Great debate on whether you really need 24.6 megapixels

Started Jul 17, 2009 | Discussions
Robsphoto
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Re: Print resolution
In reply to Graham Best, Jul 18, 2009

Graham Best wrote:

Rob,

I visited your site. You have some fine images of a truly beautiful country. While I'm happy with the US, New Zealand would be my top choice as an alternate.

As far as printing in general, and specifically printing large images, I don't agree with some of the statements offered on your site ( http://www.robsphotography.co.nz/Determining-Print-Size-Of-Digital-Images.html ).

You don't mention what device you use to output your photos. I'm going to assume an ink-jet printer, as that is the most popular. All ink-jet printers have a native resolution. In the case of Epson pro printers, and I believe most all Epson printers, that's 360 dpi. Anything else is interpolated up or down to the native resolution.

You may be happy with 40"+ prints from the A900, but at the native resolution (of Epson printers), you're looking at a print size of 11.2" x 16.8". I'm sure printing on canvas or other textured media will allow much greater leeway in what's "acceptable", but I think 40" may be pushing things a bit for a single A900 frame with any detail involved.

Jeff Schewe authored a pretty informative article on printing for Digital PhotoPro magazine you might find interesting. http://www.digitalphotopro.com/technique/software-technique/the-art-of-the-up-res.html

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Regards,
Graham

'I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.' -Garry Winogrand

Thanks very much Graham for your comments. Yes, at present, I have a really good Epson photo printer which uses Epson ultrachrome inks, so perhaps much of the credit for being able to get excellent large quality prints should go to this printer. Thanks for the reference to Jeff Schewe’s article, it is well worth reading.

Several other Sony A900 owners have also reported they get excellent quality prints in the 30 inch – 40 inch range. I would be grateful if other Sony A900 owners could tell us if they have tried making prints in this range, and whether they are satisfied with the results.

Although 40 inches may be getting near the upper limit (because it is printed at 150 pixels per inch) even at this size, I can see no discernible pixelation or loss of detail. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case, when you get up to 40 inches you can see with clarity things in the print that were hard to make out at smaller print sizes.

For example, have a look at the 100% crop of this wide angle image:

http://www.robsphotography.co.nz/Wellington-City-2.html

It actually takes quite a big enlargement before you start to see the detail shown in the 100% crop on the above page!

However, a lot depends on the quality / clarity of the original image, and if the original image is slightly blurred, then a much smaller print would probably be appropriate.

I found this article to be of interest:

http://www.have-camera-will-travel.com/field_reports/the_300_dpi_print_myth.html?4974d460

On the web page you referred to:

http://www.robsphotography.co.nz/Determining-Print-Size-Of-Digital-Images.html

I concluded that, it seems desirable to use at least 150 ppi, and possibly as high as 200 ppi, to get good quality prints from digital images. In these circumstances, the maximum usable print width for images from the Sony A900, is somewhere between 30 inches and 40 inches.

Note that some people have reported that, after processing A900 images in programs such as "Genuine Fractals", you can get quality prints that are a lot larger than 40 inches in width, but I haven't tried this program. If someone has experience with using this program, perhaps you could comment on the issues referred to above.

Regards
Rob
http://www.robsphotography.co.nz

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Barry Fitzgerald
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Re: The Crop Religion
In reply to Henry Richardson, Jul 19, 2009

Henry Richardson wrote:

Barry Fitzgerald wrote:

Sure you can show examples where cropping is useful. But I cannot agree cropping is an "art". Over a period of time I have come to dislike many articles on the LL site..some very good ones, and some that simply make something out of nothing.

This is one such case. It depends a lot on your subject, I do crop..but avoid it if possible, esp for landscapes..most cropping I do is for print aspect ratios and not making a composition on the pc. I prefer to make that, behind the camera.

This is just a general comment about cropping not directed at Barry.

