Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.

Started Jun 14, 2013 | Discussions
Great Bustard Forum Pro • Posts: 42,946
Re: I have some questions.

MASTERPPA wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

misolo wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

  • Or put it all together -- a modern day compact, like the G15, vs modern day FF, like the 6D with good lenses? Is there any noticeable IQ difference between the compact and FF?

The sad truth is that, in good light and if you're not looking for shallow depth of field, there isn't that much difference. Still, you'll only pry my 5DIII from my cold dead fingers...

MASTERPPA wrote:

BS.

Even in the BEST of light, a G15 vs a 5D3, on a good sized print (20x30) I can see the difference in a second. Mostly from DR, and edges.

The 5D3 and G15 have about the same DR. What do you mean by "edges"?

The edge of very sharp objects do not look the same between the two camera. I have both cameras, and see it from the same pics I take with my 5D3 (all in Disney world) and the ones my wife shots. Both cameras are on auto, since I am not picky. But on the large prints we have, esp the ones that are cropped a lot, I see it. I am NOT able to pull as much data from the G15 from RAW. Highlights and shadows are bad from the G15

See my reply to Peter just above.

Great Bustard Forum Pro • Posts: 42,946
Re: Insightful Luminous Landscape article
3

TTMartin wrote:

Dave Luttmann wrote:

Ah yes, from the same team that gave us the D30 beating film....and the 1Ds beating medium format....and the Film is Binary articles. Ya, quoting them is like quoting Ken Rockwell.

KR is a great person to quote, he flip flops around so much, you can usually find something he said that supports both sides of a position. Just pick the one that suits you.

All the more reason to consider his site the Bible of Photography. 

NancyP Veteran Member • Posts: 6,315
fangrll for Sigma Foveon (DP2 Merrill)

These little Foveon sensor cameras punch well above their weight in resolution - as long as the ISO is 400 or lower, preferably 200 or 100. All that said, resolution is but one element in a good photograph. How much resolution is "enough"? Depends on your viewing practices. My Canon 60D is fine for 11" x 17" prints. I don't have room for 20 x 30" prints in my flat, so I am not lusting after a D800e. If Canon comes out with a 40 to 50 MP FF camera, would I be interested? Well, yes.

Panoramics are another way to increase resolution in stably-lit landscapes. I just picked up a tip for panos involving water - use high-optical-density neutral density filters (2.0 to 3.0) to get exposure to 1 second to 10 seconds, the water will be glassy and easier to merge. I will have to try this myself - it looked good in the OP's post.

The ultimate in resolution is a view camera.

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RedFox88 Forum Pro • Posts: 29,205
Re: Don't believe it.
2

Great Bustard wrote:

I printed some 13x19" on my printer and I immediately noticed that my old 8MP shots didn't have that amazing extra detail my 5D2 shots had. Hahnemuhle PhotoRag Pearl on R3000 at highest settings for everything.

Up to here, I'm with you.

Nice discussion skills. I printed a 11x17 calendar a few years ago and could easily tell between 6MP images and 13 MP images if you are keen on imagery and detail.

And for wildlife shots, it is easy to see the extra feather detail and such when I took a pic of a bird with a 7D and then a 5D2, the 7D pics clearly show more.

No, I'm afraid I don't buy that. How is it that 18 MP 1.6x resolved more detail than 22 MP FF, unless, of course, you were framing wider with FF? But if that was the case, then it would seem you would want to mention it, 'cause when we are talking about resolution of feather detail on a print, surely it's implied that we're talking about the same (or nearly the same) framing, unless we specifically state otherwise.

A 48MP FF would put a lot more detail on stuff when you are badly distance limited than an 8MP FF.

Just as 22 MP FF would put a lot more detail on stuff than 18 MP 1.6x, unless we were talking about using the same focal length on both FF and 1.6x, and then cropping the FF photo to the same framing as the 1.6x photo.

It's always about using the lenses you have and using them on different cameras.

eNo
eNo Forum Pro • Posts: 11,744
First of all, congrats on your exhibit!

Having participated in a couple where I was one of several artists, I can imagine how much work went into yours.

As you point out, subject matter matters. A very detailed, deep DOF shot (say of a field of flowers) might give you a different answer. You may say you can't tell the difference, but you would if you had the same exact shot side by side taken from 2 different cameras.

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bobn2
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 61,714
Re: First of all, congrats on your exhibit!

eNo wrote:

A very detailed, deep DOF shot

You can't have a very detailed, deep DOF shot. It's that pesky diffraction thing.

Of course 'very' is relative.

