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Cheap vs Expensive Camera Blind Test


Mattias Burling

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Note: These are stills and not video frames. And I know in video there is a more direct money to quality correlation.
But most people here use still cameras for video and are therefore paying a lot of money for the still function and its features.
So I thought I would post anyway.

I was flipping through some images at home. And at one point I realized I couldn't say for sure which camera I had used for a picture of a flower. Since I had taken the same picture with three different cameras and lenses on three separate occasions.

Whats interesting to me is that they cost $80, $500+Lens and $2000+Lens.

I think it really illustrates what many of us try to tell beginners who ask advice on what camera to buy.
The extra money isn't going to guarantee you any better images. Its about handling, features, speed, etc.

See if you can tell which could be which.
Again, three different locations, lenses and white balances.

c1.jpg

 

c2.jpg

 

c3.jpg

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I like the idea of doing current work with my 'ol hacked GH1 and a chinese-speed-boosted 50mm.  That's, what, $250 for all that?  Kinda wish I still had that camera...or had the nerve to stop buying n

I also think the Panasonic G7 is an important low cost UHD camera. During the period when I was making decent money, I used to buy a new camera every year, as a personal exploration which I enjoy

Yup +10 for this thread. A few months ago, after I sold my GX85 and before I bought my 5D3, I was unsure what route to go, so I was just shooting with my humble D5500 and I found it liberating to try

Interesting test... I believe the last one is from the cheapest camera, but I am unsure between the first two. On one hand the first one seems to have more DR but the second one seems to handle the contrast curve better. So, I will say... the first one is... the mid priced and the second one is the highest priced. I have a feeling I am wrong on every one. Lol. 

Full disclosure: I am looking at these on my iPhone.

Funny thing is that even though I think the 3 is from the cheapest camera (I think I'm wrong) I think I might like it the best. I tend to like more contrasty photos and I like how you can just see into the shadows of the background. Damn, now I'm really confused. 

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3 minutes ago, AaronChicago said:

I can't really say which frames are "better" or "worse" but I prefer 2.

They aren't supposed to be better or worse. The point I guess was just that people wont be able to point and say "that one is the the $2k camera".

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The first one looks natural, normal. But in a way like video. Not like a raw photo, must be a jpeg, automatic program. Could have been a smartphone (sDoF? Don't know).

In the second one the colors are off. The plants look sick. Maybe there was a black cloud suddenly. Don't touch the peppermint, it's poisoned!

I like the third the most. Has the best colors of all, looks vivid, threedimensional and real. I guess it was RAW originally. I don't know about the first two, but the third one also was shot with a good lens, therefore ...

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44 minutes ago, Mattias Burling said:

They aren't supposed to be better or worse. The point I guess was just that people wont be able to point and say "that one is the the $2k camera".

Great thread and point you make!...I personally could not begin to venture a guess...and this is an important bit of food for thought...it's really not cameras, that stand in the way of us shooting films...or anything we choose for that matter...our biggest obstacles are as always ourselves lol.

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I will agree with you that it can be hard to tell and that for probably 80& or 90% of stills photography by MOST PEOPLE one camera can be almost as good as another.

Only when certain criteria (extremes in DOF, or ISO, or shutter speed or flash or FPS, or ???) are you really going to notice the difference.

I was looking through some portraits I had taken and the ones I liked the most were NOT taken with my Full Frame D750 and 85mm f/18 lens (around $2,600) but were instead taken with my crop sensor D5100 and a crop sensor 55-210 f/4-5.6 which cost me about $600 used when I got them about five years ago (or whenever the D5200 replaced the D5100).

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It depends on the shot.

Sometimes you will notice a huge difference between cameras and sometimes not.

For instance there's a big depth of field difference between full frame at F1.2 and micro four thirds at F2.8, which you don't notice quite as much at closer subject distances, but at longer ones the M43 image would be completely flat, and the full frame one would be nicely layered.

In low light situations obviously another big difference.

Can you take great images on anything? Absolutely!

But let's highlight the differences as much as the similarities.

