn't know much yet reviews cameras. That's why he became a joke when it comes to camera reviews. Same mistake is being made right here on Anandtech.
    Not only that, Ken Rockwell is known for his huge ego. That, too, is quite same with the reviwer here on Anandtech.

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    I have been a Senior Editor at AnandTech for over five years. In fact I have been here longer than anyone except our CEO, Anand Shimpi. I have started or expanded many review areas for AnandTech, brought on-board other AT Editors you will recognize, and handed off new sections to others after getting them up and going. I am NOT quaking in my boots at your threats.

    What I cannot figure out is why you are so determined to discredit me and my work. It certainly won't work, but I cannot figure out your motivation. I can only assume you must be from a photography web site as we have been attacked before by other web sites who were threatened by the success of AT in other areas. If my work is so mediocre and laughable who bother worrying about my camera reviews enough to threaten me? Something is not right with your vehemence and threats.
    Reply
  • Deadtrees - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    What are you talking about? The question was about your being "PRO" photographer, not about your resume on Anandtech.

    Are you implying that your reviews are bound to be decent because you've been here for some years, did this and that for Anandtech?

    Who cares expect you and your ego? Reader don't care whether you're the founder of Anandtech or the creator of Internet when your camera reviews show too many problems.

    The very methods you've choson only shows how you're incapable of doing the review on this matter and you know it. Stop the ego trip and find someone who can do the review. If you feel like it's something you gotta do as you're the "PRO" photographer, stop doing silly and nonsense benchmarks as you just can't cut it right.

    You see, you're walking down path of Ken Rockwell with this stupid review and ego trip. If you want to do a good review that's not based on benchmarking, www.luminous-landscape.com would be your guide line. Learn from that site instead of Ken Rockwell's.

    Reply
  • GTVic - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    Wow, you should really calm down before you give yourself a heart attack. The same goes for some of the other people posting here. The tone of your comments is extremely angry and your attacks are largely demeaning (eg. "this stupid review") rather than constructive and friendly.

    Your spelling and grammar are so atrocious and juvenile that I imagine you are writing these comments with steam coming out of your ears due to your intense anger. In short, you have very little credibility in spite of all the technical details that you so venomously spew out.
    Reply
  • brian_riendeau - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    I think the motivation for a lot of people is the fact that they like AT (otherwise why would they be here reading your article?) and this feels like a letdown. I posted some stuff earlier that may not have been in the best tone, however I can assure when I first clicked on the article I was really excited to read it. Then when I finished I was like "Wow.........." A lot of computer enthusiasts are photogs as well, and its frustrating to come to a site we look to for solid information and read this article. Personally I am someone who currently knows more about cameras than PCs, so reading a head scratcher like this article can make me question some of the PC hardware articles and discredit those.

    Its also frustrating that you do not have the camera anymore. DSLRs can be finicky things and often the best results or feedback comes from second and third looks at the camera. Obviously you are trying to generate some traffic and expand the site user base a bit. Now what I would love to see if for AT to take the feedback from this, and consider that for a revision to this article or at least future articles. I would love to see a good comparison over the current crop of <$1K DSLRs.

    Just keep in mind that megapixels really do not matter. Photography is extremely subjective, and when it comes down to it, people want to know what will take the best pictures for them.
    Reply
  • kleang - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Well done on the review and all correction you're doing. This type of review is really what's I'm seeking for.

    Who's care on everything must be perfect or measured right? I just need something easy to understand, some opinion from pro, some compare to guide what's I got if I buy this product.

    If I seriously to buy and need in depth information, dpreview and other many sites is my choice.

    May be I'm just your target group, and I'm sure this group is large segment from now.
    Reply
  • punchkin - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    This is not an opinion from a pro. In addition, if you actually don't care about basing your opinion on wrong information, you can satisfy yourself easily with a random search anywhere on the web. Hell, I'll send you bad advice for free if you give me your email address. Reply
  • kleang - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    1. You need to build your credibility 1st if you want to give any advice to people. At the moment, your credit is zero for me(sorry to say that).

    2. Anandtech is one of best information web for a long time, so any advise is good to hear. And I think they response to many comment as a pro, try to correct and very patient to answer.

    3. Many comment are very good and helpful but some just try to blame and show off.

    4. Like it or haste it, just give polite comment and it's depend on AT if they think it's neccesary or not to correct. No meaning to try to blame to prove you're right. AT must responsible on their review but we (you and me) just reader which didnt provide even realname/email.

    5. It's helpful to point the error and give some opinion. But let reader decided if they think this review is helpful or not, you may just not the target group.

    Just my 2cent.
    Reply
  • punchkin - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    1. We're not discussing your belief in my credibility, but the credibility of the reviewer and his "review".

    2. Nope, obviously NOT for camera information. The word is "advice". Bad advice or "advise" is bad to hear.

    3. My comment is dead on point. A "review" that puts vastly different lenses on different camera bodies, and "tests" using wide-open apertures to show supposed merits of the sensor in each camera, or the imaging capabilities of each camera system, is UTTERLY WORTHLESS.

    4. Like it or not, your half-intelligible posts here do nothing to show that the review has any worth whatsoever. If you want to play "politeness police", go elsewhere.
    Reply
  • kleang - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    "4. Like it or not, your half-intelligible posts here do nothing to show that the review has any worth whatsoever. If you want to play "politeness police", go elsewhere. "

    Just in case you didn't realize, this post already shown yourself to the public, lol.
    Reply
  • punchkin - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    Let's try to keep this to standard English. :D Reply
  • haplo602 - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Well done on the reshot. The only one lacking is the Canon 5D (should be the same image area) but other than that, quite fine.

    I read through almost all the comment pages and I have a few things to add.

    AT is a page for geeks and enthusiasts that want the best tool for the job. In this case mostly a gaming rig (AT still has gaps in OS, server, workstation reviews). I noticed that you do not want to mimic the other established sites. The problem is, there is not much choice.

    The camera models differ in details that are largely unimportant to the usual AT visitor. And you cannot expect people to ditch an SRL system when they got more than just body+kit lense.

    So I suggest you pick a place that covers what the average AT visitor wants to know - make a POLL/survey about that.

    Pixel peeping is not for normal people. They shoot at max ISO 800 (or whatever the auto iso setting will max at). Mostly leave the photos in digital form to present on web galleries. Hardly anybody does larger prints (beyond 10x15 cm photo). BUT I think they are concerned about ease of use, good camera manual, availability of accessories (lenses, flashes etc.), performance in mostly auto or program mode, JPEG quality and such.

    These are the areas AT should work on. Hardly any serious photo site does review the automated or (idiot) scene modes.

    Truth is, whoever does use scene modes on an SLR shoudl be still using a point and shoot, but there is a group of people that are not satisfied with the limits of P&S cameras, yet they have not mastered the science behind photography. These will be interested in the areas I just mentioned.

    I'd say give it a thought, do a review based on that and see the reactions ...
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Since I have had several requests for same "field of view" images and crops for the Canon 5D I have added a page 7 with two sets of Canon 5D crops and full images.

    One set is taken from the same location with the 50mm lens. That is the set that was already in the updated review an it provides a greater field of view on the 5D than on the 1.5X multiplier cameras.

    The second set of 5D images were shot with the same camera and 50mm lens moved closer to the image to try to maintain the same field of view. Despite the different fields of view, all Canon 5D cropped images are still maintained at 230x300 pixels.

    With both sets of Canon 5D images you should be able to compare the A350 and Canon 5D images as you would like to see them compared.
    Reply
  • danddon - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Thank you for correcting this issue. These crops are better, but not the areas are still identical in size. Perhaps you can improve in your next set.

    Now, then - how about some comments on photosite size discrepancies between the a350 and 5D? Since the 5D has a larger sensor, with a smaller number of pixels, the photosites are correspondingly larger. Hence, for any given light level, these photosites will gather more photons than the a350. This will result in a higher signal to noise ratio, with less noise appearing in the crop.

    Since you are fond of not getting too technical, let's say the photosites are twice as large in the 5D. If so, then should we not be comparing, say, the iso3200 on the 5D with the iso1600 on the a350?

    If you do not like the above numbers, please give us unwashed readers your take on how to account for these differences in sensor sizes. Surely, you want to provide this analysis. Yes?
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Since we are still dealing with different sensor resolutions, the same field of view will yield slightly different crops since we are maintaining the same pixel crop size of 230x300. The Canon 5D is 12.2 megapixels and the Sony is 14.2 megapixels. So a same-size crop from an equivalent field of view image on the Canon 5D would still show more area than the same pixel-size crop from the higher resolution A350. To produce same pixel-size crops and take this into account would take endless manipulation with each camera tested that had a different sensor resolution or multiplier.

    The Pentax K20D at 14.6 and the Sony at 14.2 are closer in resolution so the differences are not as great, but there are still differences in the same pixel crops. As we would expect the Sony crop view is a bit wider since it is a bit lower in resolution than the Pentax.

    We could just crop the same area from equivalent field of view photos, as I have seen done in some other photo reviews. However, it is my opinion that is not a fair representation of noise since the crop areas would represent different total pixels. This becomes an interesting problem when you compare a 10 megapixel sensor since the resolution is almost 50% less than the Pentax K20D.
    Reply
  • danddon - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    How about the issue of photosite size?

    From “Digital Photography Review”:

    Canon 5D
    Sensor Size = 35.8mm x 23.9 mm
    Max Image = 4368 x 2912 pixels

    Alpha 350
    Sensor Size = 23.6mm x 15.8 mm
    Max Image = 4592 x 3056 pixels

    Assuming the above numbers are in the ballpark, we get a photosite maximum possible size of:

    5D = 35.8/4368 = 8.196 or 8 microns
    23.9/2912 = 8.207 or 8 microns

    a350 = 23.6/4592 = 5.139 or 5 microns
    15.8/3056 = 5.170 or 5 microns

    Thus the 5D has a photosite area of 8x8 or 64 sq. microns
    Likewise, the a350 has an area of 5x5 or 25 sq. microns

    If we ignore the reductions in these areas due to photosite boundaries, which would be required for light shielding between sites and for electronics, then we can say that the 5D has approximately 2.5 times more photosite area than the a350.

