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.

Choosing a digital camera (more added 23 July)

The first thing you need to know is what is on offer. There are three kinds of digital cameras. There are compacts that fit in your pocket. There are SLRs (single lens reflex cameras), and there are bridge cameras. Bridge cameras are smaller than SLRs but bigger than compacts. They try to make out like they are as good as SLRs but nearly as small as compacts.

There are super-compacts, but we don’t want to get into all the advertising stuff about super-slim, super-compacts, super this and that. There is a place for super-slim, super compacts, and it is in your shirt pocket.

There are also rangefinder cameras but there are not many of them (two to be precise) and they are not cheap so I will refer to them in passing but not discuss them in detail.

So apart from size, what are the differences? Well SLRs are called ‘single lens reflex’ cameras because when you look through the viewfinder you are looking down via a series of prisms and a mirror, right out through the lens. They are called ‘reflex’ cameras because the mirror flips up out of the way for a fraction of a second, when you take a shot and then back again.

It seems pretty obvious that there must be something better about SLRs, otherwise everyone would buy super-compacts. After all, who wants to carry around the extra size and weight. And that is the first thing you need to decide. How big a camera are you prepared to carry around? And in order to decide that you have to know what you are going to sacrifice by not having an SLR.Continue reading “Choosing a digital camera (more added 23 July)”