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Old Nov 17, 2003, 8:45 AM   #1
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Default 5MP vs. 8MP for Everyday Amatuer Use?


All other things (lens, senors etc...) being equal. would the untrained eye generally be able to perceive the difference between the same object shot with and a 5MP and an 8MP camera when enlarged to 8x10?

I'm debating between the Sony 717 and the 828, the later of which may not be available by Xmas (my deadline). I'm wondering if the performace difference in daily use truly merits the extra cost and the extra wait for a decidely amauter photographer with a non-critical audience.

Of course in a perfect worls the 8MP would be preferable -- but is it necessary?
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 9:19 AM   #2
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I do not think that 8MP will provide you any better pics based on your criteria. A 5mp camera will produce excellent photos printed at 8X10.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 9:19 AM   #3
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All things being equal you won't need 8MP to make an 8x10. A 3 MP can make a great 8x10, my 4MP that makes 13x19 photos without any detail loss.

Again, all things being equal the only thing 8MP can offer is the ability to crop to your hearts content and still retain enough photo after the crop to make a great print.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 9:27 AM   #4
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I concur with the previous posts, and will just add that at 8mp you will go through memory cards much faster.

I'm starting to think that maybe the MP size for home use is getting beyond what most people can use. How many have a printer that can output bigger that 8.5*11 or 13*19 ?
As previously stated it does allow more cropping ability.

IMHO: I'd rather the manfacturers started concentrating on fixing the annoyances in current cameras like long shutter lag times, slow operation, rotten low light performance, etc.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 9:46 AM   #5
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I also concur. For 8x10 inch prints, you're not going to need 8 Megapixels.

Also, the pre-production samples I've seen from the new Sony have a lot of noise.

The downside of higher pixel density (more pixels/square inch) in a sensor is usually noise (similiar to film grain, but it can be much worse).

I will withhold judgement until seeing photos from a production model, but I wouldn't "hold my breath" expecting better quality at typical print sizes.

Most consumers tend to think more megapixels=higher quality. So, more megapixels sells cameras.

In fact, the opposite is sometimes true. Compare the reviews of the Canon S50 versus the Canon S45; Canon G5 versus the Canon G3 as examples (see the reviews at http://www.dpreview.com )

The higher resolution sensors in the newer models caused more noise and chromatic aberrations. So, I'd always recommend the older 4MP models instead in this series.

Sony is trying to put 8 Megapixels into the same sensor size (2/3") used for 5 Megapixels in the older DSC-F717. Higher Pixel Density can have it's drawbacks.

Now, to Sony's Credit, they are also upgrading the lens in their new 8 Megapixel Model. It will have a fast Carl Zeiss T* lens (28-200mm), and it's new CCD also uses a new color filter type.

Again, I'll withhold final judgement until seeing photos from a production model. However, at 8x10" sizes, you will not need 8 Megapixels.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 10:19 AM   #6
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I agree that for your criteria you would see no difference unless you cropped a small part of the image out to print at 8 X 10. The best 8 X 10 crop you can get from a 5Mp shot gives 240PPI. That is as good as any current printer can reproduce. I donít see significant improvement over about 180PPI, so you could do reasonable cropping and still not see any difference.

The best 13 X 19 crop you can get from a 5Mp shot is around 135PPI. I usually want to crop a little unless I had a long time to perfectly frame the shot in the first place, so I donít get quite the quality for a 13 X 19 that I would prefer. I often shoot two panos with the camera held vertically for any shot I either need a wider angle or more pixels. I end up with about 8.5Mp which gives around 180 PPI for a 13 X 19 if I donít have to crop. I can definitely see the difference between 5Mp and 8Mp although it isnít dramatic. I canít speak for otherís standards who find a 4Mp as good as you can get for a 13 X 19. I can see the difference with my Canon S9000 printer and it isnít state of the art.

Many disagree with me, but Iím not a big fan of basing camera decisions completely on current limited needs. Those images are your family memories for generations and you donít know what requirements you will have in the future for the images.

There are more advantages to the 828 than just 8Mp. A 28-200 zoom lens with a manual zoom ring, cheaper and larger CF cards, raw format, special 7 layer Zeiss lens coating etc etc etc. It is a big and heavy camera, but quite competent. It is a pity it wonít be out before Christmas. Sony must have run into major problems as their original plan was to release it this month. The CF cards are large and cheap enough that saving larger files shouldnít be a factor. I would want to see some reviews and sample photos before ordering one.