    Thus, everything else being equal and for the same iso setting, the 5D will gather 2.5 times more photons than the a350, with a correspondingly better signal to noise ratio, and less visible noise in the resulting image.

    Therefore, why should one compare iso3200 on the a350 with iso3200 on the 5D, when the 5d would receive 2.5 times more photons in each photosite? Please explain.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    First of all the photosite size for the K20D does not scale as you indicate. One of the Samsung/Pentax big deals is that they say they have reduced the space between photosites to increase the size. They claim the 14.6 megapixel sensor has about the same size photosites as the Sony A700/Canon A300 12.2 megapixel sensor.

    All else being equal the photosite size obviously matters, but all else is never equal. You can can compare the photos and crops for yourself in this review instead of calculating what should and should not be compared. As I have learned in reviewing computer components, assumptions and suppositions often get you in trouble.
    Reply
  • danddon - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Then how does it scale? How about some math instead of words?

    And who even mentioned the K20D? The comparison being discussed is between the a350 and the 5D. Can you read?

    LOL ...

    I have heard enough. And, it was far too little to be of any value. Thanks, anyway.
    Reply
  • danddon - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    This sentence:
    "These crops are better, but not the areas are still identical in size."
    should read:
    "These crops are better, but not the image areas are still not identical in size."

    Sorry for the confusion. My bad.
    Reply
  • danddon - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    This sentence:
    "These crops are better, but not the areas are still identical in size."
    should read:
    "These crops are better, but the image areas are still not identical in size."

    Sorry for the confusion. My bad - 2.
    Reply
  • Maxington - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Just keep improving your reviews and listening to constructive comments Wesley. I appreciate a different take on reviews regardless, you always have to read multiple reviews from multiple people to get a proper take on a product. All of them cover a different aspect that the others didn't take into account.

    There is no perfect way to review cameras, have you seen the DPReview forums? They are pretty much the gold standard for reviews, and after every review, there are dozens of threads decrying the obvious flaws in the testing system! You can't win again people who are far more interested in measurebating the tech specs than taking photos, and there is no way to remove all variances between different cameras, let alone entire brands.

    I tend to feel there is a lot less bias in your reviews than most "camera" sites. A lot of those smack of "If its not Canon/Nikon, its not a camera".

    Hell, most of the issues that the measurebater crowd are niggling at won't even be visible in real life photos.
    Reply
  • Deadtrees - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    When it comes to measurebaters, I know what you're talking about. However, it's not the case here. You are not saying that comparing images taken with different aperture values and exposure times aren't visible in real life, are you?

    As said before, what people are demading aren't quite huge here. It's as simple as taking pictures in possible same conditions. People aren't demanding to remove all variances. People are demanding the reviwer to follow just basic rules. Really, think about it. What kind of a reviwer tests cameras using AUTO mode unless it's done so for the sake of it? Even worse, what kind of a reviewer compares resolution of the camera when the aperture value is all different on a such a shallow /f lens?

    BTW, where did that "If its not Canon/Nikon, its not a camera" come from? Last time I checked, nobody here put down A350 or K20 because they aren't Nikon/Canon cameras. In fact, people put down the review as it was done such, if not less, an amateur level.

    When people are pointing the obvious, don't water it down by saying that they're just being measurebators and Nikon/Canon fanbois. It only helps the ego of the person not the review; What people here care about is the quality of the review, not the ego of the "PRO" photographer reviewer.
    Reply
  • Maxington - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    If you take a look, I was one of the first few people who commented on the different apertures throwing the test, which was brought up days before 50 other comments jumped on the bandwagon, and was fixed swiftly. Wesley also acknowledged all the CONSTRUCTIVE criticism civilly and took it onboard to improve his review, it wasn't until people starting on about stuff like varying ISO standards and default settings between camera brands that he became mildly irate. You can't seriously say that level of bitching isn't measurebation for this sort of review.

    Crap like that never ends. If you judge on jpeg quality, the settings between cameras becomes a variable. If you judge on RAW, the converter used becomes a variable, and the level of NR that in some cameras can't be disabled.

    He made some mistakes in his first review, and fixed them. Very few of the later comments were valid, but people keep harping on.

    Last time I checked, I said OTHER REVIEW SITES are often biased towards Canon/Nikon.
    Reply
  • Deadtrees - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    The test methods the reviewer used would be the call for 'measurebators' as it measurs the difference between cameras; You can expect someone to not measure when the review itself is based on measurement. How can you do a camera review without being a measurebator in the first place? www.luminous-landscape.com would be the answer. If he's a "PRO" photographer who doesn't know much about measuring cameras as witnessed, he should just write up reviews Luminous-landspace way. That'd be the perfect solution.

    You see, the problem we have here is how he's setup a testing system that's got too many variables. People didn't demand him to to varible free, people demanded him to be get rid of ridicoulous varibles. He did manage to fix some of the problems yet some remains. I suggested that he mention and explain it if he's doing it for some purposes. As you probably know why, a reviwer shouldn't just throw out images and compare them without letting the people know about crucial settings being different.

    About the Canon/Nikon comment.
    I was mostly refering to the reviwer's reply although it was directed to someone else:

    "You could just stop the pain, stop reading, and move on to comfortable sites where Canon and Nikon always top the performance charts and always win every award"

    Now, isn't it just silly when the reviwer gets all personal saying stuffs like that when he's the one who created this chaos?



    Reply
  • brian_riendeau - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Now would probably be a good time to stop writing prosumer DSLR articles. This whole thing is littered with inaccuracies and just plain incoherent information. Reading this really reminds me of when I interview people for jobs they are not qualified for, and they just break down and start tossing out buzzwords. I got no problem with AT publishing some SLR articles, but they at least have to make sense. Heck, you did not even compare the Sony against the compatable Nikon and Canon models. Why the hell would you use a 5D? The 5D is in a completely different class, and the Pentax has such a small share of the market. This is basically a slap in the face to anyone who is a camera enthusiast. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    How rude of me to compare ISO noise of a 12.2 megapixel “low-end Pro” full-frame 5D to a pedestrian 14.2 megapixel APS-C Sony and a “tiny market share” 14.6 megapixel APS-C Pentax. I suspect a comparison to an APS-C Nikon D300, which at $1799 is very close in actual price today to a 5D, would probably be OK. Or can I only compare the Sony A350 to current 10-meapixel APS-C Canon and Nikon models priced below $899?

    You really don’t have to put up with this sacrilege. You could just stop the pain, stop reading, and move on to comfortable sites where Canon and Nikon always top the performance charts and always win every award.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    How rude of me to compare ISO noise of a 12.2 megapixel “low-end Pro” full-frame 5D to a pedestrian 14.2 megapixel APS-C Sony and a “tiny market share” 14.6 megapixel APS-C Pentax. I suspect a comparison to an APS-C Nikon D300, which at $1799 is very close in actual price today to a 5D, would probably be OK. Or can I only compare the Sony A350 to current 10-meapixel APS-C Canon and Nikon models priced below $899?
    You really don’t have to put up with this sacrilege. You could just stop reading and move on to comfortable sites where Canon and Nikon always stop the performance charts and always win every award.
    Reply
  • Deadtrees - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Of course I knew what you were talking about when you mentioned ISO variance among cameras at the same ISO setting. I am always willing to listen to constructive criticism, but I have little patience with comments that are self-serving grandiosity. I have made a living as a PRO photographer - have you?

    You should also mention that almost every NEW camera that has been tested for ISO speed variation is today largely correct in the reported ISO. I am aware of the issue but its importance today is low and not that signigficant to our intended audience. The biggest offender was Canon, and their newer cameras are now testing correct as well. I doubt, however, that your real goal was to share information. It sounds from your tone that your goal was to belittle rather than educate or provide constructive criticism..

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    As another person has already pointed out, your being professional photographer doesn't make you a decent reviewer. I do have friends who are professional landscape/wedding/sports photographers but they don't know much about cameras than I do.
    They know it,I know it and we know our boundries: They don't write thoughtless reviews on major review sites and I don't claim my pictures are decent because I know well about cameras in terms of mechanics. It's the same case when it comes to many subjects. A good racer wouldn't argue with mechaics by saying 'I have made a living as a PRO racer - have you?' A good progammer wouldn't try to argue with hardware geeks by saying 'I have made a living as a PRO programmer - have you?'
    As you can see, I hope, it's just silly to come out with that logic even if we're all in elementry school.

    You claim that you knew what I was talking about when I mentioned ISO level being different on certain cameras. Maybe you did and I do hope you did. However, when I mentioned it, you came with some weird answers; you said it'd be fine as you have updated the firmware to the latest version. If you knew it, why did you have to come out with such a nonsense answer?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't know everything, but you haven't mentioned one thing that I don't understand, so please get off your soap box. We have stated many times that we have no desire to mirror dpreview. They are a terrific site for photo information and in-depth reviews. I have read and enjoyed them for years, but they are not everyone's cup of tea. Most of our readers are intimidated with the info at the dedicated old school photo sites and they have asked us to provide reliable information at a lower level. That is our intention.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    As I've already said, I don't expect you to know everything. I just want you to know very basic stuffs. No, I don't want you write Dpreview levels of reviews. I just want you to write reviews that are not thoughtless. I don't know why you're making it sound that I expected too much of you. As I said, I just expect the camera review at least half of the level of another Anandtech articles done by other guys. You see, you remind me of this kid who yelled out loud that he doesn't want to be Einstien when I only told him that 1+1 isn't 11.
    BTW, how can you possibly claim "provide reliable information" when you keep used thoughless testing methods? Using different aperture values on different cameras then talking about resolution? Uploading ISO 800 images claming it's the ISO 1600 imgages? Using Bright mode and high contrat/saturation settings on K20D when other cameras were set at standard mode?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    I also briefly discussed the impact of noise reduction in the review and I am keenly aware of the ongoing discussion about the impact of noise reduction schemes on image detail. I also am aware the K10D is best RAW and the noise reduction algorithm is poor, but that is from my experience with the camera. I might add that the K20D behaves differently - from experience - but you don't know that yet because while I have done a first hands-on look at the K20D, the major photo sites haven't posted any real reviews of the K20D yet.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    What makes you think I woudn't know? Because "major photo sites haven't posted any real reviews?" How Silly that is.

