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Old Jan 19, 2006, 10:38 AM   #1
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I think the time came when we the consumers should stop looking at megapixels. Most people would agree that it is enough to have just 3.5 megapixels for good 4"x6" prints and 5 megapixels for large prints.

Historically, the benefit of megapixels came from the fact that high digital noise created the need to shoot at high resolution and then use Photoshop to downsize pictures down to reasonable 3-4 megapixels with simultaneous decrease in the noise. Now, when the noise of original photos is dramatically decreased, people can shoot straight at desired resulution and save time on post-processing. In short, modern 4 MP camerasare usually better than older 6 MP cameras. Some cameras and camcorders are crazy enough to actually upsample the native resolution up to 10 MP and more. We shall never do that!

Another thing that I want to add is that this magnificient site is sorting cameras in regular and best lists by megapixels. This is annoing, as sometimes you need to choose between 5 MP and 7 MP cameras that are indeed direct competitors, but they are inconveniently located in different sections.

How would you organise sections otherwise? I think the best thing is usability patterns. Just splitting cameras to: SLRs, 10x zoom non-SLRs, average size, ultra-compact and camera-corders hybrids. That gave 5 sections, which is convenient and keeps apples and oranges separately.

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Old Jan 19, 2006, 11:31 AM   #2
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I tend to agree that megapixel has been driven by marketing departments as the benchmark for what is a good camera. But, I don't agree that 3.5 mp is good for 4x6 and 5mp is enough for large prints. That's painting with too broad of a brush. In truth, it depends on what your needs / style is. Shooting sports or wildlife which often requires cropping - added mp are a necessity. Your cropped image still needs the 270-300 dpi for quality printing.

It is simply one of a dozen or so features that should be considered when buying a camera. For certain types of photographers it is important. For others it is not. Where I definitely agree on is that 'more isn't better' - one camera isn't better than another simply because it has mp.

Unfortunately, the consumer market has been well trained and still seem to latch on to MP as the 'most important feature'. So, as long as they continue to follow that mantra that's where the manufacturers will concentrate - too bad for us!
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Old Jan 19, 2006, 12:13 PM   #3
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I think that the digital market will settle down and near-exactly mimic the film market we've almost forgotten existed a few years ago.

Out of all the people you know with 35mm P&S cameras (which of course, is almost everyone with a camera), have any of them EVER make an enlargement over 8x10? Have any even made an 8x10? With the cheap lenses of film P&S cameras, is there really even enough resolution to create a sharp print over 8x10 anyway?

With that size in mind as the upper limit for 98.5% of the market, 3mp cameras do just fine. I've made some really terrific enlargements from my 3mp p&s. If you want a little buffer for cropping and editing, 5mp is probably all anybody needs. If your going to make an enlargement over 8x10, your really taxing the abilities of a compact camera regardless of its resolution.

If cropping more than half the frame, obviously the wrong lens was used. There is little hope of making that work, regardless of technologocal inovation.

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Old Jan 19, 2006, 12:21 PM   #4
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I don't agree that 5Mp is sufficient for larger prints. The largest 13 X 19 crop I can get from my 7Mp camera yields 162 PPI. Unfortunately I often have to crop a little more to get exactly what I want and that number goes down. With 5Mp the best I can do for a 13 X 19 is 134 PPI.

I have Genuine Fractals and actions set for stepped interpolation to get the most I can from an upsample. But the upsample just smoothes out the image a little without improving sharpness or resolution. I like large pictures for my wall and more pixels would make much better images.

I think the pixel race has been beneficial for the consumer. Back in the 2Mp days there were people complaining about the pixel race and saying that by the time they got to 4 or 5 Mp the images would be completely unusable because of noise. I'm glad they weren't listened to then and hope they aren't listened to now.

One disadvantage to the consumer with the pixel race is that you have to get the higher pixels to get top of the line cameras with fast response times and the latest features. That isn't completely true, but choices are inhibited if you don't need the pixels

Steve will eventually have to revise his best camera list categories as pixels increase, but I find it useable in its present form.

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Old Jan 19, 2006, 12:56 PM   #5
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In computer business (PCs, notebooks etc.) there's the move from more GHz to multi core processing. Would such a similar thing be possible in digicams - instead of higher and higher megapixel count several CCDs?

I think the Foveon sensor was such a strange animal.

Could - as an example - a Panasonic FZ80 with 3 CCDs, having a total MP count of 24 MP, higher image quality with less noise?

You can't jazz up the MP count endlessly - there MUST be some kind of progress ... :?
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Old Jan 19, 2006, 6:38 PM   #6
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I agree that separating by megapixel is not an appropriate way to categorize the cameras. The 6mp Konica 5D will make way better enlargements than the 9mp Fuji S9000.

I use photos from my 5mp Digital Rebel at work to make very sharp 18x24 posters. It all comes down to the accuracy of each pixel. With the kind of precision the Digital Rebel has, especially at low ISO settings, you can enlarge over 400% and with unsharp mask still create a nice, sharp looking image. My 8mp Panasonic FZ30 does not have the accuracy to make sharp enlargements because the noise becomes too prominent, and applying an unsharp mask has a negative effect because it emphasizes the imperfections.

Shutterbuggy, I don't think having 3 CCD chips would necessarily be an improvement. The point of 3 CCD chips is to increase the color accuracy by assigning each chip to one color channel. Since each chip is basically capturing the whole image on a smaller surface, you are getting 1/3 the resolution of a chip the size of the 3 put together.
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