Nikon D40 Sharpness Test

This shot was taken at 800ISO with the 18-55mm lens at 38mm, 1/6th second at f5.6, with the camera propped on an upturned mug. The first crop is just over 30% of the full frame and the second crop is just over 5% of the full frame.


page 2


The book is ‘The Drowned and the Saved’ by Primo Levi.


People travel from all over the world

People travel from all over the world to see New York City and Times Square, but when you have seen it a million times, as I guess these two people have, it doesn’t have the same appeal.

Times Square


Three cameras: Nikon D200, Pentax K10D, and Canon 5D

Every now and then a camera comes along that interests me. I am happy enough with my Nikon D200 but if I were starting out now, looking for a digital SLR, I might well be tempted by this Pentax. It has dust and weather resistant seals throughout, and that is a big plus in terms of usability. The Nikon has as weather sealing as well, which is good – for dust and digital cameras do not mix well – but they do mix all too easily, so it is a good idea to have a mechanism to keep the one from the other.

pentax K10D

And on the subject of dust, I have read several articles about the lack of sealing on the Canon 5D, which is a full-frame dSLR, and that lack is enough to make me hesitate in even thinking about that camera. And as to why I would be interested in the Canon at all? Well it has to do with image quality – pure and simple. All reviewers seem to agree that the Canon 5D is a step up from the image quality of the Nikon D200.


Choosing the right digital camera for you (part 2)

Size, Weight, Focal Length, and Image Stabilization
If it has to be something that fits in your shirt pocket, then it’s game over, and it has to be a compact or super compact.

With the exception of a model by Leice and one by Ricoh, all of these compact cameras produce jpegs. That means the camera converts the raw (RAW) data within the camera and presents it as a jpeg that is readable by just about any digital aparatus – so the finished product that comes out of the camera needs to be as good as possible.

And the reason for this is that it really doesn’t pay to tweak a jpeg image to any great extent; particularly one processed on a small sensor. If the shot is not well exposed, with good white balance and good processing ‘out of the box’ then forget it and move on to the next image or the next camera. And the reason that it does not pay to tweak a jpeg with an image processing package such as Photoshop, is that the original jpeg image is ‘8bit’.

What that means put simply is that for any given color or hue, there are 256 steps between dark and light. RAW ‘digital negatives’ are 16bit, which means there are millions of steps between dark and light. And if one tweaks a 16bit image there is no visible degradation in the image even with quite a lot of tweaking. Whereas with an 8bit image, even a little tweaking can create posterization. Posterization is the effect one sees when there is an abrupt change from one tone to another rather than a gradual and smooth change. That said, there are some compacts that are capable of producing good images that are well exposed, with good white balance and good processing ‘out of the box’.


Chorus line

chorus line


Nikon D40 with 18-55mm kit lens – sharpness test


    Camera propped on worktop (makes a great tripod)
    White balance set to fluorescent
    Camera on aperture priority
    Shots taken in RAW
    First shot at ISO200, second at ISO400, and the third at ISO800
    Shots developed in Camera RAW4.1 in Bridge CS3
    Sharpening sliders set at ‘Amount’ 100, ‘Radius’ 1, ‘Detail’ 50, and ‘Masking’ 0.

The details for the three shots, which are all shown at 100%, are:

ISO200, 1/5 second at f6.3


ISO400 1/8 second at f6.3


ISO800 1/15 second f6.3


Judge the sharpness for yourself. Does the noise at the increased ISO degrade the image to the point that it starts to look mushy? Does the camera bring into play some kind of noise reduction that interferes with getting a sharp image? Personally I think the shots at all sensitivities are indistinguishable for all practical purposes.