    First of all, There're two ways of NR fuctioning on K20(Might have been fixed as users demanded firmware solution to get by it): When the shutter speed is longer than 0.3 sec, or ISO is higher than 800. This means when the shutter speed is lower than 0.3 sec or if ISO is lower than 800, the NR would be off. Now this is crucial because there have been reviews where the thoughtless reviewers thought they did a fair test not realizing this, thus coming out with a result that made K10D to look like it's got less noise. However, K20D provides images with more noise with greater details.

    In addition, K20D has somewhat hidden fucntions such as 'fine sharpness' mode which provides better sharpness/detail solutions yet it's put deep in the menu as it increases the noise.

    Oh and K20D uses Samsung sensor that has a utilizes wider photons thus providing less noise without the much help from a software noise algorithms.

    BTW, how can you say that K10D has poor noise algorithms when you said this about A 350? "The good news about the sensor is that output is very clean and noise remains low up to ISO 1600"
    If A350 high ISO images look good to you, K10D should be the same if not better.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes, we made errors in this first real DSLR review, but we have worked diligently to correct them. I have just posted the crops and full images for the reshoot with the Sony A350, so all images are now consistent in shooting conditions and they can be fairly compared. I think you will find what I concluded in my initial review can now be more clearly seen in the crops and full images.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    True that there were many errors yet you made a same error. Check out the exposure time of K20D and 5D.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    We are obviously too basic for your tastes and I wouldn't want your head to hurt with the drivel you see here. By all means continue to get the information you need from the current established photo sites. We are aiming to provide reliable information to a wider cross-section of users and we will not likely satisfy the level of detail you seek.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Again, I do want GOOD basic reviews. I do not expect you to write in-depth reviews. The problem is that your reviews are not even fair even in the basic level. As pointed out by many others, you reviews are not only less than basic but also very misleading when you test iamges using all different aperture values with mixed in-camera image settings. I and some others who have basic knowledge could point out the terrible mistakes you committed but those "wider cross-section of users" woudn't be able to do so. That's what concerns me.

    Don't take it personal. I never said you're stupid. It's your review that is stupid and as you're not a stupid person, the review written by you shouldn't be stupid. Stop making "honest mistakes" and work on it so it can be "reliable." Those stupid "honest mistakes shoud stop here. After all, this is not your blog, it's Anandtech.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    I did not "commit the same error" in the reshoot. I used aperture priority and manual focus as I stated in the article. I did not intend to use, nor did I use the same manual exposure settings on the various cameras. Reply
  • Deadtrees - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    If that's the case, as I said, you should've stated how using AV mode on ISO resulted different exposures and the possbile reason why it was so. Not doing so just falls into the same category of mistakes you've made. Think about it. 1 sec. vs 1.5 sec of exposure difference is quite huge; it is something readers should know and reviewers ought to inform. Without knowing it, the point of comparing ISO noise level tests loses much of its meaning.

    In addition, you really need to explain why you used bright mode along with high contrast/shrpenss settings on K20D when all the cameras had their default settings. What's your "intension"? Was it just one of those your "honest mistakes"?

    Again, if you intend to use some weird and all mixed methods testing cameras, let the readers know about it. I really don't think you're on the payroll of some companies but the "honest mistakes" you've made were testing methods done by reviwers who were on it.

    You see, what you've done is like comparing CPUs with same GPU so that reders would think it's the set setup yet one GPU is underclocked. Given that, of course, one CPU will look worse than the other as the tests were not fair. And you know what you've done is even worse than that scenario. Stop coming out with excuses like "honest mistakes" and "intension" that doesn't make sense.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, April 04, 2008 - link

    Bright mode appears to be the default mode on the K20D. I did not "tweak" or adjust saturation or contrast on the K20D. In Bright mode Contrast is +1 and Sharpness is +1. The choices are Bright, Natural (with -1 Sharpness), Portrait (all at default but not the default mode), Landscape, Vibrant (another all at default mode) and B&W. None of the custom modes really do very much as the greatest variation is +/-1 in the modes with a potential adjustment range of each value of +/-4. The camera was reset prior to shooting the images to set default values.

    I have checked the "hidden" settings in the Fn 'Custom Image' menu and see nothing out of the ordinary, but I do see the EXIF details you mention. I will check with Pentax to get a better understanding of how the 20D controls these parameters.
    Reply
  • danddon - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    I have to say that this forum thread is much more interesting and entertaining than the camera test has been.

    First, thanks for fixing the a350 pictures. They now look more like the other two sets in terms of lighting. The a350 results in the new pictures look more like a DSLR than a $50 Vivitar.

    Now, about the a350 versus 5D comparison: Does anyone else think that comparing an APS-C camera to a Full Frame camera a complete waste of time?

    Look at the crops. Since this is a visual comparison, the different sizes of lettering and the relatively larger amounts of black space in the 5D crops make any sort of comparison difficult at best.

    How about – as a minimum – use a 75 mm lens on the 5D, or at the very least, a zoom lens set at 75 mm. That way the details in the crop areas would look much closer in size.

    Or, failing any of the above, select a photo target with enough white space (and no lettering) to negate the differences in image dimensions. In other words, both crops would be all white. I didn’t see any white boxes in the photos shown. Perhaps the budget doesn’t allow for the purchase of such high-tech testing gear.

    Or, how about a GretagMacbeth color rendition chart, so that noise can be seen for different colors, and not just black and off-white, plus a little green? BTW, the black area in the 5D crop looks completely noise-free, but, is it? In other words, how does one look at those crops with all the black and see how much noise is there?

    In the meantime, we all now know a little bit about how the a350 fares when taking 100 watt light bulb pictures of a collection of boxes in Wesley Fink’s office, but not much else about the camera. I suppose we should be thankful for that much.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    The usual ISO noise argument goes that the full frame has a tremendous advantage at the same resolution as an APS-C because of the increased size of the individual pixels in the full-frame image. I only included the 5D to try to illustrate the same pixel crops, as all are 230x300 pixels. Yes, I could have used a 75mm lens from the same position or I could have moved the tripod closer to the packages for the 5D.
    That brings up the next question – do you make the scene always the same “image area”? If you do you adjust the tripod distance with almost every camera tested, or you use a slower zoom lens that is likely not in its sharpest aperture range at f4. Even two cameras with the same claimed 1.5x multiplier will in reality show different views as the 1.5x is an approximation. With a constant position the images show the impact of the actual multiplier.
    I could have used the White “ESA” lettering next to the selected crop area or the large white label on the next box or the large white P5K Deluxe lettering. There are plenty of white choices for crops in the larger image.
    Reply
  • danddon - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Well, excuuuuuse me.

    I thought this review was about a visual inspection of noise levels. I guess I was wrong.

    The a350/K20D crops like fine for the purpose, because the focal lengths are the same, and the sensor is the same size. The crop is of an area that contains a white background with black lettering. Noise can be seen not only in the background, but also at the boundary between the background and the lettering. However, can you see noise within the black lettering itself? I can't - at least not without additional digital manipulation of the crops.

    Now consider the a350/5d crops. Are you saying these are equally effective at comparing noise levels? Because - if you are - then you should start looking for another job. Perhaps you could go back to being a "Pro" photographer.

    Apparently you _do_ think they are as effective, otherwise you would have chosen a better crop location, or adjusted the lens focal length, or moved the tripod, or, or ...

    I just hope someone in management at AnandTech is reading these posts.

    And, to answer your question - no I don't always "make the scene the same image area". Only when I am trying to compare noise levels from two cameras. All of the other review sites seem to make the same mistake, too, especially "The Imaging Resource", which goes to great pains to make all of their photos as similar as possible.

    Its too bad they didn't check with you first to learn the correct technique.



    Reply
  • jake123 - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Honestly I feel that some of the commenters simply want to prove others wrong to boost their little self-confidence.

    We don't need another dpreview. I find the perspective of this article refreshing, without irrelevant detail and I think this is what the readers need.

    Sure the review process can be improved but anandtech does not need to become another dpreview.
    Reply
  • Hulk - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    "Irrelevant detail" in this case = accurate testing methodology

    Reply
  • ElFenix - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    accurate testing such as having the D300's noise reduction on while having the 40D's off? Reply
  • Hulk - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Wesley,

    First I want to thank you for your hard work with these camera reviews. You (and Anandtech) are moving into somewhat new territory with dSLR reviews. As you are learning there are many people using dSLRs that are very knowledgable, even if they are pros. My Mom is a professional photographer with brilliant composition skills (in my and many other's opinion) but she couldn't do a proper camera review/comparison if her life depended on it. Just because you can take a good picture doesn't mean you can do a good review. Please realize that many people have little patience with the learning curve necessary to get up to speed with many established, cough,,, cough, dpreview, cough, photo review websites. Some of the people here need to take it easy on you and refrain from personal attacks and stay to the facts.

    In the future I would recommend resolution and noise testing be done in full manual mode so that we can see how each camera imager exposes at various settings. Also please keep f-stops constant and at least at F/4, higher would be better to remove lens quality from the testing variables.

    Also please use manual white balance as it adds another variable to the resolution and noise testing. Automatic white balance should be a separate part of the review and need not involve resolution or aperature actually. In fact, most people buying these cameras, when doing mission critical work use RAW format and white balance in the image editor. Also when doing automatic white balance testing please make sure you test each camera under a variety of lighting temperatures. As many people will agree automatic white balance is somewhat like "watching a dog walking on hind legs, it's never done very well, but it's amazing it's done at all." That is a quote from "Copying Beethoven." Have a look around the web at some technical articles on it and you will see the inherent problems with it.

