More Photography Stuff – Zoom versus Crop

Yes, another post exploring stuff I think about when evaluating what photographic equipment I should buy. As such, this might is probably only of interest to photographers and only photographers who know less than I do (so, like five people).

As shot; full size (5568×3712), unprocessed

That’s a photo taken with my new D7500 at f/6.3, ISO 200, 1/1000 sec, at 300mm zoom. I would normally process this but since I’m only interested in resolution, I’ll leave it as is. 

For comparison, this is the actual crop of that photo as it appeared in a previous post. 

OK, so, here we go . . . One of the things I wondered about in a previous post (HERE) was whether it was smarter to buy the incredible (125X, or 3000mm eq.) zoom of the Nikon P1000 or buy a DSLR coupled with something like the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens.

The argument for the P1000 rests solely in its ability to capture images at a distance (the P900 is similarly endowed but tops at a miserly 83X, or 2000mm eq).

In that post, I tried to compare the P900 zoom with crops of photos taken with the D7000 and the 70-200mm and/or 80-400mm lenses. Both the P900 and the D7000 are 16MP cameras (although the sensors sizes are different).

The D7500 has a 20MP sensor and since the 70-300mm lens performs so well, I thought I would repeat the process from the previous post and compare what I can do with cropping a D7500 photo versus utilizing the zoom on the P900.  

P900 photo as shot; full size (4608×3456), unprocessed

The above was taken at f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, at 1500mm zoom.

Note: all the photos are presented at their full size; click on any of them and it will open in a new window or tab. 

Those photos were taken a few hours apart and the lighting is different both because in the differences in the camera’s processing and because the light was different. But, that just affects brightness and color.

Anyway, a 1:1 crop of the D7500 photo would look like this:

D7500 1:1 crop – 1218 by 812 pixels

To get a photo that looks the same from the P900 I would have to crop to this size:

P900 cropped to 3196 by 2397 pixels

So, while the two photos show the same scene, the P900 is nearly three times as large as the crop from the D7500.

If I crop the P900 photo to a 1:1 ratio (full size), this is what the photo would look like:

1:1 crop of P900 photo – actual dimension is 959 by 719 pixels.

I can crop the D7500 photo to show the same scene but now the photo is only about half the size of the crop from the P900 . . .

D7500 photo cropped to show the same areas as the P900 1:1 crop – 413 by 275 pixels

One can argue the quality of the two photos but I would give a slight nod to the D7500 version . . . but only because it’s smaller. If I zoom the photo by 2X, the details are not there and all you see the pixelation.  

You could enlarge it using FastStone Photo Resizer and it would use an algorithm to come up with (by interpolating) information so as to keep the photo from pixelating. 

Enlarged 2X using FastStone Photo Resizer – 826 by 550 pixels.

Even then, the P900 is marginally better just by the fact there’s more information and the photo looks smoother. This would come into play if I then attempt to post-process both photos. 

Of course, I could use Topaz A. I. Gigapixels and get an even better enlargement.

The D7500 crop enlarged using Topaz A. I. Gigapixels – 826 by 550 pixels.

Note this photo is now sharper and with better detail than the tight crop from the P900. Of course, it’s not a fair comparison. I had to employ a sophisticated program to enlarge the small photo.

Even so, let’s not lose sight of the fact the detail was there to enlarge to begin with.

Here’s the 3:1 crop of the P900 photo . . . 

P900 photo 3:1 crop – 342 by 228 pixels

I can once again employ A. I. Gigapixels and get this from the D7500 photo.

D7500 photo cropped to approximate the P900’s 3:1 crop. Processed with A. I. Gigapixel – 803 by 535 pixels.

Really, at that magnification, we’re no longer considering quality as the main driver. Rather, we have some reason for going from here:

As shot; full size (5568×3712), unprocessed

to here:

D7500 photo cropped to approximate the P900’s 3:1 crop. Processed with A. I. Gigapixel – 803 by 535 pixels.

We could argue which is the better crop . . . but this was just a quick comparison. Also, let’s not forget that I needed a third party piece of software to approximate the resolution of the P900. 

And that gets me back to the 200-500mm question. I was able to achieve the above results with a cheat 70-300mm lens and the Gigapixel app. 

The 500mm zoom would get me (cropped) versions of photos that (might) be better (resolution/details) than what I can get with the P900 at full zoom. Or not. 

