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Author Topic: Would you rather have the best sensor or the sharpest lens?  (Read 9124 times)
Brian Hirschfeld
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« on: January 28, 2013, 09:26:29 PM »
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Here is something interesting. Petapixel reports that DxO Mark found that the new 24-70mm f/2.8L II "Has no peers in terms of sharpness" and it does seem to be a very good lens.
http://www.petapixel.com/2013/01/28/canon-24-70mm-f2-8l-ii-has-no-peers-in-terms-sharpness-says-dxomark/

But then, accepting DxO's ratings as gospel (whether you agree with them or not) they rank the D800e and the D800 as the best cameras
http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Ratings

Well, there is certainly a problem inherent in this since the D800 and the D800e are made by Nikon, and the apparently unbeatable 24-70mm f/2.8L II is made by Canon. This would seem to make the decision, especially when considering top models from both marques because how good is a sensor without the best glass?

If only the 24-70mm f/2.8 in question was made by Sigma, we could all be happy
^^^That was meant to be a joke, thats why it's in italics^^^
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uaiomex
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 09:41:52 PM »
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Short answer: The sharpest lens.
Best glass today will be best glass for at least a decade. Best sensors of today will be best for the next 3 years or so. In this case, I'd rather invest in good glass if I can't afford both. In my personal case as a Canon user. Since Canon is lacking now in sensor development but really excelling in lens technology, it is very logic to me to take this as an opportunity to update all my old glass and go for the best glass in the market.
Probably not the answer you expected. If I would be starting from scratch, possibly the same story. Starting as a beginner, the best sensor with the most pixels.
Eduardo

Here is something interesting. Petapixel reports that DxO Mark found that the new 24-70mm f/2.8L II "Has no peers in terms of sharpness" and it does seem to be a very good lens.
http://www.petapixel.com/2013/01/28/canon-24-70mm-f2-8l-ii-has-no-peers-in-terms-sharpness-says-dxomark/

But then, accepting DxO's ratings as gospel (whether you agree with them or not) they rank the D800e and the D800 as the best cameras
http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Ratings

Well, there is certainly a problem inherent in this since the D800 and the D800e are made by Nikon, and the apparently unbeatable 24-70mm f/2.8L II is made by Canon. This would seem to make the decision, especially when considering top models from both marques because how good is a sensor without the best glass?

If only the 24-70mm f/2.8 in question was made by Sigma, we could all be happy
^^^That was meant to be a joke, thats why it's in italics^^^
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David Sutton
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 11:02:51 PM »
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Good question and I can't disagree with Eduardo.
My answer: Neither. The one with the best bokeh and contrast.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 11:29:42 PM »
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Hi,

I would choose a good lens with the best sensor over the best lens with a lesser sensor. Why? Because I don't think there is a lot of difference between lenses, at least stopped down to f/8, where I shoot. A sensor with higher resolution will take sharpening better, produce less artifacts.

On the other hand, if I was shooting high ISO, free hand and so on I would try to find a lens that is sharp at maximum aperture and a camera with very good AF.

As things look like right now, Nikon seems to have the best sensor. They have best resolution and best DR. You cannot shoot this years bear with next years camera. Some of your subjects never come back.

Regarding Sigma, they are moving into top quality. A Swedish monthly assembled a list of the ten best lenses they have tested and they tested pretty much everything. They do their tests at Hasselblad with Hasselblads equipment. One of the Sigma macros made the list. But they say that any of three the three Sigma macros would fit. None of the Leica lenses made it to the list.

http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=sv&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=sv&ie=UTF-8&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Ftidningenfoto.se%2Fde-skarpaste-objektiven-fotos-tio-i-topp-lista%2F

Best regards
Erik

Here is something interesting. Petapixel reports that DxO Mark found that the new 24-70mm f/2.8L II "Has no peers in terms of sharpness" and it does seem to be a very good lens.
http://www.petapixel.com/2013/01/28/canon-24-70mm-f2-8l-ii-has-no-peers-in-terms-sharpness-says-dxomark/

But then, accepting DxO's ratings as gospel (whether you agree with them or not) they rank the D800e and the D800 as the best cameras
http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Ratings

Well, there is certainly a problem inherent in this since the D800 and the D800e are made by Nikon, and the apparently unbeatable 24-70mm f/2.8L II is made by Canon. This would seem to make the decision, especially when considering top models from both marques because how good is a sensor without the best glass?

If only the 24-70mm f/2.8 in question was made by Sigma, we could all be happy
^^^That was meant to be a joke, thats why it's in italics^^^
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 11:48:33 PM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

Petrus
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2013, 11:55:03 PM »
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Here is something interesting. Petapixel reports that DxO Mark found that the new 24-70mm f/2.8L II "Has no peers in terms of sharpness" and it does seem to be a very good lens.