Is the 35mm (3:2) aspect ratio a crop of the 6x6 frame? Or, is the 6x6 a crop of the 35mm frame? Or, are they both crops of the 8x10 and 4x5 frames? How about 6x7? Which one is it a crop of or are the others crops of the 6x7? It is all so confusing!!! How about 4/3? Oh, it is such a can of worms worrying about photography "rules"! Makes my head hurt. Which one of these is the "true" aspect ratio that all photos should conform to???? For those inclined, maybe Jesus, Buddha, Allah, et al will enlighten us. For others, maybe astrophysics will someday provide the cosmic answer.

Until the "truth" is revealed I am not going to worry about it. There is nothing sacred about the particular aspect ratio that the hardware imposes. If you want a square image but your camera doesn't produce it then crop. Vice versa. Let your imagination be your guide as to how, when, or if to crop. That is my opinion.

I know you didn't direct it to me, but a quick example

I used to have a really bad habit, I frequently got wonky horizons. My solution was rather simple, I simply took the time to get it right at capture. I could of course crop and adjust the image (and it will be cropped if I adjust the horizon), on my pc

I think it makes sense to not make mistakes.

Not that cropping is bad..it's not, just don't really need to read some article trying to make it out as an art form in it's own right, it's not, just a handy tool to use as and when needed.

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Dave_Anderson
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Re: Print resolution
In reply to Robsphoto, Jul 19, 2009

Robsphoto wrote:

I found this article to be of interest:

http://www.have-camera-will-travel.com/field_reports/the_300_dpi_print_myth.html?4974d460

I found it laughable. Unless things have changed very drastically since I left the printer testing business, printers can only print at a single DPI across a given page. They can use a different DPI on the next page in a multipage job, but they cannot switch DPI in the middle of a contact sheet like the one he printed in his so-called "test".

Maybe he didn't fully understand what he was doing, maybe he just wrote poorly and left out some critical info from his description of the test. Whatever the reason, as written it cannot be taken too seriously IMHO.

He can spec different DPI for portions of a document, but the whole document is rendered at whatever DPI the print driver is instructed to print at. Whatever the document DPI may be, the driver performs a conversion so the information is scaled by the driver to the DPI requested in the driver settings. If I wanted to use his methodology to prove that there is no benefit to printing higher than 75 DPI I could do so if I simply set the printer to print at 75 DPI. Note that he never mentions the driver DPI setting -- this is a fatal flaw.

If he wanted to perform a meaningful test, he should print each document separately, one to a page, and in each case set the DPI in the print driver to match the DPI of the document.

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rhy7s
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Re: Future-proofing
In reply to tompower53, Jul 19, 2009

That essay's a bit simplistic, check http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/not-so-fast.shtml

tompower53 wrote:

Well you need to reread the LL article on physical limits due to diffraction. Zero advantage to 50MP on a standard full frame size sensor. Would need a larger sensor to be able to take advantage of 50 MP due to physical limits.

Kind of like going from a visible light microscope to an electron microscope. Visible light microscope limited by the wave lenght of light.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/brick-wall.shtml

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Robsphoto
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Re: Print resolution
In reply to Dave_Anderson, Jul 19, 2009

Dave_Anderson wrote:

Robsphoto wrote:

I found this article to be of interest:

http://www.have-camera-will-travel.com/field_reports/the_300_dpi_print_myth.html?4974d460

I found it laughable. Unless things have changed very drastically since I left the printer testing business, printers can only print at a single DPI across a given page. They can use a different DPI on the next page in a multipage job, but they cannot switch DPI in the middle of a contact sheet like the one he printed in his so-called "test".

Maybe he didn't fully understand what he was doing, maybe he just wrote poorly and left out some critical info from his description of the test. Whatever the reason, as written it cannot be taken too seriously IMHO.

He can spec different DPI for portions of a document, but the whole document is rendered at whatever DPI the print driver is instructed to print at. Whatever the document DPI may be, the driver performs a conversion so the information is scaled by the driver to the DPI requested in the driver settings. If I wanted to use his methodology to prove that there is no benefit to printing higher than 75 DPI I could do so if I simply set the printer to print at 75 DPI. Note that he never mentions the driver DPI setting -- this is a fatal flaw.

