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Old Sep 17, 2009, 5:37 AM   #1
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Default When will Pixel count stop rising?

For many, the Pixel count is what drives the replacement of old digicams, and who can argue that the old 1MP of yesteryear is nothing compared to the 15MP available on some P&S now. But of course there is a down side to this rise in Pixels. In 50 years time do we want or need an image with 1 billion pixels that uses 500MB of disk space to store. While I am sure storage technology will change over time, my point really is:
What is the sensible point at which to stop the increase of Pixels in a sensor? When does it just make no difference anymore to the normal person who takes normal photos how many pixels there are?
Looking forward to your thoughts.
TM
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Old Sep 17, 2009, 6:04 AM   #2
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Sometime ago I red that a film camera had around 30MP or so. I don't remember the numbers correctly but it was around that number. So I guess it makes sense to stop around that number. But then again, the MP count is used as a marketing weapon so probably the number will continue to increase for as long as technically possible.

Regarding the space used on HD do store pictures that but, I remember when I bought my first computer more or less 15 years ago. It had a 30 MEGABYTES hard drive and it was HUGE! 30 MegaBytes. Do you still remember what that is? Nowadays we can by a 1 Terabyte hard drive for less than 100$ so I don’t think storage is an issue to take into account.
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Old Sep 17, 2009, 9:21 AM   #3
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For larger sensors there seems to be a sweet spot at around the 6-7 micron level.

With current technology it seems to give good resolution balanced against low noise and good dynamic range.

Cameras using this pixel pitch include: Canon 5DMkII, Canon 1DsMkIII, Sony A900, Sony A850, Nikon D3x, Leica S2, Phase One 65+. These are the cameras that get the best overall sensor ratings at DXOMark.com.

As the state of the art advances it may be possible to get the same performance out of smaller pixels.

One answer is that 300dpi is about all you need for a high-quality print, so for 8x12 8Mp is plenty. If you want to make poster-sized prints that stand up to the same close-up scrutiny then you need 40-60Mp.

However it has been argued that we could theoretically see the difference (with supporting printer technology) right down to the 400Mp level for even an 8x12 print!!

DXOMark also proves that there is usually very little downside to having more pixels wrt image quality. If you don't need them you can always use the extra info to get better small files. But it does depend on the current state of the art in terms of reading data off sensors.

In the P&S world some manufacturers have recently gone back up in pixel size, but they were working down in the 2-3 micron range.

There is no obvious reason why we shouldn't keep on seeing more Mp in larger sensor cameras with no immediate upper limit in sight.
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Old Sep 17, 2009, 10:27 AM   #4
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If you believe the rumors, Sony Semiconductor may already be working with a 34.8MP full frame sensor.

http://photorumors.com/2009/09/13/ne...i-with-34-8mp/

Of course, I wouldn't put a lot of faith in that kind of thing, as a lot of the rumors there end up being faked info from people with too much time on their hands.

But, I don't expect the megapixel war to be over yet (especially with larger sensor sizes).
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Old Sep 17, 2009, 10:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vertigoPT View Post
Regarding the space used on HD do store pictures that but, I remember when I bought my first computer more or less 15 years ago. It had a 30 MEGABYTES hard drive and it was HUGE! 30 MegaBytes. Do you still remember what that is? Nowadays we can by a 1 Terabyte hard drive for less than 100$ so I don’t think storage is an issue to take into account.
My first "serious" PCs (Apples) didn't have hard disk drives. ;-)

When I got tired of swapping floppies, I built an "IBM Compatible" PC with a 5MB Seagate Hard Drive in it (a Seagate ST-506, combined with a custom EEPROM in a Western Digital compatible controller card designed to work with it). I've still got that PC and hard drive. Of course, I tend to be a "pack rat", and I still have an old Apple II+, too (not to mention lots of floppy disks with a variety of software for it). I did break down and sell my Apple IIe though. :-)

Now, you couldn't fit one image from many modern cameras in 5MB of disk space. At the time I bought my first hard drive, I couldn't imagine anyone ever needing more than 5MB of disk space.
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Old Sep 17, 2009, 10:49 PM   #6
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My first camera had a 120MB super disc (floppy disc) as the media storage for it. I never dreamed I would ever go anywhere to take photos including a week to Baltimore and fill the disc up. I did spend 5 days in Baltimore and broke down and got a secind disc. Last year when I went for the fire-rescue expo I filled 12GB on a 16GB card in 3 days........ How times have changed.

Jim I also had a Mac as my first machine without a disc drive (just floppies). I still have over 100 discs of data (all worthless childhood school assignments, reports etc). I also had and LCII and an iMac with a CD-RW/DVD that burned up on me. Now my new laptop just ordered has a 500GB hard drive and blue ray player-DL DVD drive.

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Old Sep 18, 2009, 10:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vertigoPT View Post
Sometime ago I red that a film camera had around 30MP or so. ...
I recall about that same number being quoted for 35mm. However, some folks use medium format (60 mm wide) or larger film - up to 11x16 inches. So in terms of pixel count, there will always be a few folks who will want any arbitrarily large number. A few will have a legitimate use, and many more will want to be able to say, "mine is bigger than yours".
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Old Sep 18, 2009, 10:35 AM   #8
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Show of hands! Who wants the Pixel Count to stop rising?

Not me.
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Old Sep 18, 2009, 10:46 AM   #9
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Show of hands! Who wants the Pixel Count to stop rising?

Not me.
I do, at least with P&S cameras where the noise floor is way too high. I would be delighted for them to drop back to 7-8 MP and devote all improvements in technology to improving low-light performance until you could shoot your pocket camera at 6400 ISO without any more noise problem than you currently have at 200 ISO on such cameras. Thereafter, if they want to add pixels, I really don't care.
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Old Sep 18, 2009, 10:50 AM   #10
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One could ask; how linear is the rise in image quality with the rise in pixel count? Looks like the line is dropping off a bit.

My wish is that efforts aim more at improving the down(and up)stream variables, like lens, noise, color quality light sensitivity, and camera features.

Garry
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