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

Please not that for this comparison we converted the E-620's RAW files in Capture One. This is because we were given reason to believe Adobe Camera Raw's handling of files from the latest generation of Olympus DSLRs was not fully optimized.

Panasonic GH1 (4.3MB, 12.0 MP) Canon EOS 500D (4.4MB, 15.1 MP)
Nikon D5000 (3.5 MB; 12.3 MP) Olympus E-620 (4.1 MB, 12.3 MP)

Panasonic GH1 Canon EOS 500D
Nikon D5000 Olympus E-620

Panasonic GH1 Canon EOS 500D
Nikon D5000 Olympus E-620

Panasonic GH1 Canon EOS 500D
Nikon D5000 Olympus E-620

Measurable results

Camera Measurement
Panasonic GH1 Horizontal LPH 2450  3900 
Vertical LPH 2400  3700 
Canon EOS 500D Horizontal LPH 2400  * 3400 
Vertical LPH 2350  * 3350 
Nikon D5000 Horizontal LPH 2350  * 3050 
Vertical LPH 2350  * 3050 
Olympus E-620 Horizontal LPH 2250  * 2650 
Vertical LPH 2250  * 2650 

* Moire 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)

When shooting in RAW the GH1's measured resolution improves quite significantly and some detail is visible up to very high frequencies. The Panasonic's extinction resolution lies even beyond the Canon EOS 500D, which comes with a three megapixel higher nominal resolution. On all our resolution test chart images in this comparison version 5.4 of Adobe's Camera RAW produces artifacts (Capture One does a slightly cleaner job on the E-620). However, almost certainly this won't be an issue in any real life images.