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Nikon D3 vs Nikon D3x resolution

See also Jan 4 entry. My DAP review of the Nikon D3x is more than just a review; it imparts a lot of useful working knowledge, and not just relevant to the D3x. For example, what role does noise play in the D3x vs the D3? Do you really need a D3 if you have a D3x? Canon EOS 5D Mark II and 1Ds Mark III noise comparisons are coming soon to DAP.

What many people want to know is how a D3x resolution compares to a D3. DAP covers this question, including larger crops and access to RAW files, as well as many more areas.

Images below were taken with the Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro (see review), one of the world’s best lenses.

Here are D3x and D3 crops. Note how much larger the D3x really is; numbers don’t sink in the same way seeing it does. Both images were processed with RAW Developer 1.8.2 to extract maximal detail, and both are very fine results.

Nikon D3x (left) vs D3 (right) actual pixels
Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro @ f/5.6

Compare the Nikon D3 image scaled up to match the D3x image. There are various techniques for upscaling (bicubic sharper was used here), but no technique can invent detail or overcome this large a gap in performance.

Nikon D3x (left) vs D3 (right) actual pixels
Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro @ f/5.6

What happens when we downsample the 24.4MP D3x image to 12.1MP D3 resolution, a 70.37% linear reduction? The D3x is a better 12.1MP camera than the D3 is; downsampling adds clarity and reduces digital artifacts. These images were made at f/11 and ISO 1600; better results are possible at f/5.6, and at each ISO the effect is the same. It’s not a subject-specific effect, it occurs in every comparison I make. Mouse over the D3x image (left) to see the D3 image, also shown at right. Observe the clarity of fine detail on the word “per” and “10 Vitamins and Minerals”, and the lack of aliasing and “fly specks” with the D3x version.

Nikon D3x (left) vs D3 (right) actual pixels
Mouse over D3x image to see D3 image
Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro @ f/11

Below is another example; the effect of downsampling the D3x image is as if the Bayer de-mosaicing artifacts have been eliminated.


Nikon D3x (left) vs D3 (right)
Mouse over D3x image to see D3 image
Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro @ f/11

To make it more easier to see just how clean the D3x image is when downsampled, here are the same crops at 200% (you need a modern browser that does quality scaling).

Nikon D3x (left) vs D3 (right) 200%
Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro @ f/11

In practice, this difference means that the 24.4MP of D3x resolution can be used to smaller prints with ultra-clean detail, free of most typical digital artifacts.

One thing is very clear about the desirability of ultra high resolution DSLRs: a 60 megapixel DSLR could be used to make 30 megapixel images of stunning clarity by downsampling (either in camera or in post-processing). The example shown above looks strikingly similar to the results seen in the monochrome vs color sensor I showed in my July 27, 2007 blog entry.

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