Nikon D3100 Imatest Results

We routinely use Norman Koren's excellent "Imatest" analysis program for quantitative, thoroughly objective analysis of digicam test images. I highly recommend it to our technically-oriented readers, as it's far and away the best, most comprehensive analysis program I've found to date.

My comments below are just brief observations of what we see in the Imatest results. A full discussion of all the data Imatest produces is really beyond the scope of this review: Visit the Imatest web site for a full discussion of what the program measures, how it performs its computations, and how to interpret its output.

Here's some of the results produced by Imatest for the Nikon D3100:


sRGB Accuracy Comparison

The Nikon D3100 showed generally very good color accuracy, with mild to moderate oversaturation of bright reds, deep blues and dark greens, and to a lesser extent, some oranges, greens, purples and browns. Some colors such as yellow, light green, aqua and cyan are slightly understaturated. Hue accuracy was also very good, with the typical (typical meaning significant) cyan shift we see in most cameras we test, and also a little shift in other colors such as aqua, red, orange and yellow. Average saturation for the Nikon D3100 was 107.6% (oversaturated by 7.6%). Average "delta-C" color error was 4.81 after correction for saturation, placing it in the top tier. (Delta-C is the same as the more commonly referred to delta-E, but delta-C takes into account only color differences, ignoring luminance variation.) All in all, a very good color response for an SLR. Mouse over the links below the illustration above to compare results with the others in this group.

 

Adobe RGB Accuracy Comparison

Most SLRs oversaturate colors when shooting in Adobe RGB mode, and the Nikon D3100 follows suit. Average saturation was 109.7% which is higher than the sRGB result, but not by as much as we often see. Average saturation-corrected hue error was 4.57 "delta-C" units, slightly better accuracy than sRGB. A pretty good result overall. Again, mouse over the links below the illustration above to compare results with the same group.

 

Nikon D3100 Color Analysis

This image shows how the Nikon D3100 actually rendered the colors of the MacBeth chart, compared to a numerically ideal treatment. In each color swatch, the outer perimeter shows the color as actually captured by the camera. The inner square shows what the ideal color would look like if the brightness were adjusted to match the camera's tone curve, while the small rectangle shows the numerically correct color with no adjustment. This image shows the very good hue accuracy of the D3100, as well as a commonly-employed trick of overexposing some of the highest-saturation swatches, to give an impression of "brighter" color, without actually oversaturating.

The bottom row of the chart shows exaggerated white balance errors, revealing that the camera produced a slightly cool color balance when using Custom white balance, with a WhiBal card as the reference.

 

Nikon D3100 Noise Analysis


As always, there's more in this particular graph than we really have room to go into here. (Also note that this set of plots has also changed a few revisions back in Imatest. Some of the plots that were once shown here are now shown in other Imatest output. Since we largely focus on the Noise Spectrum plot, we only show the graphic above, which includes that plot.)

In comparing these graphs with those from competing cameras, we've found that the Noise Spectrum graph at lower right is often the most important. Cameras that manage to shift their noise spectrum to higher frequencies have much finer-grained noise structures, making their noise less visually objectionable. In the graph above, this would show up as a noise spectrum curve that remained higher on the right side, representing higher noise frequencies.

Above, we see the results at ISO 100. The luminance curve (in black) is reasonably flat, but the green and especially red channel exhibit much higher noise values at lower frequencies. While overall noise levels are very low, the dominance of low frequencies in the color channels points to some low-level blotchiness. Some chroma noise blotches can be seen in darker midtone and shadows of the Nikon D3100's ISO 100 images, but only with extreme pixel-peeping. The chroma noise at low ISOs is really nothing to be concerned about.

 

Above is the same set of noise data from the Nikon D3100 at ISO 1,600. Here, the overall Noise Spectrum graph is shifted a fair bit toward the left-hand, lower-frequency side than it was at ISO 100, coarsening the "grain" of the image noise patterns. There's much less difference between the color channels in this plot, with the green channel tracking luminance noise very closely, and only the red and blue channel noise being a bit elevated at the lowest frequencies, no doubt due to noise reduction processing. This translates to ISO 1,600 images with pretty low levels of chroma noise, along with luminance noise that is quite a bit lower than the Nikon D3000, and lower or competitive to models that are best-in-class.

