Last week camera testing service DxOMark announced that the Nikon D800 had earned the highest sensor quality score ever awarded. Roger Cicala of LensRentals wanted to see for himself how much of an advantage the D800′s 36.3MP sensor had over its competition, so he did some sensor resolution tests on the camera, comparing it to the Canon 5D Mark III, 5D Mark II, and Nikon D700. His conclusion?
[...] there’s no question the D800 can actually get those pixels to show up in the final product (assuming your final product is a big print – they’re going to be wasted posting on your Facebook page). But you’d better have some really good glass in front of it. I don’t think the 28-300 superzooms are going to cut it with this camera.
In the real world, highest possible resolution is nice to know about and talk about, but usually not of critical importance compared to other factors. You’ll be able to make superb images with any decent lens for an 8 X 10 or even 11 X 16 print. But if you’re getting the camera because of the resolution, it makes sense to know which lenses will allow all of that resolution to be utilized. Just in case you get that job that needs billboard sized prints.
As you might know, different copies of the same lens can vary in quality, and some people go as far as to purchase multiple copies to pick the sharpest one before returning the others. Roger Cicala over at LensRentals wanted to quantify exactly how much variation actually exists between copies of the same lens, so he subjected some to Imatest quality tests:
[...] while the Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L lens is a bit sharper than the other two on average, not every copy is. If someone was doing a careful comparative review there’s a fair chance they could get a copy that wasn’t any sharper than the other two lenses. I think this explains why two careful reviewers may have slightly different opinions on a given lens.
That’s interesting to think about. Two highly objective reviews of the same lens could come to different conclusions about relative sharpness compared to other lenses, simply because there are differences among copies of that lens. Too bad reviews are usually based on a single copy of a lens, rather than the average performance of multiple copies.
Notes on Lens and Camera Variation [LensRentals]
You know you’re ballin’ as a photographer when you can use your lens collection to play a giant game of chess.
The complete 32 piece set includes 70-200 f/2.8 pawns, 600mm f/4 Kings and 500mm f4 Queens, 400mm f/2.8 Bishops, 300mm f/2.8 Knights, and 200mm f/2.0 Rooks in black (Nikon) and white (Canon). [#]
If you don’t have a complete set of lenses to make your own set, you can rent a set for a week from LensRentals for $9,221 (not including shipping, which will cost you between $1,100 and $2,400).
One of the benefits of running a gear rental business is that you have a ton of equipment you can use for random experiments. That’s exactly what Roger Cicala, the owner of LensRentals, did with the UV filters he had on hand. One-upping the 19 filter stack we shared a while back, he mounted 50 different UV filters to a Canon 5D Mark II and 300 f/4 lens to see what the resulting images would look like.