Sensor Resolution Does Matter
The majority of digital images are used for small format printing and displaying on line, neither of which benefit from high resolution as much as they benefit from noise, dynamic range and color depth performance. In addition, lower resolution sensors produce smaller file sizes that reduce storage, processor and transfer requirements. For all of these reasons DXO ranking represents the best camera sensors for the majority of photography. However, for the small portion of work that does benefit from higher resolution (print publications and large art prints) then resolution matters considerably and should be considered in DXO's scores.

The following lists rank camera sensors based on performance that includes resolution and DXO score for noise, dynamic range and color depth performance. The resolution figures figures used for this posting are not overly precise as the come from dpreview's in-depth reviews that does not use consistent resolution measurements. While none of these rankings should be viewed as absolute they do reveal general/average camera sensor quality. The point of this posting is that DXO's scoring misses an important element in image quality by leaving out resolution. Of the 29 camera sensors included in this posting around half would have a significantly different overall score/ranking by DXO if they included resolution in their evaluation. While no scoring/ranking system can be perfect, when around half of the results are significantly off the mark then there is a problem that should be addressed.

Best Camera Sensors Based on Resolution + DXO score:
  • Resolution intensive work FF sensor = Nikon D3X and Canon 5D2/1Ds3
  • Resolution intensive work crop sensor = Pentax K-5/Nikon D7000/Sony A55 and Canon 7D/60D/600D/550D
  • Low resolution work with FF sensor = Nikon D3s and Nikon D3/D700
  • Low resolution work with crop sensor = Nikon D5000 and Nikon D300s/D90

Resolution + DXO Score:
1: 1: Nikon D3X = 88 + 15 = 103 Unchanged
1: 2: Pentax K-5 = 82 + 20 = 102 Unchanged
2: 4: Nikon D7000 = 80 + 20 = 100 Up
2: 5: Canon 5D2 = 79 + 20 = 99 Up
3: 4: Canon 1Ds3 = 80 + 15 = 95 Unchanged
4: 5: Sony 900 = 79 + 15 = 94 Unchanged
4: 7: Sony 55 = 73 + 20 = 93 Up
5: 6: Canon 1D4 = 74 + 15 = 89 Unchanged
5: 6: Canon 1Ds2 = 74 + 15 = 89 Unchanged
6: 2: Nikon D3s = 82 + 5 = 87 Down
6: 3: Nikon D3 = 81 + 5 = 86 Down
7: 8: Nikon D5000 = 72 + 10 = 82 Up
8: 12: Canon 60D and others = 66 + 15 = 81 Up
8: 4: Nikon D700 = 80 + 0 = 80 Down
9: 11: Nikon D3100 = 67 + 10 = 77 Up
10: 10: Nikon D300s = 70 + 5 = 75 Unchanged
11: 7: Nikon D90 = 73 + 0 = 73 Down
11: 15: Canon 50D = 63 + 10 = 73 Up
11: 15: Canon 500D = 63 + 10 = 73 Up
12: 9: Canon 1D3 = 71 + 0 = 71 Down
12: 9: Canon 5D = 71 + 0 = 71 Down
12: 16: Pentax K7 = 61 + 10 = 71 Up
12: 16: Canon 450D = 61 + 10 = 71 Up
12: 17: Olympus E5 = 56 + 15 = 71 Up
12: 13: Pentax K20D = 65 + 5 = 70 Unchanged
13: 11: Nikon D300 = 67 + 0 = 67 Down
13: 12: Sony 700 = 66 + 0 = 66 Unchanged
14: 14: Canon 40D = 64 + 0 = 64 Unchanged
15: 16: Nikon D80 = 61 + 0 = 61 Unchanged

DXO Score (noise, dynamic range and color depth):
1: Nikon D3X = 88
2: Nikon D3s = 82
2: Pentax K-5 = 82
3: Nikon D3 = 81
4: Nikon D700 = 80
4: Canon 1Ds3 = 80
4: Nikon D7000 = 80
5: Canon 5D2 = 79
5: Sony 900 = 79
6: Canon 1D4 = 74
6: Canon 1Ds2 = 74
7: Sony 55 = 73
7: Nikon D90 = 73
8: Nikon D5000 = 72
9: Canon 1D3 = 71
9: Canon 5D = 71
10: Nikon D300s = 70
11: Nikon D3100 = 67
11: Nikon D300 = 67
12: Sony 700 = 66
12: Canon 60D and others = 66
13: Pentax K20D = 65
14: Canon 40D = 64
15: Canon 50D = 63
15: Canon 500D = 63
16: Nikon D80 = 61
16: Pentax K7 = 61
16: Canon 450D = 61
17: Olympus E5 = 56

Resolution from dpreview:
-Sony A55 (16.2MP, 23.5x15.6mm) = 3000Lph = 20pts
-Pentax K-5 (16.3MP, 23.4x15.6mm) = 2800Lph = 20pts
-Nikon D7000 (16.2MP, 23.6x15.6mm) = 2800Lph = 20pts
-Canon 5D2 (21.1MP, 36x24mm) = 2750Lph = 20pts
-Canon 7D/60D/600D/550D (18MP, 22.3x14.9mm) = 2500 to 2700Lph = 15pts
-Canon 1Ds3 (21.1MP, 36x24mm) = 2700Lph = 15pts
-Sony A900 (24.6MP, 35.9x24mm) = 2700Lph = 15pts
-Nikon D3X (24.5MP, 35.9x24mm) = 2650Lph = 15pts
-Olympus E-5 (12.3MP, 17.3x13.0mm) = 2600Lph = 15pts
-Canon 1Ds2 (16.6MP, 36x24mm) = 2600Lph = 15pts
-Canon 1D4 (16.1MP, 27.9x18.6mm) = 2500Lph = 15pts
-Pentax K7 (14.6PM, 23.4x15.6mm) = 2425Lph = 10pts
-Nikon D3100 (14.2MP, 23.1x15.4mm) = 2400Lph = 10pts
-Canon 50D (15.1MP, 22.3x14.9mm) = 2400Lph = 10pts
-Canon 500D (15.1MP, 22.3x14.9mm) = 2375Lph = 10pts
-Nikon D5000 (12.3MP, 23.6x15.8mm) = 2375Lph = 10pts
-Canon 450D (12.2MP, 22.2x14.8mm) = 2375Lph = 10pts
-Nikon D3s (12.1MP, 36x23.9mm) = 2275Lph = 5pts
-Nikon D3 (12.1MP, 36x23.9mm) = 2275Lph = 5pts
-Nikon D300s (12.3MP, 23.6x15.8mm) = 2275Lph = 5pts
-Pentax K20D (14.6MP, 23.4x15.6mm) = 2250Lph = 5pts
-Nikon D700 (12.1MP, 36x23.9mm) = 2200Lph = 0 pts
-Canon 1D3 (10.1MP, 28.7x18.7mm) = 2175Lph = 0 pts
-Nikon D90 (12.3MP, 23.6x15.8mm) = 2175Lph = 0 pts
-Canon 5D (12.7MP, 36x24mm) = 2150Lph = 0 pts
-Nikon D300 (12.3MP, 23.6x15.8mm) = 2150Lph = 0 pts
-Sony A700 (12.2MP, 23.5x15.6mm) = 2150Lph = 0 pts
-Canon 40D (10.1MP, 22.2x14.8mm) = 1950Lph = 0 pts
-Nikon D80 (10MP, 23.6x15.8mm) = 1850Lph = 0 pts
WTB LABEL Resolution-02