My first digital camera was the D60 with a pixel pitch close to that of the current 1Ds2. Shortly after the D60 was released, we had the 1Ds with a larger number of pixels and a larger sensor.
I always though it curious that 1Ds owners would emphatically declare, on this site and elsewhere, that their camera was 'ruthless' with inferior quality lenses and that to get the best from the camera you needed really good lenses. In other words, lenses are the weak link.
I found it curious because my common sense (nous) told me that all cameras perform better with better lenses. The 1Ds or 1Ds2 is no exception.
Now that I'm an owner of a 5D, I can test this 'common sense' theory of mine.
I first carried out tests with a rather average zoom, the 100-400L IS, with and without 1.4x extender, and demonstrated some surprising results.
Suspecting the results might be a bit inconclusive because of the inferiority of the lens (which was actually described as crap by a person whose name I shall not mention), I decided to repeat the test with a better quality lens at a close distance to a test chart of lines and textures, which I constructed myself for the purpose.
My sharpest lens is the humble Canon 50/1.8, which I used for the test. The next sharpest would be the much more expensive TS-E 90mm.
The following images are a bit large (around 2MB after download) but they demonstrate clearly that even at f22, the 20D delivers more detail than the 5D, after cropping the 5D image to the same size as the 20D image then interpolating.
There's always an issue of sharpening. Should one sharpen the interpolated 5D image and not the uninterpolated 20D image? Should one sharpen both images, but the interpolated 5D image more?
I've chosen the latter option as a compromise with concerns of Bill Janes, althought it's clear to me that sharpening does not alter the outcome. The 5D images are sharpened more than the 20D images in the following examples.
For the benifit of those who don't want to bother downloading the test images, the results are unambiguous. The 20D produces more image detail and better contrast at both f22 and f8, than the 5D after cropping.
This is good news for those who are expecting a 22mp 5D or 1Ds2 successor.
The first image is an overview of my test chart which consists of Norman Koren line charts, fluffy twine and various grades of sandpaper pasted to a plywood base with wood grain. After viewing a TV documantary on Andy Warwhol (have I spelt that correctly?) it did occur to me for a brief fraction of a second that perhaps I should urinate on my carefully constructed test chart to create some subtle gradients. I decided against it on the grounds of hygiene.
The following 3 images are really self explanatory.
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