If he wanted to perform a meaningful test, he should print each document separately, one to a page, and in each case set the DPI in the print driver to match the DPI of the document.

Thanks very much Dave, I appreciate your views on this.

In the DPR thread referred to below, I think there was a consensus that it is quite reasonable to expect very good quality 40 inch prints from suitable A900 images.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1037&message=32066667

The ability to get quality 40 inch prints from the A900 is dependent, of course on the factors I mentioned in this web page:

http://www.robsphotography.co.nz/Determining-Print-Size-Of-Digital-Images.html

Regards
Rob

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Robsphoto
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Re: The Crop Religion
In reply to Henry Richardson, Jul 19, 2009

Henry Richardson wrote:

Barry Fitzgerald wrote:

Sure you can show examples where cropping is useful. But I cannot agree cropping is an "art". Over a period of time I have come to dislike many articles on the LL site..some very good ones, and some that simply make something out of nothing.

This is one such case. It depends a lot on your subject, I do crop..but avoid it if possible, esp for landscapes..most cropping I do is for print aspect ratios and not making a composition on the pc. I prefer to make that, behind the camera.

This is just a general comment about cropping not directed at Barry.

Is the 35mm (3:2) aspect ratio a crop of the 6x6 frame? Or, is the 6x6 a crop of the 35mm frame? Or, are they both crops of the 8x10 and 4x5 frames? How about 6x7? Which one is it a crop of or are the others crops of the 6x7? It is all so confusing!!! How about 4/3? Oh, it is such a can of worms worrying about photography "rules"! Makes my head hurt. Which one of these is the "true" aspect ratio that all photos should conform to???? For those inclined, maybe Jesus, Buddha, Allah, et al will enlighten us. For others, maybe astrophysics will someday provide the cosmic answer.

Until the "truth" is revealed I am not going to worry about it. There is nothing sacred about the particular aspect ratio that the hardware imposes. If you want a square image but your camera doesn't produce it then crop. Vice versa. Let your imagination be your guide as to how, when, or if to crop. That is my opinion.

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Henry Richardson
http://www.bakubo.com

Thanks Henry, I think your post is really neat! I don't think anyone minds these days if your prints are "odd" shapes and don't match the shapes at which your images came out of the camera. As long as you really enjoy your photography and are inspired by the final shapes you produce, then that's all that matters. Having plenty of pixels in A900 images certainly helps when you want to crop images to these "odd" shapes!

Regards
Rob
http://www.robsphotography.co.nz

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Graham Best
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Re: Print resolution
In reply to Robsphoto, Jul 19, 2009

Robsphoto wrote:

Although 40 inches may be getting near the upper limit (because it is printed at 150 pixels per inch) even at this size, I can see no discernible pixelation or loss of detail. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case, when you get up to 40 inches you can see with clarity things in the print that were hard to make out at smaller print sizes.

I found this article to be of interest:

http://www.have-camera-will-travel.com/field_reports/the_300_dpi_print_myth.html?4974d460

On the web page you referred to:

http://www.robsphotography.co.nz/Determining-Print-Size-Of-Digital-Images.html

I concluded that, it seems desirable to use at least 150 ppi, and possibly as high as 200 ppi, to get good quality prints from digital images. In these circumstances, the maximum usable print width for images from the Sony A900, is somewhere between 30 inches and 40 inches.

Note that some people have reported that, after processing A900 images in programs such as "Genuine Fractals", you can get quality prints that are a lot larger than 40 inches in width, but I haven't tried this program. If someone has experience with using this program, perhaps you could comment on the issues referred to above.

Regards
Rob
http://www.robsphotography.co.nz

Rob,

Gary Gray's test was made on a HP designjet, with a native resolution of 300 dpi. Your 150 ppi. setting would be appropriate as the minimum for the HP, as a 180 ppi minimum image setting would be appropriate for the 360 dpi Epson.