    Finally, please do all resoution/noise testing with RAW images and use the same settings for conversion to TIFF files.

    I would suggest thinking of these camera reviews like you guys think of overclocking, philosophically of course. That is "isolate and consolidate. The biggest problem is too many variables in the testing. Define what you are testing and then hold as many of the variables constant as possible.

    Again thank you for the hard work and I look forward to seeing the Anandtech camera reviews becoming among the best on the web.

    - Mark
    Reply
  • whatthehey - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    You know, all the stuff you mention is exactly what I DON'T want to deal with in a camera review. I want to know how well the camera works with as little effort as possible. Manual white balance in particular is way more effort than I'm willing to expend. Granted, I'm very much an amateur photographer (if that), but I do appreciate the ability to change lenses plus the almost universally faster AF speeds on a DSLR.

    Considering this is more of an entry-level model rather than a $1500+ pro model, this sort of review covers a lot of what I want to know. Could it cover more? Sure. The difficulty is in coming up with a good battery of tests where the photographer's skill won't skew the results. For example, I like a camera that I can set to ISO 100 (for low noise) and still get a good quality picture without always resorting to using the flash or a tripod. I'm also far more concerned with auto WB working well than with what can be done using the manual WB.

    DPReview does cover a lot of good material, but they are almost too much. I mean, 29 pages on the Canon 40D as an example. I can't read through all of that! Maybe if I were in the market for a new DSLR I'd feel differently, though.

    Really, I'm interested in a short, quick overview of a camera. Is it better or worse than the competition? Does it offer anything revolutionary that would make me want to switch? I get a reasonable feel for that from this review. Reading the DPReview article on the same cameras, I get... NOTHING! Probably because they're still working on putting together several new 30 page magnum opus articles looking at the A350, K20D, and 5D used in this review.
    Reply
  • Hulk - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Well I can understand you not wanting a review that is too in depth. That's fine. Although I find it a little strange when you are talking about a 14Mp dSLR with removeable lenses.

    What I can't understand is not wanting to have testing done in a scientific manner so you know what is actually being tested. For example if you are testing resolution and one camera is set to f/1.4 and another at f/1.8 then that will skew the results significantly.

    But as you say there are probably lots of people like you that don't know or care to know about aperture, latitude, or a variety of other photography related terms.

    BTW, the pages on dpreview are labeled so you can go to the page you want. You can always just skip to the conclusion to read a well throught out and supported by good testing conclusion of the camera in question.

    I love a well constructed review. Since these cameras all use the same technology the difference is in the implimentation and that is hard to detect without good testing procedures.

    I personally have never seen a camera that does a good job on auto white balance in any conditions except outdoor natural sunlight. Some get close under tungsten but none get it right in my opinion.

    And I'm not a guy that tweaks and photopeeps my pictures. I load them into Photoshop Elements and at most fix color temperature, crop, and save.

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Given the fact that we did use a 50mm f1.4 lens on all models (we even have a 25mm f1.4 Leica for the Olympus in reserve) your criticism that testing one camera with 1.4 and another with f4 would be acceptable is really unfair. We are glad that was brought to our attention and we have corrected it so all shots are at the same aperture.

    While the aperture initially varied in our test shots for ISO noise, that was never our intent. It should be obvious that if we went to the trouble of equipping all the DSLRs with f1.4 prime lenses that the testing was to be as close to apples to apples as we could make it with differing camera makers and different sensors. Those who pointed out the discrepancy in apertures were correct to do so and we reshot the whole series to correct our mistake of relying on the programs to set the same aperture line.

    However, i do not share the same enthusiasm for shooting all at f8. At 100 ISO and f4 the required shutter speed with our current lighting is about 2 seconds. To use a constant f8 the ISO 100 shutter speed would have to be around 8 seconds, and we would be running into noise issues that could be caused by long exposure times instead of ISO speed. You might say improve the lighting and shoot studio lighting, but that would defeat the purpose of looking at noise under demanding conditions.

    Most of our readers who read our camera reviews could care less how a camera might perform under studio conditions. They are more interested in seeing how it performs in conditions more like they would use it, and that is in an indoor setting with indoor type lighting where many of the worst DSLR pictures ever taken are shot. Our challenge is to find ways to scientifically test under those real-world conditions.

    It is not controlled conditions be damned, IMO, it is more how do you test controlled in the real world where these cameras will mainly be used by our readers?
    Reply
  • GoSharks - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    However, in a typical situation, I doubt anybody is using ISO100 in combination with a 2 second exposure. I do not believe this is a real-world condition. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Agreed. That is another obvious concern. I am very happy to hear suggestiosn on what any of you feel are the best "real-world" test conditions. Nothing is set in stone at this point. Reply
  • Justin Case - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    It's beyond me why AT bothers with this. AT's photography articles are little more than rephrased sales brochures and spec sheets from the manufacturers. Most don't even have photos taken with the cameras (why do I need 7 or 8 photos of the camera itself? I can get that at the manufacturer's site, which is where you downloaded them from anyway), and the testing procedures are inconsistent and amateurish to say the least.

    There are dozens of photography sites out there that have tested these and a lot of other models, using relevant methods, and with reviews written by people with years of experience with all sorts of different cameras and all sorts of situations (film, digital, studio, wildlife, holiday snapshots, etc). Heck, there are forum posts at DPReview with more information and better test shots than all AT "photography" (meaning camera spec sheet) articles put together.

    If you're not going to at least attempt to offer something that all those sites aren't offering, why bother? If you can't offer expert opinion, at least include a lot of samples, so people can get an idea of what each camera can deliver in different situations. As it is, these reviews seem like something out of a teenager's blog, put together in one afternoon, and reflect negatively on Anandtech's image of professionalism.

    I guess it's all about filling the space between the ads...
    Reply
  • Deadtrees - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    I'm amazed how the comparsions are poorly done.
    The more look at it, the more I find problems.

    1.K20D - Saturation:Normal, Sharpness:High, Contrast:Hard
    A100 - Saturation:Normal, Sharpness:Normal, Contrast:Normal

    I hope you know those changing those parameters can impact image qualities. Let's see what's possible: I can turn down sharpness/contrast/saturation of camera A and turn up those values on camera B and come out with a conclusion that camera A produces blurry, faded colored, and low noise images with better dynamic range/tonal reponse, and than camera B.

    2. K10D: 1.5 sec, 5D: 1 sec. (of exposure time)

    Even after numbrous posts about setting the same exposure, you re-shot images with different expososure settings. As I mentined earlier, 5D and some other cameras has different ISO standards (ISO 100 being 125, 3200 being 4000) and along with different exposure mechanism, this could've resulted the difference as you used AV mode. However, you should've mentioned it if it's the case or just set the same manual exposure settings.

    Also, what kind of long shutter noise reduction setup did you have? Without mentioning it and understanding it, the reivew of the samles are pointless.

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Actually I reviewed the A350 and not the Sony A100, but I understand it was an honest mistake. I wish you could provide me the same courtesy.

    Frankly you would be amazed at the level of integrity at AnandTech in terms of presenting accurate data in as unbiased a manner as possible. Our ad agency is completely separate from AT and we don't even see data on who the biggest advertisers are. That is by design.

    We have stated many times that we have no desire to mirror the large established photo sites. I have read and enjoyed them for years, but they are not everyone's cup of tea. Most of our readers are intimidated with the depth of info at the dedicated photo sites and they have asked us to provide reliable information at a lower level that is more accessible and requires less specialized knowledge. That is our intention.

    I do understand the impact of noise reduction algorithms on image detail. I also understand the potential impact of adjustments in sharpness and saturation. I will use that knowledge to try to test DSLRs as fairly as possible, but delving deeply into those variables will not be a standard part of our reviews in the near future. Perhaps we will do more standard testing of those variables down the road.
    Reply
  • Deadtrees - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    There're many things you need to know before you can be, at least, a fair reviewer. Reading your reviews and replies, I doubt if you even have a somwhat basic knowldges. When I said that certain cameras have different ISO standards, you had no idea what I was talking about. How can you make conclusions about any cameras noise level without knowing this?
    Not only that, what kind of reviewer tests image resolution/noise level using different aperture values?

    On the other hand, do you know that noise reduction algorithm differs from brands to other brands? What's even more confusing is that even cameras from a same brand have different noise reduction system. For instance, noise reduction on Nikon D200 will kick in After ISO 400 even if you turn it off in the menu and it's not the same way in other Nikon cameras.
    Without knowing this, you might just think that you tested cameras equally as you've had the same setup but it's not.
    Before doing the test and writing up the review, did you care to know the noise processing mechnisms of those cameras? I doubt so.

    Look at images from A350, in order to maintain low noise, it utilizes way too much noise reduction(more like smearing) that results great loss of deatils. Hell, it even looks like water painting. Sure, the noise is low but with the cost of loss details.
    Given that, your saying "The good news about the sensor is that output is very clean and noise remains low up to ISO 1600" is quite thoughtless.

    Again, you're the reviewer of Anandtech and that means something. It means you shouldn't write a review that is more like a blog posting of somebody on the internet.
    I know it's a computer hardware site but the respect Anandtech has achived should reaim even in camera reviews. Readers shouldn't be the victim of amateurish reivews.
    Reply
  • Heidfirst - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    "Look at images from A350, in order to maintain low noise, it utilizes way too much noise reduction(more like smearing) that results great loss of deatils. Hell, it even looks like water painting. Sure, the noise is low but with the cost of loss details."
    Experience with the A700 says that this can be due to the processing software used & afaik the A350 uses the same file format as the A700 - e.g. ACR does a poor job (in the same way that it did a poor job with the Oly E-3 until Adobe issued a patch for it) whereas e.g. Bibble handles it better.

