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05-12-2009, 12:03 PM   #1
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Resolution, what does it mean?

In a lot of reviews and elsewhere, resolution is an important if not the most important quality with which to judge a lens. I know the higher the resolution, the better, but that's pretty much all I know. Wikipedia states it tells how much detail a lens can display, and then buggers off with all sorts of math I as a linguistics major don't really wish to try to understand. So I'm asking you, what does it really mean?

05-12-2009, 12:15 PM   #2
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resolution is detail per given area


usually expressed in "lines per XXX", where X is whatever you want it to be, (inch, centimeter, meter, whatever)

you draw lines, white/black/white/black.

within a given area, lets say a square inch

the more black lines you can see without them blurring together, the higher the resolution, (IE, you can have 50 black lines per inch, but lets say you have crappy optics, they will only "see" 25 lines, because every two lines are blurred into 1)
05-12-2009, 12:17 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by kevinschoenmakers Quote
how much detail a lens can display
That's pretty much it! You'll also hear about "sharpness."

But as for measurements and what the numbers mean, you just compare one to another and see which number's higher.
05-12-2009, 12:27 PM   #4
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Some materials:
MTF
Understanding Lens Contrast
Sharpness

05-12-2009, 12:28 PM   #5
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without doing the math I believe it is the number of black lines of equal width, spaced with equal white spaces between them, that you can see (expressed in either lines per mm or lines per inch) before you cannot see anything between them.

the higher the number the better.
05-12-2009, 12:33 PM   #6
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Isn't there a point where this becomes pointless since my modest k100d only has 6 megapixels?
05-12-2009, 12:37 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by kevinschoenmakers Quote
Isn't there a point where this becomes pointless since my modest k100d only has 6 megapixels?
that is why they made an 8 megapixel camera, then 10, 12, 15, and so forth.


however remember that "viewing" resolution is a concept one has to keep in mind when talking about this.

6mp viewed at pixel level compared to 14mp, you will see a difference


view both 5 feet away in a 10X8 format, and you wont see any difference, even though it IS there.
05-12-2009, 12:37 PM   #8
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A practical way of thinking about it - and indeed, not a bad way of measuring it in practice - is, from how far away can you read the fine print on a given printed page? That is, take a picture of that page from a 10 feet away, then 20, then 30, then 40, and so on. Look at the pictures on your monitor, full size. If you can read the ext on the shot from 40 feet but not from 50 feet, then call the resolution of that lens 40.

This method only makes sense when comapring lenses of the same focal length - of course a telephoto lens will generally allow you to read the text from further away than wide angle lens. So "real" tests would attempt to correct for this by making the telephoto lens shoot smaller font sizes than the wide angle lens, so that from any given distance, the text appeared the same size.

05-12-2009, 12:41 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone, I think the mist regarding resolution has cleared a great deal
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