Photographing with Higher MP bodies

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ShutterDude Contributing Member • Posts: 883
Photographing with Higher MP bodies
1

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics.   In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

RichyjV
RichyjV Senior Member • Posts: 1,097
Re: Photographing with Higher MP bodies
2

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

My 2 cents is that the MP difference doesn't make much of a difference in how forgiving the camera is, in actual shooting. The Stableisation on the Z7 is just so good that I'm rarely getting shots missing critical focus, so for me you are talking tiny % margins there. The crop-ability is a good feature, and I wouldn't spend the money on either Z to pair with soft lenses.. but any Z lens is excellent and you don't need everything to be an otus to get value.

abera Regular Member • Posts: 103
More pixels = good even with bad lenses
1

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

More pixels -> more resolution. More pixels does not require a better lens or technique. The worst case scenario is that you'll get just the same resolution for the output you would get with a smaller pixel count, but in practise you'll get more details even if you shoot through a beer bottle quality glass.

You can think of it like this: the lens draws the image and all the sensor does it chops the image that has been drawn into millions of little parts - chopping it into more, smaller parts doesn't make the image the lens has already drawn any worse.

beatboxa Veteran Member • Posts: 7,514
Re: Photographing with Higher MP bodies
7

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

I would say: forget about MP for a minute. Think instead about enlargement.

When you enlarge more, what do you do? You will:

  • increase the apparent lens aberrations ("less sharp")
  • decrease the apparent DoF
  • increase the apparent noise
  • increase the apparent pixellation (this is the resolution / MP part)
  • decrease the frame's angle of view
  • decrease the apparent dynamic range
  • increase the apparent posterization / decrease tonality
  • increase the apparent motion blur

All of that comes from more enlargement, with only one of then coming from pixel density. Causation rather than correlation is important here. It's the same thing that happens when you pixel peep or zoom in more to an image.

So you should ask yourself what the bottleneck is: Is it pixelation, or any of the others above?

With all that said, you can largely predict the results fairly accurately. For example, if you enlarged more by a factor of 1.4x, you would magnify the 1D/linear issues by 1.4x and the 2D issues by 2x. So motion blur would become 1.4x as large, while DR would decrease by around 1 stop, for example.

EricTheAstroJunkie Contributing Member • Posts: 785
Re: More pixels = good even with bad lenses
3

abera wrote:

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

More pixels -> more resolution. More pixels does not require a better lens or technique. The worst case scenario is that you'll get just the same resolution for the output you would get with a smaller pixel count, but in practise you'll get more details even if you shoot through a beer bottle quality glass.

You can think of it like this: the lens draws the image and all the sensor does it chops the image that has been drawn into millions of little parts - chopping it into more, smaller parts doesn't make the image the lens has already drawn any worse.

Quite simply without going into the mind-numbing discussion of it all, higher resolution sensors reveal optical imperfections to a much greater degree. So yes, higher resolution cameras do require better lenses to take advantage of that resolution. You may not actually get all of that resolution in a usable sense if the lens quality is poor, you'll have more resolution than shooting with the Z6, but image quality may not reveal as much detail as you would have expected.

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briantilley
briantilley Veteran Member • Posts: 5,383
Re: More pixels = good even with bad lenses

EricTheAstroJunkie wrote:

abera wrote:

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

More pixels -> more resolution. More pixels does not require a better lens or technique. The worst case scenario is that you'll get just the same resolution for the output you would get with a smaller pixel count, but in practise you'll get more details even if you shoot through a beer bottle quality glass.

You can think of it like this: the lens draws the image and all the sensor does it chops the image that has been drawn into millions of little parts - chopping it into more, smaller parts doesn't make the image the lens has already drawn any worse.

Quite simply without going into the mind-numbing discussion of it all, higher resolution sensors reveal optical imperfections to a much greater degree. So yes, higher resolution cameras do require better lenses to take advantage of that resolution.

Only if (as beatboxa explained so well) the intention is to crop and/or enlarge the image to a greater degree.

This caveat is sadly often omitted when people say that higher-MP cameras are more sensitive to subject motion blur.

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abera Regular Member • Posts: 103
Re: More pixels = good even with bad lenses

EricTheAstroJunkie wrote:

abera wrote:

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

More pixels -> more resolution. More pixels does not require a better lens or technique. The worst case scenario is that you'll get just the same resolution for the output you would get with a smaller pixel count, but in practise you'll get more details even if you shoot through a beer bottle quality glass.

You can think of it like this: the lens draws the image and all the sensor does it chops the image that has been drawn into millions of little parts - chopping it into more, smaller parts doesn't make the image the lens has already drawn any worse.

