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Resolution Chart Comparison (JPEG and RAW)

Images on this page are of our standard 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 we use the relevant prime lens (the same one we use for all the other tests in a particular review). 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 in the white areas.

What we want to show here is how well the camera is able to resolve the detail in our standard test chart compared to the theoretical maximum resolution of the sensor, which for the charts we shoot is easy to work out - it's simply the number of vertical pixels (the chart shows the number of single lines per picture height, the theoretical limit is 1 line per pixel). Beyond this limit (when talking about line pairs usually referred to as the Nyquist frequency) the sensor cannot faithfully record image detail and aliasing occurs.

This limit is rarely attained, because the majority of sensors are fitted with anti-aliasing filters. Anti-aliasing filters are designed to reduce unpleasant moiré effects, but in doing so, they also reduce resolution (the relative strength and quality of these filters varies from camera to camera). In theory though, a sensor without an AA filter, when coupled with a 'perfect' lens, will deliver resolution equal to its Nyquist limit. Therefore, even though it may be effectively unattainable with normal equipment in normal shooting situations, an understanding of a sensor's theoretical limit provides a useful benchmark for best possible performance. Nyquist is indicated in these crops with a red line.

On this page we're looking at both JPEG and Raw resolution. For a (more) level playing field we convert the latter using Adobe Camera Raw. Because Adobe Camera Raw applies different levels of sharpening to different cameras (this confirmed) we use the following workflow for these conversions:

  • Load RAW file into Adobe Camera RAW (Auto mode disabled)
  • Set Sharpness to 0 (all other settings default)
  • Open file to Photoshop
  • Apply a Unsharp mask tuned to the camera, in this case 100%, Radius 0.6, Threshold 0
  • Save as a TIFF (for cropping) and as a JPEG quality 11 for download
JPEG (3648 x 2736) 2.9MB RAW (3648 x 2736) 3.2MB

Vertical resolution

JPEG
RAW

Horizontal resolution

JPEG RAW

As usual, there is a clear difference between RAW and JPEG output from the K-5, and as we'd expect, a lot more detail can be coaxed from the RAW files. The K-5's default JPEG sharpening is conservative, but all nine lines of our test chart can be discerned up to around 2600LPH both horizontally and vertically. A lot more detail is apparent from our RAW samples, however, and vertical and horizontal detail is accurately described up to around 2800LPH, with some line detail surviving up to, and even slightly beyond Nyquist.

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Comments

Total comments: 4
ANTMANT

Brilliant camera with stunning noise control, this is my own test of every ISO level: https://www.flickr.com/photos/antmant/13507776774/

0 upvotes
oldnoob

When compared in RAW with the k-5II and the k-5IIs, the k-5 is clearly back-focusing. Compare the three cameras and center on the queen of hearts and look at the wall behind it. And also compare the left top checker test pattern in the test scene.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
eclat

What I find so disingenuous (and irritating) about these otherwise wonderful reviews is dpr's clear bias toward Canon and Nikon. The exact same specs can be found on a Pentax, but what we'll get is a measured, sometimes even tepid nod, while with the Canon/Nikon, there will be an enthusiastic thumbs up for the same feature. The Pentax line (as the most obvious example) is held to a different standard, it seems.

Take the Pentax K5 review, for example, which is called a "serious amateur's" camera and yet is compared to its "direct competition," the Canon 7D and Nikon D300s, cameras that are for "keen enthusiasts, professionals and aspiring-professionals..." and "semi-pros" respectively. Apparently Pentax "serious amateurs" are equal to Canon and Nikon "pros and semi-pros." We always knew that, of course, but still... try to be a little more objective in your reviews and a little less biased, one way or the other.

10 upvotes
Reeuwijk

Dear sir,

How is it possible that the Pentax K 5 has a higher resolution than the Pentax K5 II/IIS?

Brant van der Goot

2 upvotes
Total comments: 4