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Nikon D7000 Sharpness versus FX
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November 2010      More Nikon Reviews     Nikon Lens Reviews     Nikon Comparisons

Nikon D7000 Review

Nikon D3s Review

Nikon D3 Review

Nikon D700 Review


Introduction         top

Let's compare the Nikon D7000 (16MP, DX) to Nikon's 12MP professional FX cameras.

In this case, I used a Nikon D3 (12MP FX), which has the same sensor as the D700, and the same resolution as the D3s.

I shot each with the sharpest lens possible, each with the same angle of view, and then show these greatly enlarged crops from identically-sized prints. These gallery-sized prints would be 50 x 33" (125 x 85cm), if printed in their entirety, as seen on a standard (100DPI) monitor.

Here goes. Roll your mouse over to compare:

Enlarged crops from gallery-sized prints. Roll mouse over to compare.

Here's the other image for you folks viewing on the Apple iPhone or iPod touch:

Nikon D3


At smaller sizes, these differences would be less obvious.

The prints from which these crops are taken are over four feet wide; would you look at prints this big this close? Probably not.


Analysis         top

It's clear that more pixels in the D7000 equals more resolution than fewer pixels in FX. Actually, I didn't expect it to be this obvious, and I used a 23-year-old beat-up plastic AF lens from 1987 on the D7000!

Most lenses used optimally will show this same difference between these cameras.

If you use lenses that aren't sharp enough to make use of either camera's maximum resolution, or use them improperly by stopping them down beyond f/5.6, then that's your fault, not the camera's.


Teknik         top

These images are shown at the same size, shot from the same place, with lenses of equal angle-of-view, at the same aperture. These are huge enlargements: this synthetic reference vegetation is at 200 meters (600 feet)!

The same equivalent focal length was used for each camera, and I with the sharpest prime lens in existence for each camera: The 1987 Nikon AF MICRO-NIKKOR 55mm f/2.8 for the D7000, and the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4 G for the D3.

The 55/2.8 MICRO-NIKKOR is the sharpest lens made for Nikon, and likewise, the 85mm f/1.4G, with the same angle-of-view on FX, is Nikon's sharpest 85mm lens. in both cases, either of these lenses is far sharper than the camera can show; we're seeing the camera's limitations here, not anything related to the test conditions or lenses.

Each was shot at the Daylight white balance setting. I turned off shadow and highlight optimization.

Picture Control was amped-out as I usually shoot: VIVID and +3 saturation, and sharpening at 6.

Each was shot at f/5.6 on a tripod, at each camera's standard ISO: ISO 100 for the D7000 and ISO 200 for the D3. At 200 meters (600 feet), f/5.6 is both the sharpest aperture for these diffraction-limited lenses, and the depth-of-field is more than enough for the very narrow range of subject distances seen here.

The D7000 image is shown at 100% pixel-to-pixel, and the D3 image is shown at the same size. The D3 file had to be enlarged about 15% to be the same size as the D7000 image; I used Photoshop CS5 (bicubic) to ensure a meaningful comparison.

To show each camera fairly, I used actual images directly from each camera. If I had shot raw data instead, I would have needed to process each file with software to turn that data into a visible image, which also would have shown differences in each piece of software's interpretation as well as differences between cameras. Unknown to most casual users is that even if I used the same software, say Adobe Camera Raw, it processes files from different cameras differently. By using real JPGs, we can see exactly what each camera is doing. Feel free to run your own experiments with raw data if you prefer. Sharper renditions will enhance detail, but exaggerate noise, and vice versa. Ditto for differences in letting Adobe or whoever do the noise reduction instead of the cameras themselves in JPG. If you want these results in raw data, shoot it yourself and please share with us the results as I do. Hint: As of today, 09 November 2010, Adobe Camera Raw can't read the D7000 raw files, which I had planned to use.


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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

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