Saturday, August 30, 2008

Megapixels

It seems to me that Nikon left the megapixel race before Canon. Nikon D3 has only 12 megapixels, while the big Canons left that behind years ago. And that has allowed Nikon to become Top Dog in the low-noise department and shoot to stardom.

And the new Nikon D90 also has twelve megapixels, whereas the new Canon 50D has fifteen. And according to persistent rumors, the update to the fabulous 12-megapixel Canon 5D will have at least 17 megapixels.

I've decided that until the day I have need for really big specialized prints, if that ever happens, then 12 megapixels is as much as I want. In fact I have prints on my wall in A3 size (about 12x16 inches) froma six-megapixel camera (Nikon D100), and you'll have to do close side-by-side scrutiny to tell the difference between those and some from a 12-megapixel camera. And who does that with wall art? In fact the bigger the print, the greater the viewing distance.

More megapixels than a certain minimum eat up your diskspace and tax your processor for no real gain.

Also, for anything over 12MP, you need really good lenses to tell the difference. We're talking about lenses costing over $1500 and weighing the better part of a kilo.

I hope Canon will wize up and learn from Nikon, and leave room in the line-up for cameras with reasonable MP counts.

I regard this a fortunate last-minute maturing on my part. When I was young I would have thought that if six megapixels was better than three (and it clearly is), then twelve would be better still, and of course twenty-four would be twice as good as twelve.
Nuh-oh.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Saturday, August 30, 2008   21 comments links to this post

21 Comments:

At 30 Aug 2008, 12:25:00, Blogger adn@n said...

a nice blog. I've got many knowledge. thanks.

 
At 30 Aug 2008, 12:30:00, Blogger eolake said...

Thanks for the kind note.

 
At 30 Aug 2008, 15:49:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Megapixels are not a problem.

File sizes and storage space are not problems.

Only noise is a legitimate problem.

The Canon 50D APS-C you mention has 15MP but less noise than the Nikon APS-C 12MP cameras. You are wrong to suggest the 50D is an example of any problem. On the contrary, it is an example of progress.

Where Canon (along with every single manufacturer) has got it wrong is in their copmacts, where noise levels have increased in recent years.

 
At 30 Aug 2008, 16:20:00, Blogger eolake said...

Thanks for the comment, Anon.
It's a legit viewpoint.

Have you seen any samples of pictures from the Canon 50D? I haven't found any yet.

 
At 30 Aug 2008, 17:48:00, Blogger Mayank Bhatnagar said...

I completely agree with your views, Eolake. I get crisp 17x22" prints from 6 megapixel and crisp 23"x30" prints from 12 megapixel. I wouldn't want to go higher than 12mp.

 
At 30 Aug 2008, 17:59:00, Blogger Juha Haataja said...

In compacts, the noise is creeping up while the megapixels go higher and higher, now reaching the 15 million level. Some of these cameras are only good for sunny summer days.

However, the best of these small sensor cameras are not so bad, for example Panasonic LX3 and Sony W300 perform quite nicely. Of course, they can't match the CMOS sensors of the SLRs, but that can't be a fair comparison.

 
At 30 Aug 2008, 18:02:00, Blogger eolake said...

It is true, those cameras, including the newest Canons, has fantastic image quality at low ISO settings.

 
At 31 Aug 2008, 13:59:00, Blogger Amin said...

Hi Eolake,

Like you, I don't find much need for more than 12MP. However, there are some potential advantages of adding more pixels (less aliasing, ability to print large from a crop), and some folks really need it (two page fashion spreads, etc).

Of course computer processing power and storage space will continue to keep apace with the larger images.

The other issue is whether you're really getting the stated amount of resolution. A strong AA filter or mediocre lens will take the megapixels away quickly!

 
At 31 Aug 2008, 14:29:00, Blogger eolake said...

Oh yes. In a test in Professional Photographer (UK mag) a couple months ago, they got as much resolution from the D3 as from the 1Ds mkIII.

I think 12MP easily handles a full page magazine spread.

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 00:39:00, Blogger Albano Garcia said...

Please stop this spread of common sense! People need excuses to keep consuming. I'm still in 6mp cameras, but I will get a 10 or 12 mp soon just to keep editors happy (I've made them understand that 6mp is plenty, but sometimes is better just to give them a larger file and leave :-) )

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 01:18:00, Blogger eolake said...

Ah well, might as well keep the computers busy. 100 megapixels? Not enough!!

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 10:57:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

eolake, here are some 50D samples. http://www.dpreview.com/gallery/canoneos50d_preview_samples/

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 11:03:00, Anonymous Costache said...

I wonder how big megapixels will impact on high ISO noise.

Newer cameras have the option to shoot in RAW modes at lower resolution than the sensor native resolution, hence lower noise.

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 11:44:00, Blogger eolake said...

Thanks, Anon.
I think the samples there are inconclusive. The subjects are not right for the purpose. I'll look forward to imaging-resource.com's test, they have a standard subject setup.

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 12:15:00, Anonymous Costache said...

I know what you mean. Samples are inconclusive but hey! It's DPR :)

I noticed only EF lens, and most of them are L or L-class.

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 13:25:00, Blogger eolake said...

I don't think that's right. When I look up EF lenses, it seem that's practically all the modern lenses.

http://www.canon.co.uk/for_home/product_finder/cameras/ef_lenses/index.asp

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 13:26:00, Blogger eolake said...

Indeed it would be odd for Canon to introduce a new mainstream model which can't use nearly all the lenses.

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 13:31:00, Blogger eolake said...

Aha... as I suspected the "EF" lenses are simply the standard lenses for Canon. The mount was introduced in 1987.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_EF_lens_mount

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 14:59:00, Anonymous Costache said...

Sorry :) As a Canon user I thought everybody knew what a EF lens is :))))))))

What I really wanted to highlight was: the test was done only with good and quite pricey Canon lens.

 
At 2 Sep 2008, 15:12:00, Blogger eolake said...

Yes, isn't that the best way to test what the camera can do?

 
At 5 Sep 2008, 16:31:00, Anonymous Wirehead Arts said...

I've got a better way to think about it. Bogo-megapixels vs. Megapixels. Except really, it's the real megapixels that are truly bogus....

 

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