 

Here's the same set of noise data at ISO 3,200. Here again, the Noise Spectrum graph is shifted more toward the left-hand side, coarsening the "grain" of the image noise patterns further. Overall noise levels are again excellent for an APS-C sensor, though; much lower than the Nikon D3000's.

 

Here's the same set of noise data at ISO 6,400. Here again, the Noise Spectrum graph is shifted even more toward the left-hand side, further coarsening the "grain" of the image noise patterns further. Overall noise levels are higher than ISO 3,200 as you'd expect, but still quite good compared to other APS-C SLRs.

 

This chart compares the Nikon D3100's noise performance over a range of ISOs against that of a few other SLR cameras in a similar price range or resolution. While we continue to show noise plots of this sort because readers ask for them, we each time point out that the noise magnitude is only a small part of the story, the grain pattern being much more important, not to mention what the camera does to achieve a given noise level. (Some cameras obliterate subject detail along with noise, so the camera with the lowest noise levels on MacBeth chart swatches may not necessarily produce the most appealing images.)

With all the caveats about absolute noise levels not necessarily being that applicable to real images, the Nikon D3100 does look very impressive here: Its midtone noise level essentially equals or betters that of all the other cameras shown. That might be easy to dismiss, if it turned out that its detail handling was poor, but our close visual examination of key test images revealed that its detail handling is also among the best we've seen from this size sensor and resolution. All in all, a very impressive performance from the Nikon D3100. Keep in mind, though, that these results are at default noise reduction settings, so the shape and positions of the curves will be influenced by your settings. Also note that the Nikon D3100 defaults noise reduction to "On", while the Nikon D3000 defaults to "Off", but there is no denying that the D3100's images are much cleaner and more detailed than the D3000's at higher ISOs.

 

Nikon D3100 Dynamic Range Analysis

A key parameter in a digital camera is its Dynamic Range, the range of brightness that can be faithfully recorded. At the upper end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is dictated by the point at which the RGB data "saturates" at values of 255, 255, 255. At the lower end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is determined by the point at which there ceases to be any useful difference between adjacent tonal steps. Note the use of the qualifier "useful" in there: While it's tempting to evaluate dynamic range as the maximum number of tonal steps that can be discerned at all, that measure of dynamic range has very little relevance to real-world photography. What we care about as photographers is how much detail we can pull out of the shadows before image noise becomes too objectionable. This, of course, is a very subjective matter, and will vary with the application and even the subject matter in question. (Noise will be much more visible in subjects with large areas of flat tints and subtle shading than it would in subjects with strong, highly contrasting surface texture.)

What makes most sense then, is to specify useful dynamic range in terms of the point at which image noise reaches some agreed-upon threshold. To this end, Imatest computes a number of different dynamic range measurements, based on a variety of image noise thresholds. The noise thresholds are specified in terms of f-stops of equivalent luminance variation in the final image file, and dynamic range is computed for noise thresholds of 1.0 (low image quality), 0.5 (medium image quality), 0.25 (medium-high image quality) and 0.1 (high image quality). For most photographers and most applications, the noise thresholds of 0.5 and 0.25 f-stops are probably the most relevant to the production of acceptable-quality finished images, but many noise-sensitive shooters will insist on the 0.1 f-stop limit for their most critical work.

The image below shows the test results from Imatest for an in-camera JPEG file from the Nikon D3100 with a nominally-exposed density step target (Stouffer 4110), and its settings such as Active D-Lighting turned off.

Here, we can see that the tone curve maintains pretty good gradation in the highlights and the shadow end trails-off quite nicely.  These are very good results for in-camera JPEGs from an APS-C sensor, among the top performers in the high quality category (7.62 f-stops) when taking the margin of error (1/3 f-stop) for this test into account.

