Do megapixels and sensor size make extracting detail better? Sure! They can make a difference. But that is not the only factors concerning detail.
If you want to impact the detail that a great sensor can provide, put a cheap lens in front of it.
This is real case of “you get what you pay for” because the great deal on a cheap lens usually means more often than not that the lens does not produce enough resolution from the sensor. In other words the lens does not perform in such a way to get the most out of the sensor.
Most Dslr and Compact system cameras come with a “Kit” or “Starter lens” which gives the owner the ability to start taking good images right out of the box. For the most part these lenses are okay but not great. That said, companies like Fuji and Olympus do pack a better than average kit zoom with their cameras. An example of that is the Fuji 18-55 zoom. It is incredibly sharp but it is a bit more expensive than standard kit zooms.
If you think about it, camera/lens manufacturers have several levels of quality when it comes to lenses. An example is the Nikon 18-55 which sells for around $99.00 non stabilized, 197.00 stabilized. Both have an f-stop range of 3.5 to 5.6. The same focal length in Fuji is $599.00 and is stabilized with an f-stop range of 2.8 to 4.0.
In the end the Fuji 18-55 while more money is going to preform better. In this case you are getting what you pay for. Much better build, resolution and f-stop range.
This does not mean the Nikon lens will not provide good images. It will, and I chose Nikon, not to pick on them but to provide an example. I could have also chosen Canon, Sony, Pentax, etc.
Exceptional sensors the best of the best in optics, are all necessary for getting all of the detail in an image. We are not done yet getting all the detail out of our digital file. Remember this is all about detail.
The last and very important step is done in software on raw files. Raw files contain all of the detail but require software to process and extract that detail. There are bunches of programs for you to use.
Adobe Lightroom – probably the most popular
Phase One – Camera One – has long been one of the best
Irident Raw Developer – exceptional for getting detail out of a file, especially Fuji X
Photo Ninja –
and lots more
What does this all mean? For me and what I have learned over time is to budget for the better lens or camera. In the long run it is just simply worth it.
If you are going on a trip or have an assignment and you want to use the lens you are saving up for, then consider renting it for a short time. There are several rental operations.