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10-20-2013, 09:47 PM   #1
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Will the K3 outperform old glass?

Manufacturers are coming out with new lenses to deal with the increased resolution of todays sensors. How long until the cameras outperform our lenses? Not trying to start an argument, but reallistacally a lens is only as sharp and can only produce images to a certain scale I would think. So how long will it be before all the pixelpeepers win lol?!?!

10-20-2013, 09:52 PM   #2
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My own opinion is that a sensor will never outperform the lenses used on it. If you're looking at an image so closely that you're quibbling over whatever smidge of CA or fuzziness or whatever the lens is producing because it was made X-many years ago, then you're living the definition of "missing the forest for the trees".

Unless you plan on displaying the image at a 100% ratio on a giant LCD screen somewhere where people will be close enough to detect that three pixels worth of slight purple fringing, then its pretty much a non issue and always will be.

My 2 cents, of course, I'm sure others will see things differently.
10-20-2013, 10:30 PM   #3
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Optical resolution for a particular lens is not dependent on the technology used to capture the image. Putting a higher resolution sensor behind your lens will either result in higher final resolution or no change.

In other words, while the K-3 sensor may certainly outperform a particular lens in your bag, this does not mean a decrease in image quality as compared to what you currently get with your K-5 using the same lens. A good example would be Rense's (forum user) single in October set. He is pairing the Holga 60/8 with the K-5 and I strongly doubt that the resolution would be better or worse if taken using a K-3. Both cameras are "better" than the Holga*. (LINK)


*One does not shoot with the Holga for resolution.
10-20-2013, 10:36 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by The Kurly One Quote
can only produce images to a certain scale I would think
I'm not a quantum physicist, but I'm pretty sure this doesn't compute. It's the conversion of an analogue light wave to binary bits that doesn't scale. Regardless of what the sensor's resolution is, the electrical signal produced at each pixel is divided into 0's and 1's, with no allowance for values in between. Even 100 bit images can't perfectly reproduce the original light waves. I guess if sensors could detect individual photons, they could achieve a perfect reproduction, but I think something in quantum mechanics makes that impossible. Is the glass in new lenses better than legacy lenses? Perhaps, but that has nothing to do with the resolution of the digital sensor. And it's not just the resolution of the sensor that determines how much you can scale up the image, a lot depends on software to interpolate raw image data and how well the medium the image is displayed on renders the processed image.

10-21-2013, 01:34 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Between the lens, the camera and a mere "mortal" user behind it all, the weakest link in the chain will be quite obvious.

In most cases, the mortal user will probably be "out-resolved" more often than the lens will be, by any camera, be it a K-M, a K-x or a K-3. So, I guess this should not worry us.
10-21-2013, 01:37 AM   #6
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Technically I don't know the answer to your question. But I've also been participating in the Single in October challenge with Rense, and his photos with the Holga are indeed extra-ordinary and quite beautiful.

On Single In, I'm using an old lens that is certainly much, much sharper than the Holga: the 1958 Auto-Takumar 55mm f2, with a K20D and a K-01. Here's what I find about this venerable old lens's performance on modern digital sensors.

1. The lens flares and ghosts more than lenses with modern coatings, especially wide open, but then it PFs less than some modern lenses.
2. The sensor picks up "blemishes" with the lens's glass and dust, but only where the scenes being photographed highlight those blemishes.
3. The crop sensor crops the original perspective of course, which is a shame (to me).
4. The lens is more than a match for powerful sensors in terms of centre sharpness, color rendition and unique (sometimes quirky) bokeh.

Some time ago I asked a similar question about old lenses on FF digital cameras and the conclusion seemed to be: if wasn't a great lens on film, it won't be a great lens on powerful crop/FF digital sensors! However, great lenses will always be great lenses. You just need to pick and choose.
10-21-2013, 01:40 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by drypenn Quote
Between the lens, the camera and a mere "mortal" user behind it all, the weakest link in the chain will be quite obvious.

In most cases, the mortal user will probably be "out-resolved" more often than the lens will be, by any camera, be it a K-M, a K-x or a K-3. So, I guess this should not worry us.
spot on !
10-21-2013, 04:05 AM   #8
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The answer to the question about whether a sensor can outresolve a lens is yes and no. It's complicated, but here are some interesting articles about the subject:

Do Sensors “Outresolve” Lenses?

