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Author Topic: Why the DxO bashing?  (Read 67781 times)

AquaGeneral

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #165 on: March 08, 2014, 02:09:52 AM »
I'm unsure if this deserves a new topic, so I will post this here.

I was just casually looking through my Facebook feed and saw a new DxO Mark post. It compares the Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS to the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and the Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED (link).

I've noticed a few times that certain lens scores do not match up with the actual sub ratings they receive. This latest post takes that a step further. The Sony lens receives a higher score than the Canon, yet in the sub-ratings (sharpness, transmission, etc), the Canon beats it in every category.

Being a trio of zoom lenses though, the rating varies also by focal length (plus of course aperture). DxO Mark's data however also only proves that the Canon copes throughout its range better than the other two. Notice the Canon's graph has less a smaller red zone than the other two here.

Does anyone know what's going on here?

Edit: I also just noticed the Nikon has 1 point more than the Canon, even though it also has a worse score in every measurement!
« Last Edit: March 08, 2014, 02:13:36 AM by AquaGeneral »

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #165 on: March 08, 2014, 02:09:52 AM »

jrista

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #166 on: March 08, 2014, 02:35:27 AM »
I'm unsure if this deserves a new topic, so I will post this here.

I was just casually looking through my Facebook feed and saw a new DxO Mark post. It compares the Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS to the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and the Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED (link).

I've noticed a few times that certain lens scores do not match up with the actual sub ratings they receive. This latest post takes that a step further. The Sony lens receives a higher score than the Canon, yet in the sub-ratings (sharpness, transmission, etc), the Canon beats it in every category.

Being a trio of zoom lenses though, the rating varies also by focal length (plus of course aperture). DxO Mark's data however also only proves that the Canon copes throughout its range better than the other two. Notice the Canon's graph has less a smaller red zone than the other two here.

Does anyone know what's going on here?

Edit: I also just noticed the Nikon has 1 point more than the Canon, even though it also has a worse score in every measurement!

DXO "scores" should be ignored. DXO scoring is weighted, and how they weight (especially for lenses) is difficult to discern or else completely unknown. It seems rather clear that they have certain brand affinities and brand aversions. DXO seems very averse to Canon, despite the fact that, as you say, their lens measures clearly show that Canon lenses perform exceptionally well and should technically "score" higher.

The general rule of thumb with DXO is to simply ignore the scores, and read the measurements. There is still some danger in that, however, as not all their measurements are actually measured. Many are derived mathematically from actual measures, which implies a certain amount of assumption goes into many of DXO's measurements...an assumption of ideal behavior (which, for anyone familiar with reality, is rarely ever ideal.)

Two key "measures" you should steer clear from are the T-stops for lenses (the way it is used, it rates lenses by absolute transmission, and does not normalize the results for comparison...hence the reason a 50mm f/1.8 beats a 600mm f/4, despite the fact that the latter is a vastly superior lens.) The other is Print DR for sensors, as even though it is called a measure, it is not. It is a weighted derivation based on the actual underlying DR measurement: Screen DR.

Last, beware that DXO has been known to change their scoring mechanisms behind the scenes without being clear why, when, or how...so sometimes information changes without prior disclosure, and god only knows why.

DXO information needs to be taken with a healthy dose of salt. It isn't always reliable.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #167 on: March 08, 2014, 08:00:12 AM »
I'm unsure if this deserves a new topic, so I will post this here.

I was just casually looking through my Facebook feed and saw a new DxO Mark post. It compares the Sony Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS to the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and the Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED (link).

I've noticed a few times that certain lens scores do not match up with the actual sub ratings they receive. This latest post takes that a step further. The Sony lens receives a higher score than the Canon, yet in the sub-ratings (sharpness, transmission, etc), the Canon beats it in every category.

Being a trio of zoom lenses though, the rating varies also by focal length (plus of course aperture). DxO Mark's data however also only proves that the Canon copes throughout its range better than the other two. Notice the Canon's graph has less a smaller red zone than the other two here.

Does anyone know what's going on here?

Edit: I also just noticed the Nikon has 1 point more than the Canon, even though it also has a worse score in every measurement!

