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

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
bronxbombers4
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not what i've seen
In reply to LaszloBencze, 10 months ago

LaszloBencze wrote:

I currently have a show of 38 20" x 30" prints appearing at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento. Most of the pictures were taken with either a 5D MKII or 5D MKIII. However, some of them come from the Canon 1D MKII and 1DMIII which are not full frame and have about half the number of pixels of the 5D cameras (8 & 10 megapixels vs over 20 for the 5Ds).

What I noticed is that I could not tell which pictures were taken with the lower pixel count 1D cameras. They do not stand out as obviously inferior. In fact all the pictures look good and are indistinguishable in terms of sharpness or resolution.

Now I'm sure that there are benefits of the 20 megapixel cameras. And I do own two of them. But my point is that real life photo situations with large areas of bland texture or out of focus areas do not reveal such differences. This is a bit of a surprise for me but a reassuring one.

If you happen to live in the Sacramento area, you're welcome to look for yourself. The gallery is at 2015 J street and is well identified with signage.

All I can say is could tell apart 8MP from 20MP prints even on an 8x11 never mind 20x30!

I printed at 720PPI on crisp paper.

Plus you have a lot more freedom to crop the 20MP images when you need to and they sure give a lot more reach for stuff like sports and especially wildlife.

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LaszloBencze
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Re: not what i've seen
In reply to bronxbombers4, 10 months ago

All I can say is could tell apart 8MP from 20MP prints even on an 8x11 never mind 20x30!

Please come to my show. I'll meet you at the gallery. I will be interested in learning how you can tell them apart.

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bronxbombers4
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Re: not what i've seen
In reply to LaszloBencze, 10 months ago

LaszloBencze wrote:

All I can say is could tell apart 8MP from 20MP prints even on an 8x11 never mind 20x30!

Please come to my show. I'll meet you at the gallery. I will be interested in learning how you can tell them apart.

I will be in CA soon, but not hitting Sacramento, SF and Monterey are the closest I'll be.

I printed some crisp (looked perfect edge to edge at 100% view on monitor and were not shot at some f/16-f/22 diffraction limiting aperture) 8MP and 20MP shots and asked people to comment on the prints (without mentioning anything at all or hinting at why) and these were all fit onto legal size paper (it was a sharp somewhat glossy paper and printed on a printer that supports high PPI and I used all of the max settings). Some people right away asked why some of the duplicates I had printed were better, some noticed the sharpness difference after I mentioned that some were printed differently, a few I needed to mention what the difference was and then they were able to reliably pick them out, a couple people couldn't tell even after I told them and asked them to look again and again (I guess they had low density rods and cones or were far-sighted and not corrected, some people are a trace far-sighted and some people have much denser rods and cones than others, etc.) From what I recall about 50% noticed it quickly without any prodding, about 40% noticed it after various degrees of prodding and about 10% couldn't seem to see the difference no matter how hard they tried or for how long and they failed at all tests to pick the sharper ones out and only got random results.

I printed some 13x19" on my printer and I immediately noticed that my old 8MP shots didn't have that amazing extra detail my 5D2 shots had. Hahnemuhle PhotoRag Pearl on R3000 at highest settings for everything.

And for wildlife shots, it is easy to see the extra feather detail and such when I took a pic of a bird with a 7D and then a 5D2, the 7D pics clearly show more. A 48MP FF would put a lot more detail on stuff when you are badly distance limited than an 8MP FF.

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GaryR60
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Re: Yes pixels matter. But it would be difficult
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.

I'm curious as to what the average viewing distance is for these prints, in the particular space they're hung in. With large prints, the optimal viewing distance usually increases and the closer one stands to view them, the more obvious any flaws are.

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rwbaron
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Re: not what i've seen
In reply to bronxbombers4, 10 months ago

bronxbombers4 wrote:

LaszloBencze wrote:

I currently have a show of 38 20" x 30" prints appearing at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento. Most of the pictures were taken with either a 5D MKII or 5D MKIII. However, some of them come from the Canon 1D MKII and 1DMIII which are not full frame and have about half the number of pixels of the 5D cameras (8 & 10 megapixels vs over 20 for the 5Ds).