Best midrange zoom yet. Zoom. Gets a score of 26 and ranks #103* (70-200 f:2.8 is best zoom #101). I was happy to find out that my cheap and humble Nikkor 85mm f:1.8 G is now the sharpest lens in the whole DxO lens database with a score of 35, ranking #1, costing 80% less than the new Canon. With the D800E I just got a few days ago I can say I have the worlds sharpest camera at my disposal. Now I just need to start taking those terrific landscapes instead of headshots of cats...

I would also take a sharp lens first, they last decades and the quality improvement is slow in that field compared to the innovation progress with sensors and camera bodies.

*) leafing through the DxO listing it is curious to notice that this Canon actually beats many Zeiss primes within the same focal length range. Also that the four top brands seem to now be Nikon, Sigma, Zeiss and Samyang...  Does anybody know why Leica lenses are not tested?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 12:01:40 AM by Petrus » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2013, 12:18:39 AM »
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Hi,

Just a few points.

DxO tests lenses with cameras. So their results depend on camera and sensor. Would they test lenses on the D800/D800E most of those lenses would probably be on top.

I never understood the logic behind DxO-s ranking. But you can look at their data in detail and learn a lot.

I don't know why DxO doesn't test Leica lenses, but I guess it is because the lens tests they make are mainly used to develop their lens modules used in the DxO converter.

DxO has themselves pointed out that Zeiss lenses are not really the best lenses in each group. Some are on top some less so. I'd suggest that there are many very fine lenses around.

Interestingly, LensRentals is doing a lot of tests as they test all lenses coming in. Lens rentals generally seems to find that the Zeiss lenses are best and they may also have less sample variations than others.

The old Canon 24-70/2.8 had a problem with a couple of bushings wearing out and lost sharpness horribly. If you have a 24-70/2.8 L lens with considerable wobble on the fron element you may consider sending it for repair.

Best regards
Erik


Best midrange zoom yet. Zoom. Gets a score of 26 and ranks #103* (70-200 f:2.8 is best zoom #101). I was happy to find out that my cheap and humble Nikkor 85mm f:1.8 G is now the sharpest lens in the whole DxO lens database with a score of 35, ranking #1, costing 80% less than the new Canon. With the D800E I just got a few days ago I can say I have the worlds sharpest camera at my disposal. Now I just need to start taking those terrific landscapes instead of headshots of cats...

I would also take a sharp lens first, they last decades and the quality improvement is slow in that field compared to the innovation progress with sensors and camera bodies.

*) leafing through the DxO listing it is curious to notice that this Canon actually beats many Zeiss primes within the same focal length range. Also that the four top brands seem to now be Nikon, Sigma, Zeiss and Samyang...  Does anybody know why Leica lenses are not tested?
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 12:29:54 AM »
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My answer: Neither. The one with the best bokeh and contrast.

Agreed, look is more important than absolute resolution.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
Petrus
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 12:42:10 AM »
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DxO tests lenses with cameras. So their results depend on camera and sensor. Would they test lenses on the D800/D800E most of those lenses would probably be on top.

For that reason it is prudent to compare only tests done with 3DX to tests done with 5D2 or 5D3, if comparing Nikon and Canon glass.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 04:13:53 AM »
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Yes.




For that reason it is prudent to compare only tests done with 3DX to tests done with 5D2 or 5D3, if comparing Nikon and Canon glass.
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MrSmith
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« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2013, 04:52:34 AM »
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lens every time. Would rather work round any limitation in the sensor than try to fix abhorations afterwards.
I couldn't give a toss about contrast or what out of focus areas are like.
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Sareesh Sudhakaran
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« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 05:07:48 AM »
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I don't classify the two things as separate: After all, neither a lens nor a sensor can operate without the other. If only someone had the time and money to test every lens and camera combination!

The number one image-performer in the world: Canikon 9000DX with a 35mm f/1 ultracrapon lens at f/2.8 1/1000s at ISO 50 with the RAWpee processor with a list of settings for ultimate sharpness. Then, we can all use the exact same setting for our photos, or Sonyang can make a compact out of it and rid us of the pain of self discovery.
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scooby70
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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2013, 09:18:04 AM »
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I think I must be easy to please regarding lens sharpness but didn't someone say long ago that lens sharpness wasn't an issue? If it was true then in these days of computer aided design, exotic materials and precision manufacturing it must be truer than ever.

Lens wise the specification such as the max aperture, USM or not etc. matter to me as does the overall look including bokeh and what also matters is the experience of using the lens, ultimate sharpness matters less so.

Sensor wise (or perhaps some of these things are more to do with other bits of the camera) it'd be nice to have one that allowed ISO 100 (some don't seem to offer it these days) and a nice dynamic range and good noise performance.
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langier
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« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2013, 11:59:30 AM »
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From Ted Orland's Photographic Truths poster:

When man invents a sharper lens, nature invents a fuzzier subject.
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Larry Angier
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NancyP
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2013, 02:35:39 PM »
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Best lens. I think that there are more rapid engineering advances in sensor technology. I have a Canon 60D and some classic L glass (70-200mm f/4 L IS, 400mm f/5.6L). That glass will move with me to the next iteration of APS-C sensor for birding and action photography. All that said, bring on the 7D2 with improved sensor noise, f/8 autofocus, and the current best AF algorithms and burst rate.

