Perhaps no DSLR camera has caused such a stir as Nikon's new 36mp DSLR camera. Not only does it provide the most megapixels of any compact DSLR yet, but it also falls below the $3,000 mark! But the question everyone has is "can a small 35mm sensor really come close to the quality of a large medium format camera?" The guys over at DSLR Magazine put the Nikon D800 up against the Hasselblad H4D-40, Leica S2, and Sigma SD1 to find out. The results will most certainly shock you!
Obviously it's tough to do any sort of test between different brands because differences in lenses, sensor design, RAW file edits, and other variances in workflow can create all sorts of unintentional bias. With that being said, the results from DSLR Magazine's tests are pretty remarkable. To my eye, the Nikon D800 stands up well to the slightly larger 40mp Hasselblad H4D-40 and completely blows it away by ISO 800 and up. The biggest disappointment seems to be the Sigma SD1 which captures 15.3 MP in 3 layers. Even small this camera doesn't not seem to produce very good results. Here are the specs on the four sensors tested:
Size: 24 x 35.9 mm
Size: 861 mm 2
Number of photodiodes: 36.3 million
Density of photocells per mm 2: 42,160
Size: 33.1 x 44.2 mm
Size: 1,463 mm 2
Photodiode No.: 40 million
Density of photocells per mm 2: 27,340
Size: 30 x 45 mm
Size: 1350 mm 2
Photodiode No.: 37 million
Density of photocells per mm 2: 27,407
Size: 16 x 24 mm
Size: 384 mm 2
Number of photodiodes: 15.35 million (three coats = approx. 46 million) (2)
Density of photocells per mm 2: 39 974 (2)
If you want to read to full article, head over to DSLR Magazine's Hasselblad H4D-40 / Nikon D800 Test Page and be sure to translate it for easy reading. I've included their two sample images below for reference. Click the small images to view the full comparison.
And for a more real world example, check out this photo from Dragan Stanojebic that has been making the rounds lately. The detail throughout the guy's jacket is pretty impressive!
photo by Dragan Stanojević