Does the D800 sensor out-resolve my lenses?

Does the D800 sensor out-resolve my lenses? Or in other words, are lenses limiting the sensor performance of the D800. Besides the ISO performance that was the next hot D800 topic over at [NR] prior to it’s release. For the lazy out there: My lenses do not limit the camera. Or again the other way around, the D800 does not out-resolve my Nikkor lenses.

For a closer look, here is what I did. First of all I’ve use the method described on the openphotographyforums and here. Printing and pinning up the chart is done in seconds. I’ve started out with 25x the focal length as a distance between chart and cam. Unfortunately at this (close) distance my printer is the weakest link in the chain. So I’ve moved to 50x focal length and took pictures using my

  • AF-S NIKKOR 35 mm 1:1,4G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 85 mm 1:1,4G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24-70 mm 1:2,8G ED (@50mm, @70mm)
  • AF-S NIKKOR 70-200 mm 1:2,8G ED VR II (@70mm)

I ended up with pictures like the following one. You’ll notice that I’ve used a centered chart and one slightly off center. That way I could judge whether lens edge/corner performance has anything to do with the issue.
[exzo url=”” title=”Resolution Test Setup (50x focal length) – A Photographic Masterpiece”]D800_Sharp_002.jpg[/exzo]

With the 50x focal length setup I took pictures for each lens, starting with the lowest aperture (f1.4/f2.8), increasing in full stops till i reached the maximum aperture (f16/f22). Comparing those pictures in Lightroom I quickly noticed that the maximum resolution of the system does not depend on the aperture. From among the pictures I than selected the sharpest one (f8/f5.6) and exported them to Photoshop. Overlaying the images and measuring the blur center, I concluded what I’ve said above: in my optical chain the D800 still seems to be the limiting factor.

Here some examples with different lenses and precisely the same blur center.
[zonoex url=”” title=”Result for the AF-S NIKKOR 50 mm 1:1,4G”]Sharp_50.jpg[/zonoex]
[zonoex url=”” title=”Result for the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70 mm 1:2,8G ED @50mm”]Sharp_70_50.jpg[/zonoex]
[zonoex url=”” title=”Result for the AF-S NIKKOR 85 mm 1:1,4G”]Sharp_85.jpg[/zonoex]

2 Responses [Umgekehrte Reihenfolge]

  1. krish

    does taking quality photos matters with the camera lenses? what is actually the best camera lens one must have? there are so many camera brands available at the market, can you suggest which one gives a clearer and quality picture?


  2. Mohamamd Afnan

    thanks for sharing it..its really great post.