    So, at the end of the day we are not only comparing the individual sensor output but the camera's processing (& as mentioned there may there be also be differences between camera settings - e.g. what one calls a high setting may not be the same as that on another), the lens quality & how the processing software used handles the individual output.
    That's quite a lot of variables to get a truly level playing field fora comparison.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Of course I knew what you were talking about when you mentioned ISO variance among cameras at the same ISO setting. I am always willing to listen to constructive criticism, but I have little patience with comments that are self-serving grandiosity. I have made a living as a PRO photographer - have you?

    You should also mention that almost every NEW camera that has been tested for ISO speed variation is today largely correct in the reported ISO. I am aware of the issue but its importance today is low and not that signigficant to our intended audience. The biggest offender was Canon, and their newer cameras are now testing correct as well. I doubt, however, that your real goal was to share information. It sounds from your tone that your goal was to belittle rather than educate or provide constructive criticism..

    I don't know everything, but you haven't mentioned one thing that I don't understand, so please get off your soap box. We have stated many times that we have no desire to mirror dpreview. They are a terrific site for photo information and in-depth reviews. I have read and enjoyed them for years, but they are not everyone's cup of tea. Most of our readers are intimidated with the info at the dedicated old school photo sites and they have asked us to provide reliable information at a lower level. That is our intention.

    I also briefly discussed the impact of noise reduction in the review and I am keenly aware of the ongoing discussion about the impact of noise reduction schemes on image detail. I also am aware the K10D is best RAW and the noise reduction algorithm is poor, but that is from my experience with the camera. I might add that the K20D behaves differently - from experience - but you don't know that yet because while I have done a first hands-on look at the K20D, the major photo sites haven't posted any real reviews of the K20D yet.

    Yes, we made errors in this first real DSLR review, but we have worked diligently to correct them. I have just posted the crops and full images for the reshoot with the Sony A350, so all images are now consistent in shooting conditions and they can be fairly compared. I think you will find what I concluded in my initial review can now be more clearly seen in the crops and full images.

    We are obviously too basic for your tastes and I wouldn't want your head to hurt with the drivel you see here. By all means continue to get the information you need from the current established photo sites. We are aiming to provide reliable information to a wider cross-section of users and we will not likely satisfy the level of detail you seek.
    Reply
  • cputeq - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    I just wanted to give you guys props for trying to "make things right" ;)

    We're all guilty of missteps sometimes (hell, I'm King Screwup..just witness my home improvement attempts!), so it's good to see you guys take this in stride and do what it takes to correct any apparent errors while also trying to improve the review.

    So, I hope you guys don't get too disgruntled with some of the forum posts -- people type stupid crap on the web every day ;)

    I look forward to seeing the reshoot -- and yeah, btw, the proper crops are now showing up for me on page 6. All I have to say is "wow". The ISO 400+ crops are horrible for the Sony :( I'll be interested in knowing the culprit, as I couldn't imagine a camera of this caliber looking that noisy at 400.

    While a smallish printout may not count, so people (like myself) are cursed and look for the smallest stupid details in pictures!

    Thanks again for all you guys do!
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    Your comments are sincerely appreciated. I suspect the f4 reshoot with fixed f4 aperture will fix the apparent Sony issues. THe first crops, with the Sony at f2 and the Pentax and Canon at 1.4, made the Sony look like the better camera, which is not the case. In the reshoots the K20D and 5D look more as you would expect. We will post the new A350 crops and images late tomorrow assuming the camera is received as promised. Reply
  • danddon - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    Lordy, Lordy, Lordy.
    What a mess.

    1. The re-do shots of the K20D and 5D look like they were made with a flash compared to the original a350. Did someone turn on a few more lights?
    2. The re-do shots were not made using the same camera location/position as the original a350. They appear to be lower. Check the yellow "5" on the front of the Corsair box. It can be clearly seen on the a350, but not on the K20D re-do. The 5D re-do has the same problem.
    3. The P5K Deluxe box appears to have been moved in the re-do shots. It is out of focus on the original a350, but not the re-do's. In the a350 shots, it appears to clearly overhang the box below, the Nvidia 780i box. In the re-do shots, it appears to be flush.

    Please, please, please - give some thought to a proper test setup, and one that can be re-produced accurately. Not a bunch of boxes....

    The same is true of the camera position. It must be exactly the same for all shots.

    Nice try, and thanks for the effort - but, this should never have been published by AnandTech.

    IMHO and FWIW.

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    One more consideration in this and future reviews. Most DSLRs advertise 1.5X magnification factor, but the Canon is 1.6X, Sigma is 1.7x and Olympus/four-thirds is 2.0X. We can understand why full-frame and 1.5X would vary, but even among the group of 1.5X cameras there is still some variation among the actual multipliers since the sensors vary a bit in effective size. This will show in review crops with slight variations in image area even with camera brands claiming the same multiplier.

    Rather than correct the camera crops so all reveal the same image, we plan to show a constant pixel size in crops of 230x300. This has the advantage of showing the true impact of the multiplication factor on the image you capture. Constant 1:1 pixel crops are also always examining the same number of captured pixels.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    You make good points but you are not completely correct.

    1. The light is exactly the same and in the same location in all shots. No flash was used and the EXIF info in the full image will show you that. It is a single 100 watt tungsten bulb high and to the right of the image. We do want to provide a reasonably consistent image in AT reviews but it is not our intent to duplicate a studio setup for our reviews. We do have the studio lighting but there are already enough sites that do that.

    2. Good catch. You are correct about the lower point of view. We received the sturdier tripod and remote release that were on order for our future reviews and used it them to reshoot with the k20d and 5d. The main point of the reshoot was to show more meaningful crops and archive for future reviews, so we set the new tripod up to be reproducible in future shots. I have been able to arrange another day with the A350 so I will reshoot those from the same point of view and same constant aperture as the current 5D and K20D images.

    3. That box was jostled and bounced, but it is not part of the crop area so we didn't worry too much about it. In the reshoot we will make sure everything is in the same place for the A350.

    LAST we have found the issue with the noise variations we see in the crops not showing in your web images. They are all too visible now. PLEASE keep in mind these are ATUAL PIXEL CROPS and they are equivalent to a 1"x2" area on a very large 16x20 enlargement. They are actual pixels to emphasize noise variations.

    We are listening to your suggestions and making the necessary changes to improve this review and future camera reviews. We have also been working with a company that produces photo test procedures and analysis tools to develop more test procedures for the future that communicate quality differences among digital cameras without going to the extreme levels of some other dedicated photo sites. Readers have told us many of these sites are intimidating and they want a simpler but dependable source for digital camera info. I apologize for the learning curve in accurately displaying images in the review that convey what we found in a lot of shooting with each camera and looking a many images to reach our conclusion. We will improve those. However, my conclusion has not changed with anything we have reshot as the issue is how to best convey to you what we found in examining the camera and the images.

    As you probably guessed the 5D and K20D are two of my personal cameras and I can reshoot anything needed with them. Since I will have the A350 again for just a day do you have other suggestions for the reshoot?
    Reply
  • simla - Saturday, April 05, 2008 - link

    This article is a shambles...if more of these Anandtech-trying-to-be-an-all-in-one supersite continue, there's a very good chance you're going to turn away a lot of the readers who have stuck by this famously detailed and well-informed site (just look at some of the INQ-style content thats being posted on DT nowadays).

    In my honest opinion, AT should stick to what the reviewers know best: PC hardware analysis. As someone posted earlier, this is very much an opinion piece worthy of a blog post - and no more. For camera reviews - this doesn't even come close to that of DPReview standards, and just makes AT look amateurish.

    Wesley, I enjoy your PC articles and you're a good writer, but this one misses the mark by a long way.

    Reply
  • danddon - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    First, let me thank you for your considered reply. I suspect you have been busy since this article came out, and I appreciate the time you spent.

    There must be something wrong with the a350 pictures. They are visibly darker than the K20D or 5D. For example, the EXIF tag on the 800 ISO JPEG for “BrightnessValue” shows –0.75. Perhaps this is part of the exposure problem, perhaps not. I do not have access to the camera – you do.

    I do not think you have done anyone a favor with respect to the Sony a350 by publishing these results. I can’t believe these noise levels are truly representative of the camera and what it can do.

    If you can’t obtain a dedicated room to set up and properly maintain your test facilities, then you may want to reconsider this undertaking. You have already pointed out the problem with shooting a bunch of boxes.

    A good first step would have been to talk to that “photo test company” before embarking on any tests like this. But, better late than never.

    Some suggestions:
    1. A dedicated facility, that is managed by you. This means a separate room with a locked door.
    2. Proper studio lighting, along with as many “temperatures” as you care to deal with, such as daylight and tungsten.
    3. A real photographic resolution chart, properly mounted on a wall. Noise can be seen on this kind of chart, as well as resolution.
    4. Marking of tripod leg locations on the floor, so that photos can be reproduced, and differences between cameras can be minimized.
    5. Marking of tripod height, for the same reason as number 4.
    6. Making sure all cameras are set at factory defaults, to minimize possible problems due to an unfamiliar setting being left activated in a borrowed camera.
    7. A separate light metering facility, to ensure that the lighting stays constant for each shooting session, and is maintained over the weeks and months you plan on doing these tests.
    8. Try to get as many internal reviews as possible of your material before putting the article on the web site.

    I would not bother making these comments if this were not AnandTech. You guys have a huge and well-deserved reputation that carries a lot of weight. Please don’t dilute that reputation by a “low-ball” approach here, however well meaning the intent.
    Reply
  • halcyon - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    "good news about the sensor is that output is very clean and noise remains low up to ISO 1600."

    Are you smoking crack?

    Look at the shots already at ISO100. They are horrible! They are like from a tiny sensor P&S camera.

    Even my Fuji F30 fairs better.

    The noise and dynamic range is indeed apalling.

    Already the Pentax leaves it fair behind.