The illustration above shows the results from an Adobe Camera Raw 6.3 converted NEF file, using the Auto setting, then tweaking manually from there. As can be seen, the score at the highest quality level was much better than the in-camera JPEG, at 8.24 f-stops versus 7.62 f-stops, and total dynamic range increased by about 1-1/3 f-stops from 10.9 to 12.2 f-stops. It's worth noting here that ACR's default noise reduction settings reduced overall noise (see the plot in the lower left-hand corner) relative to the levels in the in-camera JPEG, which would tend to boost the dynamic range numbers for the High Quality threshold. Also, the extreme highlight recovery being performed by ACR here would likely produce color errors in strong highlights of natural subjects.

Dynamic Range, the bottom line:

The net result was that the Nikon D3100's JPEGs showed very good dynamic range, performing almost as well as the best 12-megapixel DX sensors (within the margin of error). What's more, it's really in the upper percentile ranking of all the cameras we've tested with APS-C sensors. An impressive performance for an entry-level model.  RAW dynamic range performance with Adobe Camera RAW was good, but the improvement over JPEGs at the highest quality level wasn't quite as good as some other APS-C models.

To get some perspective, here's a summary of the Nikon D3100's dynamic range performance, and how it compares to other digital SLRs that we also have Imatest dynamic range data for. (Results are arranged in order of decreasing dynamic range at the "High" quality level.):

Dynamic Range (in f-stops) vs Image Quality
(At camera's base ISO)