What I noticed is that I could not tell which pictures were taken with the lower pixel count 1D cameras. They do not stand out as obviously inferior. In fact all the pictures look good and are indistinguishable in terms of sharpness or resolution.

Now I'm sure that there are benefits of the 20 megapixel cameras. And I do own two of them. But my point is that real life photo situations with large areas of bland texture or out of focus areas do not reveal such differences. This is a bit of a surprise for me but a reassuring one.

If you happen to live in the Sacramento area, you're welcome to look for yourself. The gallery is at 2015 J street and is well identified with signage.

All I can say is could tell apart 8MP from 20MP prints even on an 8x11 never mind 20x30!

I printed at 720PPI on crisp paper.

Plus you have a lot more freedom to crop the 20MP images when you need to and they sure give a lot more reach for stuff like sports and especially wildlife.

I'm confident you have a lot more experience with this than I but why are you printing at 720PPI? I did a comparison on my Canon i9900 and could see little advantage going above 240 and in many cases 180. The commercial printer I work with who has the latest and biggest Epson and Canon printers has never asked for a file more than 240PPI. To print at 720 you have to upres the files dramatically even from a high res sensor which would cause all sorts of artifacts.

Bob

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Mako2011
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Not the same
In reply to rwbaron, 10 months ago

rwbaron wrote:

bronxbombers4 wrote:

LaszloBencze wrote:

I currently have a show of 38 20" x 30" prints appearing at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento. Most of the pictures were taken with either a 5D MKII or 5D MKIII. However, some of them come from the Canon 1D MKII and 1DMIII which are not full frame and have about half the number of pixels of the 5D cameras (8 & 10 megapixels vs over 20 for the 5Ds).

What I noticed is that I could not tell which pictures were taken with the lower pixel count 1D cameras. They do not stand out as obviously inferior. In fact all the pictures look good and are indistinguishable in terms of sharpness or resolution.

Now I'm sure that there are benefits of the 20 megapixel cameras. And I do own two of them. But my point is that real life photo situations with large areas of bland texture or out of focus areas do not reveal such differences. This is a bit of a surprise for me but a reassuring one.

If you happen to live in the Sacramento area, you're welcome to look for yourself. The gallery is at 2015 J street and is well identified with signage.

All I can say is could tell apart 8MP from 20MP prints even on an 8x11 never mind 20x30!

I printed at 720PPI on crisp paper.

Plus you have a lot more freedom to crop the 20MP images when you need to and they sure give a lot more reach for stuff like sports and especially wildlife.

I'm confident you have a lot more experience with this than I but why are you printing at 720PPI? I did a comparison on my Canon i9900 and could see little advantage going above 240 and in many cases 180. The commercial printer I work with who has the latest and biggest Epson and Canon printers has never asked for a file more than 240PPI. To print at 720 you have to upres the files dramatically even from a high res sensor which would cause all sorts of artifacts.

Bob

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Apples and oranges. A 720 dpi printer produces ink blobs 1/720 inch apart, but they overlap. Your i9900 is actually doing that and more at the fine setting. It's how you get color fidelity from 8 inks. The 240 PPI, your commercial printer asks for, refers to the images resolution Pixels per inch. Most likely he is printing those pixels at a much higher dpi (drops of ink per inch). bronxbombers4 may be mixing his terms. PPI vs DPI
You probably cannot truly resolve more than 200 to 300 PPI on the picture,
depending on the kind of paper. Nonetheless the higher "resolution" DPI of the
printer helps give a smoother and more color accurate image.

Note...Printers need to dither, and their current
effective full-color resolution is around the 240-300ppi mark.
However, you should send the jobs at 720ppi (for Epson, 600ppi for
Canon) because this is the driver's native resolution and assuming you
have un-sharped the image, there will be high-contrast areas that the
printer may be able to achieve towards 720ppi. Question will be if you print will be large enough to notice the smooth high-contrast transition. Likely not.

