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Old Mar 17, 2009, 7:02 PM   #1
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I know this has been raised here, over at DPR and the various other forums regards Oly;s statement that 12MP is more than enough for most people and that they would concetrate on IQ, DR and high ISO instead, and I was wondering how everyone feels about that statement?

Personally I think it was a brave move esp when Canon/Nikon and Sony have all introduced 12MP+ APSC and 24MP+ FF DSLR's this year but I also think that for most people and applications it is enough. We've already seen with Canon's 50D's 15MP a loss in IQ comapred to the 12MP 40D and the need to use the best lenses available from Canon:

Here's a post that was posted about the 50D and whether we had hit the Megapixel milestone with cropped sized sensors - it was posted several months ago.


Its not only Oly that seems to have decided that 12MP is enough, several months ago the UK magazine Amature Photographer had an interview with Panasonic and it was regarding the LX3 and in that bit of news, they noted that for 2008/2009 all of Pana's digicams were 12MP or less, where as for 2007 there was at least 1-2 15MPdigicams. Add to that Leica M8 (10 MP) and Nikons D3/D700 DSLR which at 12MP are all capable of producing simply outstanding images that can be printed out to some seriously large sizes. For my style of shooting (I never crop) and the average tog I can see a 12MP cam being enough but I can see birders, sports togs who would need more esp due to nature of the images that theyre trying to capture. With 24MP+ its become apparent that most lenses aren;t just up to the job (were lucky with the IQ of the 4/3rd glass) and there was an interesting test over at the Sony forum at DPR where one guy compared his A700 and A900 and found that:

* at most print sizes you couldnt notice the difference between those prints from the A700 and the A900. At Larger sizes there was a difference but nothing that instantly jumped out.
* files from the A900 required more PP
* Lenses which were very good on the A700, on the A900 weren;t so and only with the best SOny/Minolta/CZ lenses was the best IQ being achieved.



:O :?
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Old Mar 17, 2009, 9:00 PM   #2
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I don't know where technology will take digital photography. As it stands now, I'm quite happy with the E-3's 10mp. Even with modest cropping, there is enough there to do/print anything I want.

There are applications, such as large group photographs or complicated landscapes printed large, where the extra would be handy. The thing is that I believe Oly is right when they say that such applications would be better served with larger (read as 35mm FF) sensors.

In some measure, its a choice of extra headroom or more resolution. The more resolution only matters in large print size or close crops. For me, if I get to choose, I'll take the extra DR (headroom) because its more common for me to run into those limits.

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Old Mar 17, 2009, 9:15 PM   #3
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I think you'll find that Olympus has amended that statement. In fact, the original interview (which I read but don't have a link to) has been corrected to state (in a nutshell) "Twelve for now but up to 20 later".

That being said, for the sake argument, assume they really did plan to top out at 12 MP. Now, I would agree that 12MP is more than adequate for the vast majority of purposes. Personally, because I do a lot of aircraft photography, I crop more than most people when I'm working on that subject so a few extra MP would be nice. But 12MP is really OK.

But there's a larger question. I don't like the idea that sensor developers should only be able to fight one war at a time. Image quality issues of all kinds should be under constant examination and improvement. I don't approve of a narrow effort that says, "OK let's STOP adding megapixels and work on dynamic range". Of course we want improved dynamic range! I would hope and expect that they have engineers working on dynamic range EVERY SINGLE DAY. And I would hope and expect that they would engineers working on high ISO performance every single day. But I don't think that any one area of possible improvement should be called to halt while people work on other issues.

Sensor development should be a total package. I want guys working to improve everything: dynamic range, high ISO and resolution. They should be pushing each other. I don't like the idea of declaring that one area of sensor development should be deemed "complete". It smacks of that old joke, "Let's declare victory and go home".

Now, there is a real limit when it comes to the resolving power of the lenses. There is no point in developing sensors beyond the point at which the glass can deliver an image. While sources vary, I've often read that's between 16MP and 20MP for the best Oly glass. So we don't benefit from a 36MP sensor. But there is still room for the sensors to catch up and take advantage of the resolution from the Oly lenses. Until that limit is reached, I don't want to hear that some lower number is enough...that's quitting. I want to hear that Oly is "working on it".
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 7:04 AM   #4
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Yes, 12MP is enough. 10MP is enough. In fact, I often set my E3 to 5MP because it uses less space, both on the memory card and on my hard disk. Sometimes there really just isn't 10MP of "stuff" in a picture, so why waste the space?

On the other hand, bad focus can wreck a picture, so I want extremely accurate focus. Bad exposure can wreck a picture, so I want accurate metering. Blown highlights can wreck a picture, so I want the widest possible dynamic range. Sometimes it's just too dark to take a good picture, but I still want to anyway, so I want the best high ISO response. All these things are so much more important than more pixels. I'm enormously heartened that the madness is beginning to recede.

The megapixel race has been annoying the heck out of me for years. My Panasonic FZ10 beats my FZ50 because the FZ50's 10MP are just a noisy version of the FZ10's clean 4MP picture, and take more space to store the same level of detail. An FZ50 with the sensor from the FZ10 would be a far better camera, and one that I would love to own.

If Olympus released an E4 with a 5MP sensor but clean ISO 3200, that would be an upgrade over my E3, and I'd save up until I could get it.

Hmm. Have I hammered this horse enough yet? ;-)

PS: I did not write heck there. WTF? There's a lame auto-edit filter on this forum?! Sheesh!
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