Photo competetion... and yet another MP discussion

Started May 24, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Michael Thomas Mitchell
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Photo competetion... and yet another MP discussion
May 24, 2011

This past week, I had the pleasure of visiting Washington DC and, in particular, seeing a gallery of winners at the Museum of Natural History in Nature's Best Photography contest.

The gallery was stunning. The smallest prints were no less than about 2x3 feet. The largest prints -- and there were a lot of them -- were easily five and even six feet high.

To see the winners I viewed, go to and choose Galleries -- 2010 Winners.

In every single case, the quality was superb. Expertly-created images and sharp, vibrant prints. No compromises here. This is true professional level stuff... not just amateur quality filler. National Geo would have been PROUD to have had ANY of these images representing them.

Ok, so here's the MP discussion stuff. You probably shouldn't read if you're a pixel counter...

First, about 90% of the images were captured with Canon gear. The rest, Nikon. Nothing from anyone else. Of the Canon gear, 75% was with the 1D Mark II (or IIn). About 15% was with the 1Ds II. The rest was a hodge-podge of Mark III and IV bodies, and 1 each of a 30D, 40D, 5D, and 5DII. All the Canon stuff was taken with L lenses... 24-105, 24-70, 70-300, 100-400, and 300 and 500 primes.

Now, I say all this because if one thing each and every print had in common was that the number of pixels just didn't matter. The 8MP 1DII was responsible for both the Grand Prize as well one 5 foot high print which was actually captured at 1600, along with, as previously mentioned, about 75% of the total number of images. The Grand Prize winner was, in particular, quite detailed, too, but looked great even at close viewing distances (2 feet with corrected visiion).

I've said for years that, after the 6MP generation of cameras, pixel count was one of the least important reasons to "upgrade". This gallery floored me, and just convinced me even more of the truth of it. And this was no mamby-pamby little competition, either. A year on display at the Smithsonian is, to me, a pretty substantial thing. And viewing distances were pretty close, too, with all of the images pretty much at eye level and no barriers or obstructions between them and the viewer.

As a 1DIIn and 1DsII owner, I left humbled, knowing more than ever before that I was the weakest link in my photography, and not my camera. But I'm going to be having a chuckle in the future whenever I hear someone around here insist that one really does not need a camera with a zillion pixels. These were 2010 winners... and the winners using much older cameras beat the socks off those using the latest greatest. Funny.

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