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Thread: Why you should not get the Highest Megapixel you can afford

  1. #1
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    Default Why you should not get the Highest Megapixel you can afford

    As I was predicting the next round of cameras for release due in Feb and August, it is still a misunderstanding of "The more Megapixel the better it is" thingy. One of my favorite digital camera reviewing website is DPreview.com like some people here so some of the thoughts may still be subjective, but I have yet to find a site that have a standardised way to review digital cameras and show you the different results.


    In 2003 Oct I bought a G5 (5MP), where it is a replacement for G3 (4MP). Canon skipped the G4 (4 is not a good word to use in Chinese so they skipped it). From G1 to G6 (the latest G series), all are built on a small sensor of 1/1.8". I did not realise this until I saw the G6 (7MP) with so much lower noise to the Canon Pro 1, which uses a 2/3" sensor (bigger than 1/1.8") from Sony, at 8MP.

    The G5 at ISO 50 to 100 is smooth and near noiseless. The ISO 200 is also great but needs some noise removal using NeatImage but highly usable. The ISO 400 setting is horrible and almost too hard to fix without losing detail, hence my shooting are normally limited to ISO 50-100 and sometimes 200. It is a good thing to know that the G5 has a relatively fast lens to make up for that ISO 400 problem.

    With the new G6, the sensor is probably made on a new process which I do not know (I am not an engineering student so forgive me in this aspect). Some people on Dpreview.com mentioned that why it is so good and low noise is due to the Digic II, but does G6 has Digic II processor? I think it is using the same Digic I processor. Why the G6 so much better than the Pro 1 even if they has the same/similar density count in terms of pixels per mm on the sensor? Probably like the CPU in AMD and Intel, the finer process (130nm to 90nm etc) allows the sensor to have more space in between among the thinly sillicon hence less noise when they become more sensitive (ISO400 etc). That might also be the reason for the 20D to have more MP but lower noise to an extend where ISO 1600 is pretty usable with post processing.


    Where I need to print my pictures?
    For a compact camera, most likely you will print 4R or at the most occasionally, S8R (12"x8") or 8R (10"x8"). Of course for larger prints you will see it further away at about 2 feet away, so I do not really think any normal person will be able to differentiate an S8R printed from 3600 x 2400 pixel than a resized 1800 x 1200 image. Life is short, spend more time with familiy members better than comparing picture details

    For 4R you will need 1800 x 1200 pixels, meaning a 3MP (2000 x 1500+/-) camera will serve you well. A 4MP camera gives you 2300 x 1700 +/-, 5MP gives you 2550 x 1900 +/-. As you see, a normal shop prints at 300DPI max in most cases, therefore a 4R needs 1800x1200 which even a 3MP will be good enough. But it is harder and harder to find a good 3MP digital compact camera nowadays with the good functions we might need. A 4MP is still decent and up to date.

    Many of the compact or ultra compact are built on a small 1/2.5" or 1/2.7" sensor, therefore putting more MP in it is not that good consider the G5 vs G3 story I mentioned earlier in this post. There are of course exceptions like the G6 but not easily found with the ultra compact today. Even the A95 that replaced (I suppose so?) the A85 needs a 1/1.8" sensor to the latter's 1/2.7", that tells a lot of story for that extra MP to noise reduction. Similarly the Ixus 500 has 1/1.8" sensor at 5MP to the Ixus 40 1/2.5" sensor.


    A compact is used for snapping of photos, most likely prints on 4R and sometimes bigger prints. The next step up from 4MP is probably at 8MP (S8R at 300DPI) so buying a 4MP now will probably last you for a good 2-3 years (assuming it does not spoil during this time). Skipped those 5/6MP models and go for 7MP models on matured 1/1.8" sensor.


    The above are my personal thoughts, so please correct if there mistakes. No flame please

  2. #2
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    for most people, 3-4MP is more than enough. any upgrade should be more in terms for improved functionalities than resolution.

  3. #3

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    imho, i dun really see it as "skipping 6 megapixels" to go straight to 7 or 8. as many of us know, the megapixels are calculated from the product of the two dimensions. which is why the increase of 3.2mp from 2mp is as dramatic as 5.0mp from 3.2mp.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by theITguy
    As I was predicting the next round of cameras for release due in Feb and August, it is still a misunderstanding of "The more Megapixel the better it is" thingy. One of my favorite digital camera reviewing website is DPreview.com like some people here so some of the thoughts may still be subjective, but I have yet to find a site that have a standardised way to review digital cameras and show you the different results.


    In 2003 Oct I bought a G5 (5MP), where it is a replacement for G3 (4MP). Canon skipped the G4 (4 is not a good word to use in Chinese so they skipped it). From G1 to G6 (the latest G series), all are built on a small sensor of 1/1.8". I did not realise this until I saw the G6 (7MP) with so much lower noise to the Canon Pro 1, which uses a 2/3" sensor (bigger than 1/1.8") from Sony, at 8MP.

    The G5 at ISO 50 to 100 is smooth and near noiseless. The ISO 200 is also great but needs some noise removal using NeatImage but highly usable. The ISO 400 setting is horrible and almost too hard to fix without losing detail, hence my shooting are normally limited to ISO 50-100 and sometimes 200. It is a good thing to know that the G5 has a relatively fast lens to make up for that ISO 400 problem.