Everyone makes assumptions, some logical and some not, some correct and some false.  Your assumption was to look at the DxOMark Lens Score, then look at the optical metrics below it, and assume that the Score was based on those measurements - that's a logical assumption, but false.  DxOMark's assumption that underlies the Lens Score is that everyone does all of their photography in a dimly lit warehouse or similar lighting - that's both illogical and false. 

The Lens Score is based on 'performance in 150 lux illumination'.  That means the most important factor is the lens' F- or T-stop, and the second most important factor is the Sensor Score of the body on which the lens is being tested.  Yes, the sensor is their second most important factor scoring a lens.  Thus, when compared on the same Canon body, the 50/1.8 II gets a higher score than the 600/4L IS II. Similarly, a set of f/4 lenses on different bodies will be ranked according to those bodies' Sensor Scores - that's what you're seeing on the page you linked.
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jeffa4444

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #168 on: March 09, 2014, 04:20:13 PM »
OK Ive established from this thread and others that DxO is a dirty word on this forum. My question then is its easy to find fault but what alternatives for measurement are the experts on this site putting forwards?

I know how we measure in cinematography (again though finding a concensus is nigh on impossible) and most of that is using industry standard measurement tools. We MTF lenses on and off axis, project them, test f or T stops and shoot tests using a variety of lens charts and subject matter, we test sensors for dynamic range using a device made by Arri which they devised with the Frauhofer Institute, we use Macbeth Charts and were able to project in a theatre a set part of the image area to see various types of noise and we have a chart that enables us to gauge resolution of the sensor (using the same high performance lens). Is all of this perfect? No but if all the tests are conducted in the same way regardless of lens or sensor and in the case of cameras you follow manufacturer guidelines (raw conversion etc) then its the best you can hope for.

Any manufacturer is aware of the strenghs and weaknesses through there own extensive testing but they cannot cover every eventuality that a photographer or cinematographer may put the equipment through. 
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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #169 on: March 09, 2014, 04:42:32 PM »
OK Ive established from this thread and others that DxO is a dirty word on this forum.

Not so at all, it's far more nuanced than that.

DXO "scores" should be ignored. DXO scoring is weighted, and how they weight (especially for lenses) is difficult to discern or else completely unknown. It seems rather clear that they have certain brand affinities and brand aversions. DXO seems very averse to Canon, despite the fact that, as you say, their lens measures clearly show that Canon lenses perform exceptionally well and should technically "score" higher.

The general rule of thumb with DXO is to simply ignore the scores, and read the measurements. There is still some danger in that, however, as not all their measurements are actually measured. Many are derived mathematically from actual measures, which implies a certain amount of assumption goes into many of DXO's measurements...an assumption of ideal behavior (which, for anyone familiar with reality, is rarely ever ideal.)

Last, beware that DXO has been known to change their scoring mechanisms behind the scenes without being clear why, when, or how...so sometimes information changes without prior disclosure, and god only knows why.

DXO information needs to be taken with a healthy dose of salt. It isn't always reliable.

The consensus (i.e. JRista and Neuro -- does any other opinion really matter on this topic?  :P ) is that their measurements of sensors are often accurate, but they then apply arbitrary weightings to get a final score.  Their lens measurements have been not so great.

There seems to be general consensus that DXO's software is excellent.


Quote
My question then is its easy to find fault but what alternatives for measurement are the experts on this site putting forwards?
For measurements you certainly can look at DXO: just make sure you understand their methods so you can place them in context.  If you're looking for a simple score to rank equipment, I'd urge you to give up on that hopeless task.  There are plenty of web sites that test and rate gear; read them all and make of it what you will.

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #170 on: March 09, 2014, 06:57:35 PM »
 JRista and Neuro -- does any other opinion really matter on this topic?

How do both of you measure performance of lenses & sensors?

As for DxO the comment that there lens measurements are not that great they should be straight forwards. MTF readings if the same device is used don't recognise a manufacturer just a reading. On a projector the graticule is the same and its straight forwards seeing lateral aberrations / colour fringing etc, pin cushioning / barrel distortions etc. and whether the lens has even field illumination.   
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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #171 on: March 09, 2014, 07:50:21 PM »
JRista and Neuro -- does any other opinion really matter on this topic?

How do both of you measure performance of lenses & sensors?