    Canon 5D cannot be even mentioned in the same week. It is an order of magnitude if not several better.

    Please, if you continue reviewing cameras, try to make a better effort of it in the future.

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    The crops are equivalent to pixel-peeping as they are 1:1. They are an actual 230x300 pixels cropped from a 4592x3056 image. That is equivalent to a 0.5”x0.6” spot on an 8x10 enlargement. The 1:1 crops are to emphasize the observed noise. There is also the issue that the shallower depth of field at f2 causes the non-perpendicular image of crop area to be slightly out of focus across the crop – which is not an issue for f4.

    Before making pronouncements you need to compare a similar 230x300 crop of your F30 image apples to apples. You really need to look at the full images by right clicking to get fair comparisons of noise at various ISOs.

    I have been able to arrange to get the A350 back for a reshoot, and I will update those images as soon as they are complete late tomorrow.
    Reply
  • cputeq - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    Are we all looking at the same shots?

    The Sony crops in the article look completely out of focus ><, which would negate any sort of noise testing.

    Granted, I haven't taken a look at the complete files, but from the review crops it looks like the focal point of the Sony shots wasn't on the same spot as the Pentax / Canon shots.

    -------------------------------------

    That being said, overall good effort on the review, but I hope you guys learn to standardize and review your testing methodology. You don't have to get all nit-picky like a lot of the photo sites do, since Anandtech isn't really a photo-oriented site, but some standard guidelines should do.

    I would make a few suggestions:

    1) Make a *standard* setup for testing noise levels, something you can duplicate across many cameras. The setup in this review doesn't look like it would be easy to recreate 2 years down the road!

    Of course, if AT doesn't plan on reviewing cameras that often, this may be a moot point.

    2) On a camera of this class (entry/enthusiast DSLR) you might want to give two sets of shots : Shots showing the *same* settings in a full manual mode with the lens not all the way open (maybe 1-2 stops down at least) and another set with the camera in a P or Auto mode.

    Seeing as how these cameras are targeted to the first-time SLR buyer, a brief look at how the various cameras handle situations in their "auto" or "program" modes might be helpful. Food for thought

    3) Post both JPEG results and exported RAW results (crops, of course). Of course this doubles the workload when comparing image quality, but sometimes there is a substantial difference between the JPEG engines in a camera that doesn't carry over as bad to the RAW side of the equation.

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    I reshot the K20D and 5D at a constant f4 as baselines for future reviews. The crops and full k20D and 5D images have been updated. As we stated on the first page and on p.6 we the images are now shot at f4. We were not able to reshoot the A350 since we no longer have the camera. As a result of the shallower f2 Depth of Field the focus for the A350 images is very slightly off. Because of that, we also warned in the update comments that the A350 shots were f2.0 and NOT f4 and to keep that in mind when viewing.

    The real issue is not the f2 versus f4, however. The crops we see show much greater differences in sharpness and noise than you can see on the web. We are trying to determine why the noise differences mostly disappear in a web post. Perhaps it is some image processing that is being done behind the scenes in our web posting program. That is beyond my control, but we are trying to find answers to more accurately present the images as we see them.

    In the mean time, you can right click to view or download the full image. In looking at the full images you can clearly see the differences described in the article between the A350, k20d, and 5D at the various ISO sensitivites.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    Crop images were incorrectly linked in my HTML coding. I have addressed this. Check page five and you will now see a MUCH greater difference in noise levels. Reply
  • Barbu - Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - link

    OK, it is a well-written article, but that's the anandtech's seal of valor. But i'm not here to be entertained by reading, for that I'll head to a bookstore; people need good tests...
    From a prosumer/amateur point of view, this article was just an opinion; it might pass as a good post on a forum, but clearly this is not anandtech article material; even a common car is tested by pro drivers when they do a review for a magazine. Mr. Fink (while being a very good computer reviewer) clearly isn't anymore than just an amateur dSLR user sharing an *uninformed* opinion. Not knowing how to test a camera at least using a tripod and setting the correct aperture, merely shown us at most a valid opinion only on noise test, and incidentally did a test about how lenses act when used at full aperture or stopped down a little.
    ______________________________

    Bottom line: what will the next action be?
    My suggestion would be that the article should be pulled; if this is not an option, they need at least to make a warning on the first page and later come with a full rebuttal and a real test done by someone more... knowledgeable.
    Until then, any amateur/prosumer would make a decision based on this article would only make an *uninformed* decision.
    Reply
  • nicknas - Tuesday, April 01, 2008 - link

    F-stop problems aside, I found this review fairly good and most important, NOT BIASED. The author showed his real opinion from prosumer point of view (I am one too).

    Responding to Johnmcl7, I am Olympus user and was glad to find various references to Olympus in the article so I don't think the author was unfair to Olympus. I am sorry too Oly killed the E-3XX series when lots of Oly fans were awaiting the E-350 (or whatever model number it might be).

    Congratulations to Sony for understanding the wish of many advanced non-pro photographers for easy to use and live-view capable DSLR.
    Reply
  • KorruptioN - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    Sony's battery system with their Alpha DSLRs is a bit different. A generic battery probably won't be able to relay information pertaining to the percentage battery life remaining. Instead of looking at a battery diagram split into five, you get more accurate readings with the InfoLithium system. I'm not totally sure if a generic battery for the D300 (for example) would provide the same information to the camera.

    Aside from the dodgy test set-up identified by previous commenters (the K20D samples are clearly affected by camera shake)... the article is pretty well written.

    As for the optical viewfinders:

    Olympus E510, E410, E420 are smaller: 0.92 / 2 = 0.460
    Sony A350: 0.74 / 1.5 = 0.493
    Canon 400D: 0.80 / 1.6 = 0.500
    Nikon D60: 0.80 / 1.5 = 0.533
    Canon 450D: 0.87 / 1.6 = 0.544
    Sony A200: 0.83 / 1.5 = 0.553
    Pentax K200D: 0.85 / 1.5 = 0.567
    Olympus E3: 1.15/2 = 0.575
    Canon 40D: 0.95 / 1.6 = 0.594
    Pentax K20D: 0.95 / 1.5 = 0.633
    Canon 5D: 0.71 / 1 = 0.710

    The Olympus E-410/E-510 brothers are still smaller.
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    I've perhaps missed this, but amongst all the praise for the amazing liveview in the Sony there seems to be no mention of the E-330 just a brief mention of Olympus on the front page.

    For those unaware the E-330 actually had this liveview implementation long before Sony ever thought of it despite the way the article implies otherwise. Additionally the Olympus' solution was actually better than the current Sony one, unfortunately the E-330 fell victim to a market not ready for liveview SLRs.

    The E-330 used a second sensor in the viewfinder chamber coupled with a porro-prism which bounced the light round the side of the camera instead of through the familiar 'hump' at the top of the camera. The final mirror which bounced the light to the viewfinder was only partially reflective meaning 80% of the light reached the viewfinder and the other 20% went to a secondary sensor taken from an Olympus point and shoot camera. Using this second sensor the camera could function as normal with standard AF, AE and no additional mirror slapping. This was known as liveview mode A.

    Where the E-330 solution was superior was the additional use of the main sensor for liveview mode B this time using the main sensor - the benefits for this mode were a more accurate representation of the final image with regards to depth of field, 100% image and 10x magnification boost. By offering both modes Olympus offered the advantages of both modes whereas the Sony lacks a liveview mode being driven off the main sensor.

    The disadvantage was much the same as the Sony, the Olympus system compromised the viewfinder although instead of reducing magnification it instead reduced the brightness.

    The reason most people haven't even heard of the E-330 (seemingly even those writing camera articles here) is that Olympus is nowhere near the marketting level of Sony and additionally the E-330's liveview was misunderstood with dpreview calling it a solution looking for a problem. It's somewhat amusing that several years down the line, everyone seems to be full of praise for Sony's innovative new feature.

    edit: Actually the E-330 was mentioned in a preview article after being corrected, even by the same author which makes the omission here the more surprising.

    John
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    John -

    I am keenly aware of the E-330 and gave it coverage in an earlier article. In PMA coverage I talked about the E-330 pioneering Live View and the second sensor. However, the E-330 is no longer an Olympus production model, so we did not believe we needed to repeat praise of the E-330 in every article we write about a Live View camera. We always mention that Olympus pioneered Live View and auto sensor cleaning.
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    I don't understand your approach - is it that difficult to mention that Olympus E-330 pioneered this technique not Sony? Your article reads (to me at least) that this is pretty revolutionary and no-one has done it before. It would barely take one sentence and when you have a review where liveview is a significant aspect, I think it is important to at least mention that Sony is not the first camera to do this.

    There is a clear differentiation between a standard liveview and the systems Olympus and Sony use, your article implies Olympus pioneered with a bog standard liveview system which other manufacturers have followed but Sony have finally improved on. In fact the E-330's use of both sensors makes it the most advanced of any of the liveview cameras which means at the very least it shows the flaws in Sony and other manufacturer's models which in itself is a reason to mention it.

    If a processor was released using a technology someone else had pioneered but was not currently using, I have a hard time believing the article would never reference the original processor once nor would it be written from the point of view that this implementation was completely new. That's why I've come to trust AT for the articles and reviews and why I've been disappointed with the consistent errors on 4/3 cameras in every article so far (auto lens cleaning system on an E-3(!), Digilux 3 being smaller than an E-410 etc.)

    John
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    While I realize that Olympus pioneered the separate sensor in their first Live View camera - the E-330 - they have dropped that approach and used the main sensor in all their future models. Presumably the cost of the second sensor and semi-transparent mirror in their approach made it expensive to add the second sensor to their entry cameras. However, they did not even use the second senosr in the latest flagship PRO-oriented E-3 - they used a Live View that used the main sensor only, so it was not just a cost issue.

    I have recently used a friend's E-330 to again check how it worked. I do not share your opinion that the E-330 is the superior Live View implementation. The Sony is much easier to use and it works exceptionally well. Sony also found a way to implement sensor Live View in two entry-level cameras - the A350 and A300 - something that Olympus did not do as the E-330 was the Olympus top-of-the-line when it was introduced.

