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

Started Jun 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 57,436
Re: It isn't over till it's over

LaszloBencze wrote:

It looks like this thread has played out. Having read every post, I'll summarize as follows:

1. Almost everyone agrees that it is near impossible to tell the difference between large prints made from cameras with widely divergent megapixels ranging from 5 to 36.

5 megapixels is pretty thin spread over 20x30 inches at 240 ppi. But if number 4 is true, it doesn't matter much.

2. A few people argue that certain types of subject matter do reveal these differences. I agree with them but suggest that such subject matter provides a minority of picture situations.

3. Even when there are clear differences between cameras, the differences are not profound but difficult to discern, requiring close comparison.

4. The strength of a picture as a work of art far overrides the importance of megapixels. An artistically satisfying picture will be forgiven many technical faults. An artistically mediocre picture will provide a field day for nit picking.

I like the number 4 postulation. In the end that is all that really matters. One man's trash is another man's treasure though. So there's always room for disagreement.

And these lead to an interesting corollary: should Canon come out with a 40 megapixel camera tomorrow, the odds are high that it will not be twice as good as the current Canon line-up but more like 10% better based on subjective evaluation.

At least that would be case if the improvement were strictly in pixel count. If dynamic range were also extended and every vestige of banding eliminated, it would be a different story.

That would be a dream come true.

The reason most people can't tell the difference is often because there is no difference. If you take the same photo - same scene, framing, AOV, DOF and shutter speed then sensor size goes out of the equation. If now the DOF is deep pixel count goes out of the equation too.

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