I have read that some lenses don't "support" high resolutions, so, for example, for some lenses (e.g. Nikkor 16-85 VR ), it's better to shoot at 9MP, instead of shooting at 16MP.

Is this the case and if it is what is the reason for it? What does "better" mean in this instance? A sharper image? Less noise?

I've also heard that closing the aperture allows you to increase the MP-count and get the same image quality? (So a bigger f-number with more megapixels gives the same quality image as a smaller f-number and fewer megapixels)

I'd be glad to read some more detailed (technical) information about this.


1 Answer 1


The lens is in front of the sensor, so the sensor cannot get any more details than the lens lets through. That is why if your lens is of poor quality, your images appear blurry.

Now, it is never better to shoot at a lower resolution because the lens resolves a fixed amount of details in a given state (focal-length, aperture and focus-distance). At worst, you will have exactly the same amount of details, just sampled at a lower resolution. When viewed at 100%, it will look less blurry, yes, but you would not be comparing the same image size. Now, you can decide to save memory and bandwidth if you only need smaller images and that is OK.

The higher the resolution of your camera, the more demanding it is of lenses in order to take advantage of the full resolution. You will often see this comment DPReview's review conclusions.

Given that sharpness of a lens is very depending on all its settings and even spatially variant (corners are rarely as sharp so the center), I would not recommend lowering the resolution. In general, a lens gets sharper as the aperture is stopped down, up to its maximum sharpness and then sharpness gets reduced when the diffraction limit is hit. How much very much depends on the lens. High quality lenses for example may be only a tiny bit softer wide-open while low quality lenses can become extremely blurry. So, if your photos are too soft, you can try to stop down, usually 2 stops from the maximum is the rule of thumb.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer! I edited my question a little, as I later remembered to add the part with the aperture. Could you review the question and update your answer, if possible? Thanks a lot in advance! :) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 14, 2012 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Added more details but the conclusion still stands. You can get more details by stopping down but it also depends on focal-length. Some lenses will be sharper at one end or in the middle and then stopping down makes less difference. The interactions are too complex to conclude when you really get a much lower resolution. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jan 14, 2012 at 16:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.