Quite simply without going into the mind-numbing discussion of it all, higher resolution sensors reveal optical imperfections to a much greater degree. So yes, higher resolution cameras do require better lenses to take advantage of that resolution. You may not actually get all of that resolution in a usable sense if the lens quality is poor, you'll have more resolution than shooting with the Z6, but image quality may not reveal as much detail as you would have expected.

This is of course true. On the other hand it is hard to find a lens which is so bad that significant increase in pixel count would not improve resolution significantly (outside of edge/corner areas). I wish I still had Industar-69, the worst lens ever - it would be fun to see how it performs on different pixel pitches

michaeladawson Forum Pro • Posts: 14,890
Re: Photographing with Higher MP bodies
8

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

A couple others put it very well, such that there's not really anything new I can add.  I'm responding perhaps simply to add my "vote".

You will never get worse results with a higher MP body than you would have gotten with a lower MP body.  The only thing that will happen is that you may not be taking full advantage of the higher MP count if your technique isn't good and you don't have good lenses.  But I might go so far as to say your results, as judged by detail, will always be better on the higher MP body.  Just not the full potential.

It's important to always discuss this topic as comparing photos at the same output size, whether that's an 8x10 print, a large 24" x 36" print, or web viewing.  Even things like higher ISO noise are often not worse on a high MP camera when viewed at the same output size.

Me personally?  I will always take the higher MP camera.  I don't care about hard disk space, processing time, frame rates, etc.  I want the most MP to work with.

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Mike Dawson

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Leonard Shepherd
Leonard Shepherd Forum Pro • Posts: 20,855
Re: More pixels = good even with bad lenses

EricTheAstroJunkie wrote:

Quite simply without going into the mind-numbing discussion of it all, higher resolution sensors reveal optical imperfections to a much greater degree.

To a "much greater degree" - 45 over 24 MP - is probably an exaggeration.

Although specific testing is needed for any lens/body combination a reasonable expectation is about 40% more sensor resolution going from 24 to 45 MP - but only when measured in isolation without a lens attached.

When a good lens is attached a reasonable starting point expectation for the lens/body is around 20 % more image resolution.

20% more image resolution can definitely be useful - though I would not call it "a much greater degree".

So yes, higher resolution cameras do require better lenses to take advantage of that resolution.

"Require" seems going a bit far - part because using a higher resolving body produces more image resolution with every lens

While a combination of highest MP bodies and the best lens can produce the highest image resolution; taking this too literally rules out shooting sports with a D6 or using any lens other than the Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct.

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Leonard Shepherd
In lots of ways good photography is much more about how equipment is used rather than anything else.

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FuhTeng
FuhTeng Senior Member • Posts: 1,280
Re: Photographing with Higher MP bodies
1

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

Great question - I've seen this discussion over and over again. I try to avoid pixel-peeping and I find that this whole discussion is massively overblown. Yes, I use really good glass when the per-pixel acuity matters (wildlife for me - 500 f4, now I added a 500 PF, 70-200E) but otherwise I'm happy to use whatever's easy for landscape or portraits - 24-85VR on my D850, 24-70 f/4 on my Z6, 70-300 AFP on either.

Yes - use really good glass and technique if you really think you need per-pixel acuity to be maximized, but otherwise, whatever's easy is more important.

Happily everything released for Z-mount is at least good even on the Z7 (yes, even the 24-200 is good enough for me), and the majority is great all the way up to best-in-class.

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"Our young men should spend more time considering the composition and merit of their images, and less time with magnifying glasses counting how many bricks and shingles they can resolve." - from a Paris newspaper article on Daguerrotype photography, from 1841. (and https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2011/05/1839-and-the-frenzy-that-followed)

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bmoag Senior Member • Posts: 2,748
Re: Photographing with Higher MP bodies
2

One of the problems with the idea that  "more is always better" are the pesky mathematics of what happens to all that image data from uber megapixel sensors, outside of pixel peeping, when inevitably viewed and printed on lower resolution devices.

Where do all those megapixels go to die? It might be the same place as all those bits of sensor data jpeg shooters never know existed.

I suspect many are found languishing in the imagination.

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EricTheAstroJunkie Contributing Member • Posts: 785
Re: More pixels = good even with bad lenses
1

Leonard Shepherd wrote:

EricTheAstroJunkie wrote:

Quite simply without going into the mind-numbing discussion of it all, higher resolution sensors reveal optical imperfections to a much greater degree.

To a "much greater degree" - 45 over 24 MP - is probably an exaggeration.

Although specific testing is needed for any lens/body combination a reasonable expectation is about 40% more sensor resolution going from 24 to 45 MP - but only when measured in isolation without a lens attached.

When a good lens is attached a reasonable starting point expectation for the lens/body is around 20 % more image resolution.

20% more image resolution can definitely be useful - though I would not call it "a much greater degree".

So yes, higher resolution cameras do require better lenses to take advantage of that resolution.

