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by Makoto Honda
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Nikon D200 vs. Nikon F3 - Which Produces Sharper Image?     Back to Notes on Photography
by Makoto Honda                May 5, 2006   ----                           


Based on my theoretical analysis, a 35mm full frame digital camera must have somewhere around 30 mega pixels to be comparable to the traditional 35mm camera using a good slide transparency (a la Fuji Velvia film) in terms of image sharpness. If the sensor size is small er, say, APS-C, the pixel count has to be increased more. However, if you use a digital camera, you do not need to scan the film to bring the image to the digital world. The scanning is another process that results in the loss of resolution. I wanted to see how a digital camera compares with a traditional film camera loaded with a Velvia film in a practical situation. That is, I am going to scan the Velvia slide to produce a digital image and compare that with an image produced directly with a digital camera.

I need a film camera and a digital camera.  I have been using a Nikon F3 for the past 20 plus years. I loaded the camera with Fuji Velvia 100F (ISO100). I recently got a Nikon D200 digital camera. So this is a shootout between Nikon D200 and Nikon F3 (w/ MD-4 motor drive). Nikon F3 of course is a full 35mm format camera, while Nikon D200 uses the APS-C format (so-called Nikon DX-format). To compare two pictures, it is obviously the best to produce the identical pictures in terms of the perspective and the field of view. I put the two cameras on the same tripod, side-by-side. As for the view angle, since Nikon D200 imposes 1.5 x focal length factor, I used the following lens combinations for this test. This arrangement should produce a fairly similar field of view.

Test 1 - Nikkor 20mm & Nikkor 28mm for Nikon D200 and Nikon F3, respectively.
Test 2 - Nikkor 35mm & Nikkor 50mm for Nikon D200 and Nikon F3, respectively.
Test 3 - Nikkor 85mm & Nikkor 135mm for Nikon D200 and Nikon F3, respectively.

All Velvia slides were scanned using my Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED. This produces a 4000 dpi scan, resulting in close to a 4000 x 6000 dots image out of a slide film. Nikon D200 was used in RAW mode and the image processed using Nikon's Picture Perfect software which accompanied the D200. With the highest setting, D200 produces an image having  2592 x 3872 dots. For fairness of comparison, the scanned image was resized to 2600 x  3880 in Photoshop.

Test Results      Nikon D200  vs.  Nikon F3

Wide Angle Test ---> Click to see the results  (At Infinity & Near Focus)

Normal Lens Test ---> Click to see the results  (At Infinity  &  Near Focus)

Telephoto Lens Test ---> Click to see the results  (At Infinity  &  Near Focus)


Setup Photos





Carnivorous Plants Photography Web Site:  Copyright 2001-2018 Makoto Honda. All Rights Reserved.  

Copyright 2001-2018 Makoto Honda. All Rights Reserved.                                                                    since June 2001