Are more than 6MP really necessary?

Started Dec 21, 2006 | Discussions thread
DMillier Forum Pro • Posts: 19,943
Re: Are more than 6MP really necessary?

I did a couple of comparisons of my own.

1. Sigma DP2 Merrill (15MP APS-C Foveon = 28-30MP Bayer) vs Fuji X10 (2/3" 6MP bayer with enhanced dynamic range EXR sensor)

A4 prints: Completely unable to tell which print came from which camera even with nose to print

A3 prints: The X10 isn't quite a crisp as at A4 but not bad.

2. DP2 M vs Sony RX100 (1 inch 20MP)

It was only at 24inch wide and above that there is any noticeable advantage to DP2M

I find that 6MP cameras run out of steam at about 13" wide prints - by which I mean that printing bigger doesn't reveal any further fine detail. Of course you can continue to print bigger but larger prints slowly start to get that "empty" feeling where the fine detail close up is not really as tangible as at smaller sizes. A3 might be a slight bit above where the X10 still looks perfect but it is still good.

My conclusion long ago was that if you print only A4 size, any camera is as good as any other. If you print up to A3 almost every camera is almost as good and any camera with 8MP or above will be indistinguishable.

Ktrphoto wrote:

Yes, I did that. Good idea.

The 6Mp and 8Mp images still hold up well when viewed from a few feet away, but are becoming soft and lacking fine detail when you get up close. [Next experiment is to upsize them to a pixel count of around 16Mp to see how that improves them, and beyond that to find out what the practical limits of enlargement are for images with this resolution].

The 16.7Mp and 15Mp images are now clearly superior. From a distance there is a subjective impression of clarity/detail/sharpness, and viewed close up they have finer detail.

At this size the Foveon images from the SD1 are starting to show more detail than those from the 1-Ds mark ii, and appear sharper, but it is a close call, and not the 40% or so more detail that a mathematical comparison of Foveon and Bayer technologies suggests we should see from the SD1.

What this exercise does not reveal, and what can only be appreciated by seeing a full-size print (No normal monitor cannot display the whole image at sufficient resolution). Every one of the cameras in the test produces a particular "look", and that "look" is determined by other factors (or additional factors) than resolution and sharpness.

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"...while I am tempted to bludgeon you, I would rather have you come away with an improved understanding of how these sensors work" ---- Eric Fossum
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