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Old Oct 21, 2008, 1:37 AM   #1
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People will think $100,000 car is better than a $20,000 right? or A Core 2 Duo is better than a Pentium 1 processor, correct?

Then when it comes to compact cameras why do people say the 8mp or 10 mp is better than a 14.5 mp camera? "Oh yeah sure the $250 camera is wayyy better than the expensive $400 one." It drove me crazy.

I could easily prove that wrong with a simple prediction. Ahem... what would still be in the market 5 years from now the 8mp camera or the 14.5 mp? Without a doubt the 14.5mp. The lower mp cameras will always be replaced with higher mp cameras.

So what you guys are saying is that the 8mp camera is better than what future cameras can bring? Maybe I should sell my car and buy a horse and a wagon, or when a flying car is invented I shouldn't consider buying it.

Prove me wrong.
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Old Oct 21, 2008, 1:53 AM   #2
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Neither camera will be in the market 5 years from now, they will both have been replaced.

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Old Oct 21, 2008, 4:55 AM   #3
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Well Vigor,

The problem with your argument is you've fallen for the marketing rubish that megapixels is the only important feature upon which to judge a camera. It's not. By the same argument, a dodge pickup truck is automatically better than a Porsche because the engine has more cylinders. More is better, right?

Dealing strictly with megapixels, more isn't always better. It's the quality of those pixels that counts. In a rush to impress people like you, manufacturers often cram more pixels on the same size sensor - often without any technology advancement to counteract the problems associatiated. Because more megapixels get crammed together the noise performance gets worse. So very often when there is a jump in mp from one generation of camera to the next, the image quality of that first generation at higher mp count is worse.

But, of more importance is the following:

How important is ISO 6400 to a photographer that only uses ISO 200 and below? The answer? Not very. So, why would a camera with ISO 6400 be a better camera for that photographer? The answer - it wouldn't necessarily be. Every camera has pros and cons. Not the least of which is the ergonomics of the camera. Some prefer a small camera, some a large one. Some prefer optical viewfinder, some not.

The best camera is the one whose feature set and strengths match the needs of the photographer in question. Very possible 20 different people could have 20 different best cameras.

And, I'll let you in on a little secret: for the vast majority of people using digicams, even if pixel quality were the same those people would see no benefit from a 14mp camera over an 8mp camera? Why? Because the vast majority print 4x6 or simply view on-line with very little photo editing. And since 8mp is plenty for a 16x20 print there is no gain. Now, if that person gives up ANOTHER feature that does benefit them to get the camera with 14mp then they've lost out.

At this point in photography, for 90% of photographers, megapixels is the LEAST important feature in a camera.

For instance - there are still quite a few professional (think sports illustrated, ESPN, Getty) sports photographers still using an 8 mp camera. My gosh? Why would they be so stupid? Megapixels are more important than anything else. No, they're not. They use that 8mp camera because it's a fantastic tool. In the last year a couple cameras have come out that are better. They happen to have more megapixels but pros aren't switching because of the MP they're switching because of other, more important features.

Good luck in your search for a new camera. I hope you'll learn some things along the way about photography and learn to ignore the marketing departments of the camera companies.
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Old Oct 21, 2008, 10:00 AM   #4
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Look at what happened when chemical cameras matured: the market split into three segments.
-) the point and shoot crowd
-) "advanced" amateurs
-) pro

Most of the point-and-shot folks bought cheap point-and-shoot cameras. A few bought SLRs and used them as point-and shoot, but most quit that when they realized they were being laughed at by people who knew a bit about cameras. None of these folks would even consider using manual settings.

The "advanced" amateurs knew how to use manual settings and bought cameras that fit their budget.

The pros bought the gear that would make money for them - often very expensive, but not always. The pro photographer almost always has a better camera than an amatuer for the same reason that a journeyman carpenter almost always has a better saw than a homeowner-handyman. It makes the job easier and makes them money.

