Sunday, December 2, 2012

Is Nikon P7700 Sharp Enough For You?

MOST PHOTOGRAPHERS are obsessed with sharpness their cameras and lenses able to produce.  Not that it is a bad thing, most photos look better when it is sharp; especially when it is enlarged.

In my younger days as a newspaper photographer in the 70 and 80s, I was super obsess with sharpness of my shots; for a reason.

Ink on news prints was NOT a effective way to display your masterpiece in all its sharpness and glory, to get a "nice" rendition of your work on Page One; your shot better be damn sharp to begin with!

Photoshop? What Photoshop?

We had to resort using the best camera and lenses we can afford, train our eyes to focus our optics spot on; a good enlarger with good enlarging lens... there were so many variables that along the way your image sharpness can be compromised!

A really sharp picture of The Bird Man of Penang, 1975 Thaipusam festival, shot with a Nikon F2 and the incredibly sharp Nikkor 20mm f3.5 lens. A fill in flash was used. The Kodak Tri-X black and white film was processed in D76. Look at the lovely tonal range! © C.Y.Leow/The Star

Old Habit...

Old habit die hard I suppose ;)

Today I am still itching to find out "how sharp" my cameras and lenses compare with one another!

Mind you, my test is NOT scientific but I try my best to keep the variables small.  For instance, it is silly trying to compare two full frame DSLR but with a known crappy lens on one of them!

Back to the Nikon Coolpix P7700 "advanced" point and shoot :)

This picture was shot at the Hobbit launch last Wednesday with my P7700 zoomed to 200 mm_e, @ f8 and 1/80. ISO was set at 80.

Notice the white band on her hand holding the flag?  I did a 200% crop...

WOW!  I got a mild shock... that was from a TINY sensor (1/1.7" or 7.44 x 5.58 mm).  The result also tell me the 28-200 mm_e f2/4 lens is probably sharpest at it's 200 mm_e position.

This morning I took the P7700 to my favorite lens testing ground...

P7700 @ 28 mm_e, f8 1/200; ISO 100.
100% crop, disappointingly SOFT! 
The 28 mm_e is not the optimum for this lens then!
This was shot at 200 mm_e, same f8 and ISO 100. Was that sharper?
Much better! Still a "layer" of hazy softness which could be the atmosphere at that moment. This can be easily fix in Photoshop ;)
I shot this at Oriental Parade, not far from my lens test; I cranked the P7700 lens to it's full 200 mm_e, at this focal length I can only get f4. I am still getting too much DOF due to the tiny sensor.
What did that tell me? The zoom lens on this little P7700 is best use at f4 or f5.6, at f8 there is probably too much diffraction to give less sharpness.
I shot this at my driver's seat, through the windscreen; auto-color in Photoshop removed the green tint from the image. 185 mm_e, f4.
Still in my car, through the windscreen; max 200 mm_e, f4.
That 100% crop is NOT BAD at all!! The P7700 auto focus seems to be spot on even though there is a thick car windscreen in front! Bravo Nikon!!

Famous Last Words...

It has been a fun 90 minutes in the cold Wellington sun, testing the Nikon P7700... this small wonder is hard to beat, watch out; Canon!

A friend just bought himself a spanking new Nikon D800!  Where sharpness is concern, our friend wants more and some more ;)

After getting his new toy, our friend went a testing and comparing between his Pixels King and his Olympus OM-D. It just happened that a friend who was with him have a Canon 5D, he included that in the test.

He gave me a DVD with the test shots and asked for my opinion, here is my summary...

Canon 5D with EF 24-70 f2.8L lens    ISO 500   f22 1/60 sec  @ 58mm
Olympus OM-D E-M5 with OLYMPUS M.45mm F1.8 lens
ISO 200  f4.5 1/500 sec  90mm_e.

These are the 200% crops... surprise yourself ;)
Canon 5D
It look like the "half frame" OM-D beat the heck out of the "full frame" Canon 5D!  Right?

I can hear the Canon fan boys screaming blue murder! "NOT FAIR! NOT FAIR!!"  Ha ha ha...

Lets look at the EXIF data of the two shots again...

5D          ISO 500   f22  1/60 sec   24-70 f2.8L lens

OM-D    ISO 200    f4.5  1/500 sec   45 (90 mm_e) PRIME lens

I suppose you can see the discrepancies of the comparison?

To "Compare apple with apple", both ISO, f stop; shutter speed, lenses should be the same; if  you have to use 45 mm prime on the OM-D, it is only fair that the 5D will have the Canon 100 mm prime; NOT a zoom.

As it is here, the Canon 5D was at a definite disadvantage; shooting at f22 with that zoom will give you the MAXIMUM REFRACTION to SOFTEN your image! No wonder it lost so miserably ;)

 Our friend's example with his new Nikon D800 is a real beauty though! I really like this shot!  See those tiny surfers? Lets blow-up the one on top to see the prowess of the King of Pixels :)

 That is a whooping 200%!  Is that sharp enough for you?  Chris used his friend's Nikkor 300/4 AF prime which I think underscored the incredible resolution of the D800 sensor.  I am sure the latest Nikkor300/2.8 VR will do much better!

Am I still obsess with sharpness?  What do you think??


heather said...

You win some,, you lose some. So what? At least your`e out there getting the most out of life doing what you enjoy most!
Really nice photos.

cy.leow said...

Philip Lim Chin Guan via Face Book..

"Good tips, CY. Enjoyed reading your blog. You are still one of the best pixmen around"

Thanks Philip :)