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Resolution Chart Comparison

Comparison cameras:

  • Nikon Coolpix P5100 (12MP, 3.5x zoom)
  • Canon PowerShot G9 (12MP, 6x zoom)
  • Nikon Coolpix P5000 (10MP, 3.5x zoom)
  • Panasonic Lumix LX2 (10MP, 4x zoom)

Shots here are of our standard resolution chart (version two). This chart allows us to measure the actual performance of the lens and sensor system. It measures the ability of the camera to resolve lines at gradually higher resolutions and enables us to provide a definitive value for comparison purposes. Values on the chart are 1/100th lines per picture height. So a value of 15 equates to 1500 lines per picture height. (Note that on version two of our chart the vertical resolution 1000 - 2000 lines have been horizontally flipped but are otherwise identical). Approximately the middle of the zoom range was used for each camera. The chart is shot at a full range of apertures and the sharpest image selected.

Studio light, cameras set to auto, settings all factory default. If possible aperture was selected for optimum sharpness. Exposure compensation +0.3 EV to +1.3 EV.

Nikon P5100 (3,279 KB; 12 MP) Canon PowerShot G9 (4,119 KB; 12 MP)
Nikon P5000 (2,305 KB; 10 MP) Panasonic Lumix LX2 (4,820KB, 10MP)

Resolution chart crops

Nikon Coolpix P5100 Canon Powershot G9
Nikon Coolpix P5000 Panasonic Lumix LX2

Nikon Coolpix P5100 Canon Powershot G9
Nikon Coolpix P5000 Panasonic Lumix LX2

Measurable findings

Camera Measurement
Absolute
resolution
Extinction
resolution
Nikon Coolpix P5100 Horiz LPH 1850 2375*
Vert LPH 1800 2375*
5° Diagonal LPH + 1000 n/a
Canon PowerShot G9 Horiz LPH 1950 2400*
Vert LPH 1900 2400*
5° Diagonal LPH + 1000 n/a
Nikon Coolpix P5000 Horiz LPH 1750 2050
Vert LPH 1800 2100
5° Diagonal LPH + 1000 n/a
Panasonic Lumix LX2 Horiz LPH 1600 2050*
Vert LPH 1700 2100*
5° Diagonal LPH + 1000 n/a

* Moiré is visible
# Jagged diagonals
+ Chart maximum
LPH Lines per Picture Height (to allow for different aspect ratios the measurement is the same for horizontal and vertical)
5° Diagonal Lines set at 5° diagonal
Absolute res. 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 res. Detail beyond camera's definition (becomes aliased)
n/a Not Available (above the capability of the test chart)
n/v Not Visible (not visible on test results)

As noted in the studio comparisons the P5100 doesn't quite match the detail produced by the Canon G9 but still improves marginally on its predecessor and other 10MP cameras. Whether this extra resolution is of any real-world benefit starts to become a pertinent question given the other compromises created by using such a densely-packed sensor. The results, as noted elsewhere, are very clean compared to many cameras we test.

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