Like most things having to do with photography, (and life in general ;-)), printer settings are subjective. I may discern a quality difference in certain settings where another wouldn't. In the end, only your opinion, and the opinion of your customer matters. I'd suggest you try the 180 ppi minimum v 150 ppi. if printing to an Epson.

As far as re-sampling programs, I use Alien Skin Blowup ( http://www.alienskin.com/blowup/blowup_reviews.aspx ). There's a 30 day demo available that will allow you to make your own judgment.

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Regards,
Graham

'I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.' -Garry Winogrand

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ledgars
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Re: Great debate on whether you really need 24.6 megapixels
In reply to Dave Oddie, Jul 19, 2009

Everyone who has A900 knows about all advantages over A700. In my view, it is seemless to repeat them again and again. Overall it is a simply better tool for an image capturing. I'm curious about them who deeply analise why they don't go for A900. For sure it is a one simple reason - price of camera. If it the price of A900 would be let say 300USD you all want to get it for sure and you find it's better than A700.

some link for reading?

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/notcamera.htm

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TCav
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Re: Great debate on whether you really need 24.6 megapixels
In reply to Robsphoto, Jul 19, 2009

It's a tool. Some people use it well; some don't.

But if you've got it, you can use it (well or not); if you don't, you can't.
--

  • The lens is the thing.

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jmknights
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Re: Great debate on whether you really need 24.6 megapixels
In reply to Robsphoto, Jul 19, 2009

I must ask... How about low light photography, how does the A900 fair as compared to the A700 lets say. Do 24.6 megapixel alow for better noise reduction direct from the camera, or with a program such as NoiseWare Pro. I've been fortunate to be able to accumulate some really excellent glass. 70-200G,Zeiss 16-80(even thought not FF),24-70 Zeiss, 50mm 1.4Sony,Sigma 70-200 EX2.8,24-70 EX2.8... Now I must decide where to go from here. If the price were to go down I would consider one immediately... I must say the A700 at ISO is not all that bad for up to 8x10's...
Jim in VT

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headofdestiny
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Re: The Crop Religion
In reply to Barry Fitzgerald, Jul 19, 2009

Barry, cropping because horizons aren't straight and cropping for a specific framing/ratio are two different things. The former is bad technique, but the latter is about realizing your final vision, IMO. I try to make sure my technique is good at capture, so that I have the most pixels possible for cropping later. I miss square format, personally, and I never look at my cameras 2:3 ratio as a predetermined influence on my images. Photography is, after all, art. The final image is what matters, right??

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Cecco
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Re: The Crop Religion
In reply to headofdestiny, Jul 19, 2009

IMHO the only real usage for 24 MP is the freedom to crop away without having to fear, the resolution will be too low for large screen slideshows or prints up to A4. I don't print any bigger usually.

24 MP will even allow you to use your camera solely in landscape orientation and create portrait orientation solely through cropping. Cameras are build for lansdcape orientation unless you add an expensive and bulky vertical grip. Same for tripod use, where you need an L-bracket to do portrait orientation comfortably. Without these crutches, shooting in portrait orientation is an uncomfortable compromise.

BTW.: Last year I've suggested a square sensor camera, that is used solely in lansdcape orientation and does the actual aspect ratio via cropping either on the fly or later in PP. If someone is interested here is the link: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1037&message=29555493

Cecco

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Michel J
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Re: Print resolution
In reply to Graham Best, Jul 19, 2009

24 MP is not only usefull for big posters but also:

— for enhance smooth transition between HL and xHL. (Same thing in low light area).
— for reduce noise (it will be finely chopped).
— for crop.
— for having a Sony 12 MP FF (by using adequate option)

— for using to replace a flatbed scanner for capture large documents such as posters, news papers etc (like a reprography unit).

Regards,

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Michel J

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tompower53
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Re: Future-proofing
In reply to rhy7s, Jul 19, 2009

Yes good article - looks like there is still some improvement above 25MP on full frame available. Looks like the only way (at this point in technology) to get a large improvement is to go to a larger sensor though.

