When it comes to APS-C cameras things ‘seem’ to be going rather well. Newer APS-C cameras like the Sony a6400, and Fujifilm’s X-T3 are doing things that photographers never thought APS-C cameras would be able to do. But after four years, the Samsung NX500 still occupies the number two spot on DXOMark’s list of best performing (from an image quality standpoint) APS-C cameras. Above it sits the Nikon D7200 which was also released back in 2015. How can this be? One has to wonder just what on earth is going on with APS-C sensors, and why haven’t things improved for four years when it comes to their overall image quality?
Let’s make no bones about it, back in 2015 the Nikon D7200 and the Samsung NX500 were two of the best APS-C cameras you could get your hands on. The cameras offered ground breaking features and image quality that was hard to beat. We marveled at the things the NX500 could do when it was launched, and we truly believed that APS-C cameras had come of age. So what has happened in the last four years in terms of APS-C sensors? One would think with the technological advances that have been made during this time, newer APS-C sensors would be able to outperform sensors that are four years old.
The Samsung NX500 featured a 28.2 Megapixel, back side illuminated sensor, could fire off nine frames per second, and it could record 4K video. Back in 2015 this was ground breaking. In 2019 these features are still touted as cutting edge technology. If sensors in 2015 could perform like this, then why are today’s sensors not performing even better? For me, what’s really telling here is where the Nikon D7500 is ranked.
2015’s Nikon D7200 is sitting pretty at the top of the DXOMark list, while a camera that’s two years newer sits four places below it. The successor to the D7200, the D7500 which was launched in 2017, performs worse than its predecessor; it’s even out performed by the Nikon D3400 when it comes to image quality. The D3400 was launched in 2016. To me it’s obvious that newer APS-C cameras could perform at much higher levels than cameras from 2015, but it’s clear they’re being deliberately held back from reaching their full potential. My guess is so that manufacturers like Nikon, Canon, and Sony can create even more separation between APS-C and Full Frame Sensors.
“If sensors in 2015 could perform like this, then why are today’s sensors not performing even better?”
A short while back we talked about how great it would be for the market if Samsung started making camera sensors again. After looking at this list on DXOMark, you can’t help but think that it would be even better if Samsung just started churning out APS-C cameras again. There is no doubt that they have the ability to make amazing sensors, and by pushing the boundaries on APS-C technology, maybe it will make others in the industry strive for improvements too, especially when it comes to overall image quality on smaller sensors.
It would be really interesting to see where the X-Trans sensor used in the Fujifilm X-T3 would land on this list, but DXOMark will not test X-Trans sensors. While the sensor is manufactured by Sony, it’s still researched and developed by Fujifilm themselves. Seeing as they have no interest in Full Frame technology, they’re likely pushing the boundaries on what APS-C sensors can do, unlike others who are possibly degrading APS-C performance so they can continue to make people believe that pro photographers need Full Frame cameras. This is one of the main reasons why I think APS-C cameras from 2015 still top the image quality list.
One would think that with the technological advances that have been made during this time, newer APS-C sensors would be able outperform sensors that are four years old.
The Samsung NX500 is still listed for sale on Amazon, so if you want what DXOMark ranks as the second best APS-C camera in terms of sensor performance, you can pick one up. The Nikon D7200 can be picked up for under $700 now as well.
What do you think about the NX500 and the D7200 still topping DXOMark’s APS-C sensor performance list? Do you think the likes of Nikon, Sony, and Canon could be doing more to improve APS-C cameras and the sensors that power them? Let us know in the comment section below.