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80 Megapixels— Similar Lens Demands to Realize Potential of the Sensor

Alfred C writes in response to my post on downsampling and binning:

What the D800 and D4 also show, and this should be a support for your comments, is that users finally pay for what they need.

Super tough, super fast, pro grade equipment in the case of the D4 vs a more practical sized and built all rounder body in the D800. All-rounder is meant in many ways here and to that point, most importantly, it is PRICED that way.

Let me illustrate that last point. You know I love medium format, but boy, does one have to have the means to do so. Testing the PhaseOne IQ180 recently on my Hasselblad H4X I found it nothing short of sensational— and for $47 grand it better be.

However, after reading your comments and emails, when looking at what the available Hasselblad H lenses can produce in terms of resolution even I started thinking a bit.

Perhaps no more than 2 or three of the Hasselblad lens line could potentially use the 80MP chip center to border, all other things like shooting technique being perfect.

This is a narrow way of looking at it, but it is one way. Of course, the logic of down sampling applies there, too, however, I would argue that one buys medium format for ultimate image quality AND resolution (like hitherto the D3X in 35 land, a camera I love), so paying 10 to 15 grand more between a 50 or 60MP back which lenses can actually resolve, and 80MP in that sense seems a crazy price to pay for being able to down sample, so to speak. (yes, the chip is different, too, and may have more mojo than it's smaller brothers ... but you must be able to extract it ...).

Same could be argued before between a D3 and D3X. Looking at it one way,you paid nearly twice the price for twice the resolution, which ultimately needed the best lenses to be put to use, or was the price to pay for being able to over sample. Steep, for the latter.

In other words, and this is what I am driving at, the D800 is a very good value proposition, it is a killer product. Even if you don't really use or have the glass to use the resolution just yet, the margin you pay isn't that much (1000$? over what exactly?). What would be the competitor? ( about 1/4 to 1/2 of a really good lens).

Electronics should be the cheaper side of the equation anyways, they are throwaways, opto - mechanics (lenses) will never be throw-away and may keep their value (Leica!).

So, why not use a "not such a super duper glass" on it for the odd moment of convenience? Or untill you have that super piece of optics you want. The mark up you pay for the flexibility has just shrunk considerably.

DIGLLOYD: I agree on the technical and value points above— cameras are an accessory that depreciates rapidly— lenses are an investment. Spend the money on the best lenses and don’t buy more camera than you need, since a year or two later a better camera will come along. In this sense, the D800 and D800E hit a delicious sweet spot; while $3K is hardly cheap, it’s a lot friendlier than the $8K of the Nikon D3x. And we are not talking about consumer gear here, but serious gear here, and to play that game is a $10K deal with a right proper body and lenses to exploit it.

As far as Hasselblad lenses, I completely agree. It was clear to me when I reviewed the Hasselbled H4D that the lenses were far from capable (even at f/8) of delivering detail to the full sensor. This is why the medium format system of choice I would choose would be the Leica S2— its lenses can deliver a true 36 megapixels without breaking a sweat, in most cases even wide-open. All that’s needed is a 60MP Leica S3, and that will blow anything else out of the water in terms of realizable detail with all its lenses.


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