Resolution comparison 10D vs 50

Back in 2003 I obtained my first digital camera. The Canon 10D was  certainly expensive at $2500 compared to the film camera bodies I had been using, but the savings in film cost and processing and the instant image feedback was irresistible. The image quality was clearly as good as film in 8x10 images and many thought it looked better in side by side comparisons with 11x14.  At that time it was believed by many that digital cameras would have to have around 20 megapixels to equal 35mm film. 

Over the ensuing years Canon has increased the pixel count incrementally in each new prosumer camera. The 20D and 30D had the same 8 megapixel sensor, the 40D has 10 megapixels and finally the latest 50D has 15 megapixels.  Going from 6 to 8 megapixels produced a barley noticeable increase in image detail under an extreme blowup. Theory predicts there is little resolution difference between a 6 and 8 megapixel camera. To double resolution all other things being equal requires that the pixel count be increased four times as both vertical and horizontal dimensions need to be doubled.
I wondered then was the increase from 6 to 15 megapixels significant to the eye? Towards this end I decided to compare the same target image shot with the 10D and 50D. The target is a $10 bill shot with flash and a 300mm f2.8 IS at f5.6 on a tripod.  Several frames were shot and the best focused image selected. The aperture of f5.6 insures sufficient DOF and image sharpness to eliminate the lens as a significant contributor of resolution error.

 The 10D and 50D images were shot in RAW and converted to TIF with Canons DPP.  No sharpening was applied in the RAW conversion but the 10D file was sharpened optimally after rezing it up to match the pixel count of the 50D for a side by side comparison on the computer screen with 300% magnification. Two areas of the test target with fine detail were cropped from each file.  Color balance and contrast  were tweaked in the TIF files. Finally the cropped images were converted to JPEG with minimal compression for display on the website. Other tests were also performed without flash and supported the flash results but are not displayed here.

The Comparison images below are both from different areas of the same target.

Test target 

Comparison Image1
Comparison Image2

Clearly there is more fine detail in the 50D image. This has some value in wildlife photography particularly with avian images where it is not uncommon to crop the image 50% or so.
When one considers the faster frame rate, bigger buffer, faster card writing and much  larger\brighter  display it is hard to go back to the 10D. One thing the 10D has over all recent DSLRs though ........... it is much quieter ! 


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