Sharpest lenses for the new generation of High MP Cameras

Posted on Updated on

One of the problems with buying a new high mp camera body is the fact that many consumer zoom lenses only resolve about 5-8 mp according to DXO’s Optical score and a few points higher on the DXO Mark Score. Primes are far superior as are the expensive pro level zooms. With a 24mp DX or Full Frame camera you will see significant sharpness differences between a good prime (fixed focal length) lens and your kit zoom lens that came with your camera. Why?  Zooms have many more elements of glass and are built to a price point (pro zooms usually have better quality glass). Also your magnifying the capture more and every little defect in the lens as well as motion blur will be more evident. Even the glass itself has to work harder to pass more information per area compared to a bigger sensor with the same mp rating.  Most of us don’t need more than 10-12mp except for those times we need to crop an image or print very large. The advantage though is in resizing from 24 to 12mp or so, when you do this apparent sharpness goes up and noise becomes  finer and less visible. If you work with LR you won’t notice too much difference because your  not actually working on the file, it’s done virtually when working with a raw file. Once you export outside of LR you can just make a preset to downsize to your needs or you can just export back into the same folder with smaller files to work with  from the start. A new computer is not really needed if you work this way. Larger files will ultimately slow you down in some way, at the very least in your import and exporting.
If you don’t want more MP to deal with but want to upgrade your DSLR you have limited choices as all the new camera are now high MP. Your best bet is the Nikon D7000 or the last generation of Full Frame cameras like the Nikon D3/3S/700 or the Canon 5D or 1 series.  We are now at the point where higher MP sensors  are superior only when down sized although they may give similar noise and sharpness at 100%. Other spec are mostly only visible in measurements, that still so me progress though but just not very much. The 36mp D800e has the best IQ of any DSLR ever, it’s still noisy at high ISO unless downsized. I don’t expect any major advances until a new technology comes along in sensors. Sensors are now mature with current Bayer technology, only a bit of tweaking is left and that will probably come with even higher mp sensors.  Around 24mp seems to be the norm now for DX and FF. FF will probably still go a bit higher. Computers also need to get faster so we won’t notice the slow down with these larger files. Put a 6mp file in a modern i7 processor and it just flies.
  Here is a list of the best lenses that can be purchased new. From DXO Mark ( I have Nikon selected but you can set any brand you want). Points basically mean resolution in MP to some degree. You can do you own research as well. Zooms score much lower.  A low scoring lens will still benefit some from a higher MP camera but not much. The larger files will still look better than an uprezed low MP file but nether will have the true sharpness and detail that comes from increased resolution in the system. Croping is only beneficial if the files look sharp and clean enough to begin with. The better sharpness per pixel the better it uprezes as well when you need those larger prints.
One thing to note: The wider the lens the worse the score and the higher the price for quality. What does this mean? If your a landscape photographer high mp DX may seem like a bargain but FF will most likely deliver better IQ with wide angle from corner to corner at base ISO.  The best resolution will be stitching with a longer better scoring lens or a shifting lens. The best wide angle for ultimate resolution is still to come. There is no high scoring (36mp) ultra wide angle for DX & FF yet. The Nikon 24mm G  is about as wide as you can go and get good scores on DXO Mark with Nikon. I expect higher spec ultra wides in the near future but  they won’t be cheap,  Probably $2,000 + I hope I’m wrong on the price.
 Which one is the accurate number to use? I don’t know as its complex and not defined exactly. but at least we have a way to compare one lens against another.
This page explains how to understand the 2 scores. There are 4 categories to select from.
    The ratings vary depending on what camera you choose to be the tester. Nikon D800e gives the highest ratings due to its 36mp. The reason is that a higher resolution sensor will tend to extract more resolution from a lens even though it not up the the sensors full  demands.
  This is the DXOMark  scorewhich will be a higher averaged number then the DXO Optical Score.
Image
Model
DxOMark Score
Best at
Add to selection
1
40
f=85mm & f/1.4
2
40
f=85mm & f/1.8
3
39
f=35mm & f/1.4
4
36
f=100mm & f/2
5
36
f=85mm & f/1.4
7
35
f=85mm & f/1.8
7
35
f=85mm & f/2
8
34
f=35mm & f/2
9
34
f=35mm & f/1.4
11
34
f=35mm & f/2
11
34
f=85mm & f/1.4
12
34
f=24mm & f/1.4
Sony Cyber shot DSC RX1 lens Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1
15
33
f=35mm & f/2
17
33
f=35mm & f/2
17
33
f=28mm & f/1.8
17
33
f=35mm & f/1.4
17
33
f=85mm & f/1.8
18
33
f=85mm & f/1.4
20
33
f=85mm & f/1.4
21
32
f=50mm & f/1.4
21
32
f=105mm & f/2.8
23
32
f=50mm & f/1.4
23
32
f=50mm & f/1.4
24
32
f=35mm & f/1.4
25
32
f=85mm & f/2.8
27
31
f=50mm & f/2.8
27
31
f=50mm & f/1.8
29
31
Advertisements