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Resolution Chart Comparison

Shots here are of the PIMA/ISO 12233 standard resolution test chart (more of which are available in our comparison database). This resolution 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. For each camera the relevant 50 mm prime lens was used. The chart is shot at a full range of apertures and the sharpest image selected.

Studio light, cameras set to auto, all settings factory default. Aperture selected for optimum sharpness. Exposure compensation +0.7 EV to +1.3 EV.

Pentax *ist DS (2,083 KB; 6 MP) Canon EOS 300D (2,241 KB; 6 MP)
Nikon D70 (2,370 KB; 6 MP) Pentax *ist D (1,957 KB; 6 MP)

Pentax *ist DS Canon EOS 300D
Nikon D70 Pentax *ist D

Pentax *ist DS Canon EOS 300D
Nikon D70 Pentax *ist D

Pentax *ist DS Canon EOS 300D
Nikon D70 Pentax *ist D

Pentax *ist DS Canon EOS 300D
Nikon D70 Pentax *ist D

Measurable findings (three measurements taken for each camera):

Camera Measurement
Pentax *ist DS (JPEG) Horiz LPH * 1400  * 1550 
Vert LPH * 1400  * 1600 
Pentax *ist DS (RAW)
Pentax Photo Laboratory
Horiz LPH * 1550  * 1700 
Vert LPH 1450  * 1950 
Canon EOS 300D Horiz LPH 1600  1900 
Vert LPH 1450  1850 
Nikon D70 Horiz LPH 1600  * 1850 
Vert LPH 1450  * 1850 
Pentax *ist D Horiz LPH 1500  * 1800 
Vert LPH 1300  * 1700 

* Moire is visible
+ 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)

Used as designed, shooting JPEG straight from the camera the *ist DS delivers fairly disappointing results from our resolution chart with low absolute resolution measurements and a very strong cut-off of detail beyond a certain point. As we've demonstrated over and over in this review it's possible to get much more detail and a much more gradual 'fade' of resolution by shooting RAW and converting using the supplied Photo Laboratory or Adobe's Camera RAW.

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