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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