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10 Megapixel DSLR group test Gordon Laing, October 2006

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting

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Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi vs Nikon D80 vs Sony Alpha A100 resolution

  To measure and compare resolving power we photographed the Enhanced Digital Camera Resolution Chart with each camera, using their best quality JPEG and default image tone and sharpening settings. We have provded two sets of results: one using the kit lenses set to 35mm f8 and another with 50mm primes at their sharpest aperture setting.

The crops are taken from the original images, saved as High Quality JPEGs in Photoshop CS2 and presented here at 100%. Each number represents 100 lines per picture height (lpph), so a figure of 20 means a resolution of 2000 lpph.

Starting with the kit lenses, the Nikon D80 with the DX 18-70mm lens resolved the highest level of detail, with 2200 lpph of horizontal and vertical resolution. Just behind this came the Sony A100 which with its DT 18-70mm, resolved 2150 lpph horizontally and vertically; in practice this 50 lpph difference would be virtually invisible. Trailing behind though with a noticeably poorer result was the Canon 400D / XTi which with its EF-S 18-55mm kit lens, resolved 2000 and 2100 lpph or horizontal and vertical resolution respectively. As we'll see in the second set of results, the 400D / XTi is capable of much better and is clearly let down by its kit lens here.

Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi
Using EF-S 18-55mm
Nikon D80
Using DX 18-70mm
Sony Alpha A100
Using DT 18-70mm
2000 lpph, 18-55mm EF-S at 35mm, f8, 100 ISO
2200 lpph, DX 18-70mm at 35mm, f8, 100 ISO
2150 lpph, DT 18-70mm at 35mm, f8, 100 ISO
2100 lpph, 18-55mm EF-S at 35mm, f8, 100 ISO
2200 lpph, DX 18-70mm at 35mm, f8, 100 ISO
2150 lpph, DT 18-70mm at 35mm, f8, 100 ISO


Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi
Using Canon EF 50mm f1.8
Nikon D80
Using Nikkor AF 50mm f1.8
Sony Alpha A100
Using Sony 50mm f1.4
2150 lpph, 50mm f1.8 at f4, 100 ISO
2225 lpph, 50mm f1.8 at f4, 100 ISO
2225 lpph, 50mm f1.4 at f5.6, 100 ISO
2150 lpph, 50mm f1.8 at f4, 100 ISO
2200 lpph, 50mm f1.8 at f4, 100 ISO
2150 lpph, 50mm f1.4 at f5.6, 100 ISO

To measure what each camera was potentially capable of, we repeated the tests using high quality 50mm prime lenses at every aperture setting; we selected the result with the greatest detail for the crops above.


Switching to a better quality lens greatly improves the Canon 400D / XTi's results, with 2150 lpph of horizontal and vertical resolution respectively; as our 400D / XTi zoom lens group test proves though, you can enjoy the same resolving power with the EF-S 17-85mm or EF 17-40mm lenses.

Switching to 50mm lenses on the Nikon and Sony bodies made no difference to their vertical resolution, but saw their horizontal resolutions increase to 2225 lpph. This puts them both 75 lpph ahead of the 400D / XTi in terms of their 'potential' horizontal resolution. Since the Nikon D80 also sports the highest vertical resolution of the group, it technically ranks slightly above the Sony with the Canon coming in third place.

While there is a measurable difference between them with technical charts though, you're unlikely to notice any difference in real-life, so long as the lenses are of a sufficient standard. Once again the most noticeable difference in terms of resolution is when the Canon 400D / XTi is used with its kit lens compared to the Sony kit and the Nikon with the DX 18-70mm
Canon 400D / XTi vs Nikon D80 vs Sony A100 results continued...

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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