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Bob

KAllen Veteran Member • Posts: 3,882
Re: Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.
2

talico wrote:

Laszlo,

You are right. There is not that much difference. With higher resolution, you can crop more into an image, but that comes at the cost of perspective. Get the best equipment you can afford and then take photos and don't worry about what other cameras are available.

You have some great work on your website. I would like to make it to the exhibit, but it is way too far. Do you have any of them posted online?

Tom
My photos http://www.alicoatephotography.com

Cropping will not alter perspective, viewpoint determines perspective.

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talico Contributing Member • Posts: 614
Re: Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.

KAllen wrote:

talico wrote:

Laszlo,

You are right. There is not that much difference. With higher resolution, you can crop more into an image, but that comes at the cost of perspective. Get the best equipment you can afford and then take photos and don't worry about what other cameras are available.

You have some great work on your website. I would like to make it to the exhibit, but it is way too far. Do you have any of them posted online?

Tom
My photos http://www.alicoatephotography.com

Cropping will not alter perspective, viewpoint determines perspective.

I guess what I was trying to say is that if you take a scene and crop into it you have a wider perspective than if you took the shot you wanted from the start.  If I want a tight head shot, the perspective is different if you get there by cropping or by using a different lens.  For instance, an 85mm on a full frame camera has a different perspective than a 50mm on a cropped sensor even though the angle of view might be similar .  I do understand that if I take a photo on a full frame camera with a 50mm lens,  the look will be the same on a cropped sensor, you will just have a cropped view of the same scene.  This difference is why medium format has a different look.  You can use a higher focal length to capture your subject which provides more compression and can create a more pleasing look/perspective.

Tom
My photos http://www.alicoatephotography.com

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Great Bustard Forum Pro • Posts: 42,946
Re: Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.
2

talico wrote:

KAllen wrote:

talico wrote:

Laszlo,

You are right. There is not that much difference. With higher resolution, you can crop more into an image, but that comes at the cost of perspective. Get the best equipment you can afford and then take photos and don't worry about what other cameras are available.

You have some great work on your website. I would like to make it to the exhibit, but it is way too far. Do you have any of them posted online?

Tom
My photos http://www.alicoatephotography.com

Cropping will not alter perspective, viewpoint determines perspective.

I guess what I was trying to say is that if you take a scene and crop into it you have a wider perspective than if you took the shot you wanted from the start. If I want a tight head shot, the perspective is different if you get there by cropping or by using a different lens. For instance, an 85mm on a full frame camera has a different perspective than a 50mm on a cropped sensor even though the angle of view might be similar . I do understand that if I take a photo on a full frame camera with a 50mm lens, the look will be the same on a cropped sensor, you will just have a cropped view of the same scene. This difference is why medium format has a different look. You can use a higher focal length to capture your subject which provides more compression and can create a more pleasing look/perspective.

If you take a photo of a scene at, say, 24mm, and take a photo of the same scene at 200mm, and then crop the 24mm photo to the same framing as the 200mm photo, the perspectives will be identical.

The perspective is the relative arrangement of the objects in the scene, and is a function solely of the subject-camera distance (more properly, the subject-aperture distance).

AlbertTheLazy
AlbertTheLazy Veteran Member • Posts: 7,884
Re: Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.
1

Great Bustard wrote:

talico wrote:

I guess what I was trying to say is that if you take a scene and crop into it you have a wider perspective than if you took the shot you wanted from the start. If I want a tight head shot, the perspective is different if you get there by cropping or by using a different lens. For instance, an 85mm on a full frame camera has a different perspective than a 50mm on a cropped sensor even though the angle of view might be similar . I do understand that if I take a photo on a full frame camera with a 50mm lens, the look will be the same on a cropped sensor, you will just have a cropped view of the same scene. This difference is why medium format has a different look. You can use a higher focal length to capture your subject which provides more compression and can create a more pleasing look/perspective.

Nope!

If you take a photo of a scene at, say, 24mm, and take a photo of the same scene at 200mm, and then crop the 24mm photo to the same framing as the 200mm photo, the perspectives will be identical.

The perspective is the relative arrangement of the objects in the scene, and is a function solely of the subject-camera distance (more properly, the subject-aperture distance).

Correct.

I've shot (and cropped) formats ranging from 1/1.7 P&S tp 5"x4". The ONLY thing that affects the perspective is the distance.

Take two photographs from the same position with different formats. For each one use a lens that will render the main subject as the same relative size (e.g. half the frame height). Print both of them on the same size paper (e.g. 6"x4") so that the whole height of the frame is printed the same size.