Better explanation:
resolution

-- hide signature --

My opinions are my own and not those of DPR or its administration. They carry no 'special' value (except to me and Lacie of course)

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fyngyrz
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In reply to DotCom Editor, 10 months ago

sorry

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fyngyrz
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Here's what pixels give you:
In reply to LaszloBencze, 10 months ago

First, the ability to frame later by cropping. And this, in turn, often means that a single prime can work for many situations you wouldn't otherwise consider using it for. And that means that you can use a fast lens where otherwise you might not have been able to.

More pixels also mean, when one has shot a crowd or something complex such as a ship's rigging or a beaded dress, that one can access that detail for any reason from historical to familial purposes.

More pixels mean that on those occasions when editing is required, flaws tend to have higher pixel count regions that distinguish those flaws from the surrounding image data, and when that is so, it is easier to remove moles, zits, flies, and so forth.

More pixels mean that astro shots, or really shots of anything at a distance you cannot significantly close, contain more usable detail. In the case of astro, some DSOs are so small that the detail gained by a high pixel density sensor is a significant portion of the entire value of the shot.

More pixels mean that not only can you crop for framing, you can also crop in an arbitrary, artful manner - pull a panoramic crop out of a standard ratio lens shot, for instance. Or a vertical slice containing only one skyscraper.

So while yes, certainly you can get great images with just a few MP, not all doors are open, or as open, as they are when you have a higher density sensor.

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John Sheehy
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Re: My findings are...
In reply to XeroJay, 10 months ago

XeroJay wrote:

5. Megapixels. This only noticeably comes into play after factors 1 through 4 are near optimum.

Megapixels can help correct some of those other things better, though.  CA is correctived less destructively with more MP.  Motion blur, while it has not historically been something that people have been correcting in post-processing, can be corrected by deconvolution, and corrects better with more MP.  Tomorrow's image processor may let you draw a squiggle on top of a recorded squiggle and deconvolve it.  The less image area that needs to be convolved, the less noise the deconvolution creates.

This isn't fact, and ymmv, but believe me, this comes from years of paying the mortgage by capturing and producing large prints. Megapixels are less of an issue today than ever before.

For current display media, and for images that are perfectly level and perspective-correct at exposure time.  Change any of those two conditions, though, and the need for more MP can not be written off.

If anyone thinks that they could ever tell the difference between my 1Dx and my 5D3 by spotting the extra 4mp from prints of any size, I would bet my pants they're mistaken.

22 vs 18MP is not supposed to be very different.  Who said it was?  The square root of 22/18 is only 1.106; a 10.6% greater resolution in the 22 vs the 18.  10.6% greater resolution is miniscule.  It's not like an investment with a 10.6% return!  80, 120, 200, 360MP, that's where real differences are going to be with very sharp lenses.

Also, who expects to see a huge difference in 30x20" prints?  That's not a very large print; that's barely bigger than a monitor, and the ink spread and dither matrix limit the resolution.  Tomorrow's prints and monitors may be much more revealing.

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Toccata47
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Old digital is pretty much indistinguishable from new at normal distances
In reply to LaszloBencze, 10 months ago

Hope the show goes well for you.

I still remember when I realized what you've pointed out in your op. I saw a few large prints my inlaws had hung and thought they were astonishingly good and wondered where they bought them. Found out my wife had snapped them in Costa Rica with a 4mp pocket zoom. Hey at least we have high iso now...right?

Tail wagging dog...

LaszloBencze wrote:

I currently have a show of 38 20" x 30" prints appearing at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento. Most of the pictures were taken with either a 5D MKII or 5D MKIII. However, some of them come from the Canon 1D MKII and 1DMIII which are not full frame and have about half the number of pixels of the 5D cameras (8 & 10 megapixels vs over 20 for the 5Ds).

What I noticed is that I could not tell which pictures were taken with the lower pixel count 1D cameras. They do not stand out as obviously inferior. In fact all the pictures look good and are indistinguishable in terms of sharpness or resolution.