As for DxO the comment that there lens measurements are not that great they should be straight forwards. MTF readings if the same device is used don't recognise a manufacturer just a reading. On a projector the graticule is the same and its straight forwards seeing lateral aberrations / colour fringing etc, pin cushioning / barrel distortions etc. and whether the lens has even field illumination.

For lenses I'm considering purchasing, I take a gestalt approach - synthesizing reviews/tests from multiple sites.  The reality is that it's not hard.  For me, lens choice depends first on the required focal length, second on the max aperture needed, third on optical performance, fourth on other factors (AF, build, etc).  The first two considerations often render the others moot.

As for how I measure performance of lenses I purchase, that's a combination of lab-type testing with ISO 12233-based charts (the largest I have costs more than some L-series lenses) and real-world evaluation.

Lens tests are straightforward in theory, but devilishly difficult in practice.  Very few testers can empirically measure lens MTF (Lensrentals, Zeiss, and a few others have the necessary equipment).  Everyone else uses a camera to test lenses, introducing another set of variables.

The issue with DxOMark's lens measurements (not Scores, which are BS) isn't really the way they do the tests, it's that they sometimes screw them up badly, and when they do, they deny it.  That was the case with the Canon 70-200/2.8L IS vs the MkII, for example.  They recently tested the Canon 17-40L, and they show at f/4 it's nearly as sharp in the corners as in the center (vs. the mushy wide open corners everyone else sees), and it's sharper wide open than the 16-35/2.8L II stopped down to f/8.  So either they borrowed God's own perfect 17-40L for their testing, or they screwed up again.
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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #171 on: March 09, 2014, 07:50:21 PM »

Don Haines

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #172 on: March 09, 2014, 09:16:13 PM »
I've said it before and I'll say it again.... Any attempt to reduce a complex system used under diverse conditions for diverse goals to a single number is doomed to failure.

My problem with DXO is that they like to come up with a single number which somehow is supposed to rate how good a lens is. This does not work. This does not even work for a particular use....

Use taking pictures of birds as an example.... Is the bird small or is it large? Is it near or is it far? Is it stationary or is it flying? Are the wings moving real fast like a hummingbird or slow like a soaring raptor? and we haven't even touched lighting conditions, cameras, of focal lengths yet.... Good luck trying to create a rating number....

With the DXO ratings, low light performance is of paramount importance. That is why they rate the 50F1.8 (Canon's least expensive lens) as better than the 600F4II (Canon's most expensive lens).

Your needs, your preferences, and your budget are far more important than any magic rating number.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2014, 09:18:47 PM by Don Haines »
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jrista

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #173 on: March 10, 2014, 05:20:29 AM »
JRista and Neuro -- does any other opinion really matter on this topic?

How do both of you measure performance of lenses & sensors?

As for DxO the comment that there lens measurements are not that great they should be straight forwards. MTF readings if the same device is used don't recognise a manufacturer just a reading. On a projector the graticule is the same and its straight forwards seeing lateral aberrations / colour fringing etc, pin cushioning / barrel distortions etc. and whether the lens has even field illumination.

I measure what I own by the quality of my results, especially when I've reach the point where I am pushing the limits of my equipment. It's at the limits when you truly and fully understand the quality of something.

I gauge the presumed quality of what I intend to buy by absorbing and discerning every potential scrap of information on said intention from every possible source man has devised. ;) Never base your decisions on a single source, that'll just get you into trouble. Use as many sources of information as you can find, and always keep a critical eye on the details (especially the hidden ones.) Don't take anything for granted, be skeptical until you see actual evidence for any argument or conclusion offered by a reviewer. (The Digital Picture reviews are an excellent resource, he is a great reviewer, and he always offers both subjective as well as objective data to back up his claims.)

It helps to have at least a basic theoretical understanding of cameras and lenses as well. There are limits to how useful your average lens test can be, regardless of who does it, because output resolution (the measurable resolution of images used to gauge the performance of each lens) is limited by the lowest common denominator...these days, that is usually the sensor. Many lenses are capable of resolving FAR more detail at faster diffraction-limited apertures than you might otherwise glean from the average lens review, because the upper bound on resolution is the sensor. There is no such thing as lenses outresolving sensors or sensors outresolving lenses...the two work in concert to produce a photograph, and the resolution of the photograph is the RMS of the resolutions of the lens+sensor. Increase the resolution of either, output resolution increases...however increase the resolution of the least capable, and output resolution will benefit most. IF your sensor can only resolve 50lp/mm, it doesn't matter how good the lens is....120lp/mm, 170lp/mm, 250lp/mm...your standard lens test will always show the "lens" resolution is less than 50lp/mm. Because it's sensor bound! If there was anything to know about lens reviews, that would be it.