Why measure lenses on cameras? - DxOMark

10-21-2013, 04:19 AM   #9

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QuoteOriginally posted by The Kurly One Quote
Will the K3 outperform old glass?
The final image, printed or otherwise, is only as good as it's weakest link?
10-21-2013, 06:36 AM   #10
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Nikon D7100 results: ultra high performance - DxOMark

Using DxO's test of the D7000 (16MP) to the D71000 (24MP):
...."In the best case, sharpness increased by as much as 50-percent over the Nikon D7000." Referring to High End Glass.

"Its not just the expensive highgrade lenses that benefit from the high-resolution sensor of the D7100, the results for the more accessibly priced models was also impressively high. We measured improvements in sharpness of over 30-percent with some basic kit zoom models and super-zooms."

"A number of zooms see an increase of over 30-percent in overall (averaged) sharpness when used with the Nikon D7100 over its forerunner, the 16Mpix D7000."

"Sigmas 18-250mm models and the 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 also perform well on the D7100, all three achieving a similar 60-percent gain in sharpness"
10-21-2013, 07:02 AM   #11
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All I know is that many of my lenses have lots more resolution in them when I get to the pixel level on the K5. It's one of the reasons why I am on pre-order for a K3.
10-21-2013, 07:10 AM   #12
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One should probably not overlook the subtle data processing performed in all modern cameras before the 'raw' files are written to the memory card. Nor should one overlook the blurring caused by conventional AA-filters. So, when DxO Marks "measures" sharpness of a given lens, they rightly consider the qualities of the system as a whole. That is, they always specify on what camera a given lens has been tested.

Further, 'Sharpness' isn't really a well-defined, measurable quantity in a strict, physical sense. But 'Contrast' and 'Resolution' are. If we take Resolution alone, one could argue that we already are at a point, where camera sensors outresolves lenses:

The Raleigh Criterion tells us that for ideal, truly diffraction limited lenses the resolving power only depends upon the wavelength of light and the f-number of the lens as follows:

  • Spatial resolution = 2.44 * wavelenght * f-number.
For example, with yellow light - wavelenght = 0,000580mm - one gets a spatial resolution on the sensor of = 0.004mm at f/2.8 and 0.008mm at f/5.6. Now that is pretty much the range of pixel sizes as we know them on today's APS-C and FF cameras.

And no photographic lenses are perfect, truly diffraction limited.
10-21-2013, 07:16 AM   #13
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I don't think that a new sensor will dramatically out resolve an old lens. The molecular structure of the glass and coatings is much smaller than the photo-sites. Don't forget that our APS sensors also crop out any soft corners so we have a bit of "help".

I think newer lens may have better color rendition and slightly better light transmission. Are they sharper? Sure, a little bit, especially in the corners... But they aren't $500 sharper than my older equivalent lenses.
10-21-2013, 07:22 AM   #14
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I was reading an article some time ago (can't remember which) that basically stated the best sensor still can't compare to film in resolution. So given that, any lens designed for film should be well up to the task! Personal opinion I think what you'll find is legacy glass will show more individual "personality" than before and when word gets out the prices will go up!! What am I saying!! they will all suck!! sell them now!!! Cheap
10-21-2013, 08:10 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Joel B Quote
the best sensor still can't compare to film in resolution
I'm not too sure about that, but resolution isn't directly related to the perceived quality of the image. The resolution of film is limited to the size and variability of silver halide crystals in an emulsion; the resolution of a sensor is theoretically limited to the wavelength of x-rays (shorter than visible light) which are used to "print" the light sensitive parts of the sensor. But the film emulsion is three dimensional, so sliver halide crystals are exposed at different depths, which gives the perception of a higher dynamic range. None of which matters if the paper or lcd screen used to display the image is not as sharp as either film or a digital sensor, and none of that matters if the colour isn't rendered in a natural way, which has very little to do with actual resolution, either. Good quality legacy lenses in good condition will still produce better images on better media, regardless of the camera technology used.

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