"Require" seems going a bit far - part because using a higher resolving body produces more image resolution with every lens

While a combination of highest MP bodies and the best lens can produce the highest image resolution; taking this too literally rules out shooting sports with a D6 or using any lens other than the Z 58mm f0.95 S Noct.

Without looking at any specific lens/camera combo and what exact numbers it'd produce (like a highly resolving 85mm lens on a 24mp Z6 vs 45mgp Z7) I'd still call 20% a much greater degree. Obviously the needs of any one photographer have to be weighed, 20% more resolution/resolving power could mean A LOT for me (as an astrophotographer trying to resolve specific details within, say, a nebula or galaxy) vs maybe not a lot for someone doing portrait photography.

I guess the "require" part is more so important for any specific type of photography being done, as I should have included that disclaimer. If you WANT to take advantage of the smaller pixels and higher resolution 45mp camera to the highest degree possible then you will require better lens optics. There's obviously a huge list of factors that anyone needs to consider when buying a camera and lens for their specific needs, this is just one of them.

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OP ShutterDude Contributing Member • Posts: 883
Thanks Everyone! Lens Quality
1

Wow!  I receive very good information from you all, which has helped me understand the implications of having a higher MP count to work with.

Lens optics continue to always be a significant determining factor.  I'm making an assumption that the Z line series of lenses - any of them for that matter, including the 'kit' lens 24-70mm f4 just as well complements the Z6ii/z7ii without any degradation in 'image quality'.

Until a Z series telephoto lens comes to that market, I'd be pairing it with the 200-500mm or the 500mm PF via FTZ adapter.

Thanks again all.

djd97 Regular Member • Posts: 265
Re: Photographing with Higher MP bodies

beatboxa wrote:

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

I would say: forget about MP for a minute. Think instead about enlargement.

When you enlarge more, what do you do? You will:

  • increase the apparent lens aberrations ("less sharp")
  • decrease the apparent DoF
  • increase the apparent noise
  • increase the apparent pixellation (this is the resolution / MP part)
  • decrease the frame's angle of view
  • decrease the apparent dynamic range
  • increase the apparent posterization / decrease tonality
  • increase the apparent motion blur

All of that comes from more enlargement, with only one of then coming from pixel density. Causation rather than correlation is important here. It's the same thing that happens when you pixel peep or zoom in more to an image.

So you should ask yourself what the bottleneck is: Is it pixelation, or any of the others above?

With all that said, you can largely predict the results fairly accurately. For example, if you enlarged more by a factor of 1.4x, you would magnify the 1D/linear issues by 1.4x and the 2D issues by 2x. So motion blur would become 1.4x as large, while DR would decrease by around 1 stop, for example.

Why would the DR appear to be effected from a simple crop? Isn't DR tied to pixel size/quality (which shouldn't change from cropping)?

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Macromind
Macromind Regular Member • Posts: 261
Re: More pixels = good even with bad lenses

Leonard

I am reaching out to you regarding a different issue that was brought up on another blog in this forum. Back-lighting. How do the Nikon Z's respond to back-lighting with and without flash. Which settings to use to keep the subject properly imaged? Please respond in the Nikon Z7 flash photography backlight situation problem

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Photography, the learning experience

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beatboxa Veteran Member • Posts: 7,514
Re: Photographing with Higher MP bodies
4

djd97 wrote:

beatboxa wrote:

ShutterDude wrote:

While I wait for the Z7ii release, it'll give me some time to debate whether I should invest in that body vs the Z6ii - the main driver is the ability to crop if I need to given the higher MP count, and wanting to print larger prints as well.

Other than that, it was mentioned that using a higher megapixel body will be more sensitive to motion resulting in softer images, and as well the requirement for top notch optics. In other words, it's less forgiving that using a lower MP camera.

Can anyone chime more on this?

Thanks

I would say: forget about MP for a minute. Think instead about enlargement.

When you enlarge more, what do you do? You will:

  • increase the apparent lens aberrations ("less sharp")
  • decrease the apparent DoF
  • increase the apparent noise
  • increase the apparent pixellation (this is the resolution / MP part)
  • decrease the frame's angle of view
  • decrease the apparent dynamic range
  • increase the apparent posterization / decrease tonality
  • increase the apparent motion blur

All of that comes from more enlargement, with only one of then coming from pixel density. Causation rather than correlation is important here. It's the same thing that happens when you pixel peep or zoom in more to an image.

So you should ask yourself what the bottleneck is: Is it pixelation, or any of the others above?

With all that said, you can largely predict the results fairly accurately. For example, if you enlarged more by a factor of 1.4x, you would magnify the 1D/linear issues by 1.4x and the 2D issues by 2x. So motion blur would become 1.4x as large, while DR would decrease by around 1 stop, for example.