In the end, the technical specifications are really, ultimately, not nearly as important as reviewers often make it seem. Photography equipment today is so vastly superior to nearly everything we had in the past (with the possible exception of large format film digitized with high end, high resolution drum scanners), we are utterly spoiled by the highly accessible and easily usable equipment often available at our fingertips on a moment's notice.

Here is another approach. If you cannot entirely describe in both technical and artistic terms exactly why any given piece of your current equipment is holding you back, then your not ready to move to the next level. When you know your equipment backwards and forwards, and fully understand every advantage and disadvantage, every pro and con, and can clearly define your NEED for something more...then and only then should you upgrade, but at that point you should have the skill to filter the useless technical jargon from the useful technical gems. When you can clearly articulate your need for larger pixels or a larger frame/FOV or thinner DOF, then you have a clear reason to upgrade. If you don't know why larger pixels are better, you might find it useful to push your skill with smaller pixels or a smaller sensor until you see how and why they may be holding you back. (Sometimes that realization can't be realized in a box...it's often helpful to compare your art to others art, especially the art of those that inspire you...ARTISTIC comparisons can often help you glean a deeper understanding of WHY one technical tidbit or another has value.)

It's pretty rare that the minute technical details that organizations like DXO putter around with actually have any real meaning to people's ART. It may have meaning to some people's addiction to collecting the most advanced technological gadgetry known to man...but when it comes to art, there are millions that make do just well, hell far more than "well", with lowly little devices like a Canon 350D. Art is the expression of what you see in your head. Technology sometimes makes it easier to realize that vision, but when it comes to digital, more often than not, more important than the hardware is the software, and more important than the software is how you use it. Just go digging through 500px sometime. The volume and quality of works with 90+ ratings made with equipment many of us today would label "UTTER CRAP" is astonishing. It's how you use what you have, not necessarily what you have.

Technology is not the artist, it's just the brush. Don't get too wrapped up in the technology. Sometimes you just need a lens and a camera, and to let you ideas flow.

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #174 on: March 10, 2014, 06:56:35 AM »
JRista
This goes to the heart of my earlier post testing only gets you so far, yes it can point out the obvious but the closer the technical aspects get the differences become subjective. Manufacturers can never replicate every eventuality and they are not artistic creatives (as oppsed to technical creatives which they may be).

For all the advancement many find high contrast, super sharp images less than artistic and revert depending on needs to lenses in particular with perceived flaws such as flares, ghosting, veiling glare, softer edges etc. as many of these lenses tend also to be "warmer" than modern lenses, but hey if we were all the same life would be boring and stories either in single images or moving images would become dull.
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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #175 on: March 10, 2014, 01:21:21 PM »
Why the DxO bashing?

The bashing are performed by insecure  brand owners.
here are all details about DXO meassurements regarding sensors

http://www.dxomark.com/Reviews/DxOMark-Camera-Sensor2/DxOMark-Score

Interesting reading.  You may notice that the article's author, Peter van den Hamer, goes on to describe some of the problems with DxO's sensor analyses, such as the low ISO bias of the sensor score (one reason I call them Biased Scores = BS), the fact that measuring color depth (i.e. chroma noise) at low ISO is basically meaningless (and yet it's a major factor in the Sensor Score), their confusing nomenclature for the subscores (e.g. Sports Score), etc.

He also takes issue with DxO's refusal to divulge the way they calculate the overall score.  He has come up with an approximation which he suggests is usually to accurate to within 1-2 points: DxOMark_Sensor_Score = 59 + 4.3*(ColorDepth-21.1) + 3.4*(DynamicRange-11.3) + 4.4*log2(ISO/663) -0.2.  He also states, "My guess is that the actual formula is non-linear and may use (under some conditions) coefficients of 5/5/5 rather than 4.3/3.4/4.4."  His suggestion that the 'master formula' which DxO uses may be modified under some conditions further supports the claim that DxO's scoring is biased
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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #176 on: March 10, 2014, 02:30:12 PM »
Why the DxO bashing?