Now I'm sure that there are benefits of the 20 megapixel cameras. And I do own two of them. But my point is that real life photo situations with large areas of bland texture or out of focus areas do not reveal such differences. This is a bit of a surprise for me but a reassuring one.

If you happen to live in the Sacramento area, you're welcome to look for yourself. The gallery is at 2015 J street and is well identified with signage.

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Canonero
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In reply to LaszloBencze, 10 months ago

There is clearly difference betwen two images at this size, from 8 to 22Mp, overall in landscapes, not so with another subjects like sports or faces.

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cpkuntz
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Re: Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.
In reply to LaszloBencze, 10 months ago

Pixels do matter, and I imagine that a high-detail scene would benefit from a high megapixel camera when printed at 20" x 30". For smaller prints, or scenes with less detail, megapixels matter less. Anyone who says otherwise has an agenda, usually that agenda is making themselves feel better about their camera despite the existence of higher megapixel bodies. More resolution is always welcome in photography. You can soften details, but you can't get them back when they aren't recorded in the first place.

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LaszloBencze
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Re: Yes pixels matter. But it would be difficult
In reply to GaryR60, 10 months ago

The way the gallery is laid out, it's impossible to get more than eight feet away for any of the prints. As best I can tell, most people are standing three to four feet away when they are looking at them.

However, the 2' x 3' prints were deliberately situated so it was possible to stand the length of the gallery (about 25') away from them. They look very impressive grouped together as a suite of three. But even these tend to be viewed from the three to four foot range.

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LaszloBencze
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Re: not what i've seen
In reply to bronxbombers4, 10 months ago

And for wildlife shots, it is easy to see the extra feather detail and such when I took a pic of a bird with a 7D and then a 5D2, the 7D pics clearly show more. A 48MP FF would put a lot more detail on stuff when you are badly distance limited than an 8MP FF.

I'm sure that the benefit of extra pixels would be revealed by such subject matter. None of my pictures show anything like that. Many of them have large areas that are out of focus or very evenly textured. These pictures will reveal much less about pixel count.

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LaszloBencze
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Re: Here's what pixels give you:
In reply to fyngyrz, 10 months ago

fyngyrz wrote:

First, the ability to frame later by cropping. And this, in turn, often means that a single prime can work for many situations you wouldn't otherwise consider using it for. And that means that you can use a fast lens where otherwise you might not have been able to.

More pixels also mean, when one has shot a crowd or something complex such as a ship's rigging or a beaded dress, that one can access that detail for any reason from historical to familial purposes.

More pixels mean that on those occasions when editing is required, flaws tend to have higher pixel count regions that distinguish those flaws from the surrounding image data, and when that is so, it is easier to remove moles, zits, flies, and so forth.

More pixels mean that astro shots, or really shots of anything at a distance you cannot significantly close, contain more usable detail. In the case of astro, some DSOs are so small that the detail gained by a high pixel density sensor is a significant portion of the entire value of the shot.

More pixels mean that not only can you crop for framing, you can also crop in an arbitrary, artful manner - pull a panoramic crop out of a standard ratio lens shot, for instance. Or a vertical slice containing only one skyscraper.

So while yes, certainly you can get great images with just a few MP, not all doors are open, or as open, as they are when you have a higher density sensor.

I cannot disagree with anything you say.

On the other hand I rarely crop a picture. In fact, of the 38 photos on exhibit, only one is significantly cropped and that was done simply to eliminate a mound of dirt in the foreground that had nothing to do with the subject. In this case I cut about 20% of the picture off the bottom. Otherwise all the pictures are uncropped, though in a few instances a few pixels have been shaved off the edge to eliminate some tiny distraction.

I guess I grew up in the "never crop an image" school of photography. Remember printing that black line around an image in a filed out negative carrier to prove that it was uncropped? I have a lot of pictures like that in my archives.

