Does it even make sense to compare these high-megapixel cameras? Does it even matter which one you choose when it comes to picture quality? As it turns out, not really.
As of now, I own two high resolution cameras, the 50-megapixel Canon 5DS and the 42.4-megapixel Sony a7R III. I decided to switch to the Sony system for a few different reasons: tilting screen, 4K, better low-light capabilities, more dynamic range, and a cheaper ultra-wide-angle zoom. I expected it would come with a little compromise on image sharpness, as I decreased the megapixel count. For some people, these reasons might not warrant a system change, but it was what I needed and it is not what this article is about.
What I was interested in knowing was just how much the sharpness would decrease changing from 50 MP to 42.4 MP. As a big surprise to me, there is nearly no difference when I compare the 5DS to the a7R III. I own the sigma MC-11 adapter, and with it, I could use the same lenses on both cameras. I used the Sigma 24-105 f/4 ART and Canon 70-200mm f/4 (non-IS) for the comparison test. I made both a “real world” test and a test in front of a brick wall. The “before” image is the Sony and the “after” image is the Canon. The two “real world” photos are with the Sigma lens, the brick wall is with the Canon lens, and all images are from the center. All photos are shot at 1/50s, f/11, and ISO100. Before showing the comparison I'll show the real size of the scene for you to see how far I have zoomed in.
And on to the 105mm photo:
And here is the 70mm photo with the Canon lens.
The 5DS did come out on top concerning details, as expected, but the difference was minor. I had to zoom into 200-300% to actually see a difference. It even seemed the 5DS was softer than the a7R III. I personally think this was down to the anti-aliasing filter in the 5DS, which the a7R III is missing.
The biggest difference I saw was when I changed lenses. I also compared the Sigma 24-105 lens to the native Sony 24-105 G lens. The middle part of the photos was alike, but the corners were night and day concerning sharpness. The combination of Sony a7R III and Sony 24-105 f/4 vastly outperformed the 5DS with the Sigma 24-105 f/4. This again goes to show, as we all know, it matters more what lens you put in front of your sensor than what camera you use. Here is an example from the lower left corner of the 24mm scene above. The “before” image is the Sony a7RIII and the native 24-105 G lens and the “after” is the Canon and Sigma 24-105 Art:
Remember these photos are zoomed way in! The question is if you can even see the difference on print. You will likely see the corner difference in the last example on a big print.
Check out the video for all the comparison and what method I used to compare the cameras.
It did surprise me how alike these two cameras actually are despite their resolution difference. The obvious and well-known conclusion must then be, when you have cameras that have about the same amount of megapixels, the lens you put in front is much more important than the sensor.
Is there anything new to you here? Let me hear down in the comments.