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[Ars] Why we've reached the end of the camera megapixel race

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 

Quote:
Megapixels are the digital camera market's equivalent of horsepower and megahertz—a single metric that consumers and marketers latch on to tenaciously, despite the fact that it hardly describes overall performance. Over the last several years, camera manufacturers have been pumping up the megapixels on each successive camera model, regardless of whether such increases offered any real benefits (hint: they usually did not).

See, throwing more megapixels at the digital imaging problem is akin to bumping up the processor speed on a motherboard with a slow bus and small amounts of RAM, or adding a turbo to a small engine on a car with lousy brakes and wobbly suspension. The number of megapixels in a camera's image sensor is just one in a number of aspects that truly define how well a camera works.

Source
post #2 of 40
Excellent news post from two years ago...
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post #3 of 40
I would like to take this time to point everyone toward the How to Photograph Your Build Thread. It's not just about MP. Lighting is very much important...
Edited by UrbanSmooth - 5/13/11 at 6:23pm
    
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post #4 of 40
For reference, the highest resolution consumer display available - 2560x1600 - is only barely above 4MP. The more common 1080p is only 2.1MP. And as the article said, you only need 5-6MP to print a high quality 8x10 print.

So yeah, even 12MP is excessive for most people.
Edited by Manyak - 5/13/11 at 5:01pm
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post #5 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manyak View Post
For reference, the highest resolution consumer display available - 2560x1600 - is only barely above 4MP.
Yea, I've started to see a lot of cameras with a LOT of MP's, but with bad quality images... Kind of like taking a small image in Paint and stretching it

But this also means good news - camera makers will actually start doing something else. Just like the MHz myth
post #6 of 40
Its just like TV's being listed as 4 million to 1 contrast ratio and being priced at 999 for a 55". You get what you paid for. End of story.
post #7 of 40
wow.. this is old..
Moral of the story: Too high of a resolution on a small sensor = noise.
post #8 of 40
Sigh. Only if you never print it out.

If you actually print, we still have a long, long, long way to go. We need to get larger sensors with lower noise and higher dynamic range.

But you need more pixels to interpret small changes in range.

If you have only 100 pixels across picture of a object that transitions from complete black to complete white, each pixel would only be able to show 1% of light change per pixel. If you do it at 200 pixel, each would be .5% of change. 400 would be .25% of change.

You need more pixels to capture dynamic range of film, about 50-100 MP.

So even though the number of pixels should not be considered until you clearly like the printed results of a camera, we are not at the end of the pixel race. We will always need more pixels to display the full dynamic range that film can currently do.

The current 20MP sensors just are not large enough to fully display a full dynamic range of film, let alone of the same flexibility as film.
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post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timlander View Post
Its just like TV's being listed as 4 million to 1 contrast ratio and being priced at 999 for a 55". You get what you paid for. End of story.
let me guess plasma tv , you are against it
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post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverOfIce View Post
Sigh. Only if you never print it out.

If you actually print, we still have a long, long, long way to go. We need to get larger sensors with lower noise and higher dynamic range.

But you need more pixels to interpret small changes in range.

If you have only 100 pixels across picture of a object that transitions from complete black to complete white, each pixel would only be able to show 1% of light change per pixel. If you do it at 200 pixel, each would be .5% of change. 400 would be .25% of change.

You need more pixels to capture dynamic range of film, about 50-100 MP.

So even though the number of pixels should not be considered until you clearly like the printed results of a camera, we are not at the end of the pixel race. We will always need more pixels to display the full dynamic range that film can currently do.

The current 20MP sensors just are not large enough to fully display a full dynamic range of film, let alone of the same flexibility as film.
You've got your facts backwards. The fewer the megapixels the larger each photocell is, and the larger each photocell the more dynamic range the sensor has.

In addition, even professionals very rarely print at anything higher than 300ppi, which on an 8x10 sheet comes out to about 6MP. And only the mid to high end printers can fully resolve that sort of detail. The average consumer crap can't (dpi != ppi). Furthermore, if you need to print larger than 8x10, then you should either use a DSLR or hire a pro to take the shots. You don't need to make poster-sized prints of some snapshots you took of your uncle making a funny face.

Third, medium format cameras are at 60 megapixels, and large format ones at 144 megapixels (the highest I've heard of at least), so it's not like those sorts of resolutions aren't available to the those who can use them.

In summary: If all you do is view the shots on your computer, or maybe print a 4x6 once in a while, then 2-3MP is all you need. If you print 8x10's then 5-6MP is enough. "Enough" meaning that even if you increased the sensor resolution it won't increase the detail of your prints.
Edited by Manyak - 5/15/11 at 5:54pm
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