Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DxOMark Sensor Ratings - Good or Bad?

Mojave August Sunrise - Mojave, California
Created with a camera that DxOMark would have given a really low score to if they had tested it.
Tony Flores commented on yesterday's post about the Ricoh GR, saying, "Be careful when comparing sensors on DxOmark.com. Their up front numbers for high ISO are not really real, and they favor high MP sensors."

And that comment got me thinking. Are DxOMark sensor ratings good or bad? Should anyone pay attention to them?
California Sunset - Stallion Springs, California
Created with a camera that DxOMark would have given a really low score to if they had tested it.
The reason that I sometimes refer to DxOMark's camera sensor ratings is because DxOMark is the most renown and respected scientific testers of digital camera sensors. The key word in that last sentence is scientific. There are two points I'd like to make about that.

First, by having a standard test in which camera sensors can be examined, one can get a good idea about which ones are better and which ones are worse. This does not mean the final score is 100% accurate. It also doesn't factor in other important components of a camera. Just because one camera scores better than another doesn't mean it is indeed a better camera. The value, however, is giving consumers the knowledge about which sensors are generally better than others.
Artificial - Tehachapi, California
Created with a camera that DxOMark would have given a really low score to if they had tested it.
But people shouldn't worry about that. All of the cameras tested by DxOMark, including the low-scoring ones, are good enough. Cameras are devolving, and people having been choosing convenience over quality for many, many decades. If you are truly worried about image quality, then the cameras you should be looking at will not be found on DxOMark's website. So either stop worrying, or begin actually choosing high-image-quality cameras.

Second, art is not science. Science is about formulas and charts and rules and structure. Art is vision. Art is being creative. Art is throwing all of the "rules" out the window and paving your own path. So while there is value in the DxOMark ratings, none of those ratings will ever create art. I don't know about you, but creating art is what photography is all about for me.
Desert Mine - Mojave, California
Created with a camera that DxOMark would have given a really low score to if they had tested it.
It turns out that Tony is correct about being careful with DxOMark sensor ratings. Just not for the reason he stated.

No comments:

Post a Comment