In this article I will explore the Nikon Z50 using the exceptional Z 85mm f/1.8 S lens and post-production efforts to enhance the Z50’s “native” resolution. For a camera class in Bakersfield, California click me!
The Z50 has a native, or sensor resolution of 3712 x 5568 pixels for a total pixel count of 20,668,416. The Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S lens is suitable for both DX (like the Z50) and FX or full-frame Nikon Z cameras. This lens is very sharp with a DxO sharpness rating of 41 when coupled with the FX Z7 camera. Nevertheless, the Z 85mm retains excellent sharpness when fitted to the Z50. The answer to the question, “Can using a very sharp Z lens on the Z50 enhance acutance or apparent sharpness?” is Yes!
Above and below (cropped) photos: Nikon Z50 & Z 85mm, 1/1600s, f/7.1, ISO 200, +1EV. Here I used a higher shutter speed, shot at f/7.1, and “pushed highlights” by one Exposure Value all for maximum resolution.
Even given the significant drop in resolution caused by my submission to WordPress’ image algorithms, it is apparent that the Z50 & Z 85mm combination is worthy. But what happens when we want to actually print an image?
Natively, at 300 PPI (300 pixels per inch, a viable printing standard) the Z50 will print an excellent 12 x 18 inch (2:3 aspect ratio) photo given a quality printer. But what happens if we try to really push resolution? What happens if we choose to print at 24 x 36 inches (still 2:3 aspect ratio)? Will it aid our effort to first enlarge the image to pixel dimensions of 7200 x 10800 using post-production software? I believe so. Below, note how much smaller (%26.57) a native Z50 image (in cyan) is compared to an image at 24 x 36 inches.
I think it is safe to say that we are asking quite a lot of the poor little Z50 even when backed by the high-quality Z 85mm. I used Photoshop CC and also ON1 Resize AI 2022 to enlarge the image to 7200 x 10800 pixels, and was well pleased with both results. The ON1 software obviously adds some sharpening but both techniques are suitable as when we print we first “output sharpen” to match our experience with any printer. All prints seem to benefit from experienced sharpening before printing. See the side by side comparison below. Photoshop Image > Image Size on the left and ON1 Resize on the right.
But very small internet resolutions do not speak forcefully regarding any experiment in resolution we may perform. Only a print will be revealing in this regard. Presently, I await funding to actually obtain a 24 x 36 inch print from my Z50. So I will conclude by saying that a really, really good 24 x 36 inch print should be possible given the Z50 and a sharp lens, modern post-production software, skillful output sharpening, and a quality printer.
For the ultimate comparison of digital cameras, lenses, and imaging sensors, visit Sensors Database – DXOMARK. DxO is way, way ahead of the power curve in analysis for many components.
Ed Ruth is a photography instructor, photographer, and graphic artist in Bakersfield California.