Leveraging the Digital Advantage

Started Jan 6, 2013 | Discussions thread
PK24X36NOW Senior Member • Posts: 1,868
Re: Resolution and magnification

Stewart Corman wrote:

There was a bit of confusion about this, with people confusing these two statements:

'you probably can't maximize the potential with anything less than near-perfect lenses' (true)


'there's no gain in increasing MP unless you have perfect lenses.' (false)

IMHO, I read the article differently ..if you look at table 3 and you have the Nikon D800 w/36MP FF sensor and you take your best lens at f/11, then the maximum "quality" is equiv to only a 16MP sensor IF you really had a diffraction limited lens, which you DON'T.

so, the first statement is always true ..the better the lens the better the image

the second statement is an understatement, that even with a perfect lens, you may or may not get anything better than if you had a smaller FF sensor or as in the debate near the beginning of the thread comparing two Nikons of different sensor size and different pixel spacings

The "maximizing the potential" statement is of course true, as you both seem to agree. It is, at the same time, not something that is surprising or meaningful, as there are practical limits to how good mass produced lenses are.

As respects the second statement, while the chart referenced provides an idea of a "ceiling" on effective resolution due to diffraction blurring, you have to consider that the "smaller" (lower pixel count) or smaller (physical dimension) sensors aren't actually providing their full resolution either, so this "ceiling" hasn't actually stopped additional pixels from increasing resolution yet, all else held equal. That is, we do still see more resolution from every lens on a D800 compared to a D600 compared to a D700, just as we see an increase in resolution from a D5200 vs. a D5100 vs. a D3100. You get the idea. The returns (increases in resolution) are decreasing as the pixel counts get dialed up, but they are not "zero" at this stage. A look at the new "perceptual megapixel" measurements at DxO Mark will provide you with a feel for how big a proportion of the actual MP available are actually translating into image resolution, and how the proportion that gets translated is smaller with higher megapixel sensors, but still growing overall (i.e., diminishing returns).

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