When I compare images that I shoot with my 30D against images shot with a friend's 600D, the 600D consistently produces sharper images than my 30D. This is true even when the images are viewed at the same size on screen.

The difference in sharpness is pretty substantial, and even images shot with my Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6, which produces soft mushy images with my 30D are significantly sharper when shot on a 600D. The difference in sharpness is reduced when using a good lens, and I can barely see a difference when using the 70-200 f4L. Images shot with an ancient 50mm macro fall somewhere in between.

Does the newer camera incorporate any technology that makes images appear sharper?

My best guess so far is that the AA filter in the 600D is probably a lot weaker than the 30D. Is this enough to explain the difference?

  • 2
    Are you shooting RAW (and if so, what's your workflow) or JPEG? – Philip Kendall Apr 22 '13 at 20:54
  • 1
    Are you both shooting the same scene from the same angle on the same tripod with all the same camera settings? What happens when you swap lenses? – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 22 '13 at 21:07
  • 1
    1. The 600D has over twice the resolution(18mp as compared to 8mp). 2. Most modern lenses and bodies can be calibrated to work better with each other, are either of these bodies or lenses calibrated at all? 3. I would expect the canon zoom to significantly out resolve the Tamron 4. Differences in JPEG sharpness applied can certainly exist in bodies. – dpollitt Apr 22 '13 at 21:08
  • 1
    Related to @dpollitt's point 2: how are you focusing - auto or manual? It's possible that your Tamron is significantly front/back focusing on your 30D. Do you have any test shots you can post? – Philip Kendall Apr 22 '13 at 21:10
  • @PhilipKendall This happens with both AF and MF, I hardly ever use my Tamron in AF mode, since it's so slow. Sadly, I don't have any test shots, this is more a general impression from shooting quite a lot with the same lenses on both bodies. Next time I get my hands on the 600D, I'll try to make some test shots to better understand what is going on. – Chinmay Kanchi Apr 22 '13 at 21:33

To increase sharpness you get better results going to a larger frame. The technology advances in micro steps, mostly seeking to reduce power, increase light sensitivity, and rolling out few changes in features that could have been activated from the start, but strategically held back, just so they can get people to buy more cameras for those features.

Pixel peeping is on The Digital Picture is a good way to find the answer to your question. Comparing the same lens with a Canon 30D vs Canon 50D, Tamron 17-50mm, at 50mm F5.6., you will see the sharpness is pretty much the same. But the size is not.

30D top,50D bottom :

new and old

Note: Look at the comparison on the link for full size.

However, when you take images you have a certain medium and size in mind so to compare, we have to show the same "crop" as the same size. Here I show the top row where the 50D image is resized to match the 30D:

30D top, 50D bottom:

resized to match

Now we see the benefit of oversampling first, then resampling.

  • Excellent answer! It backs up Itai's point about oversampling with graphical evidence. This is indeed the difference I see between the two cameras. – Chinmay Kanchi Apr 23 '13 at 18:08

The higher-resolution is certainly going to make things sharper for one camera :) Even when scaled down, this still shows since the downscaled image of one camera is generated with much more data.

Differences between anti-alias filters are minuscule, so you can ignore them unless all else was equal, meaning you had a K-5 IIs and K-5 II or D800E and D800 side-by-side.

What is left, if this is not an issue of focus is internal processing. Most cameras can be set to a certain level of sharpness which makes a huge difference. Between models, defaults change and scales are meaningless (two cameras set to +2 does not mean the same sharpening is applied).

  • 1
    I suspect you've hit the nail on the head with the higher resolution comment. – Chinmay Kanchi Apr 23 '13 at 0:20
  • Is there a reason that the resolution difference would make things worse only on certain lenses? I agree that image resolution (and actually the ratio between native resolution and display resolution) can have a significant impact on apparent sharpness, but that should be a consistent difference across lenses shouldn't it? – AJ Henderson Apr 23 '13 at 13:24
  • Yes, it has to depend on the lens as it puts limits on what details reach the sensor. Not just that, it will also depend on aperture, focal-length (for zooms) and sometimes focus-distance. – Itai Apr 23 '13 at 14:06

The lens is generally going to be the main source of differences in sharpness. This is a guess, but I'd hazard that the Tamron lens is better able to communicate with the camera that gets sharper results.

The fact that a Canon 70-200 f/4L barely has a difference can probably be chalked up to the difference in AF sensors in the cameras. (Better focus lock and calibration = sharper image.) It also seems to rule out any other major systematic difference that isn't lens specific since both bodies are producing very similar sharpness results with a very sharp first party lens.

  • I suspect the 70-200 f/4L is so sharp that I can't see the differences without pixel peeping. The Tamron and (the ancient macro to some extent) aren't as sharp. – Chinmay Kanchi Apr 22 '13 at 21:38
  • AJ - You seem to be fixated on focus, lets assume both bodies are in perfect focus, then you have sensor resolution, AA filter design – Digital Lightcraft Apr 22 '13 at 21:38
  • 1
    @DarkcatStudios - I'm only fixating on focus because the original question mentions that on a high sharpness lens, the images are effectively equally sharp. This means that the difference is something with the way the lenses and the bodies interact on the other lenses since both bodies can make similarly sharp images from a highly sharp lens. The AA filter design and sensor resolution would also have an impact on the 70-200 f/4L if they were a major factor, but they did not. – AJ Henderson Apr 22 '13 at 21:48
  • @ChinmayKanchi - it isn't like the amount of sharpness that is resolved on the sensor is going to change the amount of sharpness lost by the sensor itself. It is possible that algorithmic / processing power advances may have made the in camera sharpening better, but the sensor is going to lose a similar amount of sharpness regardless of how sharp the image is at the sensor. It would just be a loss of sharpness on an image that already isn't sharp. – AJ Henderson Apr 22 '13 at 21:52
  • Soft and mushy doesn't sound like OOF, seems like in general the picture is reasonably viewable but lacks details and clarity in certain areas. – Peng Tuck Kwok Apr 23 '13 at 3:39

If you are able to answer the questions put to you in the comments, then it would help get a more comprehensive response. However, keeping all other factors constant, the primary difference would come from the fact that the 30D uses the DIGIC II processor, versus the DIGIC IV used in the 600D.

However, I think that that should not produce a difference so significant, except in particular kinds of conditions, that the difference immediately jumps out.


There are many factors which may affect sharpness of the image taken. So generally it's not true that the newer SDLR will produce a sharper image.

But normally new model will have higher resolution, so if you didn't change any setting, the newer camera will have higher resolution, and hence the picture looks sharper.

If you are really interest in photographing, you can take up some photograph causes. You will learn how to adjust camera settings, and how to take nicer photos.

  • This doesn't answer the question. Besides, I think it is clear from the question that I don't need to learn how to adjust camera settings. – Chinmay Kanchi Apr 23 '13 at 13:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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