(Blue = RAW via ACR, Yellow=Camera JPEG, Green=Current Camera)
Model 1.0
(Low)
0.5
(Medium)
0.25
(Med-High)
0.1
(High)
Nikon D3X
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.3b)
-- -- 11.1 9.64
Nikon D3S
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.6)
-- -- 10.7 9.55
Nikon D700
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.5)
12.1 11.6 10.6 9.51
Nikon D5000
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.4b)
-- 11.6 10.8 9.50
Sony A33
(Adobe Camera Raw 6.2)
-- -- 10.7 9.37
Sony A900
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.6b)
-- 12.1 10.7 9.36
Pentax K-x
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.6b)
11.5 11.2 10.7 9.33
Nikon D90
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.6b)
12.1 11.8 10.7 9.27
Sony A55
(Adobe Camera Raw 6.2)
11.1 10.9 10.5 9.16
Fujifilm S3 Pro
(Adobe Camera Raw 2)
12.1 11.7 10.7 9.00
Sony NEX-5
(Adobe Camera Raw 6.2b)
11.9 11.5 10.4 8.95
Sony A230
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.5)
11.7 11.1 10.1 8.95
Nikon D40x
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.1)
12.0 10.9 10.3 8.90
Canon 1D Mark IV
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.7)
-- 11.0 10.1 8.90
Nikon D300S
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.5)
-- 11.3 10.4 8.89
Canon 5D Mark II
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.2)
-- 10.8 10.0 8.89
Sony NEX-3
(Adobe Camera Raw 6.2b)
11.8 11.4 10.1 8.87
Sony A330
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.4)
-- -- 10.1 8.86
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.5)
11.5 10.7 9.96 8.84
Nikon D3
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.5)
11.7 11.0 10.0 8.75
Canon EOS-1D Mark III
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.5)
11.7 10.7 9.99 8.73
Sony A380
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.5)
11.8 10.9 10.1 8.62
Nikon D3000
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.5)
-- 10.8 10.1 8.61
Pentax K20D
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.5)
11.4 10.6 9.82 8.56
8.5 Stops
Nikon D300
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.3.1)
11.4 10.9 9.87 8.45
Sony A200
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.3.1)
11.6 10.4 9.82 8.43
Nikon D60
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.4.1)
11.6 10.5 9.74 8.31
Nikon D40
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.1)
11.9 10.9 9.89 8.30
Nikon D3100
(Adobe Camera Raw 6.3)
10.9 10.2 9.28 8.24
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III
(Camera JPEG)
10.9 10.2 9.71 8.23
Pentax K100D
(Adobe Camera Raw 3.6)
11.3 10.3 9.51 8.23
Pentax K200D
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.4.1)
-- 10.5 9.54 8.19
Pentax K10D
(Adobe Camera Raw 3.7)
10.6 10.0 9.29 8.19
Canon 7D
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.6)
11.2 10.3 9.52 8.18
Sony A100
(Adobe Camera Raw 3.4)
11.3 10.5 9.69 8.16
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II
(Adobe Camera Raw 3)
11.2 10.3 9.40 8.14
Canon 1D Mark IV
(Camera JPEG, ISO 50)
-- -- 8.45 8.10
Canon EOS 50D
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.6)
11.2 10.5 9.49 8.06
Nikon D40x
(Camera JPEG)
10.8 10.0 9.42 8.04
Olympus E-P1
(ISO 200,
Adobe Camera Raw 5.5)
11.5 10.4 9.26 8.04
Canon Rebel XSi
(Camera JPEG)
(ALO on by default)
11.3 10.1 9.34 8.01
8.0 Stops
Nikon D3S
(Camera JPEG)
-- -- -- 7.96
Fujifilm S3 Pro
(Camera JPEG)
-- 9.90 9.40 7.94
Canon T2i
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.7)
-- 10.0 9.21 7.94
Samsung NX10
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.7 beta)
-- -- 9.18 7.91
Sony A350
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.4)
11.6 10.5 9.61 7.89
Canon EOS-1D Mark III
(Camera JPEG)
-- 10.2 9.70 7.88
Olympus E-P2
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.6)
-- 10.2 9.44 7.88
Canon Rebel XS
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.5)
-- 10.3 9.27 7.88
Nikon D3
(Camera JPEG)
-- -- -- 7.87
Canon Digital Rebel XTi
(Adobe Camera Raw 3.6)
10.8 9.88 9.18 7.84
Canon EOS 5D
(Adobe Camera Raw 3)
11.0 10.4 9.21 7.83
Nikon D90
(Camera JPEG)
-- -- -- 7.77
Panasonic DMC-GH1
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.4b)
9.88 -- 9.30 7.76
Sony A55
(Camera JPEG)
9.59 9.36 8.70 7.74
Canon Rebel T1i
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.4b)
11.2 10.2 9.16 7.73
Pentax K-7
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.4)
10.6 9.93 9.07 7.73
Canon EOS 40D
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.2)
11.2 10.1 9.26 7.72
Panasonic DMC-GH1
(Camera JPEG)