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LaszloBencze
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Re: Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.
In reply to cpkuntz, 10 months ago

cpkuntz wrote:

Pixels do matter, and I imagine that a high-detail scene would benefit from a high megapixel camera when printed at 20" x 30". For smaller prints, or scenes with less detail, megapixels matter less. Anyone who says otherwise has an agenda, usually that agenda is making themselves feel better about their camera despite the existence of higher megapixel bodies. More resolution is always welcome in photography. You can soften details, but you can't get them back when they aren't recorded in the first place.

I do completely agree with you and "canonero" above that certain types of subject matter will certainly benefit from more pixels and have stated as much in several replies.

However, my main point is that MOST pictures (and certainly most of the pictures I take) are not of this type. They do not have intricate textures or fine detail to resolve. So these types of pictures do not demand high megapixel counts to look good.

Trust me, I'm happy to have 20 mp whether or not the picture demands it. I sold the 1DMKII and 1DMKIII. But I'm also relieved to know that pictures I took with those cameras are not obviously inferior to my newer images.

And, as a teacher of photography, I also want to reassure people who do not have high megapixel cameras to stop worrying about being inferior and get on with taking good pictures.

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cpkuntz
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Re: Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.
In reply to LaszloBencze, 10 months ago

Not much to disagree with here. On the point of reassuring people, I agree with you on that as well. It does no good to obsess over your equipment; just get out and shoot. However, it neither does any good to *deny* that more resolution is always a good thing, particularly when discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses (and the word "relative" is really important here) of different cameras for those who are in the market for one. There are many situations in which a low resolution camera is just fine, but then again high resolution cameras will do those jobs alright and also excel in more demanding situations.  All with the proviso that everything else on the camera needs to work to be versatile and perform well in many different situations - autofocus, ergonomics, image processing, etc.

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bronxbombers4
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Re: not what i've seen
In reply to LaszloBencze, 10 months ago

LaszloBencze wrote:

And for wildlife shots, it is easy to see the extra feather detail and such when I took a pic of a bird with a 7D and then a 5D2, the 7D pics clearly show more. A 48MP FF would put a lot more detail on stuff when you are badly distance limited than an 8MP FF.

I'm sure that the benefit of extra pixels would be revealed by such subject matter. None of my pictures show anything like that. Many of them have large areas that are out of focus or very evenly textured. These pictures will reveal much less about pixel count.

Ah, yeah, it depends upon the type of photo (same goes for lenses, so once person can be meh about a lens and another rave about it).

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bronxbombers4
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Re: not what i've seen
In reply to rwbaron, 10 months ago

rwbaron wrote:

bronxbombers4 wrote:

LaszloBencze wrote:

I currently have a show of 38 20" x 30" prints appearing at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento. Most of the pictures were taken with either a 5D MKII or 5D MKIII. However, some of them come from the Canon 1D MKII and 1DMIII which are not full frame and have about half the number of pixels of the 5D cameras (8 & 10 megapixels vs over 20 for the 5Ds).

What I noticed is that I could not tell which pictures were taken with the lower pixel count 1D cameras. They do not stand out as obviously inferior. In fact all the pictures look good and are indistinguishable in terms of sharpness or resolution.

Now I'm sure that there are benefits of the 20 megapixel cameras. And I do own two of them. But my point is that real life photo situations with large areas of bland texture or out of focus areas do not reveal such differences. This is a bit of a surprise for me but a reassuring one.

If you happen to live in the Sacramento area, you're welcome to look for yourself. The gallery is at 2015 J street and is well identified with signage.

All I can say is could tell apart 8MP from 20MP prints even on an 8x11 never mind 20x30!

I printed at 720PPI on crisp paper.

Plus you have a lot more freedom to crop the 20MP images when you need to and they sure give a lot more reach for stuff like sports and especially wildlife.

I'm confident you have a lot more experience with this than I but why are you printing at 720PPI? I did a comparison on my Canon i9900 and could see little advantage going above 240 and in many cases 180. The commercial printer I work with who has the latest and biggest Epson and Canon printers has never asked for a file more than 240PPI. To print at 720 you have to upres the files dramatically even from a high res sensor which would cause all sorts of artifacts.