The bashing are performed by insecure  brand owners.
here are all details about DXO meassurements regarding sensors

http://www.dxomark.com/Reviews/DxOMark-Camera-Sensor2/DxOMark-Score

Interesting reading.  You may notice that the article's author, Peter van den Hamer, goes on to describe some of the problems with DxO's sensor analyses, such as the low ISO bias of the sensor score (one reason I call them Biased Scores = BS), the fact that measuring color depth (i.e. chroma noise) at low ISO is basically meaningless (and yet it's a major factor in the Sensor Score), their confusing nomenclature for the subscores (e.g. Sports Score), etc.

He also takes issue with DxO's refusal to divulge the way they calculate the overall score.  He has come up with an approximation which he suggests is usually to accurate to within 1-2 points: DxOMark_Sensor_Score = 59 + 4.3*(ColorDepth-21.1) + 3.4*(DynamicRange-11.3) + 4.4*log2(ISO/663) -0.2.  He also states, "My guess is that the actual formula is non-linear and may use (under some conditions) coefficients of 5/5/5 rather than 4.3/3.4/4.4."  His suggestion that the 'master formula' which DxO uses may be modified under some conditions further supports the claim that DxO's scoring is biased.

Couldn't have said it better. They are biased. That's the problem. Has nothing to do with the brand affinity of the readers (well, not this one, anyway).

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #177 on: March 10, 2014, 02:46:18 PM »
Why the DxO bashing?

The bashing are performed by insecure  brand owners.
here are all details about DXO meassurements regarding sensors

We are all brand owners.... Some Canon, some Nixon, some Sony, some Olympus..... That is a meaningless statement.

DXO numbers are not reliable to compare objects in a specific brand. You can't reliably compare Canon to Canon, you can't relieably compare Nikon to Nikon, you can't reliably compare Sony to Sony. If you can't compare in the same brand, then trying to compare cross brand is really asking for trouble....
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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #177 on: March 10, 2014, 02:46:18 PM »

sdsr

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #178 on: March 10, 2014, 03:59:24 PM »
Why the DxO bashing?

The bashing are performed by insecure  brand owners.


Well, maybe.  But I currently own Canon FF & APSC, Sony FF and Olympus Micro 4/3, and have previously owned Nikon and Pentax....   

Others have explained better than I can the various biases (i.e. the criteria they use) of their evaluation process, but even leaving that aside, by trying to reduce all of this to a single number they're making the same fundamental mistake that everyone else makes when doing so (and not just in this context, of course), namely trying to reduce measurements of properties that are incommensurable to some point on a common scale and, in the process, omitting some properties altogether.  For instance, the five qualities of a lens that they explicitly provide numbers for (sharpness, transmission, distortion, vignetting and chromatic abarrations) may each be measurable, but they're not measurements of the same sort of thing on the same scale, so you can't just add them up (you might as well try to add your weight to your height - it's a conceptual absurdity).  And if you care about coma, say, or bokeh (try measuring *that*!), well, they don't seem to figure in at all.

To the extent other sites do this, their scores are absurd too, for the same reason.  I'm not sure why DxO's has become the reference, though, often invoked by other reviewers, bloggers, etc.  Maybe it's in part because, to an untrained, casual observer, the presentation looks so scientific - lots of charts and numbers and nothing as preposterous as testing a lens on a camera or a sensor in a lens/camera, or as vulgar as showing actual photos taken with any of the equipment reviewed (or am I missing something?).  To state the obvious, you can only take a photo by putting a sensor in a camera and attaching a lens to it; how any one of these components "performs" (in some weird sense of the term) in isolation hardly matters.  Which is why the most useful (to me, anyway) review sites provide photos (preferably comparative) to prove their points, and why ultimately there's no substitute for trying equipment first-hand.  It doesn't matter if lens A has a better score somewhere than lens B if, for your purposes, you can't see a difference that matters.

Oh, and like many others, I think DxO's software is good (probably the best for noise reduction).

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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #179 on: March 10, 2014, 07:15:14 PM »
Oh, and like many others, I think DxO's software is good (probably the best for noise reduction).

I'd argue for automatic distortion correction as well.
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Re: Why the DxO bashing?
« Reply #179 on: March 10, 2014, 07:15:14 PM »