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Author Topic: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?  (Read 3260 times)

V8Beast

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Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« on: March 15, 2012, 04:04:10 PM »
First off, this isn't another 5DIII vs. D800 debate. It's just that megapixels seems to be a hot topic lately, so I stared pondering the practical advantages of resolution. Perhaps I'm more fortunate than others, because while many have expressed the need to print 30x20 enlargements, I don't. For editorial work, a typical two-page spread measures 16x10, and there are only one or two of those per story layout.

In the early days of digital, resolution was a huge factor. The 8 megapixel 20D was the first affordable body that could be interpolated up to produce file quality sufficient for a two-page spread. The next quantum leap came with the 1DsII, which produced gorgeous 17x11 files at 300 dpi. Since then, however, the 21 mp files from the 1DsIII and 5DII have been somewhat under-utilized in the editorial world. Larger files certainly give art directors more flexibility for layouts and cropping, but the instances where you need to crop excessively  or turn a horizontal composition into a vertical (or vice-versa) are few and far between. Uploading 21 mp TIFF files onto a publisher's FTP server when you're on a tight deadline can get quite cumbersome as well. Don't get me wrong. I'll take as many megapixels as a manufacturer will give me, but the current lineup of bodies certainly offer more than enough for my needs. 

So, where do camera manufacturers go from here? The market is in an interesting position right now where the megapixel count of point-and-shoots is approaching that of flagship bodies, and a $500 T2i puts out as much resolution as Canon's $6,800 1Dx. How's a first-time DSLR buyer, who equates overall image quality to megapixel count, supposed to make sense of this?

At the prosumer level, I suppose the reception of the 5DIII and D800 will give an indication of the real-world value of ever-increasing resolution. Obviously, the D800 has proven that you can have phenomenal resolution and phenomenally low noise. At the APS-C level, however, I'm curious to see how things pan out. It looks like we're well on our way to having 30-plus mp sensors on crop bodies, primarily for marketing purposes. Are there ever going to be ad campaigns to attempt to educate consumers of the other factors affecting IQ and overall camera useful, or will manufacturers perpetuate the strategy of cramming as many megapixels on a tiny sensor as possible?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 04:08:32 PM by V8Beast »

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Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« on: March 15, 2012, 04:04:10 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 04:15:43 PM »
Are there ever going to be ad campaigns to attempt to educate consumers...

Only insofar as such 'education' extolls the virtues of whatever is being sold. 
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awinphoto

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 04:46:32 PM »
I think we are at an interesting cross roads... one where you have sensible high quality sensors in the mid 20's (on a full frame) and then larger 30-40 MP sensors... I can also see them being marketed totally different... such as the 5d3 being marketed as the all around photographers tool, and the nikon D800 being the landscape/studio beast...  As far as consumers, there has to be a limit... lets say you grab a D800, go on vacation if you will, not any old vacation but maybe once or twice in a life time, where you would want to take as much photos as you can... well great.. shooting large because you never quite know when you're going to get that money shot that you want to print large for your wall to remember your vacation... you shoot 500-1000 photos... crap... imagine all the cards, you download them to your computer/or ipad or whatever and it chews through a major chunk of your HD space... you're going to meet resistance..  As pros and semi pros we know we can grab terabyte HD's and store forever, but the average consumer, not so much... Then we run into bandwith space, as you mention... my lovely wife, without knowing better (she's not a photographer nor wants to be) tried sending photos via apples mail program i took with our kids taken with the 5d2 right out of the camera...  almost crashed my websites email server... As far as getting files to a client or lab, I've got labs I trust and labs I dont but use them for special 1 off situations... Labs I dont fully trust, or sending files to a client, while I want to believe when I send the files, color corrected on my screen, would show up great on their screens, but its not always the case.  I've had to make it practice to send a CD/DVD with my files on it, printed instructions, and an epson proof so they know what i'm expecting in case there are any variations on files.  It's one thing to educate people about cameras and MP, but in the end, the older the client, the more set in their ways, and harder it will be to emphasize the intricacies of MP and file size. 
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AJ