8.77 -- -- 7.70
Canon Rebel XSi
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.4.1)
10.6 9.95 9.10 7.68
Canon EOS 50D
(Camera JPEG)
(ALO STD by default)
-- -- 8.90 7.68
Sony A33
(Camera JPEG)
-- 9.95 9.17 7.67
Nikon D700
(Camera JPEG)
-- -- 9.05 7.67
Canon 5D Mark II
(Camera JPEG)
(ALO STD by default)
10.6 9.68 8.98 7.66
Nikon D5000
(Camera JPEG)
-- -- 8.96 7.65
Sony A560
(Camera JPEG)
10.5 10.2 8.86 7.65
Canon EOS-5D
(Camera JPEG)
10.2 9.68 8.82 7.65
Olympus E-3
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.3)
10.3 10.1 9.29 7.64
Nikon D3100
(Camera JPEG)
10.2 9.92 9.27 7.62
Nikon D60
(Camera JPEG)
10.5 9.62 8.89 7.62
Nikon D200
(Adobe Camera Raw 3)
10.6 9.65 8.96 7.61
Sony NEX-5
(Camera JPEG)
10.4 9.64 8.82 7.57
Canon 7D
(Camera JPEG)
(ALO STD by default)
-- 9.70 8.54 7.54
Canon T2i
(Camera JPEG)
-- 9.44 8.45 7.53
Nikon D80
(Adobe Camera Raw 3.6)
11.1 10.4 9.42 7.51
7.5 Stops
Nikon D300S
(Camera JPEG)
-- -- -- 7.49
Olympus E-500
(Adobe Camera Raw 3)
10.7 9.97 8.90 7.46
Olympus E-510
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.1)
10.0 9.43 8.64 7.46
Pentax K10D
(Camera JPEG)
-- 9.49 8.88 7.44
Sony NEX-3
(Camera JPEG)
10.0 9.62 8.86 7.44
Nikon D300
(Camera JPEG)
-- -- 8.70 7.44
Olympus E-420
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.1.1)
10.0 9.61 8.65 7.44
Canon Rebel T1i
(Camera JPEG)
(ALO=STD by default)
11.3 10.1 9.34 7.43
Nikon D2Xs
(Adobe Camera Raw 3.6)
10.6 9.90 8.93 7.42
Canon EOS 40D
(Camera JPEG)
10.6 9.52 8.78 7.42
Olympus E-PL1
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.7)
10.4 9.89 8.76 7.39
Nikon D3X
(Camera JPEG)
-- -- -- 7.37
Nikon D50
(Camera JPEG)
10.7 9.93 8.70 7.36
Panasonic DMC-G2
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.7)
10.3 9.87 8.77 7.35
Sony A380
(Camera JPEG)
(DRO Standard by default)
-- 9.54 8.84 7.32
Panasonic DMC-G1
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.2)
10.7 9.78 8.70 7.32
Nikon D3000
(Camera JPEG)
10.2 9.64 8.69 7.31
Sony A900
(Camera JPEG)
(DRO off by default )
10.2 9.75 8.49 7.31
Sony A330
(Camera JPEG)
(DRO Standard by default)
10.1 9.37 8.59 7.30
Sony A200
(Camera JPEG)
(DRO on by default)
10.4 9.43 8.91 7.29
Canon EOS 20D
(Camera JPEG)
10.3 9.66 8.85 7.29
Canon EOS 30D
(Camera JPEG)
10.3 9.50 8.57 7.29
Nikon D40
(Camera JPEG)
10.4 9.80 8.89 7.28
Sony A230
(Camera JPEG)
(DRO Standard by default)
10.1 9.51 8.51 7.26
Sony A900
(Camera JPEG)
(DRO on)
10.1 9.76 8.47 7.26
Canon Rebel XS
(Camera JPEG)
10.3 9.4 8.61 7.22
Olympus E-520
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.5)
11.0 9.46 8.70 7.20
Sony A350
(Camera JPEG)
(DRO on by default)
10.3 9.55 8.85 7.19
Pentax K-x
Camera JPEG
9.99 8.94 8.31 7.18
Panasonic DMC-GF1
(Adobe Camera Raw 5.5)
10.2 9.62 8.62 7.16
Nikon D80
(Camera JPEG)
10.1 9.43 8.48 7.12
Canon Digital Rebel XT
(Camera JPEG)
10.3 9.51 8.61 7.11
Nikon D200
(Camera JPEG)
-- 9.07 8.36 7.11
Olympus E-300
(Camera JPEG)
10.8 9.26 8.48 7.07
Olympus E-410
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.1)
10.2 9.40 8.24 7.05
Olympus E-500
(Camera JPEG)
10.0 9.14 8.16 7.05
Canon Digital Rebel XTi
(Camera JPEG)
9.83 9.10 8.27 7.04
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II
(Camera JPEG)
10.3 9.38 8.60 7.04
Panasonic DMC-G1
(Camera JPEG)
-- 9.33 8.52 7.03
Pentax K200D
(Camera JPEG)
-- 9.50 8.30 7.01
7.0 Stops
Panasonic DMC-GF1
(Camera JPEG)
-- 9.33 8.44 6.99
Canon Digital Rebel
(Camera JPEG)
10.1 9.11 8.47 6.97
Nikon D2Xs
(Camera JPEG)
9.82 8.98 8.23 6.97
Panasonic DMC-L10
(Adobe Camera Raw 4.2)
10.4 9.34 8.48 6.91
Sigma DP1
(Camera JPEG)
-- 8.95 8.13 6.91
Pentax *istDs
(Camera JPEG)
10.2 10.0 8.87 6.90
Sony A100
(Camera JPEG)
10.2 9.24 8.39 6.89
Samsung NX10
(Camera JPEG,
Smart Range, ISO 200)
10.1 8.99 8.22 6.78
Pentax K100D
(Camera JPEG)
10.3 9.30 8.39 6.73
Panasonic DMC-G2
(Camera JPEG)
9.72 9.18 8.15 6.68
Pentax K20D
(Camera JPEG)
10.2 9.21 8.09 6.66
Pentax K-7
(Camera JPEG)
9.59 8.87 8.03 6.54
6.5 Stops
Nikon D2x
(Camera JPEG)
-- 8.93 7.75 6.43
Olympus E-3
(Camera JPEG)
9.32 9.06 8.50 6.42
Panasonic DMC-L10
(Camera JPEG)
-- 8.94 8.00 6.38
Olympus E-420
(Camera JPEG)
9.18 8.82 7.93 6.37
6.0 Stops
Olympus E-410
(Camera JPEG)
-- -- 7.60 5.99
Olympus E-PL1
(Camera JPEG,
Gradation = Normal)
-- 8.63 7.45 5.89
Samsung NX10
(Camera JPEG)
9.32 8.48 7.46 5.88
Nikon D70s
(Camera JPEG)
9.84 8.69 7.46 5.85
Nikon D70
(Camera JPEG)
9.81 8.76 7.58 5.84
Olympus E-520
(Camera JPEG)
9.32 8.68 7.74 5.74
Olympus E-P2
(Camera JPEG,
Gradation = Normal)
10.1 8.83 7.78 5.58
Olympus E-P1
(Camera JPEG,
Gradation = Normal)
-- 8.85 7.74 5.47

