The (in)significance of resolution

Started Apr 15, 2013 | Discussions thread
mike earussi
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,701
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Re: The (in)significance of resolution
In reply to DMillier, Apr 15, 2013

DMillier wrote:

A lot of people are obsessed with resolution. And why not, surely the more detail, the better?

Well, yes... and no.

I've just completed a little experiment.  Using my 16MP Bayer Nex 5n, I fitted a PC/shift medium format lens.  I flat stitched (shift left - no shift- right shift) a 3 frame composite. Files were alligned using Photomerge.  Flat stitching means no warping of the files so effectively it's like 3 normal frames placed side by side.

I then printed my 48MP image on A4 paper (image area about 10.5 x 7 inches), pretty near a traditional print size and compared to a straight single frame image.

No difference.

I then cropped the frame in half and printed that on A4 (equivalent printed area 14 x 10.5 inches).

No difference.

The results mimiced the print comparisons I did D800 vs DP2M vs RX100. The extra resolution is invisible in prints below A2 and insignificant until A1 size (c. 30 x 20 inches).

So there you go. Unless you are printing much larger than a 13" wide desktop printer or cropping like crazy, a 10MP class camera (4.6MP) is every bit at good detail wise as a D800/Merrill.

If you're a typical amateur photographer casting envious eyes at the uberCams, but feeling a bit short of the ready cash, don't worry, your 5 year old camera will get the job done just as well.

You can thank me for the money I've saved you with a small donation

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Depends on how good your eyesight/close up vision is, or perhaps how fussy you are (or, obviously, how far away you're viewing the print). I can certainly see the difference between an SD15 portrait vs a SD1 on an 8x10 print in how it renders the fine detail of the hair when held about 18", a common viewing distance for this size of a print. And when I was using film I could see the difference when the magnification exceeded 4x, i.e. there was no noticeable difference between a 6x7 and 4x5 when printing an 8x10, but at 11x14 there was.

I can also see a subtle difference between printing at 600 dpi (12 LPM) vs 300 dpi (6 LPM) on my Epson 1400, as the theoretical max resolution of the human eye is 10 LPM (I should also perhaps mention here that my own eye resolution has been measured as 20/15, slighter higher than normal, which obviously affects my opinion). So a SD1 printed at 13x mag, which would equal a 8x12 print, would have a final resolution of approximately 7.7 LPM (102 LPM /13), well within the maximum resolution range of human vision.

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