D5200 higher resolution to D800 for lens evaluations?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ron_togger, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. Now I know this is neither here nor there in terms of practical photography but...
    ..with a higher pixel density at a DX size, does the D5200 not provide a potentially more challenging test for lenses compared with a D800 (at least in the DX area)? Since the D800/E, critical sharpness tests have been based on that camera, but if you think about it, the D5200 is actually higher res within DX and would presumably show more detail in that portion of the image. Of course, this is not taking into account other factors like noise, colour depth and obvious advantage of FX. Just pure pixel-per-square-centimeter resolution...
  2. Yes, if you're intending to use the lens on a high resolution DX camera, it is best to look at tests made with a comparable camera. However, for FX users the D800(E) is a good standard as it includes the weakest parts of the image area recorded by those cameras. Some test sites do both.
  3. ...I was also thinking there may be circumstances where a smaller but comparatively "denser" 5200 sensor may actually yield better practical results, the obvious example being macro photography where lens magnification and working distance limitations may be compensated by a higher pixel density bringing more detail to objects which wouldn't fill an FX frame anyway...
  4. Pixel peeping can be a waste of time anyway if you never print really huge, as is the case with most of us.
    That's one problem (people measure too much and photograph too little I think)
    Also, it's useless to text an FX lens on a DX camera if you have any interest in how the corners might be on FX.
    If you're only going to use a lens on DX, test it rigorously on what you have. I've done that every time I've bought a lens.
  5. Those are completely different cameras. If you have a DX camera you'd want to see lens tests on DX cameras and if you
    have an FX camera you'd want to see tests from FX cameras.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    When I reviewed the Nikon 80-400mm AF-S VR lens last year, I checked it on both the D800E and D7100:
    • The D7100 has higher pixel density, as the OP here notices. In the DX crop mode, the D800E yeilds approximately a 15MP image. Therefore, its pixel density is even a bit lower than the 16MP D7000/D5100.
    • However, the D800E uses the entire FX frame. Therefore, it uses the edges and corners from the image cicle, where it tends to be the weakest.
    In other words, both are demanding on the optics, but in different ways.
  7. Ron: Yes. I do think the D5x00 series are the best options that Nikon supports when it comes to macro photography. The pixel density is a good thing (getting closer than 1:1 to compensate is a faff), you don't usually need the low light performance/reduced depth of field of an FX camera, and the flip-out screen comes in handy. The same is also true, but slightly less so, for long distance shots (you can carry a shorter lens because the pixel density/crop is your teleconverter) - but it's more common for the low light and finder advantages of an FX camera to counter that.
  8. The issue of DX versus FX and macro photography is quite complex Ron. If you're simply after filling the frame with a given subject area - a postage stamp for example - then DX might show an advantage due to having a greater DoF (lower magnification) for a given aperture, and hence needing less aperture compensation. However, if the subject is 3 dimensional and the aperture has to be stopped down considerably, then the FX image might well have better definition due to a comparatively lower diffraction effect. I suspect that in most practical macro situations the image resolution will be diffraction limited, rather than by pixel density.
    Ignoring diffraction effects, the argument in favour of pixel density could be extended to compact cameras with 14 megapixels plus squeezed into an area less than one quarter of the DX frame size. But that would be ridiculous, wouldn't it?
    Basically Ron.... it's complicated.
  9. RJ: Bear in mind that a DX camera is the equivalent of an FX camera of the same pixel count with a perfect 1.5x teleconverter attached (and with the ISO value and aperture change cancelling out). Using DX is no worse than cropping a region from an FX camera, and pixel density is rarely a bad thing in macro. Yes, you could be diffraction limited, but you were using a decent macro lens and focus stacking anyway, yes? :) It's as good a way as any of getting to the same level of detail - stick a teleconverter on an FX camera and you'd be just as diffraction-limited.

    Would you get the same pixel crispness as with a lower-density FX camera? Probably not. Still, I'd take what I can get. It's why I'm mildly disappointed that the D800 doesn't have a central 24MP zone surrounded by an area of its current density, so that the best of both world coexist in one camera. I'd be more disappointed if I trusted my AF system a bit more!
  10. I do think the D5x00 series are the best options that Nikon supports when it comes to macro photography.
    One issue with using the D5x00 for macro and close-ups is that AFAIK there is no M-UP functionality (correct me if I'm wrong) i.e. if you want to time shots precisely (e.g. wildflowers swaying slightly, water movement covering ice and then revealing it a second later) you have no mirror lockup (with live view in recent cameras mirror stays up but there is a considerable delay before the shot is taken). So I'd take the D7100 to get M-UP. Also, to make a good special purpose macro camera, electronic first curtain shutter would probably be welcomed by users. I might get an A7 for macro but the issue is that it cannot control the PC-E lenses so for me it would not be ideal.
    getting closer than 1:1 to compensate is a faff
    What do you mean? Extremely interesting subject matter can be photographed at high magnifications as this is where subjects that can not be seen with the naked eye are revealed. With focus stacking the depth of field also is not as much of a problem as it used to be, though this requires a stationary subject to work well. Is this
    "faff"? Anyway, DX makes it easier to get enough working distance for macro, but I find the optical aberrations of lenses sometimes to cause some problems (CA in particular) on that format; the useful aperture range is more limited (by aberrations in the large aperture end, and diffraction towards small apertures), and the ISO range that gives high quality results is also a bit more limited (again, wildflowers come to mind, where high ISO in the evening light can be very useful). However, if you have the right lens you can get a bit more working distance on DX, it's just a question of what lenses you have. I find the 200 Micro to be excellent on FX but not so much on DX. On the other hand with microscope lenses the DX format may be easier to cover, and there may be a bit more room for movements (with tilt/shift bellows) when using the DX format, e.g. with the 75mm Apo-Rodagon-D.
  11. Ilkka: Good point about the lock-up; the D7100 is indubitably a bit nicer, but also bigger, more expensive, and lacks the flip-out screen.

    By "faff", I simply meant that the pixel density of a 24MP DX DSLR means that you can get more detail from an affordable 1:1 macro lens. Sure, you can get closer by extension tubes, diopters, bellows, reversing rings, attaching to a microscope... and it's not ridiculously difficult to do any of these (I even had extension tubes - for Canon, where they were easy - and have a diopter or two) but a macro lens is simple and usually as good a quality option as is available. They're designed to do what you're asking them to do. I suspect that keeping 24MP of detail when enlarging a 1:1 macro up to an additional 1.5x, to match the effect of putting the same lens on a DX camera, is going to be tricky. But I've not actually done a side-by-side comparison, so maybe I know nothing (John Snow).

    Of course, if everyone was using a Coastal Optics macro...
  12. Don't forget the dynamic range of the D800 that the D5200 doesn't have. You can see more issues and fun things with a higher dynamic range sensor and also the greater coverage area of the D800. The D5200 only shows a portion of the image circle and that's generally where things things go awry, like with coma, blur, CA and the like.

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