What good is a high MP count...

Started Feb 18, 2013 | Discussions
jesseyoung83 New Member • Posts: 17
What good is a high MP count...

... when the majority of photos are viewed online at sub-1000px sizes?

I understand that it's useful if you want to print them, but let's just assume that only a tiny sliver of photographers actually do this.

What I'm curious about is how big of an improvement, say, a 20MP image resized to 1000px will look compared to a lower MP image, like a 4MP from an older Sigma.

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MOD Kendall Helmstetter Gelner Forum Pro • Posts: 19,884
Lots of good

jesseyoung83 wrote:

... when the majority of photos are viewed online at sub-1000px sizes?

I understand that it's useful if you want to print them, but let's just assume that only a tiny sliver of photographers actually do this.

What I'm curious about is how big of an improvement, say, a 20MP image resized to 1000px will look compared to a lower MP image, like a 4MP from an older Sigma.

First of all, 1000px is not really what you need going forward.  As many displays move to a higher DPI you start to require 2x or so the resolution, so 2000px...

Lots of resolution means you can crop a lot more things out of an image.

Also, it means high ISO shots look great at smaller sizes because noise is reduced.  If you are just talking 1000px uses the SD-1 is an OK ISO 6400 camera.

For more arguments in favor of high resolution, consult the sidebar:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/50873573

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SandyF Forum Pro • Posts: 14,941
Re: What good is a high MP count...

With the higher MP count, you can crop the file. Some purists don't like to crop, getting their framing perfect I guess in the field, but many find the ability to crop useful. Think about bird, animal, wildlife photographers. Or if you're using a fixed prime lens....

I always felt I didn't really have enough MP with the DP1/DP2 (or SD14/SD15) to crop much, but I do with the resolution of the DP2Merrill (or my Canon 5DII) For the Canon,  cropping/straightening is really easy in its Canon software DPP. I wish Sigma's SPP had a crop/straighten tool.... In fact, how I usually crop or straighten a Sigma file is by saving it as a TIFF, then doing the crop in the DPP program! I tend to get my horizons crooked...

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jcollier
jcollier Forum Member • Posts: 83
Re: What good is a high MP count...

jesseyoung83 wrote:

... when the majority of photos are viewed online at sub-1000px sizes?

I understand that it's useful if you want to print them, but let's just assume that only a tiny sliver of photographers actually do this.

What I'm curious about is how big of an improvement, say, a 20MP image resized to 1000px will look compared to a lower MP image, like a 4MP from an older Sigma.

I'm afraid that if you find it necessary to ask the question that you will not be enlightened by the answer.

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jcollier

OP jesseyoung83 New Member • Posts: 17
Re: Lots of good

Kendall Helmstetter Gelner wrote:

For more arguments in favor of high resolution, consult the sidebar:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/50873573

Excellent link. Thanks Kendall.

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Roland Karlsson Forum Pro • Posts: 26,337
Re: Its a better starting point

jesseyoung83 wrote:

Good question!

And ... for most people on this planet the answer is .... none. Its not better at all. It might be so for you also. You dont print and only does sub 1000 pixel digital images. Hmmm ... yeah ... you dont need the latest Foveon, or any multi mega pixel camera at all.

Or ... maybe you do?

There is more information in a sharper image. With that information you can do things.

You have already been told you can crop. Lets say you have taken a land or cityscape. And then you see something far away or simply an interesting detail. You zoom in an see .. only pixels. Oops .. should have more of those things, then maybe I could have made an image of the detail.

But ... thats not the only thing. There are lots of manipulations where lots of pixels is a benefit. And ... there is also the feeling of security when you have too much. And ... for some reason ... images with many pixels has a tendency to look better IMHO.

Then, of course, you might not care about technical excellence, but its rather the content that is the main thing. Nothing wrong with that of course.

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OP jesseyoung83 New Member • Posts: 17
Re: Its a better starting point

Roland Karlsson wrote:

jesseyoung83 wrote:

Good question!

And ... for most people on this planet the answer is .... none. Its not better at all. It might be so for you also. You dont print and only does sub 1000 pixel digital images. Hmmm ... yeah ... you dont need the latest Foveon, or any multi mega pixel camera at all.

Or ... maybe you do?

There is more information in a sharper image. With that information you can do things.

You have already been told you can crop. Lets say you have taken a land or cityscape. And then you see something far away or simply an interesting detail. You zoom in an see .. only pixels. Oops .. should have more of those things, then maybe I could have made an image of the detail.

But ... thats not the only thing. There are lots of manipulations where lots of pixels is a benefit. And ... there is also the feeling of security when you have too much. And ... for some reason ... images with many pixels has a tendency to look better IMHO.

Then, of course, you might not care about technical excellence, but its rather the content that is the main thing. Nothing wrong with that of course.

