Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders?

Started Jul 30, 2012 | Discussions
newbiedweller Forum Member • Posts: 76
Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders?

Hi folks,

I am hunting a new HD camcorder recently. I had some camcorders before, I noticed my current hd camcorder is 5 mega pixels sensor. I saw some professional camcorders are using 10 mega pixels sensor or 3 sensors (total 10 mega pixels) etc... Most consumer camcorders have 1.5, 3, 5, or 6 mega pixels sensors. Right now, I am interested in Panasonic's compact camcorder wa20, it has around 16 mega pixels sensor, I know pixels are important for still images, but I guess it's still important for videos too. But why most of consumer and pro camcorders are not using very high pixels sensors?

Thanks in advance.

Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,555
Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders? not necessarily

No, a large amount of pixels is not good for video. HD video is 1920x1080, so only 2-3 MP are needed (perhaps some extra for electronic stabilization) for video. The top of the line Canon consumer camcorder has 2.7MPs.

Packing more pixels on the same size sensor means smaller pixels, and thus lower quality in low light. It is no surprise that the top of the line Canon has the best low-light performance of any camcorder.

A tiny sensor with lots of pixels is never good for video.

And big sensor cameras with large numbers of pixels actually have lower resolution than low MP, small sensor camcorders. They also have aliasing artifacts (moire) - distortions.

If you want the best small waterproof video camera, look into the Sony GW77. It has a 5MP sensor and takes excellent video.

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Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,601
Re: Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders?

Mark is right - extra pixels don't improve video, only still pictures.

Except - some cameras offer an "intelligent zoom" function which crops the image from the sensor in order to provide a zoom function without loosing resolution. If you plan to use that function then you'll want to look for a sensor with at least as many pixels as is necessary to provide a 1:1 crop ratio. For example, uncropped video requires 2Mpixels. If you're looking at a camera with a 12X optical zoom and 24X digital zoom, it needs to be able to crop out half the pixels horizontally AND half vertically), so you need as sensor with at least 2M x 2 x 2 = 8Mpixels in order to make that crop losslessly.

But as Mark has said, that capability will come at the loss of low light performance.

plantdoc Senior Member • Posts: 2,754
Re: Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders?

More pixels don't help video because the display is already limited to a certain number of pixels. My Canon Vixia M41 has the Pro sensor with about 2.5 megapixels. Low light video is amazing and dynamic range is also improved. Don't be mislead by the megapixel wars or zoom wars either.

Greg

Cy Cheze Senior Member • Posts: 2,028
Canon GF10, one of best prosumer videocams, has only 2MP

Consumer videocams often boast significant pixel counts because they are competing with still cameras that are also marketed with high pixel counts, because it is a measure people think they understand. Higher pixels may raise the IQ of still shots with some cameras, but not improve at all the "frame grab" still shots obtained with a videocam. On the other hand, still shots obtained with a VG20, with a 16MP APS-C sensor, may be more comendable than its video.

However, if your video output is 1920x1080 or less, there is no tangible advantage to having a sensor with any more pixels. Downsampling can cause moiré to be worse. A large sensor with lots of pixels can also display more rolling shutter "jello." Or you will need a filter to reduce aliasing and yield a soft image.

Side-by-side comparisons of video results are hard to score unless uniform lab standards are used. All kinds of factors affect the quality of video output. However, I don't think anyone will assert that pixel-count by itself lends anything in favor of video IQ. More pixels does, in the case of some (not all) models, allow for a "clear zoom" or sensor crop that extends upon optical zoom without the same IQ loss incurred by digital zoom, but this generally works well only in good light and only if you have the camera on a tripod, since otherwise the extreme zoom shots are apt to become shakey.

The Canon GF10 has very good low light IQ, perhaps precisely because it uses fewer but larger pixels.

Scott Eaton Senior Member • Posts: 2,217
another reasons pixels don't matter....

.....Is because of the insane level of color subsampling involved with consumer video.

Since the majority of your color / chroma information is tossed out and interpolated anyways more pixels simply mean more work for the camera, and more data to choose from to reject (and be incorrect).

This is why the smaller, more dedicated sensor based cameras mentioned above often do a better job than APS-C or FF dSLRs except in absolute extreme light sensitivity / noise scenarios.

d3xmeister Senior Member • Posts: 2,660
Re: Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders? not necessarily

Markr041 wrote:

If you want the best small waterproof video camera, look into the Sony GW77. It has a 5MP sensor and takes excellent video.

It has a 20.4 MP sensor

Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,555
Re: Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders? not necessarily

"It has a 20.4 MP sensor"

No, it does not. You really should study before you say anything.

The sensor is 5MP. You were misled (it is not only your ignorance, but Sony being misleading) by Sony saying it takes 20.4 MP pictures. It does do this, by a sophisticated interpolation process.

If you had gone to the Sony spec page, as you should have before posting another misleading post, you would have seen this.

For you, here is the page:

http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666458540#specifications

And if you want to learn about the new process (not a feature of your out-of-date camcorder), go here:

http://www.sony-asia.com/microsite/assets/cyber-shot/2011h2/by-pixel-super-resolution-technology/

No need to apologize.

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d3xmeister Senior Member • Posts: 2,660
Re: Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders? not necessarily

I saw the specifications at a store and they clearly said 20.4MP sensor, not photos. I see not that Sony says it is 5MP. I'll tell the sales person the information is wrong.

Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,555
Re: Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders? not necessarily

Sorry for being so harsh, but you were calling me a liar :). Salespersons are never to be trusted. And the 20.4 MP is a bit of a gimmick; I have not seen any professional reviews of this technology.

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d3xmeister Senior Member • Posts: 2,660
Re: Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders? not necessarily

Markr041 wrote:

Sorry for being so harsh, but you were calling me a liar :). Salespersons are never to be trusted. And the 20.4 MP is a bit of a gimmick; I have not seen any professional reviews of this technology.

It was actually written on the camera specs label, but it was the store label not Sony's

Hudsonriver Contributing Member • Posts: 788
Re: Pixels are important for the image quality of camcorders? not necessarily

Thanks all for this eye opening pixel finagle where 5 becomes 20 with fancy interpolation

I was about to buy a GoPro that went from 5mps to 10mps was this fancy interpolation or just too many pixels.
I would imagine that the extra pixels would cause a useless larger file size.
Jeff

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