Bob

-- hide signature --

Well if you download one of those special PPI comparison sets of test files you can see a difference. Going from 180 to 240 to 360 to 540 you could see a big difference in each step up. 540 to 720 was there but that was very, very minor and hard to spot. So you can clearly see differences going above 240PPI, very, very clearly.

anyway those little prints I referred to above were only 10" wide

normally I pick 360ppi or 720ppi depending upon the print size and the file MP count, Epson drivers seem use either 360 or 720 and internally scale to that anyway I believe

I mostly use very crisp papers. Some papers are much softer and some non-glossy that are also less crisp version of those on top might not gain much over 240ppi.

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rwbaron
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Re: Not the same
In reply to Mako2011, 10 months ago

Mako2011 wrote:

rwbaron wrote:

bronxbombers4 wrote:

LaszloBencze wrote:

I currently have a show of 38 20" x 30" prints appearing at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento. Most of the pictures were taken with either a 5D MKII or 5D MKIII. However, some of them come from the Canon 1D MKII and 1DMIII which are not full frame and have about half the number of pixels of the 5D cameras (8 & 10 megapixels vs over 20 for the 5Ds).

What I noticed is that I could not tell which pictures were taken with the lower pixel count 1D cameras. They do not stand out as obviously inferior. In fact all the pictures look good and are indistinguishable in terms of sharpness or resolution.

Now I'm sure that there are benefits of the 20 megapixel cameras. And I do own two of them. But my point is that real life photo situations with large areas of bland texture or out of focus areas do not reveal such differences. This is a bit of a surprise for me but a reassuring one.

If you happen to live in the Sacramento area, you're welcome to look for yourself. The gallery is at 2015 J street and is well identified with signage.

All I can say is could tell apart 8MP from 20MP prints even on an 8x11 never mind 20x30!

I printed at 720PPI on crisp paper.

Plus you have a lot more freedom to crop the 20MP images when you need to and they sure give a lot more reach for stuff like sports and especially wildlife.

I'm confident you have a lot more experience with this than I but why are you printing at 720PPI? I did a comparison on my Canon i9900 and could see little advantage going above 240 and in many cases 180. The commercial printer I work with who has the latest and biggest Epson and Canon printers has never asked for a file more than 240PPI. To print at 720 you have to upres the files dramatically even from a high res sensor which would cause all sorts of artifacts.

Bob

-- hide signature --

Apples and oranges. A 720 dpi printer produces ink blobs 1/720 inch apart, but they overlap. Your i9900 is actually doing that and more at the fine setting. It's how you get color fidelity from 8 inks. The 240 PPI, your commercial printer asks for, refers to the images resolution Pixels per inch. Most likely he is printing those pixels at a much higher dpi (drops of ink per inch). bronxbombers4 may be mixing his terms. PPI vs DPI
You probably cannot truly resolve more than 200 to 300 PPI on the picture,
depending on the kind of paper. Nonetheless the higher "resolution" DPI of the
printer helps give a smoother and more color accurate image.

Note...Printers need to dither, and their current
effective full-color resolution is around the 240-300ppi mark.
However, you should send the jobs at 720ppi (for Epson, 600ppi for
Canon) because this is the driver's native resolution and assuming you
have un-sharped the image, there will be high-contrast areas that the
printer may be able to achieve towards 720ppi. Question will be if you print will be large enough to notice the smooth high-contrast transition. Likely not.

Better explanation:
resolution

-- hide signature --

My opinions are my own and not those of DPR or its administration. They carry no 'special' value (except to me and Lacie of course)

I know the difference and I'm talking about PPI not DPI.

I take a RAW file from my 7D and open it in PS at 240 PPI.  The native image is 5184x3456 which equates to a 14.4x21.6 inch print and the file size is 102.5 meg as a Tiff.  If I change the resolution to 720 and keep the print size the same the file becomes 922.6 meg.  I've never printed anything at greater than 300 PPI and large prints typically at 240 and even less with excellent results.  Maybe there's something I'm missing but what benefit is it to interpolate a file to that size for printing?

Bob  
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