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Resolution Chart Comparison (JPEG)

Shots here are of our 'version two' resolution chart which provides for measurement of resolution up to 4000 LPH (Lines Per Picture Height). A value of 20 equates to 2000 lines per picture height. For each camera the relevant prime lens was used. The chart is shot at a full range of apertures and the sharpest image selected. Studio light, cameras set to aperture priority (optimum aperture selected), image parameters default. Exposure compensation set to deliver approximately 80% luminance of white area.

Nikon D3S (3.5 MB; 12 MP) Canon EOS 1D Mark IV (6.9 MB, 16 MP)
Nikon D3 (3.2 MB, 12.1 MP) Nikon D300S (3.4 MB, 12.3 MP)

Nikon D3S Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
Nikon D3 Nikon D300S

Nikon D3S Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
Nikon D3 Nikon D300S

Nikon D3S Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
Nikon D3 Nikon D300S

Measurable results

Camera Measurement
Absolute
resolution
Extinction
resolution
Nikon D3S Horizontal LPH 2200  2600 
Vertical LPH 2200  * 2600 
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Horizontal LPH 2350  * 2800 
Vertical LPH 2400  * 2800 
Nikon D3 Horizontal LPH 2200  2600 
Vertical LPH 2200  * 2600 
Nikon D300S Horizontal LPH 2200  2500
Vertical LPH 2100  2600

* Moiré is visible
+ Chart maximum
LPH Lines per Picture Height (to allow for different aspect ratios the measurement is the same for horizontal and vertical)
Absolute resolution Point at which all lines of a resolution bar are still visible and defined, beyond this resolution loss of detail occurs (below Nyquist frequency).
Extinction resolution Detail beyond camera's definition (becomes aliased)

The soft JPEGs we've already seen in this review don't do the D3S any favors in this test, and the resolution disadvantage of its lower pixel count compared to the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV is exacerbated by its rather smooth output. It's resolution performance is on a par with its predecessor the D3, and the DX format D300S, but it is no surprise that the higher resolution Canon sensor gives better results in terms of absolute detail resolution.

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Barney Britton
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