megapixel vs. lens resolution?

Started Feb 1, 2010 | Discussions thread
rgmoore Senior Member • Posts: 2,340
Nowhere close

hotdog321 wrote:

At what point does it become pointless to increase the number of megapixels in digital cameras? It varies according to the lens quality and sensor size, of course, but have we just about reached the limit?

From a technical standpoint, we're not even close- at least for large sensor cameras. A lens that's diffraction limited at f/5.6 is capable of resolving about 250 lp/mm at the Raleigh limit. That corresponds to a pixel spacing of no more than 2µm, or 216 MP for a 35FF sensor. If you want full resolution on the diagonal, you'd have to double the pixel count again, and possibly again to account for the Bayer array. That gets you to 864 MP on a 35FF sensor. Obviously that would require a superb lens and impeccable technique, and much of the sensor resolution would be going to resolve very low contrast detail, but it would still be theoretically justifiable.
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As with all creative work, the craft must be adequate for the demands of expression. I am disturbed when I find craft relegated to inferior consideration; I believe that the euphoric involvement with subject or self is not sufficient to justify the making and display of photographic images. --Ansel Adams

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