Ultimate Quality Test - Part 1 - Four Camera Comparison

Forget high ISO, forget speed of operation, forget versatility, which of these camera and lens combinations gives me the best image quality at the aperture I use the most, f/8 and at each cameras base, and therefore highest quality, ISO?

This was the test subject.

These are the results.

The full-size file can be downloaded from Google Drive HERE.

One thing is obvious right away. The Sigma DP2 Merrill wins hands down. There really isn't any contest as far as I'm concerned. Its clearly the sharpest and captures detail that none of the other Bayer sensors do.  

Its also interesting that the D600 despite having what might be considered the worst performing lens for its system, the 24-85mm VR zoom, still manages to be slightly sharper than the other two, the NEX-7 and OM-D which look pretty similar. The OM-D has a Panasonic 12-35mm attached and the NEX-7 a Sigma 30mm f/2.8.

There are some who argue, and have done so on the Soundimageplus Google+ page, that sharpness isn't that important. I'm not one of them. I have to earn my living in a very competitive marketplace, and in order to do that I first have to convince a picture library to put my image for sale on their website and secondly I have to keep whoever buys the image happy. I have yet to find anyone in either situation who has told me "Sorry your picture is too sharp"

Whether on not this makes a difference to how the image looks in print is immaterial. My images are assessed on a computer monitor screen and therefore it is for that medium that I have to make them look as good as possible as well as making sure that the subject matter is well composed, well exposed and is something that someone will want to buy.

Some of us might still see the print as the ultimate expression of our work, but there are many of us, including myself, who never make a print or make one very rarely. The monitor is becoming the medium by which we view our photography. It does also give us the capability to explore what we have captured in some detail. Some call this pixel-peeping. Well I've never seen anything wrong with that. For me its both a neccessity for my job and more than that its a pleasure and one that I have no intention of apologising for, indeed if people don't get pleasure in viewing their images at 100% then as far as I'm concerned that is their loss.

Part 2 of this series is the Sigma DP2 Merrill compared to my Nikon D800E.

Coming soon.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
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