    With the new G6, the sensor is probably made on a new process which I do not know (I am not an engineering student so forgive me in this aspect). Some people on Dpreview.com mentioned that why it is so good and low noise is due to the Digic II, but does G6 has Digic II processor? I think it is using the same Digic I processor. Why the G6 so much better than the Pro 1 even if they has the same/similar density count in terms of pixels per mm on the sensor? Probably like the CPU in AMD and Intel, the finer process (130nm to 90nm etc) allows the sensor to have more space in between among the thinly sillicon hence less noise when they become more sensitive (ISO400 etc). That might also be the reason for the 20D to have more MP but lower noise to an extend where ISO 1600 is pretty usable with post processing.


    Where I need to print my pictures?
    For a compact camera, most likely you will print 4R or at the most occasionally, S8R (12"x8") or 8R (10"x8"). Of course for larger prints you will see it further away at about 2 feet away, so I do not really think any normal person will be able to differentiate an S8R printed from 3600 x 2400 pixel than a resized 1800 x 1200 image. Life is short, spend more time with familiy members better than comparing picture details

    For 4R you will need 1800 x 1200 pixels, meaning a 3MP (2000 x 1500+/-) camera will serve you well. A 4MP camera gives you 2300 x 1700 +/-, 5MP gives you 2550 x 1900 +/-. As you see, a normal shop prints at 300DPI max in most cases, therefore a 4R needs 1800x1200 which even a 3MP will be good enough. But it is harder and harder to find a good 3MP digital compact camera nowadays with the good functions we might need. A 4MP is still decent and up to date.

    Many of the compact or ultra compact are built on a small 1/2.5" or 1/2.7" sensor, therefore putting more MP in it is not that good consider the G5 vs G3 story I mentioned earlier in this post. There are of course exceptions like the G6 but not easily found with the ultra compact today. Even the A95 that replaced (I suppose so?) the A85 needs a 1/1.8" sensor to the latter's 1/2.7", that tells a lot of story for that extra MP to noise reduction. Similarly the Ixus 500 has 1/1.8" sensor at 5MP to the Ixus 40 1/2.5" sensor.


    A compact is used for snapping of photos, most likely prints on 4R and sometimes bigger prints. The next step up from 4MP is probably at 8MP (S8R at 300DPI) so buying a 4MP now will probably last you for a good 2-3 years (assuming it does not spoil during this time). Skipped those 5/6MP models and go for 7MP models on matured 1/1.8" sensor.


    The above are my personal thoughts, so please correct if there mistakes. No flame please
    The A95 is not the replacement of A85
    it is the replacement of A80 which has the same CCD size
    CCD size play a important part in noise but the image processor is even more important ... look at the kodak full frame DSLR ... the noise is really unacceptable for myself ...

  5. #5
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    Noise .... Ahhhh I need a new camera !

    Why look for imperfections. Why not look AT the photo.

    I have seen some excellent photo's taken years ago on a 1.3mp camera.

    If I was that way inclined I would have said,"Ahhh noise ...blah". but I was interested in the photo
    Not imperfections.

    When a photo is posted, I don't look at it to find faults, I look at it to see what the photog saw.


    Sorry if this comes across as a flame (it is not meant to be).
    So often it has been written,"it is not the camera, it is the photographer".
    Time, is an effortless construction :)

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    Just missed on that A80 replacement. Thanks for correcting. Well, a camera is as important as a photo if you want people to see it, on small print, on the web or enlarged into a painting size paper.

  7. #7

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    I think it is more important to get the correct camera which can get you the photos that you want and usage.

  8. #8

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    I think anything above 5MP for DSLR is okay.
    Even at for the same MP, there are different compression ratio to choose from.

    For my need and usability, I chose 6MP for my DSLR but at a high compression ratio. Good enough for my hobbyist application. Futhermore handling a 1.3MB file is easier as compared to a 2.3MB photo for the same resolution.

  9. #9

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    Yeah, sometimes I had a hard time telling my novice P&S friends that higher MP does not mean better images. So I told them that even if I had set my camera to 2 or 3 MP, my pics will still look better than theirs.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowspeeder
    Yeah, sometimes I had a hard time telling my novice P&S friends that higher MP does not mean better images. So I told them that even if I had set my camera to 2 or 3 MP, my pics will still look better than theirs.

    I agree too.

    I see better pictures at 3MP than one at 6MP. At the end of the day, given a DECENT camera, it is the photographer that counts.

    MP is not the only aspect when choosing a camera. And being into photography for a while, LENSES quality makes a lot of different.

    For the crap salesman, they will try to sell the camera based on MP and Zoom X. If u know u're stuff, u' go for the lens type, f-Stop, MP options.

  11. #11

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    Lens quality is very important. I have little respect for crappy salesmen who bangs on the power of megapixels thru their cheap acting skills. So best to advise all your frens b4 their kenna conned.

  12. #12
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    On this Ken Rockwell has written a few great articles - one regarding the Mp and how much is enough or not. He even goes to the extent of say there is little diff between the average 6Mp for dSLR and those newer 8Mp ones.

    He has also got another article on the 2 classes of camera - dSLR and the digicam. A 6Mp dSLR beats a 8Mp digicam hollow.....
    I love big car, big house, big lenses, but small apertures.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the feedback. I made this thread so as to educate people on the purchase of equipment, in terms of MP they need. Of course the photographer itself is important, likewise for the lens used etc. To add these factors will lead uneducated users to nothing, might as well choose the camera/lens for them The idea of this thread is to help uneducated or unsure people to determine what they need so as to make their money well spent.

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