Note that this test is repeatable to within 1/3 EV according to the Imatest website, so differences of less than 0.33 can be ignored.

 

Nikon D3100 Resolution Chart Test Results

The chart above shows consolidated results from spatial frequency response measurements in both the horizontal and vertical axes. The "MTF 50" numbers tend to correlate best with visual perceptions of sharpness, so those are what we focus on here. The uncorrected resolution figures are 1,810 line widths per picture height in the horizontal direction (corresponding to the vertically-oriented edge), and 1,708 lines along the vertical axis (corresponding to the horizontally-oriented edge), for a combined average of 1,759 LW/PH. That's somewhat lower than you'd expect from a 14-megapixel camera. Correcting to a "standardized" sharpening with a one-pixel radius improved the numbers significantly, however, resulting in an average of 2,155 LW/PH. The much improved standardized versus uncorrected results indicate the Nikon D3100 is applying a conservative amount of in-camera sharpening to its JPEGs at default settings.

To see what's going on, refer to the plots below, which show the actual edge profiles for both horizontal and vertical edges, in both their original and corrected forms. Here, you can see that a fairly modest level of in-camera sharpening is applied in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Imatest reports 12.9% undersharpening in the horizontal direction, and 15.3 % undersharpening in the vertical direction. This means that the Nikon D3100's JPEG images should respond well to some additional post-exposure sharpening in Adobe Photoshop or other image editing software, without too many visible sharpening artifacts. (Of course for best results, shoot RAW and apply all sharpening while post-processing.)

 

 

Note: We don't feature SFR-based LW/PH resolution numbers more prominently in our reviews (eg, outside the Imatest pages) because we've found that they're *very* sensitive to minor differences in in-camera image processing. Relatively small changes in the amount of in-camera sharpening can have a large effect on the resulting resolution numbers. Imatest attempts to compensate for this by adjusting to a "standard" sharpening, but this approach can't completely undo what happens inside the cameras, and so often gives inconsistent results. Sometimes the "standardized" sharpening happens to just match the shape of the edge profile with the in-camera sharpening applied, and you'll get wildly high results. At other times, it will tend to correct in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, ignoring the in-camera sharpening entirely can result in even greater discrepancies, particularly between models from different manufacturers. Turning off sharpening in the camera may or may not fully eliminate the sharpening, so simply turning off sharpening in the camera JPEGs isn't a reliable solution. It also wouldn't be the way most people shoot the cameras. We could process RAW files with no sharpening (as shown below), but then that'd only suit the people working primarily or exclusively from RAW, and would open another can of worms as to what RAW converter was used, etc, etc.

The bottom line is that numbers for resolution only take you so far. Detail handling and edge acuity are very complex issues; ones that don't easily boil down to a single number. The best approach is to simply look look at the broad array of standardized test shots we take with each camera, to the point of downloading and printing them with whatever processing you'd use if you owned the camera and shot with it. See how the differences stack up for you visually, and make your decision on that, rather than on abstract resolution numbers.

 

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