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Which is Better, Food or Water? (or wine) — Sony Alpha A7R III Pixel Shift vs Nikon D850 'Focus shift shooting'

See my Sony wish list and get Sony A7R III at B&H Photo.

45-megapixel Nikon D850

See my growing review of the Nikon D850 in Advanced DSLR as well as Sony Alpha A7R III: Pixel Shift Facts.

Some readers have asked: “Which is better, pixel shift or focus stacking”?

Which is better, food or water? I’ll start with some vivid analogies:

  • You’re severely dehydrated in the middle of the desert. You couldn’t care less about food, which could not be digested anyway, due to dehydration. F*** food, if water is not found, heatstroke and then death are ahead. Drinking your own urine isn’t effective, as already determined by unpleasant experimentation. Not that there is any left to imbibe.
  • You’re in the arctic with ample fuel for melting snow for water. You’re out of food. You don’t give a shit about water—you’re so hungry your ribs are showing and having trouble staying warm with all clothing on—another week and you’re polar bear fare, if not sooner from weakness. Unless you have a nice heavy caliber firearm that you can hold steady in half-alive condition and not just piss off the bear—gotta be a head or heart or lung shot for such beasts.
  • You are somewhere far away from McDonald’s or any source of water, dehydrated and hungry to the point of starvation. You stumble upon a hut conveniently located in the middle of nowhere, stocked with fuel, food and water. You’re now like a pig in shit, after kindling a fire and drinking and then eating (and then barfing from doing it too fast).

Pixel shift and focus shift are like that, sort of:

  • Some applications benefit hugely from pixel shift by effectively increasing resolution, depth of field being a secondary or non-consideration. Studio work for example. But many situations are troublesome from the hideously ugly to the unobvious but throw-away category. Since movement including lighting, anything but glass-still water, etc—all screw the pooch with pixel shift.
  • MANY applications benefit from focus stacking (macro shooting, near-far landscape, etc). This can generally be used reliably, even if some touch-up is needed. Using pixel shift with focus stacking is also possible if an M x N problem multiplier is to your liking: one bad pixel shift shot (movement or lighting changes), and the whole stacking sequence has problems. Or you can retouch in a blurry one.
  • Some applications can benefit from both (studio work comes to mind). Windless days with constant lighting, no moving water or waves or clouds or grass or leaves or chipmunks or sparkles or a myriad of things that change in the outdoors.

Maybe that answers reader questions about “which is better”.

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