Resolution Chart Comparison (RAW)

Shots here are of our 'version two' 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 the relevant prime lens was used. 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 of white area.

For a (more) level playing field we also convert our resolution tests using Adobe Camera RAW. Because Adobe Camera RAW applies different levels of sharpening to different cameras (this confirmed) we had to 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: 80%, Radius 1.0, Threshold 0
  • Save as a TIFF (for cropping) and as a JPEG quality 11 for download

We don't have RAW resolution shots from the D60 so are using the D40X shots as a proxy. Previous tests suggest the two cameras, which have identically specified sensors, produce the same resolution.

Please note that we have not included the Olympus E-620 on this page because we have been given reason to believe that ACR 5.4 Beta does not currently produce as much detail as it could. We will aim to include the files if this is corrected.

Nikon D5000 (2.9 MB; 12.3 MP) Canon EOS 500D (3.7 MB, 15.1 MP)
Nikon D40X/D60 (2.3 MB, 10.0 MP)  

Nikon D5000 Canon EOS 500D
Nikon D40X/D60  

Nikon D5000 Canon EOS 500D
Nikon D40X/D60  

Nikon D5000 Canon EOS 500D
Nikon D40X/D60  

Measurable results

Camera Measurement
Nikon D5000 Horizontal LPH 2400  * 3200 
Vertical LPH 2350  * 3200 
Canon EOS 500D Horizontal LPH 2400  * 3200 
Vertical LPH 2350  * 3200 
Nikon D40X/D60 Horizontal LPH 2000  * 2600 
Vertical LPH 1900  2500 

* Moiré is visible
+ Chart maximum
LPH Lines per Picture Height (to allow for different aspect ratios the measurement is the same for horizontal and vertical)
Absolute resolution 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 resolution Detail beyond camera's definition (becomes aliased)

In RAW mode, the D5000 does a much better job of showing off its capabilities. At the cost of a little moiré close to the extinction resolution, the D5000 is able to resolve considerably more detail than its JPEG output would suggest. Here it's on a par with the nominally higher resolution of the EOS 500D. It's a solid result that reinforces the idea that the D5000's apparent softness is down to its default JPEG rendering, rather than any lack of resolving capability of the sensor.