If you have done things right the main subject will be the same height (2" in my example) on both prints. Measure any other object in the picture and it will be the same size in both prints.

Depth of field may be different, but the perspective will be identical.

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Every photograph is an abstraction from reality.

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Schwany
Schwany Forum Pro • Posts: 10,169
It isn't over till it's over

LaszloBencze wrote:

It looks like this thread has played out. Having read every post, I'll summarize as follows:

1. Almost everyone agrees that it is near impossible to tell the difference between large prints made from cameras with widely divergent megapixels ranging from 5 to 36.

5 megapixels is pretty thin spread over 20x30 inches at 240 ppi. But if number 4 is true, it doesn't matter much.

2. A few people argue that certain types of subject matter do reveal these differences. I agree with them but suggest that such subject matter provides a minority of picture situations.

3. Even when there are clear differences between cameras, the differences are not profound but difficult to discern, requiring close comparison.

4. The strength of a picture as a work of art far overrides the importance of megapixels. An artistically satisfying picture will be forgiven many technical faults. An artistically mediocre picture will provide a field day for nit picking.

I like the number 4 postulation. In the end that is all that really matters. One man's trash is another man's treasure though. So there's always room for disagreement.

And these lead to an interesting corollary: should Canon come out with a 40 megapixel camera tomorrow, the odds are high that it will not be twice as good as the current Canon line-up but more like 10% better based on subjective evaluation.

At least that would be case if the improvement were strictly in pixel count. If dynamic range were also extended and every vestige of banding eliminated, it would be a different story.

That would be a dream come true.

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bobn2
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 61,714
Re: It isn't over till it's over
2

LaszloBencze wrote:

It looks like this thread has played out. Having read every post, I'll summarize as follows:

1. Almost everyone agrees that it is near impossible to tell the difference between large prints made from cameras with widely divergent megapixels ranging from 5 to 36.

5 megapixels is pretty thin spread over 20x30 inches at 240 ppi. But if number 4 is true, it doesn't matter much.

2. A few people argue that certain types of subject matter do reveal these differences. I agree with them but suggest that such subject matter provides a minority of picture situations.

3. Even when there are clear differences between cameras, the differences are not profound but difficult to discern, requiring close comparison.

4. The strength of a picture as a work of art far overrides the importance of megapixels. An artistically satisfying picture will be forgiven many technical faults. An artistically mediocre picture will provide a field day for nit picking.

I like the number 4 postulation. In the end that is all that really matters. One man's trash is another man's treasure though. So there's always room for disagreement.

And these lead to an interesting corollary: should Canon come out with a 40 megapixel camera tomorrow, the odds are high that it will not be twice as good as the current Canon line-up but more like 10% better based on subjective evaluation.

At least that would be case if the improvement were strictly in pixel count. If dynamic range were also extended and every vestige of banding eliminated, it would be a different story.

That would be a dream come true.

The reason most people can't tell the difference is often because there is no difference. If you take the same photo - same scene, framing, AOV, DOF and shutter speed then sensor size goes out of the equation. If now the DOF is deep pixel count goes out of the equation too.
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Dan_168 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,772
Re: Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.

As a landscape shooter and current owner of D800E and 1DS2, 1DS3 1D2 & Sony NEX7, and previously 5D2 and D3, 20D, D300, I am really surprised to heard so many people claimed there is no difference between high resolution and low resolution when everything else being equal.

Schwany
Schwany Forum Pro • Posts: 10,169
Pixel politics

Dan_168 wrote:

As a landscape shooter and current owner of D800E and 1DS2, 1DS3 1D2 & Sony NEX7, and previously 5D2 and D3, 20D, D300, I am really surprised to heard so many people claimed there is no difference between high resolution and low resolution when everything else being equal.

The inmates are running the asylum.

I would like my 1DX to grow some more pixels. I like pixels. The more the merrier. My favorite thing though is the content inside the frame. Otherwise what's the point.

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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 25,901
Not always

Schwany wrote:

Dan_168 wrote:

As a landscape shooter and current owner of D800E and 1DS2, 1DS3 1D2 & Sony NEX7, and previously 5D2 and D3, 20D, D300, I am really surprised to heard so many people claimed there is no difference between high resolution and low resolution when everything else being equal.

The inmates are running the asylum.

I would like my 1DX to grow some more pixels. I like pixels. The more the merrier. My favorite thing though is the content inside the frame. Otherwise what's the point.

Some people just like to press the button and the content really isn't important. Got to envy them though, they have a lock on happy and satisfaction. They simply dance to a different "point"

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TTMartin
TTMartin Veteran Member • Posts: 7,304
Re: Do pixels matter? What 20" x 30" prints reveal.