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 05:45:11 PM »
I think we are at an interesting cross roads... one where you have sensible high quality sensors in the mid 20's (on a full frame) and then larger 30-40 MP sensors... I can also see them being marketed totally different... such as the 5d3 being marketed as the all around photographers tool, and the nikon D800 being the landscape/studio beast...  As far as consumers, there has to be a limit... lets say you grab a D800, go on vacation if you will, not any old vacation but maybe once or twice in a life time, where you would want to take as much photos as you can... well great.. shooting large because you never quite know when you're going to get that money shot that you want to print large for your wall to remember your vacation... you shoot 500-1000 photos... crap... imagine all the cards, you download them to your computer/or ipad or whatever and it chews through a major chunk of your HD space... you're going to meet resistance..  As pros and semi pros we know we can grab terabyte HD's and store forever, but the average consumer, not so much... Then we run into bandwith space, as you mention... my lovely wife, without knowing better (she's not a photographer nor wants to be) tried sending photos via apples mail program i took with our kids taken with the 5d2 right out of the camera...  almost crashed my websites email server... As far as getting files to a client or lab, I've got labs I trust and labs I dont but use them for special 1 off situations... Labs I dont fully trust, or sending files to a client, while I want to believe when I send the files, color corrected on my screen, would show up great on their screens, but its not always the case.  I've had to make it practice to send a CD/DVD with my files on it, printed instructions, and an epson proof so they know what i'm expecting in case there are any variations on files.  It's one thing to educate people about cameras and MP, but in the end, the older the client, the more set in their ways, and harder it will be to emphasize the intricacies of MP and file size.

I agree with you.  In the early days of digital we all wanted more megapixels.  But bow we're beyond the point of diminishing returns for 98% of 'togs.

Back in the film days, ultra-high resolution films were a specialist tool.  Most of us shot Fuji Provia rather than ultra-high-res Fuji Acros.

About filling cards, needing more bandwidth, etc.  Tech companies are more than happy to sell you this stuff.  Why else would they design a 41 mpix camera phone?  It's to create a need for stuff you otherwise wouldn't need.

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2012, 05:55:58 PM »
the issue i have with high MP monster is that people lie to themself and others.

i hear it often from other photographers in my area.... "i would really love to have a medium format or at least a DSLR with 30-40MP".

when you ask them why you get 2-3 seconds of silence and then they say..."well because i make huge prints" or "i can crop more".

all right.... but i know many of these photographers very well and i KNOW that they make maybe 1-2 prints a year that would justifie a 30-40 MP camera. some never printed large enough to max out a 18 MP camera.

for cropping.. well i don´t know if the 28% more resolution (36 vs. 22mp) will help so much as some think. but then im not a big fan of extensive cropping anyway.

there are sure some who can actually make use of a medium format camera and a high MP count... but when you read forum discussions you think they are all having a A2+ printer at home or ordering 240cm x 120cm prints all day.

a honest answer (for most) would be.." i dont need more then 21 MP. but i would love to have 40+ mp for pixelpeeping at 100% on my 30" TFT"  :)
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 06:19:37 PM by Canon-F1 »
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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 06:05:45 PM »
3D (as in "now showing in 3D", not as in a model number).   :'(

awinphoto

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 06:32:17 PM »
the issue i have with high MP monster is that people lie to themself and others.

i hear it often from other photographers in my area.... "i would really love to have a medium format or at least a DSLR with 30-40MP".

when you ask them why you get 2-3 seconds of silence and then they say..."well because i make huge prints" or "i can crop more".

all right.... but i know many of these photographers very well and i KNOW that they make maybe 1-2 prints a year that would justifie a 30-40 MP camera. some never printed large enough to max out a 18 MP camera.

for cropping.. well i don´t know if the 28% more resolution (36 vs. 22mp) will help so much as some think. but then im not a big fan of extensive cropping anyway.

there are sure some who can actually make use of a medium format camera and a high MP count... but when you read forum discussions you think they are all having a A2+ printer at home or ordering 240cm x 120cm prints all day.

I think it's a common misconception with older photographers with the love of medium format... With 35mm, it had, in film, a limit of 8x10 and smaller... When i used to work at a pro lab when i was younger, pros rarely shot 35mm... if anything, they shot medium format 645, 67, and a few high and mighty pros shot 4x5's.  the reasoning was with medium you can print wallets all the way up to 24x30 or even a 30x40 if the client demands it, but then they fudged it by putting it on canvas so if the image looked soft, they can get away by saying it's an art piece.  Fast forward 15 years and we are now shooting digital, to get a leaf back for your medium format, you got to sell a kidney, no, kidney wouldn't make you enough... get a second or third mortgage on your house... Few MF films exist and fewer labs to process them.  Most pro's have been forced to 35mm unless they work for a big enough client to afford such a digi back.  Anywho they want the control to make as big of a file as they can, and more or less we are venturing into the realms of the 645 format, but the perception, the bigger the better... but with many people using 7D's to print 20x30's, so the old perception of the 35mm is being changed with every new camera.
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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 06:32:17 PM »

wickidwombat

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2012, 06:35:08 PM »
Are there ever going to be ad campaigns to attempt to educate consumers...