    Olympus is a great innovator in DSLR space as I have pointed out many times. Yet I always get flak for my enthusiasm about Olympus and the E-3, which is one of my favorite cameras. Now I'm getting flak for not giving Olympus enough credit in this review. Clearly there is no winning this with fans of any brand, so I can only try to remain balanced and objective.

    I respect your opinions, but I do not completely agree with them regarding the E-330 Live View. Have you shot with the Sony A350 yet to compare? Specifications alone cannot communicate how truly easy the Sony Live View is to use or how fast and convenient Live View shooting can be on the A350.
    Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Tuesday, April 01, 2008 - link

    "While I realize that Olympus pioneered the separate sensor in their first Live View camera - the E-330 - they have dropped that approach and used the main sensor in all their future models. Presumably the cost of the second sensor and semi-transparent mirror in their approach made it expensive to add the second sensor to their entry cameras. However, they did not even use the second senosr in the latest flagship PRO-oriented E-3 - they used a Live View that used the main sensor only, so it was not just a cost issue. "

    The problem was simply a market not ready for liveview, the camera was slammed by many reviewers as having this pointless feature due to the fact it reduced the viewfinder brightness. Additionally the unconventional porro-prism layout of the E-300/E-330 seemed to put people off for some reason.

    The reason for the E-3 not having this liveview implementation and in fact ny of the other current cameras is fairly obvious, Olympus were heavily criticised for the approach and the camera did not sell well. This was a time when liveview was not an expected feature on an SLR so you can see exactly why Olympus abandoned it and went for a simple sensor only mode, the E-3 goes the opposite direction entirely from the E-330 instead focussing on providing the best viewfinder possible. Hence a bright, pentaprism viewfinder with 1.15x viewfinder rather than the dimmer viewfinder in the E-330 using the porro-prism. The only reason the Sony has been received differently is because liveview is now an expected feature due to most manufacturers supporting it. Additionally Sony have been unable to workaround the disadvantages Olympus had to deal with, it signficantly compromises the viewfinder although in a different way.

    "I have recently used a friend's E-330 to again check how it worked. I do not share your opinion that the E-330 is the superior Live View implementation. The Sony is much easier to use and it works exceptionally well. Sony also found a way to implement sensor Live View in two entry-level cameras - the A350 and A300 - something that Olympus did not do as the E-330 was the Olympus top-of-the-line when it was introduced. "

    The Sony cannot use the main sensor which means no accurate focus and no accurate depth of field representation which puts it at a signficant weakness. One of the most common uses of liveview on SLRs is to check focus on manual lenses or for manual focus on macro lenses with accurate DoF represesntation. The Sony can do neither.

    The E-330 was *not* top of the line(!) when it was released, while it was expensive it was an entry level camera. The naming scheme alone gives this away with the three digits, the E-1 was the flagship model which was then replaced by the E-3. The E-xx as a midrange camera between the two is rumoured to be announced this year. While the E-1 was somewhat long in the tooth, the E-330 was still the entry level camera - unlike the E-300 or E-1 it had no grip, there was no weather sealing, poorer viewfinder etc. The specs are far closer to the entry level E-500. Before debating these definitions bear in mind the A350 isn't quite as entry level as you make out with two camera below it in the range (A200, A300).

    "Olympus is a great innovator in DSLR space as I have pointed out many times. Yet I always get flak for my enthusiasm about Olympus and the E-3, which is one of my favorite cameras. Now I'm getting flak for not giving Olympus enough credit in this review. Clearly there is no winning this with fans of any brand, so I can only try to remain balanced and objective. "

    As you have probably guessed I am a big fan of Olympus but I'm not blinded by it - when there were errors which claimed Olympus cameras to be better than they were I posted that they needed to be corrected. In this case it's not a case of giving Olympus enough credit, it's giving them the right credit - Olympus came up with the idea and the Sony implementation is a variation on it, it's a simple as that. Your article is written from the point of view this the first camera to do it this way which makes it inaccurate. I think it actually quite significant in other ways as well - it shows how much the market has changed since the E-330 was launched.

    I do appreciate the fact that Anandtech have taken some time to look at what's on the market rather than let the site be dominated by Canon and Nikon as others have, as a fan of the E-3 I was pleased to the general impression on the article here was not solely based on the iso performance and AA filter.

    "I respect your opinions, but I do not completely agree with them regarding the E-330 Live View. Have you shot with the Sony A350 yet to compare? Specifications alone cannot communicate how truly easy the Sony Live View is to use or how fast and convenient Live View shooting can be on the A350. "

    Unless the Sony can do liveview with its main sensor then sadly the specs can communicate accurately - Olympus realised this hence the admittedly 'clunky' dual mode liveview trying to combine the benefits of both sensors. As the Sony system is pretty much identical they have not been able to incorporate the advantages of the main sensor-based liveview into their viewfinder system. I don't believe it's possible to do this either due to the issues caused using light for/from the viewfinder.

    There's more reason for the Sony to have the main sensor based mode as well, the compromised viewfinder will make manual focus more difficult but without being able to use the main sensor for the 10x magnification.

    I personally find that when shooting at any sort of speed that I don't use liveview anyway, I need the camera well stabilised and need the speed of the optical viewfinder. I find the benefits of liveview are more for slower shooting, primarily macros where focus with the tiny depth of field can be difficult to check with even a good viewfinder, the articulated screen makes it easier when shooting in awkward screens. I do appreciate that many people especially on an entry level camera are more interested in a implementation for standard camera use. Sony definitely deserve credit for picking up the torch Olympus dropped and actual attempting something better than the current (non E-330) liveview implementations.

    I am hoping Olympus will spend more time on liveview again now that there's an interest in it, I don't think anyone can blame them for basically giving up on it given the way the E-330 was treated. They've done well in getting the size down with the E-420 and 25mm but a good liveview system gives even more incentive for those upgrading from non-SLR cameras.

    John
    Reply
  • cerpelai - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    Testing using f/1.4 to f/4.0 is like trying to test the lens not the camera.
    Using 50mm f/1.4 is a nice choice.. but to compare different cameras at that open wide aperture is not that wise.
    Using f/8 - f/11 is at best to test the camera's ability to produce good pictures, since usually all 50mm f/1.4 will perform almost the same at those aperture (usually showing the lens' max quality).
    Usually, using newspaper as target will get the best and quick result for sharpness.

    I know that this is somehow new to anandtech.. but, I think the review could use a lil more depth.. The conclusion is already out.. yet there's not enough fact presented about this DSLR in the review.
    Reply
  • Justin Case - Thursday, April 03, 2008 - link

    Absolutely. Using an extreme aperture and not even matching it between the cameras, very long exposure times, wrong choice of subject... this article reads like "everything that you can do wrong when comparing cameras". Or "how to give authoritative opinions when you don't even understand the subject". It's beyond me why AT insists on publishing these "articles"... Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    I didn't think that was possible. Sounds like it falls in the same category as the optical viewfinders some compact cameras have, designed for emergency use only. I can't wait until some owner, blindly going by what is recommended as "best" on the forums, is trying to shoot with a 70-200/2.8 on an A350 held out at arms length. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    The Olympus E-510 and E-410/E-420 actually have a viewfinder magnification of .92X, but the smaller sensor with the 2X crop factor makes the viewfinder look smaller than competing 1.5x/1.6x APS-C cameras. As mentioned in the review Oly got around this on the E-3 by going to a 1.15X multiplier. The E-3 has a great viewfinder that still needs a bit more eye relief to bbe nearly perfect. By comparison the A350 has a viewfinder magnification of .74x on a 1.5X crop camera. Reply
  • Deadtrees - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    As many others have pointed out, the test is just wrong.
    It's so wrong that it even makes me wonder about credibility of computer hardware tests done here in Anandtech. Well, no, I do trust hardware reviews but not this one.

    1.How can you possibly claim that it's the resolution test when Sony camera had its aperture set as f/2 and other set at f/1.4? On 50mm f/1.4 lens, the difference it makes is quite huge. It'd just be retarded to claim that this camera has better or worse resolution when the apeture value is full 1 stop different on a 50mm f/1.4 lens.

    (I checked some pictures' EXIF data and it seems like they have all mixed apeture values. That's just so wrong)

    - Use fixed aperture value.

    2. Do you know that the actual ISO level can be quite often different than the others? For instance, 5D has higer ISO level than the other cameras: ISO 3200 on 5D can be ISO 4000 on the other cameras. Dpreview mentioned it as well.

    - Show at least basic EXIF information regarding exposure setting so that readers can at least think about it.

    3. Why the claimed Sony A350 ISO 1600 shows exif ISO level of 800?
    Also, A350 was set to use manual WB whereas 5D was set to use preset tungsten WB. Based on this, how can you claim "Canon 5D is somewhat warm at the Tungsten preset compared to the cooler and more accurate rendition of the Sony A350."

    Well, I gotta go now so I'll finish here for now.

    Reply
  • Basilisk - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    I understand you're still working out your aperture/f-stop/ISO parameters for testing. When you've decided on those, you might want to increase your available illumination considerably to get shorter exposure times: 1/6 second seemed unnecessarily long, but that is indeed what the EXIF indicated. Or, perhaps you're setup is immune to vibration?

    Unlike an earlier poster, I'm not so sure camera reviews are a natural extension to your other hardware reviews. A few other sites have been doing those pretty well for some time....
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    We have already reshot the K20D and 5D tests using a fixed aperture and remote shutter release. It is not possible to reshoot the A350 since it has already been shipped to another user. Otherwise we would reshoot the entire sequence using f4.0 on the f1.4 leneses. We have talked about the changes that will be made in future reviews and we have definitely listened to comments and suggestions.