Dan_168 wrote:

As a landscape shooter and current owner of D800E and 1DS2, 1DS3 1D2 & Sony NEX7, and previously 5D2 and D3, 20D, D300, I am really surprised to heard so many people claimed there is no difference between high resolution and low resolution when everything else being equal.

Maybe some people understand it doesn't matter how many cameras you own, or how many megapixels those cameras have.

What matters most is the person behind the camera.

Buying more cameras and more megapixels doesn't make a person a better photographer, and it certainly doesn't develop their artistic eye.

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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 25,901
might

TTMartin wrote:


Buying more cameras and more megapixels doesn't make a person a better photographer, and it certainly doesn't develop their artistic eye.

It might help though. A new expensive purchase might be just the catalyst and motivator for improvement.

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Schwany
Schwany Forum Pro • Posts: 10,169
Re: Not always

Mako2011 wrote:

Schwany wrote:

Dan_168 wrote:

As a landscape shooter and current owner of D800E and 1DS2, 1DS3 1D2 & Sony NEX7, and previously 5D2 and D3, 20D, D300, I am really surprised to heard so many people claimed there is no difference between high resolution and low resolution when everything else being equal.

The inmates are running the asylum.

I would like my 1DX to grow some more pixels. I like pixels. The more the merrier. My favorite thing though is the content inside the frame. Otherwise what's the point.

Some people just like to press the button and the content really isn't important. Got to envy them though, they have a lock on happy and satisfaction. They simply dance to a different "point"

Well, I think just about everyone knows what they are taking a picture of, and that's the content. Babies, pets, kids playing sports, the girl or boy next door, flowers in the garden, wildlife, the new bathroom, it all matters to some extent.

I'd still like more pixels.

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Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 25,901
aunt

Schwany wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

Schwany wrote:

Dan_168 wrote:

As a landscape shooter and current owner of D800E and 1DS2, 1DS3 1D2 & Sony NEX7, and previously 5D2 and D3, 20D, D300, I am really surprised to heard so many people claimed there is no difference between high resolution and low resolution when everything else being equal.

The inmates are running the asylum.

I would like my 1DX to grow some more pixels. I like pixels. The more the merrier. My favorite thing though is the content inside the frame. Otherwise what's the point.

Some people just like to press the button and the content really isn't important. Got to envy them though, they have a lock on happy and satisfaction. They simply dance to a different "point"

Well, I think just about everyone knows what they are taking a picture of, and that's the content. Babies, pets, kids playing sports, the girl or boy next door, flowers in the garden, wildlife, the new bathroom, it all matters to some extent.

Had you seen my aunt with her camera...you might come to understand, there are exceptions.

I'd still like more pixels.

As do I, as long as they are quality pixels and improve upon the past.

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Great Bustard Forum Pro • Posts: 42,946
"quality pixels"
1

Mako2011 wrote:

Schwany wrote:

I'd still like more pixels.

As do I, as long as they are quality pixels and improve upon the past.

There are three primary aspects to a pixel's "quality":

  • QE (Quantum Efficiency -- the proportion of light falling on the pixel that is recorded)
  • Read Noise (the additional noise added by the pixel and supporting hardware)
  • Saturation Capacity

There's no evidence that the size of a pixel has any substantial effect on QE, as the pixels from the 6D have basically the same QE as the pixels from the G15, despite the fact that the 6D pixels have 11.5x the area as the G15 pixels.

As for read noise, we need to compare area for area, not pixel for pixel.  For example, the combined read noise of 11.5 pixels from the G15 (same area as one 6D pixel) is 8.5 electrons vs 26.8 electrons of the 6D at base ISO (1.7 stop advantage smaller pixels), but 5.8 electrons vs 2.0 electrons at ISO 6400 (1.5 stop advantage for larger pixels).

Lastly, so long as the saturation levels for the pixels are in proportion to the area, there will be no relative advantage.  For example, 11.5 of the G15 pixels have a saturation of 84630 electrons as opposed to one 6D pixel which has a saturation of 76606 electrons (negligible difference -- 0.14 stops apart).

So, as we can see, for the same generation tech, the relative difference in sensor efficiency is essentially the same for a huge range of pixel sizes.  In other words, a 230 MP FF sensor made with G15 pixels would have been as efficient as the 20 MP 6D sensor.

In other words, any argument against more pixels has to come from an operational argument (frame rate, file size, processing time) as opposed to IQ, since 230 MP over 20 MP of equally efficient pixels would most certainly have the IQ advantage.

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