Only insofar as such 'education' extolls the virtues of whatever is being sold.

I had to laugh, its early in the morning and I read that as "education ex trolls"
and thought but you cant educate a troll thats why they are trolls then i read it again
must be all the troll fatigue taking it's troll (doh there i go again) :o
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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2012, 07:03:20 PM »
Oh, resolution has quite a way to go. The 35mm format will support between 100 and 200mp. Seriously.

I'm old enough to remember when new CD players were sold on the basis of "oversampling." "2x oversampling" and "4x oversampling" were common stickers on CD players. Why? Fidelity.

We're nowhere near the point where the sensors are oversampling. Just wait until we start seeing all of the aliasing from the D800E, and you'll see that there's plenty of room to go. We're still using low pass filters on our cameras because they need them. Even the D800.

We'll reach the limit when we no longer need the low pass filter because diffraction supplies all of the anti-aliasing we need. At f/1.4, that's over 100mp.

Speaking of the D800, the low light performance of that camera ought to put to rest the myth that more megapixels decrease low light capability. It's clearly a match for the Mk III in that department.

There is no real reason not to keep increasing the resolution of our cameras.

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2012, 07:47:40 PM »
I'm with you stephen. We haven't begun to reach the resolution 35mm is capable of. The manufactures are still dribbling the technology to us. They keep talking about the Nyquist limits. Why? We are shooting a still image which has no nyquist limit. The problem is not only in the sensors, but in the cheap ADC chips that are in use. Granted the more expensive chips use more battery, but so what. Those of us whom want high resolution would willing pay the price of 50 images per battery charge and 1 FP-2S to obtain 80 to 100 MP. With 4X5 labs dying on the vine we have no other choice

archangelrichard

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2012, 07:56:29 PM »
Look folks. Digital cameras are low resolution because - you have to print (or view) your pictures and those are (at 300 dpi for most prints, 72 - 96 dpi for monitors) even LOWER resolution

The point of digital cameras is conveni9ence - most of the images we now take are transmitted electronically (anyone remember when scanners were a popular computer accessory?); edited electronically (anyone remember marking up contact sheets and going back to the darkroom)

Yes, I too would love 36MP, even the 80 MP of the phase one back in medium format (Mamiya, Hasselblad) because it gives you a sharper image; I have a printer that prints up to 9600 dpi and I would love to see that in an 8 x 10 (7,372.8 MP), or even 1200 dpi (115.2 MP) but it's not gonna happen with present technologies short of some panoramic stitching solution (and do understand that going with a moderate telephoto lens (say 85 - 135mm) with a panoramic system will get you all those magical megapixels if you really really need them (hint: google "photo stitching")

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2012, 08:06:22 PM »
Where do we go from here?

Well, considering the (now three year old) 7D sensor = 47MP in a full frame 35mm sensor, I'd say Canon still has a few tricks up their sleeves.

So... let's just wait and see.  :)

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2012, 08:12:51 PM »
Like someone said, it is now a case of demising returns.

I've just spent north of $650 on 8 new 32GB cards for the 5D3, 4 of which (SD) will be used as backup. If I were to buy the D800 today, I'd probably opt for 8 64GB cards.

While relatively speaking storage is not that expensive, storage + workflow + extra time all starts adding up. I'm comfortable editing 700-photo weddings with the 5D2 on my quad core i7 with 16GB RAM. I don't want to think what sort of power I'd need to work on 700 D800 files.

So personally I'm very happy with 22MP at this stage, and in a few years' time, if and when Canon has the tech to keep IQ equivalent or better at 30MP+, with any luck storage prices would have dropped some and computing power doubled again.

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2012, 08:12:51 PM »

x-vision

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2012, 08:20:11 PM »
I think we are at an interesting cross roads...

Very good post. Agree with all your points.

x-vision

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2012, 08:25:39 PM »
Well, considering the (now three year old) 7D sensor = 47MP in a full frame 35mm sensor, I'd say Canon still has a few tricks up their sleeves.

Sure ... but why ??? .

Will 47mp be of any help to a wedding photographer, who takes 500-1000 shots per event?
Or do we all need 47mp vacation and/or birthday photos?

I'm not against megapixel increases, just trying to figure out who needs all this resolution (in everyday cameras).

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Re: Megapixel wars: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2012, 08:25:39 PM »