I guess I missed the whole "Megapixel Myth" debate started by Pogue from 2007. His argument was purely based on megapixel comparisons for printed photos, which I feel is rather dated given that most of our image viewing and sharing habits occur online. And as Kendall mentioned, higher MPs make sense as consumers shift to higher DPI screens.

But my main point of interest is in how bicubic downsampling algorithms utilize higher MPs, and the quantitative differences between resizing a huge image, like one from a Nikon D800, and a moderately sized one, like one from a Canon S100. The question is purely technical.

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PrebenR Veteran Member • Posts: 3,529
Re: What good is a high MP count...

... when the majority of photos are viewed online at sub-1000px sizes?

I understand that it's useful if you want to print them, but let's just assume that only a tiny sliver of photographers actually do this.

What I'm curious about is how big of an improvement, say, a 20MP image resized to 1000px will look compared to a lower MP image, like a 4MP from an older Sigma.

Even a Nikon 1 photo looks good when scaled down. If you look at the photo in 100% it looks like mud.

But 1000px won't be enough. Now TVs have 1920x1080px and there is talk of 4k TVs. Tablets are getting 300 dpi screens now, so a 10" screen has the resolution of a 24" screen.

But most important is the resolution and that you can work on a photo in post.

jande9
jande9 Senior Member • Posts: 1,086
Re: What good is a high MP count...

jcollier wrote:

I'm afraid that if you find it necessary to ask the question that you will not be enlightened by the answer.

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jcollier

Perhaps if you had understood the question a little better you would not have replied so rudely.

Many people feel that the push for more megapixels is a marketing gimmick for most people.

I think that a good 6mp camera would satisfy almost all of the needs of an amateur photographer.  I have produced school graduation quality portraits cropped about 50% from a original Canon 300D file, and it looks fine as an 8X10.  I am very happy with 11X14 prints from my Pentax 100D even cropped by around 30%. I say this from the perspective of someone who used a Leica M3 and a Rollei35 for 35 years before going digital, so I have some idea about quality in a print.

Of course, more mp is theoretically better but in almost all real life situations it doesn't make that much difference for non-professional photographers, especially if you are just viewing pictures on a computer.

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MOD Kendall Helmstetter Gelner Forum Pro • Posts: 19,884
Post is a great point... allows for perspective fixing.

PrebenR wrote:

<...>

But most important is the resolution and that you can work on a photo in post.

I forgot to mention that aspect - if you want to fix perspective after the fact having a lot of resolution means your eventual end image looks better at relatively high resolution, as you always lose some pixels in fixing distortion.

More pixels generally means more all around flexibility.

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Goldfinger234 Forum Member • Posts: 81
Re: What good is a high MP count...

jesseyoung83 wrote:

... when the majority of photos are viewed online at sub-1000px sizes?

I understand that it's useful if you want to print them, but let's just assume that only a tiny sliver of photographers actually do this.

What I'm curious about is how big of an improvement, say, a 20MP image resized to 1000px will look compared to a lower MP image, like a 4MP from an older Sigma.

My first digital camera, which is currently sat in my van and still works fine, was an Olympus C170. Don't make em' like they used to. At 1000px, even that looks decent(ish).

jcollier
jcollier Forum Member • Posts: 83
Re: What good is a high MP count...

jande9 wrote:

jcollier wrote:

I'm afraid that if you find it necessary to ask the question that you will not be enlightened by the answer.

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jcollier

Perhaps if you had understood the question a little better you would not have replied so rudely.

Many people feel that the push for more megapixels is a marketing gimmick for most people.

I think that a good 6mp camera would satisfy almost all of the needs of an amateur photographer. I have produced school graduation quality portraits cropped about 50% from a original Canon 300D file, and it looks fine as an 8X10. I am very happy with 11X14 prints from my Pentax 100D even cropped by around 30%. I say this from the perspective of someone who used a Leica M3 and a Rollei35 for 35 years before going digital, so I have some idea about quality in a print.

Of course, more mp is theoretically better but in almost all real life situations it doesn't make that much difference for non-professional photographers, especially if you are just viewing pictures on a computer.

I understood the question and my response was not intended to be rude. There is no arbitrary maximum or minimum as to image resolution. That is a very highly individualized preference. This is very similar to the question: "What is the best camera." My answer to that question would be the same.

I have used many cameras over the years (including an M3 that I have also used - and still use - for over 35 years). I have digitized my film library of over 30K images and added over a 100K of digital images. I can categorically say that resolution is an important factor in my work and the work of  my associates. I have used many cameras from 2MP to 20MP+. I have some great pics taken with my phone camera as well as my 5D2. However, I wouldn't rely on my phone camera for most of my shots. My DP1 is capable of capturing superb images. However, my DP2M is in an entirely separate class.

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jcollier

Roland Karlsson Forum Pro • Posts: 26,337
Re: Its a better starting point

jesseyoung83 wrote:

But my main point of interest is in how bicubic downsampling algorithms utilize higher MPs, and the quantitative differences between resizing a huge image, like one from a Nikon D800, and a moderately sized one, like one from a Canon S100. The question is purely technical.