I think the digital world will segment in much the same way. I also suspect that there will be a higher percentage of pixel counters amongst the "advanced" amateurs, but there will be some in the point-and-shoot crowd. There will be none amongst the pros. The point-and-shooters mostly don't care what the camera does so long as they get prints/web-shots good enough to please them.

In any activity there will always be some folks (mostly men) who stick out their chest and say "Bigger is Better". Or "Faster is better". Or "More is better". Or some other irrelevant factor is better. About only thing that can be done is to ignore them or laugh up your shirt sleeve when they aren't looking.
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Old Oct 21, 2008, 2:27 PM   #5
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I've always been frustrated by pseudo-intellectuals who feel compelled to think outside the box to show that their understanding is deeper than the average person. The criticism of high density small sensors doesn't fall into that category though IMO. There are good reasons for knowledgeable people to avoid the upper limits of pixel density.

I'm not as anti "pixel wars" as some others are. I remember when non-DSLR sensors were 2Mp and they released a 3Mp. Screaming about the noise was endless on the boards and the universal opinion was that when they tried going to 4 or 5Mp small sensors the images would be virtually unusable. Fortunately technology has made that an absurd forecast. And had we gone with the almost universal opinion that manufacturers improve the 2Mp sensors rather than engage in the absurd pixel wars, we would undoubtedly have some excellent 2Mp sensors. I personally prefer where we are now – driven by the pixel wars.

But high density small sensors are noisy. You don't usually see all of the resulting noise, but you get smearing caused by noise reduction in the camera processor. I wish they would let you completely turn off the in-camera noise reduction and deal with the noise as you feel necessary. It is true that a shotgun dose of noise reduction sufficient to smooth an image isn't that much better than the camera processor can do, but there are more sophisticated approaches with a plug-in.

I think many people are unaware that the detail you can see using standard measurements has increased with pixels. That is true even for high density small sensors with more noise and noise reduction smearing. But there might be a quantum limit that even technology won't be able to overcome and the resolution increases have become smaller. Those measurements are taken in good light at low ISO. When you crank up the ISO I think most of the resolution improvement disappears.

An example of that comes from Fuji. They had a 6Mp sensor in a small camera that almost rivaled some DSLRs for low light shooting with low noise. Fuji's marketing evidently suffered from the low Mp. Many knowledgeable people liked the camera, but that probably wasn't their target market. They were compelled to increase the Mp and Fuji small cameras aren't anything special now. 6Mp is enough to make a very nice 8 X 10 print and more than enough for computer and TV viewing. It was, and still is, the ultimate party camera.

You often see questions on the photography boards along the lines of "why does my old 4Mp camera take nicer photos than my new 10Mp model?" Most of the older cameras had physically larger sensors than most current cameras. Combine that with the higher pixels and you have a much higher density. You can usually spot a photo taken with a DSLR – even on a computer screen. Even at a size where noise wouldn't be apparent, the larger dynamic range and lower sensor noise make a more pleasing photo. This is true to a lesser degree to an older model non-DSLR with a larger sensor and fewer pixels. If the person doesn't make prints larger than 4 X 6 or view the photos on a computer screen, then his 4Mp pictures are really better.

The newer cameras have better features and have higher performance. You can take good photos with them. But you usually do better with a little lower pixel density in the sensor. By lower I mean 8Mp in a 1/1.7 sensor rather than 14Mp in a 1/2.33 sensor.

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Old Oct 21, 2008, 8:10 PM   #6
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Excellent answers with detailed explanations that got through the point of my inquiry.
Saved me a few hundred dollars.

Thank you everyone!
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Old Oct 27, 2008, 7:08 PM   #7
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I bought a Fuji Finepix S602 (3 megapixels) back in 2002.

Since then, I bought a Canon 20D and sold the Finepix to a neighbor for a pittance of what I paid for it.

Guess what?

I really, really miss my Finepix S602 - and even offered my neighbor (several years later) what he paid for it to get it back.

However, he won't sell it to me

So, it's not the megapixels or the price that matters, it's the years of enjoyment and many memories that came with observing all the wonderful situations that you've photographed over the years.

Oh, to have my Finepix S602 back again! *sob*
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