I was in the middle of shooting an ISO ladder and, after having shot the F300EXR series I mounted the F550EXR on the tripod and began shooting its half of the ISO ladder. And to what do my wondering eyes appear? A total inability to match the closest focus distance of the F300EXR.
That hybrid AF system on the 300 brought with it a noticeable increase in optical magnification in macro mode. This is something I had previously documented when testing its macro prowess.
So … how much optical magnification do we give up?
Not much, but enough that it is annoying. Obviously, I have upsized the F300’s image to match the resolution of the F550 so that all we are testing here is the optical resolution. And you don’t give up all that much in image quality at 100%.
But is this the whole story? No chance. The F550EXR has 50% more resolution, so what do we see when we look at the files without manipulation? This measures *digital* magnification which is really just the amount of data that fits on a 500px wide crop at 100% (pixel for pixel) … and the F550EXR handily wins this one.
So call it a tie. If you crop the F550 slightly, you end up with a similarly sized digital image of an identically magnified subject.
But the F300EXR will shoot closer and thus narrow the depth of field that wee bit more if such minor differences matter to you.