Thats also an interesting question.

Bicubic tends to result in a somewhat low local contrast.

I have never been all that interested in making optimal downsamplings.

Some here have better experience than me with that.

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Tom Schum
Tom Schum Veteran Member • Posts: 6,481
Re: What good is a high MP count...

When I got my SD1 I tried comparing it to my SD15, using images downsized to HD (1920x1080).

I could barely tell any difference, but it seems to me that the SD1 images looked a slight bit better. This might be entirely psychological however.

Now we are seeing in-camera lens distortion correction and for this the more megapixels the better, because any kind of post processing that stretches or compresses any part of an image will compromise resolution in that area. Fortunately we are not seeing this sort of thing being done in-camera in any Sigmas yet. Personally I prefer the distortion to the loss of detail. With high megapixel counts the camera tries to remove the distortion without loss of detail, and I guess in the corners it is ok because we don't usually expect too much out at the edges.

I would like to be able to turn this feature off in those cameras that have it, but that's a firmware change driven by popular demand, and the demand just isn't there yet.

When I do a 19"x13" print, I want as many megapixels as possible, to take maximum advantage of all the resolution the optics can provide (or not). Looks like the DPxM series accomodates these needs the best so far (none of the vagarities of the SD1 vs lens, etc). I don't own a DPxM yet, but I'm moving in that direction.

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NancyP Veteran Member • Posts: 5,329
Re: What good is a high MP count...Depends on user

High MP user is going to work in RAW, expects to do some PP manipulation beyond cropping slightly, and may be delivering a large size print image. 90% of amateur users don't need that 36MP. 12 MP or 18 MP is fine if you are printing at 8" x 11" or smaller, or displaying images on any monitor available now.

High MP users probably shoot mostly landscape, fashion, or architectural subjects.

Intermediate MP pro users will be the PJs and sports/ wildlife shooters. They want highest possible fps and top AF, which isn't going to happen with a 36 MP camera. 12 to 18 MP is fine.

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xpatUSA
xpatUSA Forum Pro • Posts: 10,920
Re: What good is a high MP count...

jesseyoung83 wrote:

What I'm curious about is how big of an improvement, say, a 20MP image resized to 1000px will look compared to a lower MP image, like a 4MP from an older Sigma.

There's a similar question here with some answers . .

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3384853

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SigmaChrome Veteran Member • Posts: 9,404
Re: What good is a high MP count...Depends on user

NancyP wrote:

High MP user is going to work in RAW, expects to do some PP manipulation beyond cropping slightly, and may be delivering a large size print image. 90% of amateur users don't need that 36MP. 12 MP or 18 MP is fine if you are printing at 8" x 11" or smaller, or displaying images on any monitor available now.

I really don't know about that. In the wedding business we consistently print at 20" x 30" - and more - way more than that using 12MP from the Nikon D700. Plus D7000 and D90 cameras. And I have no trouble printing at 20" x 30" from Sigma SD14 & SD15 files.

High MP users probably shoot mostly landscape, fashion, or architectural subjects.

Intermediate MP pro users will be the PJs and sports/ wildlife shooters. They want highest possible fps and top AF, which isn't going to happen with a 36 MP camera. 12 to 18 MP is fine.

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jande9
jande9 Senior Member • Posts: 1,086
Re: What good is a high MP count...

jcollier wrote:


I understood the question and my response was not intended to be rude.

My apologies if I misunderstood your tone.

My point was simply that a decent older camera with lower pixel count is capable of making prints that would please most enthusiasts most of the time.  A lot of people get sucked into the marketing hype and upgrade when it really won't make any difference to their pictures.

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jcollier
jcollier Forum Member • Posts: 83
Re: What good is a high MP count...

jande9 wrote:

jcollier wrote:


I understood the question and my response was not intended to be rude.

My apologies if I misunderstood your tone.

My point was simply that a decent older camera with lower pixel count is capable of making prints that would please most enthusiasts most of the time. A lot of people get sucked into the marketing hype and upgrade when it really won't make any difference to their pictures.

We are in total agreement on that point.

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jcollier

D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 18,094
Re: What good is a high MP count...
1

jesseyoung83 wrote:

... when the majority of photos are viewed online at sub-1000px sizes?

I understand that it's useful if you want to print them, but let's just assume that only a tiny sliver of photographers actually do this.

Cameras giving high quality images are currently most suitable for photographers who do want to make high quality prints.

In a few years, there will be 8k monitors in the shops, and people will also be able to view high resolution images on screen. You may want to future-proof your photos by taking shots now that will not look too outdated in 2120.

What I'm curious about is how big of an improvement, say, a 20MP image resized to 1000px will look compared to a lower MP image, like a 4MP from an older Sigma.

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