I find that if you view a 5mp and 3Mp shot at 100% you can usually see more noise in the higher pixel shot. But compare apples to apples and view them at the same size and the difference is more a result of the camera than the sensor IMO. If you want to print a large blowup you would want to do some editing anyway, so applying Neat Image to eliminate the noise isnít that big a deal. Same for extreme crops. Iím hoping the same progression holds true of 8Mp shots. There will be people absolutely aghast at the noise when viewed at 100%, but Iím guessing the images will be quite useable.

Also have a look at the Minolta A1 if you have to buy before Christmas. It isnít good for IR photography and the Sony lens is faster for available light action shots. But the image stabilization on the A1 gives better hand held available light capability for subjects that arenít moving. 28-200, big manual focus ring, image stabilization, CF cards, Adobe RGB, tracking focus, flip-out LCD and EVF, large buffer, good lag times, 14 bit processing, raw and superfine formats and a plethora of manual controls are just some of the great features.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 11:08 AM   #7
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Slipe is correct. I was probably being a little too hard on the new Sony.

Noise tends to blend in at typical viewing/print sizes. Also, because of the higher resolution, the noise grain will be very fine.

As Slipe mentioned, this camera will also have new features, as well as a very high quality lens. That's why I said that I would withhold judgement until seeing photos from a production model.

Even if the camera does exhibit higher noise than some, there are some excellent tools to remove it (Neat Image is one, Noise Ninja is another). Also, the higher resolution may offset any additional noise in the photos anyway (especially if you view the photos at the same size -- reducing the 8MP image to 5MP before doing a comparison.

It does appear that the new model will not be available by your Christmas deadline (speculation on my part, based on comments from users and dealers).

As Slipe mentioned, the new Minolta A1 is also a very nice camera. It has a "wider" wide angle than the Sony DSC-F717, and has a LOT of features that increase the useability of the camera.

The only major complaint I've seen is higher noise. But, that is to be expected from the new anti-shake CCD technology, which does not use the same CCD heat sink used in previous models.

If I had to buy a "long zoom" camera today, I would probably go with the Minolta A1, despite it's slightly higher noise in some conditions. I personally think the lens range and features make up for it, and it's easy to reduce in software.

Also, unless you need to print at VERY LARGE (> 8x10") sizes, you're probably not going to notice it anyway.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 1:29 PM   #8
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Default 828

Great advice, everyone. Thanks!

And thanks for the alternative options to the 717. Aside from the base performance of the camera which is quite high, it apparently delivers better low/available light performance than the price-equivalent Coolpix or Dimage A1. This is a critcal functionality for me, understanding fully that I make sacrifices in other areas.

Not knowing much about camera marketing, I must say I find the 828 marketing situation disconcerting. On one hand, Sony Customer Service continues to advise callers that the camera will be available this week. At the same time Sony has given its US dealer network dates covering the spectrum of mid-November, to early-December, December 26 and beyond.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 1:38 PM   #9
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This week, huh?

I wasn't aware that Sony Customer Service was putting out this info. Maybe they'll be correct, and you can have this option in a model for Christmas.

It's hard to know what to expect on delivery dates, because of different info, from different sources. Most sources (hearsay, to be frank), indicate that Sony will miss the Christmas deadline. Also, there are companies taking "pre-orders" now, so there could be a waiting list, even if they do manage to start shipments early.

Unfortunately, until a camera actually begins to ship, there is no good way to tell what delivery dates to expect (unless you're a close personal friend of someone in senior management).
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 1:50 PM   #10
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For Everyday Amatuer Use? A 2mp will suit most people...it's only if you're printing greater than 8x10 (or crop) do you need more than 2mp.

I shot with a manual SLR for 20 years, and I currently use a 2mp camera because I don't print larger than 8x10 and I frame the shot in camera so I don't need to crop...I don't intend to buy another camera for at least another year (unless that certain model with the features I want will appear on the market...not yet).

On the safe side though, get at least a 3mp camera.

Instead look at the features you want, optics, how the camera feels in your hands, etc.
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