Seems to me at some point though combining images will make more sense than larger and larger sensors (for still photography that is) if people are after larger and larger prints.

The next few years should be very interesting.

I had not seen that article - thanks.
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Legacys_Quest7
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old news.
In reply to Robsphoto, Jul 19, 2009

the m.p. thing has ben debated for years. no you don't need 25 m.p. but it's a damn good camera with the best dynamic range of all the dlsr. fuji might be tied or better. canon, nikon don't need 21 m.p. but people still buy them.
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Legacys_Quest7
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Re: Future-proofing
In reply to dw73, Jul 19, 2009

i agree. film has more than 25 m.p. after it's scan.

dw73 wrote:

As I see it, technology will continue to advance to the point where one day we might be looking at 50 megapixels in a FF camera - and then we'll be asking the same question - does an amateur really need 50 megapixels?

I simply believe that the A900 has positioned itself in the dslr camera chronology as being a camera that is future proofed - because of its VF, SSS, user interface, build quality, and finally its 24mp. Because, shouldn't 24mp be enough for an amateur when we arrive at 50mp FF cameras?

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Legacys_Quest7
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Re: 50 MP FF unlikely. maybe and maybe not.
In reply to Graham Best, Jul 19, 2009

no one knows. but all camera co. should focus more on dynamic range, color etc.

Graham Best wrote:

dw73 wrote:

As I see it, technology will continue to advance to the point where one day we might be looking at 50 megapixels in a FF camera - and then we'll be asking the same question - does an amateur really need 50 megapixels?

You may find this article of interest: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/brick-wall.shtml

Regards,
Graham

'I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.' -Garry Winogrand

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Fred Ferkel
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Interpolation?
In reply to Graham Best, Jul 19, 2009

I've always wondered about the specs of some very inexpensive printers which showed resolutions of 2400dpi. I understand the concept of interpolation in regard to a digital image but how does a printer interpolate. Does it actually print 2400 dots per inch or only 360? Thank you for any comments.

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Barry Fitzgerald
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Re: The Crop Religion
In reply to headofdestiny, Jul 19, 2009

headofdestiny wrote:

Barry, cropping because horizons aren't straight and cropping for a specific framing/ratio are two different things. The former is bad technique, but the latter is about realizing your final vision, IMO. I try to make sure my technique is good at capture, so that I have the most pixels possible for cropping later. I miss square format, personally, and I never look at my cameras 2:3 ratio as a predetermined influence on my images. Photography is, after all, art. The final image is what matters, right??

Sure the final image counts, nothing at all wrong with cropping.

But again, I have to wonder how someone can make an article on it, and declare it an art form.

Really, going a tad too far for many!

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Robsphoto
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Re: here's a good article
In reply to Henry Richardson, Jul 20, 2009

Henry Richardson wrote:

Here's a pretty good article called Do you really need an Alpha 900?

http://www.photoclubalpha.com/2008/10/16/do-you-really-need-an-alpha-900/

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Henry Richardson
http://www.bakubo.com

Thanks Henry, I agree it’s a very good article. I liked the section on “focal length factor” and also the cropping advantage with the Sony A900. I think the article also deals well with some of the disadvantages of a full frame camera. The final section of the article titled “Point of No Return”, sums it all up really well:

“I use it because once you have done so, there is no going back. Buy it, and your APS-C gear will be forgotten. Your cherished CZ 16-80mm won’t get a look in, even if you can’t afford a CZ 24-70mm and end up with a budget alternative like the 28-75mm D on your new full-frame.”

Overall, it seems that a lot more people would purchase the Sony A900 if its price came down quite a lot. It seems there are two different situations that people come into as far as price goes:

Situation 1: Really wanting to own the A900 but not having the money available at present.

Situation 2: Having the money available but not convinced that the benefits offered by the A900 are worth the relatively high price tag.

Regards
Rob
http://www.robsphotography.co.nz/Sony-A900.html
(Examples of amazing resolution of Sony A900 images)

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