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 I posted this on several forums and people's guesses are all over the place. Some are arguing about specs and bla bla bla. Nothing constructive :)

So ive decided to take a few shots tomorrow with the cameras side by side and try to match them.

Then I will post again. 

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@Mattias Burling, you hinted towards all of them being APS-C. So here comes my guess:

3rd one has a threedimensional look. Must be a Foveon camera just like in your video. So camera 3 is your 80 dollar Sigma DP camera, shot wide open.

Though you got very lucky with that price. Should get a Sigma DP Merrill some day or all three of em:)

Second one has harsh chroma. Would say the 500USD camera with a vintage 28mm 2.8 lens, also wide open.

First one is the 2000USD camera, maybe Leica M8 with a 35mm.

 

PS. The fixed Sigma lenses on their DP compact cameras are some of the best lenses one can find in the APS-C format.

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1 hour ago, Mattias Burling said:

Yeah I definitely see the point of my expensive cameras. They are great.

But for casual shooting Ive started buying all kinds of old "crap" :)

Yeah it's fun. Cinema5D just said $8000 is Little Money for the C200, haha.

I like your idea of cheapest premium camera you can find. $28? THAT is "Little Money"!!

The Sigma DP1 is a really unique tool for colour, for pleasure and for art... slow, but so much going for it. I wish more people would cover the cheap cameras and hidden gems. Samsung NX1 was one as well. Most of those who bought it didn't feel need to go all out and blow $3000 on a Sony afterwards.

My current tip for a bargain for 4K, art and sheer enjoyment is the GX85 with cinelikeD hack :)

And for stills a $500 Sony A900 with $80 Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5... Can't go wrong with that. Full frame and the lens has character... whilst being 1/7th of the price of the Sigma ART 24-105mm F4, almost as sharp and 1/4th of the size.

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8 hours ago, AaronChicago said:

I can't really say which frames are "better" or "worse" but I prefer 2.

2 has a lot of chromatic aberration. Also a lot of noise. IQ wise it is the worst of the three.

1 has quite a bit of noise on blowing up but not as much as 2 (which is visible even in the whole image). Also a trace of CA. It is also has the highest pixel count, so defects on blowing up may just be more apparent as a consequence. Exposure is different from 3, and that may skew perceptions.

3 appears to be the cleanest shot, no CA that I can see, not a lot of noise. It also has a lot fewer pixels than the other two, so it may just be that the defects are less obvious as a result.

As far as CA is concerned, that reflects the lens on the camera, while noise may reflect the sensor (but may also indicate different levels of processing).

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7 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

Yeah it's fun. Cinema5D just said $8000 is Little Money for the C200, haha.

I like your idea of cheapest premium camera you can find. $28? THAT is "Little Money"!!

The Sigma DP1 is a really unique tool for colour, for pleasure and for art... slow, but so much going for it. I wish more people would cover the cheap cameras and hidden gems. Samsung NX1 was one as well. Most of those who bought it didn't feel need to go all out and blow $3000 on a Sony afterwards.

My current tip for a bargain for 4K, art and sheer enjoyment is the GX85 with cinelikeD hack :)

And for stills a $500 Sony A900 with $80 Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5... Can't go wrong with that. Full frame and the lens has character... whilst being 1/7th of the price of the Sigma ART 24-105mm F4, almost as sharp and 1/4th of the size.

Yeah I have some more hidden gem videos coming up. One of which being one of pictures in the thread :)

My current 4k bargain tip is the G7. A store here gets them in as trades sometimes and then sell them used with warranty for 250 bucks. Meaning, used without warranty... 200 and then Im generous.

For stills only and for someone wishing they had an M8, this bad boy has the same colors imo.

R0022003.md.jpg

6 hours ago, fuzzynormal said:

I like the idea of doing current work with my 'ol hacked GH1 and a chinese-speed-boosted 50mm.  That's, what, $250 for all that?  Kinda wish I still had that camera...or had the nerve to stop buying new stuff and just be creative with what I got.

Me too. Problem is that when I got some cheap stuff from yesteryear it triggered me to buy more cheap stuff. 
So I will probably end up spending the same amount of money but have more stuff :)

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