Lens resolution - impact on camera choice.....R3 v R4

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Rod McD Veteran Member • Posts: 7,972
Lens resolution - impact on camera choice.....R3 v R4


Sorry this got a bit long and a bit theoretical..... I recently asked in this forum about members' experience with small 24mm lenses and one member (thanks CaliforniaDave ) provided an interesting link to a reviewer's take on lenses with sufficient resolution to extract the best from the A7R4's sensor. The article by Marc Alhadeff in the Sony Alpha blog is here ...


I'm interested in landscape photography. I mostly only take photos when I go hiking. I don't do video. I don't take images of people. I really don't care about maximum apertures. Portability is more critical and I don't need f1.4 at all. (I did order a 24mm - when I've tried the resulting purchase on my son's A73 for a bit I might consider a used A7R3 or 4 body.)

I've read many test reports of Alhadeff's "Outstanding" and "Excellent" categories of lenses. Their outstanding performance all seems to occur about two stops down, usually at around f2.8, maybe f4. That was predictable - not news. If you look at typical landscape apertures - say f5.6-11, their resolution is lower and far more uniform. I guess that's not news either.

Two examples.....

1) in the 35mm FL the following lenses give the following centre / corner resolutions at f8 (sourced from the Lenstip site). Tested on the A7R3 at 42mpx, expressed in lpmm

  • GM 35 - 64/55
  • Sigma 35/2 Contemporary - 65/52
  • CV Apo Lanthar 35/2 - 58/55
  • Samyang 35/1.8 - 56/51

2) in the 50mm Fl.... f8, centre/corner, lpmm

  • CV Apo Lanthar 50/2 - 61/58
  • GM 50/1.2 - 63/54
  • G 50/2.5 - 62/54

As you can see, differences are there but nowhere near as pronounced as at the faster, optimal apertures. They're almost non-existant at the 50mm FL. Alhadeff comments that very few lenses can actually extract the best from the 61mpx sensor. The 61mpx sensor only represents an increase over the 42mpx sensor of 20% in linear dimensions - perhaps one print paper size at most. All of which leads to my question - if you're shooting at middle apertures to get DOF, and therefore beyond optimal apertures, are you just as well off considering the 42mpx sensor as the 61mpx sensor?

I know that no lens will be disadvantaged by using a higher res sensor, but that doesn't answer the question as to whether it extracts the best from the sensor. I also know full well that there are many other factors affecting camera choices and lens choices. However, the question of resolution is a fundamental one.... So : even with great glass, is the extra $1000 for the A7R4 worth it? Or would I be just as well off with an A7R3 for most practical applications? (Yes..... I know the upgraded EVF is beautiful.:-)).

And has anyone used both A7R3 and A7R4 for landscapes?  Your thoughts?

Thanks, Rod

 Rod McD's gear list:Rod McD's gear list
Canon PowerShot G1 X Olympus Tough TG-4 Fujifilm X-T4 Voigtlander 90mm F3.5 APO-Lanthar SL II Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R +18 more
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