This page discusses the resolving power of the 12MP Nikon D3s to the 24MP D3x. With twice the pixel count, the D3x offers 1.4X the linear resolution, or does it?
Many factors contribute to actual detail as recorded in an image—
- Optical performance must be top-notch to realize the benefits of more pixels, so I used the Zeiss ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar, my reference lens for this sort of comparison. It offers a flat field with consistent sharpness across the frame, corner to corner. Few lenses match it, and I know of none that better it.
- Focus must be exact. I shot more than one series. Very little variation was seen, but I chose the series that at f/2 showed the best results; the results are at f/5.6.
- The camera anti-aliasing (blur) filter reduces resolvable detail to reduce moiré. Sharpening can restore some of it, but not all of it.
- Exposure and contrast must be well matched.
- Resolution is actually of little meaning without specifying contrast (MTF). Since lenses drop in contrast at higher frequencies (resolutions), the actual and perceived detail can be lens limited. Though sharpening during and after RAW-file processing can enhance contrast to show latent detail, it’s not a panacea.
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