Why would the DR appear to be effected from a simple crop? Isn't DR tied to pixel size/quality (which shouldn't change from cropping)?

No, DR is not tied to pixel size / quality. In fact, a single pixel in any image (regardless of size or quality of that pixel) has 0 stops of DR because it has only a single "distinguishable" value.

DR--and in this case, what I called "apparent DR" is more tied to the ratios of saturation and noise, or the highest values where one can no longer distinguish between tones and the lowest values. As one enlarges more (and crops), the same amount of light is spread over a larger area, decreasing these ratios. It's just like when you move a movie projector further back from a screen--eventually, the "image" will have 0 contrast.

This is why crop areas always have lower DR, typically proportional to areas.

For example:

BTW, it's also the reason you see blurbs like this on those sites:

  • https://photonstophotos.net/GeneralTopics/Sensors_&_Raw/Sensor_Analysis_Primer/Photographic_Dynamic_Range_Summary.htm
  • "If, in order to get sufficient IQ, you are printing smaller or viewing further away than you would like; then start by determining the highest ISO that gives reasonable IQ for an 8" wide print viewed at arms length.Then take this PDR value and increase it to meet your needs. Remember, one stop of PDR is a 2 improvement in linear size or viewing distance."
  • "It is important to understand that the print size and viewing distance, the Circle Of Confusion (COC), determines not only the target PDR, but the PDR above which you may not see any visible difference.In other words, one camera may be better than another at a particular ISO, but the difference may not be visible given your viewing conditions."
Leonard Shepherd
Leonard Shepherd Forum Pro • Posts: 20,855
Re: More pixels = good even with bad lenses

EricTheAstroJunkie wrote:

Without looking at any specific lens/camera combo and what exact numbers it'd produce (like a highly resolving 85mm lens on a 24mp Z6 vs 45mgp Z7) I'd still call 20% a much greater degree.

20% can be the difference between a 30 inch wide print and a 36 inch wide print of similar detail quality when both are viewed from the same specific distance.

If viewed from further away than when the human eyes resolving power is less than the detail in a 30 or 36 inch wide print - there is no discernible difference.

Obviously the needs of any one photographer have to be weighed, 20% more resolution/resolving power could mean A LOT for me (as an astrophotographer trying to resolve specific details within, say, a nebula or galaxy) vs maybe not a lot for someone doing portrait photography.

I presume for this you use a Barlow lens to increase subject magnification, an equatorial telescope, stacking of numerous images and shooting when the atmosphere is clear and ideally no moon to get a decent result. 20% is useful - though the usual Barlow lens is 5 times "better".

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Leonard Shepherd
In lots of ways good photography is much more about how equipment is used rather than anything else.

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(unknown member) Regular Member • Posts: 189
Re: Thanks Everyone! Lens Quality

ShutterDude wrote:

Wow! I receive very good information from you all, which has helped me understand the implications of having a higher MP count to work with.

Lens optics continue to always be a significant determining factor. I'm making an assumption that the Z line series of lenses - any of them for that matter, including the 'kit' lens 24-70mm f4 just as well complements the Z6ii/z7ii without any degradation in 'image quality'.

Until a Z series telephoto lens comes to that market, I'd be pairing it with the 200-500mm or the 500mm PF via FTZ adapter.

Thanks again all.

That's a good assumption. The Z glass is outstanding and more than capable to resolving the sensor of the Z7II.

Nikon has obviously designed these lenses for upcoming higher resolution bodies and these lenses will be top notch for years to come.

Cheers,
Bernard

Leonard Shepherd
Leonard Shepherd Forum Pro • Posts: 20,855
Re: Thanks Everyone! Lens Quality
1

bernardlang wrote:

The Z glass is outstanding and more than capable to resolving the sensor of the Z7II.

This second part of this comment is unfortunately factually wrong 

No sensor out resolves any lens, and no lens out resolves any sensor.

Increasing the resolving ability of a sensor or lens (measured in isolation) increases image resolution.

If you mean generally Z lenses rather than F help achieve more image resolution - than yes.

However even with Z lenses, a Z7 helps achieve higher image resolution than with a Z6.

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Leonard Shepherd
In lots of ways good photography is much more about how equipment is used rather than anything else.

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Straz Regular Member • Posts: 251
Re: Photographing with Higher MP bodies

My first digital camera had 1 Megapixels; my next one had 4, and so on through 20 on my Nikon 1 and now 47 on my Z7. Is that the end of the trail? Doubtful, as 100 Megapixel cameras already exist.

So the real limit is when does it stop making a difference human eyes can detect? And even then you might want more, to allow for cropping.

With that in mind, starting with a higher Megapixel sensor helps the camera be usable longer, much as when buying a computer or phone with more memory, CPU speed and screen resolution may make its performance suitable for longer than one with lesser specs.

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