As for best sensor plus sharpest lens, for landscapes, I have the DP2M.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2013, 02:53:02 PM »
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Hi,

I just made a small experiment. I'm playing with MF lenses on DSLRs. So I put a not very good Pentax 67 lens on my Sony Alpha 77 APS-C camera and very good Sonnar 150/ 4 on my full frame Alpha 99. The Alpha 77 has 1.5 times the resolution of the Alpha 99. If I check MTF at say 40 lp/mm I would have:

Sony Alpha 77 + Pentax 67 lens:   MTF 40 lp/mm    46%
Sony Alpha 99 + Sonnar 150/4 lens: MTF 40 lp/mm 40%

My guess is that the Nikon D800 and the Nikon zoom would give better results than the Canon 24-70/2.8LII on todays Canon. But I don't think you shift makes that easily. Also, I actually think most stuff is good enough.

Best regards
Erik
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AFairley
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« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2013, 03:38:28 PM »
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Serendipitously, Roger over at lensrentals.com has just addressed with with the respective 24-70s on the Canon 5DIII and Nikon 800E.  He gives the nod to the Nikon combo although the Canon is the superior lens.  http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/01/a-24-70mm-system-comparison.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2013, 03:46:23 PM »
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Thanks!

Erik

Serendipitously, Roger over at lensrentals.com has just addressed with with the respective 24-70s on the Canon 5DIII and Nikon 800E.  He gives the nod to the Nikon combo although the Canon is the superior lens.  http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/01/a-24-70mm-system-comparison.
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Ray
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« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2013, 09:23:51 PM »
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I think it is underappreciated just how much additional sharpness and detail a high resolution sensor can produce from any lens whatever its quality.

Part of the reason for this underappreciation is due to the fact that most manufacturers tend to dribble out small increases in sensor pixel count so there's no significant increase in resolution, due to the sensor, that's obvious.

For example, within the Canon APS-C range, I progressed from 6mp to 8mp to 10mp to 15mp. The next upgrade, the 18mp 7D, is a mere 3mp more, which I didn't buy because Nikon seemed to be offering a level of performance which I preferred.

The biggest jump in pixel count in the Canon models is between the 10mp of the 40D and the 15mp of the 50D.  Having taken the trouble to compare resolution, visually, using a good prime, such as the Canon 50/1.4, I found that the 50D produces sharper and more detailed images at all F/stops (except F22) to an extent which is so obvious that, were I testing different lenses in a shop before buying, using the 50D, and I saw such differences, there would be no doubt at all which lens I would prefer.

In fact, I'm asking myself the question if any prime lens exists, at any price, which could match, when used on the 10mp 40D, the level of detail possible with an average zoom used at the same focal length on the 15mp 50D, using each lens at its sharpest aperture of course.

I doubt such a lens exists.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2013, 04:31:39 AM »
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I think it is underappreciated just how much additional sharpness and detail a high resolution sensor can produce from any lens whatever its quality.

Hi Ray,

That's correct. What people seem to underappreciate is that when a good lens projects a given image quality on 2 sensors with only a different sensel pitch (and thus sampling density), the resolution jumps almost proportionally to the difference in sensel pitch.

A high quality lens will benefit more from the denser sampling than a lower quality lens, and the combined system MTF will be higher with a good lens. Therefore in general, resolution is determined by sampling density, MTF response is determined by lens quality.

In the 2 attachments I show the effects between a good lens which produces an effective blur radius of 0.7 sigma, and a mediocre lens which produces an effective blur radius of 0.9, under otherwise the same conditions. The loss of MTF response for the lower quality lens can be somewhat restored by deconvolution Capture sharpening, the resolution can not be created where there was none to begin with. Obviously, the combination of a good lens and a high sampling density will produce the best results.

Therefore sensor resolution will contribute to increasing image quality as sensor generations (and time) go(es) by, and I would therefoer first start with getting a better lens because it will probably last for several sensor generations. What's more, the proportional resolution jump from denser sampling can already be achieved by using a longer focal length (assuming the longer focal length quality is also good) and the use of stitching to increase the field of view. So good lens quality always pays off, now and in the future. A good lens will probably also exhibit overall better image quality, e.g. improved glare resistance and more pleasing bokeh.

Cheers,
Bart
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scooby70
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2013, 02:35:51 PM »
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But does all this really matter?

It's a question that we have to answer for ourselves. Personally I've never printed an image larger than A3 and most of my images are printed a lot smaller than that, if they're printed at all.

At the moment I'm perfectly happy with the images my 5D and G1 (at lower ISO's) produce when mated with any lens I own. Even my Rokkor and Zuiko lenses give me images that look perfectly sharp enough when mated to my G1. I really can't complain about sharpness or resolution. Maybe I'm easy to please.
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