Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
Great Bustard
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Excellent thread. I have a few thoughts about it.
In reply to LaszloBencze, 10 months ago

LaszloBencze wrote:

Thank you for your congratulations.

Of course my point was to invite anyone who could attend to see for themselves and determine if THEY can tell the images from the two camera systems apart. Mind you, the point the of the exhibition is art, not pixel peeping. But for those who might wish to test their discernment in addition to appreciating the art, this presents an easy and public opportunity.

Indeed.  And, may I say, I thought it very cool of you to put your money where your mouth was with your previous offer -- I'm disappointed that DPR pulled the thread, ostensibly for that reason.

You do raise an interesting point that I've been discussing elsewhere. The claim was made that a 17 x 22 inch print from a 5 MP Olympus E1 was indistinguishable, without the use of a magnifying loupe, from the same size print from a 12 MP Olympus E30. Many came forward to support the claim:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51580883

and was continued in another thread:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51602273

Furthermore, there is a thread on this point in the Open Forum:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51635765

where I linked your original thread.

This is a very interesting subject to me. Let me restate some points I made in the second thread linked above:

This makes some sort of sense under certain conditions:

  • The lens is not sharp enough to make use of the additional pixels.
  • The aperture is so narrow that diffraction softening greatly diminishes the advantage of more pixels (e.g. if the f-ratio were f/16, or more narrow, the diffraction softening will certainly lessen the resolution advantage of 22 MP over 10 MP).
  • Motion in the scene or camera shake adds blur that greatly diminishes the advantages of more pixels.
  • The sensor with fewer pixels is more efficient, thus having less noise and/or greater DR.
  • 129 PPI (10 MP at 20 x 30 inches) with a "good enough" lens is beyond the visual threshold to distinguish higher resolutions still (e.g. 191 PPI from 22 MP) without going to "extraordinary efforts" to see the difference in resolution.

Another challenge that you could equally make is to see if people could tell the difference in noise between an ISO 800 and ISO 1600 photo printed at 20 x 30 inches, which, interestingly enough, will result in the same increase in noise as 22 MP will have over 10 MP.

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