Just for grins, here’s what the AI Gigapixel app can do: 

original out of the camera

cropped and enlarged it 6X using AI Gigapixel

Who needs zoom?

Also . . . 

4X enlargement (cropped) and output full size (1156 by 1315 pixels – click for larger size)

. . . who needs macro?

Anyway, I’ve sidetracked a bit . . . the point is that I think I can buy the 200-500mm f/5.4 (or any of the XX-600mm zooms from competing lens manufacturers) and in many instances — all but the most extreme zooms — crop my way to a better version than what I can get with the P900. 

To be sure, the P900 is no slouch and will always be more convenient than lugging around 15 lb of gear.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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10 Responses to More Photography Stuff – Zoom versus Crop

  1. Marc Beebe says:

    Well thought-out. As an old photographer I will mention only two things:
    1). It depends a lot on how you intend to display the final image.
    2). I actually use a Nikon P610 (60X zoom) for most of my shots now because it is a good balance for doing everything from macro to standard to distance shots without investing a lot of money or carrying massive amounts of equipment along.
    Your actual experiences will vary. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      Thanks, and yes; how the photo will be used matters. Fewer people print these days and fewer still print enlargements. The amount of crop interacts with the intended display medium to drive the decision on how to capture something.

      The P900 (and I assume the P1000) are perfectly fine for photos destined for the blog and, indeed, they have been for the past two+ years.

      Still, they require more processing and are typically softer and are not well-served by cropping . . . then again, the whole point of the massive zoom is that you don’t have to crop.

      The thing is, I typically upload photos to SmugMug and have them available at 100% resolution (original size) but often don’t do so with the P900 photos because, at full resolution, they look like crap (pixel peeping is not their friend).

      That gets into something most readers/viewers don’t care about but some photographers do: the depth of quality of the photo. As most readers use their phones and tablets to read posts and look at photos, almost anything looks good because artifacts are compressed away.

      And that’s fine because the subjects of the photos(scene, animals, people) are ultimately what matters. That, and the fact the interest of the person greatly affects their perception of the quality (what I call the grandfather effect – a crappy photo of one’s grandson is still considered great because of the emotional connection).

      Ultimately, I opted out of the P1000 because of its size and because I already have the P900 (which I plan to keep on using).

      By the way, the phone I have usually takes precedence over the P900 for most macro shots. But, yes, the P900 (or any pocket camera) can take great macros.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Marc Beebe says:

        It has ever been thus. People would look at matte-finish photos from 110 instamatics and think they were just as good as something produced by a pro from a Hasselblad.
        I always shrink my images for the Internet because the large file size eats up limited data allowance and is generally unnecessary for viewing. This also discourages theft. In the meantime I have the full-size files for making prints of, which I still occasionally do if only for my own walls.

        Liked by 1 person

        • disperser says:

          I used to pay for a Digimarc subscription and tag all my files . . . But in all the years, I’ve never had an instance of anyone stealing my photos . . . or, for that matter, buying any.

          I finally realized if someone is going to steal photos, there are better photos out there to steal than mine.

          I typically load a largish (but not full size) on the blog. Keeping it small won’t keep anyone from seeing it because there are a number of pretty good ways to enlarge a photo and retain decent quality.

          As for the storage, one way is to have something like Google and link the photos (putting a link to the photo in place of uploading the photo itself). I often link the photos from SmugMug and that saves me the hit on storage.

          Of course, WordPress often messes with their code and it may result in posts losing the links (has happened to me).

          By the way, I found it interesting WordPress now offers free photos you can use in your posts . . . It makes it even harder for photographers to sell their stuff. Then again, with billions of free photos floating around, few people are motivated to buy photos in the first place.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. OH! I love seeing the hummingbirds fine-dining! And love the insects, especially the closeup faces!
    I imagine photography equipment is very important…but you definitely have a great eye for what to photograph, Emilio! Happy shooting! :-)
    HUGS!!! to you and Melisa! :-)


    • disperser says:

      Thank you, Carolyn. That’s very kind of you to say.

      . . . now, if I could only get my as . . . er . . . if I could focus and get the thousands of unprocessed photos out into the wild, perhaps more people would enjoy what I do.

      . . . but then, I’d have to socialize and I’d have no time to take the thousands of photos I do take.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. AnnMarie says:

    Excellent close-ups and a very different view of the feeding hummingbirds!


  4. macquie says:

    Beautiful catches of nature right next to us. I love the second image particularly, its vibrant in nice composition!

    Liked by 1 person

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