D800E vs. 5D3: Diminishing Returns or Reversal of Returns?

Started Jul 19, 2013 | Discussions thread
Rick Knepper
OP Rick Knepper Forum Pro • Posts: 16,498
Thank you for asking.

reginalddwight wrote:


Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to read every post in these threads.

What was your primary objective of these tests? What have you concluded?

If my first attempt to explain the process left folks confused, I appreciate the opportunity in a non-combative setting to make myself clearer.

First off, I just acquired both cameras recently, the 5D3 very very recently. I was going to do this comparison whether or not I posted the results. I ran a series of comaprisons:

1.) full-size vs full-size both unprocessed

2.) full-size 5D3 vs down-sized D800E to match the file dimensions of the 5D3 both unprocessed

3.) reducing both files to 1800x1200 px (my most common application but not necessarily anyone else's) both unprocessed

4.) same as number three and processing with my normal workflow

5.) making an extreme crop and downsizing to 1800x1200 px unprocessed

6.) making an extreme crop and downsizing to 1800x1200 px and processing with my normal workflow

There were some other noodlings I did but I chose to post images from Nos. 1, 2, 4 & 5. You'll have to look at both threads to find all of the images. Link located in the OP.

Here's what I concluded and decided to share with the forums of both brands

1.) In the past, at the file size 1800x1200, I observed that 21/24 MP files showed visibly more detail than 12 MP files without throwing away too much data. I knew there would be a diminishing return for the D800E but I didn't know how much there would be until I actually had a D800E in hand. I wasn't prepared for the possibility that too much information could be thrown away. I thought this finding might be of some interest to folks who are trying to make a decision between differently spec'ed sensors. I have a D3x and could have used that camera in order to eliminate brand predjudice that's rampant here but I wasn't thinking about that at the time of the comparison which was a personal project to start off with.

(If my methodology sux, I am man enough to admit a mistake though I don't think anything I did or did not do would impact the result dramatically. However, I am open to visual demonstration of a better workflow or a well-documented description of said workflow to replace the one I used.)

2.) I also wanted to show that a diminishing return doesn 't mean there is no return at all and challenged folks, who haven't already, to find that tipping point for their OWN applications, 95% percent of which I believe involve reductions.

3.) Express the idea that down-sizing to a given dimension seems to have a greater impact on the larger file as proximity to this tipping point nears just as the opposite must be true for enlargements.

4.) I was careful to say that the slight degradation in MY D800E sample caused by the severe down-sampling didn't harm the photo from being viewed at normal distances. In fact, I am enjoying a full set of 1800x1200 shots from a recent trip to Zion NP without it eating at me.

I was hoping to get more friendly and helping support from folks in order to arrive at a truthful conclusion for all of us. By the way, there is one lingering doubt that I documented in the original thread and mentioned above briefly but no one has latched on to it yet.

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Rick Knepper, photographer, non-professional, shooting for pleasure, check my profile for gear list and philosophy. TJ said, "Every generation needs a new revolution".

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