Resolution of Digital Cameras - Seeking Clarity

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Visionist Junior Member • Posts: 49
Resolution of Digital Cameras - Seeking Clarity

I often hear resolution discussed in terms of megapixels, i.e., 45 MP is higher resolution than 20 Mp, but that isn’t exactly right, is it? In graphic arts we discuss the resolution of film in terms of dpi (dots per inch) with 300 dpi being higher resolution than 150 dpi, of course, and so on, regardless of the size of a sheet of film. In photography the equivalent is pixels per inch (ppi) but that isn’t quite what is used to determine resolution, rather it’s pixel pitch and pixel size. My Z7 has almost the same pixel pitch (the distance from the center of one pixel to the next) and pixel size (area of the photosite) as my D500, although the Z7 is 45.7 MP and the D500 is 20.9 MP.

Z7 pixel pitch: 4.34 µm
D500 pixel pitch: 4.2 µm

Z7 pixel area: 18.84 µm²
D500 pixel area: 17.64 µm²

Z7 pixel density: 5.32 MP/cm²
D500 pixel density: 5.68 MP/cm²

If I shoot the Z7 in DX crop mode it is almost the same as the D500. Not a big difference, so when I hear people saying that the Z7 has a higher resolution sensor, I wonder what they are talking about. Or if they know what they are talking about.

If you compare the Z7 to the Z6 (or any other Nikon full-frame 24MP body), then there is a difference and the Z7 is higher resolution:

Z7 pixel pitch: 4.34 µm
Z6 pixel pitch: 5.92 µm

Z7 pixel area: 18.84 µm²
Z6 pixel area: 35.05 µm²

Z7 pixel density: 5.32 MP/cm²
Z6 pixel density: 2.85 MP/cm²

Those specs are what determine resolution, not total megapixels. Am I right?

 Visionist's gear list:Visionist's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Nikon AP-F 70-300mm F4.5-5.6E +1 more
Nikon D500 Nikon Z6 Nikon Z7
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