Tony Northrup - The TRUTH: Hi Megapixels + BIG Prints are a WASTE?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Bruce Oudekerk
Bruce Oudekerk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,617
High Megapixels + BIG Prints

JimH123 wrote:

Tony Northrup just posted a video titled: The TRUTH: High Megapixels + BIG Prints are a WASTE? iPhone vs Sony a7R IV vs Sony a7 III

Interesting comparison. And he did come to the conclusion that to make big prints, that the number of pixels did matter.

I would like to see another twist to this test. And that would be to use a similar panel of judges to look at images the same way, but to add another category. I have been playing around with resizing SW and have compared ON1 Resize, Photoshop Precision Details 2 and Topaz's Gigapixel. So far, I am liking ON1 Resize the best.

Anyway, he started with 8 x 10's and had the same image taken with an iPhone, A7iii, A7Riv and A7Riv in 240 Mpixel mode, and to then have his panel try to decided which ones look the best to worst.

The then simulated a 16 x 20 by cropping the originals and printing more 8 x 10's, and again had his panel judge them.

And he did the same with 32 x 40 and 64 by 60, always just printing 8 x 10's of smaller and smaller crops.

The results sorted themselves out as expected.

Now what would be interesting to add to this would be to resize images and put them in the mix for the panel. For example, if the A7iii is resized 200% and the A7Riv is not resized, the 240 Mpixel version is not resized also, how would the panel sort the resultant 8 x 10's not knowing what produced the image?

I suspect that the resizing would bump up the standing of the A7iii as long as pixel peeping is not possible. But the panel was only holding 8x10 prints, so they are limited in how close they could inspect the picture.

There is no substitute for a well focused image using high quality glass, great light and using a camera with a lot of pixels when it comes to large print optimal quality.

Of course ‘optimal quality’ is in the eyes of the beholder and depends greatly on the viewer, the type of photograph, the setting of the displayed image and the context in which it is viewed.

… and, most relevant to this discussion, there is the issue of print preparation which Tony essentially ignores. It is very, very important. It is true that that we can’t create viable image ‘information’ in post because that’s baked into the capture. However we can prepare and present that information in a way as to make it appear of higher quality, especially with a good capture. In an ideal world, Tony’s experimentation should have included appropriate up-sampling at the printer’s native resolution and performing an output ‘sharpening’ suitable for that print. Admittedly that ‘sharpening’ is actually modifying image acutance but when viewing prints it can greatly affect how the image detail appears.

Admittedly in the long run, and all other factors being equal, more megapixels will eventually win out but we can effectively move the ‘acceptability bar’ significantly higher with skillful print preparation. I would love to see that same test performed using the same prints but also throw in some 24MP a7III, 61MP a7RVI and 240MP a7RVI shots into the mix that were expertly prepared specifically for print from those same RAW files.


 Bruce Oudekerk's gear list:Bruce Oudekerk's gear list
Sony a7R II Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS Sony FE 50mm F1.8 Sony FE 24-105mm F4
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