    The EXIF information is available (and has always been available) in the full images that can be downloaded by right-clicking any of the crops. You can see those for yourself in the review. Our conclusions were based on analysis of the full images and not the crops. The crops were designed to show details on the web and we agree they don't communicate noise well in theri current form - that's why we're updating procedures. The EXIF for the 5D on H, BTW, reports 3200 ISO. We did check all the EXIF values and we used the latest 1.1.1 BIOS just released a few days ago by Canon.
    Reply
  • haplo602 - Tuesday, April 01, 2008 - link

    hmm I still get f-stop 1.4 on the pentax 100iso shot (I did not bother to check the others). truth is, I am using the builtin opera image properties option, but it looks like exif data to me ... Reply
  • Deadtrees - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    You haven't replied to some of my crucial questions.

    1. What's the point of ISO 1600 comparisons when A350 was set at ISO 800?

    2. A350 had Custom WB setting and 5D had Tungsten WB:

    Given that, how could you possibly claim that "Canon 5D is somewhat warm at the Tungsten preset compared to the cooler and more accurate rendition of the Sony A350"

    3. What's the point of this review when you said "It is not possible to reshoot the A350 since it has already been shipped to another user?" Should readers just suck it up this false review because you can't redo the review? I think it's just better to take it down as this review just makes fool of Anandtech. Oh well, after all, it's the April Fool's day, isn't it?

    BTW, your answer on the second paragraph didn't make any sense. Not only you did not understand what I was saying, you came out with some weird answers for what I haven't asked. Why are you giving me the instruction of how to view EXIF info? Why are you telling me the point of having cropped images and that the conclusion was based on full sized images? I was not talking about those and I didn't say that the review is false because of that.

    Sorry if I'm being harsh but as you and Anandtech Staffs know, this is Anandtech. Though it's not a site about cameras, the credibility you guys gained over the decades does have a deep impact over readers.
    I really think camera reviews should, at least, meet half of hardware reviews.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    1. The ISO 1600 being an 800 ISO image is an honest mistake. We uploaded over 127MB of full images for the 3 camera comparisons to our servers and that file name was incorrect. I will replace the 1600 with the correct file as soon as this comment is posted.

    2. The A350 ALSO used Tungsten white balance. I just checked the A350 files with OPanda EXIF 2 and the files are indicated as a Tungsten light source and "Custom White Balance".

    The Canon is almost famous for its poor performance on Auto WB in Tungsten lighting. On AWB it was extremely orange in cast. Even on the Tungsten setting it is warmer as we were comparing Tungsten WB to Tungsten WB. A custom light temperature would probably work better on all 3 cameras.

    3. The review is definitely NOT false, and we stand by our conclusions as we looked at many more images than those published here in reaching our conclusions. Our procedures can definitely be improved. We've committed to doing that in future reviews and we have listened carefully to all suggestions. Cameras are not given to us by manufacturers to hold indefinitely, and we generally have to beg manufacturers for a few days of use to review new cameras. That will change in the future, but short of buying the cameras we evaluate we have them for a limited time.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    It's not an EXIF issue, it's that the actual sensitivity of the camera is not what is indicated (when compared to a good light meter).

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos5d/page21....">http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos5d/page21....

    Reply
  • qbfx - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    Hmm, I thought it was in the same price and performance class as the Canon 450D and the Nikon D300, why are they comparing it to the 5D ?? I still think the 400D and the 450D are better Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    The Nikon D300 has an MSRP of $1799, so it is more than twice the price of the A350. As we discussed in the review the price-comparable Nikon to the A350 would be the 10 megapixel D60, which probably uses the same sensor as the Sony A200. Reply
  • dug777 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    The D60 is $749 RRP with the kit VR lens (and you can already get it for less), which is rather a gap ;)

    According to your table this is $899 with a kit lens...head to head with the XSi (Nikon & Canon usually bracket their cameras, both feature & price-wise, rather than going head to head).

    Reply
  • Heidfirst - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    D60 is 10.2Mp with no live view - Sony's competitor to that is the A200 which lists at $599 msrp with kit 18-70mm. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    The A350 WAS compared in features and handling to other entry level DSLR cameras. The only time the K20D and Canon 5D were used for comparison was when it came to the sensor. We were trying to answer questions about the noise and sensitivity of the 14.2 megapixel CCD sensor and nothing else in entry level is higher than 10 megapixel until the Canon XSi (450D) actually ships.

    The Pentax K20D is similar in resolution (14.6 megapixel) but CMOS so we thought that would be an interesting comparison. The full-frame Canon 5D at 12.2 megapixel is always mentioned for it's low noise at all ISO settings so we thought that comparison might answer some questions on photosite size that inevitably come up when higher resolution sensors are the subject.

    We plan to compare the Canon XSi and A350 in more detail when the XSi is available for testing. The price is almost the same which will make the comparison interesting.
    Reply
  • haplo602 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    I took a look at the EXIF data of the images at ISO 100:

    sony:

    Exposure time: 0.2
    F number: 2
    Focal length in 35 mm film: 75

    pentax:

    Exposure time: 0.166667
    F number: 1.4
    Focal length in 35 mm film: 75

    canon:

    Exposure time: 0.166667
    F number: 1.4
    Lens focal length: 50 (of course this is a full frame)

    I wondered why is the Pentax shot so much more SOFT !!! Why the hell are you using a different F-stop on comparisons ? They have the same crop factor, so no DOF difference issue (would not be there anyway). Even the Canon was shot with F 1.4 ...
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    This is the first attempt at the crops to compare noise at the range of ISO settings. The procedures will be refined until the procedure better converys the differences in a web view. The full images are linked as they better show what we saw in the review.

    Focus was manual, but we left exposure on Program assuming exposure would be the same with f1.4 prime lenses. As you point out with your EXIF data, the camera programs make different assumptions about how to handle exposure in our test lighting. In the future we will also manually control the exposure, or at least use aperture priority, to assure the same aperture at all ISOs.

    The other issues were the Image Stabilization features of the Sony and Pentax. Both advise turning off IS for tripod shots which is what we did. In the future we will always use remote shutter release since the Pentax "softness" is possibly the result of not having a remote shutter elease handy for the Pentax, combined with unintended aperture variations. In fairness the Canon 5D was shot with a remote cable but it exhibits similar softness on the web screen so we plan to look more closely at the crop method as a potential problem and refine that process. The downloadable full images do a much better job of showing the noise variations.
    Reply
  • Maxington - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    Why were they shot at f1.4 anyhow, all lenses perform worst at wide open. (I assume thats what haplo quoted in exif data)

    Should be shot at f8 in raw to eliminate as much lens variation as possible between brands, and to avoid narrow DOF focus errors being classed as "soft" images.

    Sony already has a slight advantage since its not shooting wide open, for example. Not that it would be noticable really.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    You are correct. Future comparisons will use the common f1.4 lenses where possible but aperture will be constant. We plan to use two to four stops down at f2.8 to f5.6 depending on the lighting we use for the tests. f8 is a difficult choice for low ISOs with a scene lit by a 100-watt Tungsten bulb, but it would be a reasonable choice for studio lighting. Reply
  • haplo602 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    Exactly. I was wondering why the hell is the Pentax shot so soft ...

    Anyway all the lenses are f1.4, so stopping down to even f5.6 for better sharpness is desired.

    If you are shooting for NOISE comparisons, you always dial in the same aperture/shutter speed on each camera after first settling down on an aperture that all lenses can handle and it is not the lowest one (5.6 - 8 are ideal). this way you get a nice constant EV on all systems at the set ISO.

    as to the IS being off, man I suggest you read up on the self timer feature of the bodies. I bet all of them have one. thus you don't need a remote.

    anyway I'd give the Sony system the credit for choosing the best aperture in the test :-)

    I also credit that you are willing to improve the testing methodology, I'd suggest you read up established lens/camera testing sites on their methodology and adapt yo your conditions.
    Reply
  • dug777 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    No desire to bash you here Wes, we're just providing some constructive criticism :)

    I think it's great that AT is branching out into this kind of stuff, and it's pedantic people like us who let you know if we think you're not doing it right ;)

    Aside, I love my ML-L3 wireless shutter release, incredibly responsive and convenient, and it's as small and simple as you'd expect it to be.
    Reply
  • dug777 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    I would also simply suggest using a time-delay shot if you don't have a wireless or wired shutter release :) Reply
  • dug777 - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    That or they're out of focus? Reply
  • Heidfirst - Monday, March 31, 2008 - link

    Interesting review as usual with a more general consumer orientated view as compared to some of the more "specialist" DSLR sites, thank you.

    A vies notes, if I may:

    "For those who wish to buy the body alone, only the A350 ($799) and A700 ($1399) are available without a kit lens"
    I realise that Anandtech is USA-centric but also does get significant traffic from other countries - this varies from country to country according to local Sony marketing decisions e.g. if I want to buy an A200 body only in the UK that's not a problem.
    Often the street (as opposed to msrp) prices for the basic kit 18-70mm package are so little more than body only though that you may as well get the 18-70 too.

    "The layout and pattern is the same as the A200, A300, and earlier A100 suggesting it is the same AF module. The AF speeds on all models also support the conclusion that this is likely the same venerable AF module used in previous Minolta and Sony digital SLRs. "
    Sony claim 1.7x faster focussing (probably largely as a result of using a more powerful motor but also a tweaked system).
    Probably little has changed because the basic Minolta metering & AF system going back 20 years or so has been a very good base & only required minimal tweaks/upgrades.

    Re. the battery:
    If you compare Sony NP-FM500H prices it's similar to those for the official Canon, Nikon, Pentax etc. batteries so the issue isn't really the pricing of the official batteries but the unavailability of generic copies.
    When I bought my A700 I also bought a spare battery but I've never actually had to use it as battery life has been very good. Extensive Live View use on an A300/A350 may use more I would imagine though.
    At least Sony now have a standard battery throughout their DSLR range whereas on Canon & Nikon as you upgrade bodies you change batteries so you can't carry them over but must buy new.
    Reply

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