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Thread: Why more isn't better?

  1. #1
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    Default Why more isn't better?

    Excerpted from The New Paper online - http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/top/sto...62767,00.html?

    CONTRARY to popular belief, it is not always good to have more megapixels.

    For several years now, people have been eagerly buying the latest digital cameras as the resolution jumped from one megapixel to another.

    A quick look at our news archives showed that just three years ago, three megapixel cameras were the creme de la creme for consumers.

    The past six months have seen that number jump to an impressive eight megapixels - 'enough resolution for A3 or larger prints!', say some camera advertisements.

    Well, it is not always wise to go for the most megapixels if you are looking for a compact camera.


    For one thing, these 8MP consumer cams are not cheap - usually between $1,500 and $2,000.

    And higher resolution does not always equal higher image quality.

    I'm going to get a little technical here so bear with me, but it is worth the headache to understand the whole megapixel matter.

    At the heart of every camera is the light-absorbing surface that captures that image that comes through the lens.

    In film cameras, it is the film negative, and in digicams, it is the image sensor.

    LESS GRAIN

    Film photographers all know that the larger the negative, the better the image quality.

    Large format (203mm x 254mm) and medium format negatives (60 by 45mm) are larger than a 35mm (36 by 24mm) film negative and can reproduce images with less grain and better tone and resolution.

    Why?

    Because the photo lab makes prints by enlarging these negatives, so a 35mm film roll needs to be enlarged several times more than a medium format negative, and so must the granular specks that make up each image.

    Even now, large and medium format film are used to shoot high resolution posters and billboard advertisements.

    The same logic applies to digital cameras - the bigger the image sensor, the better.

    Now digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras have image sensors that are just slightly smaller than a 35mm negative, or even the same size.

    Compact digicams have image sensors that are much, much smaller.

    The eight megapixel Canon Powershot Pro1 and Sony F828 have a sensor that is 8.80 x 6.60 mm, and lower-end cameras have even tinier ones at 5.27 x 3.96 mm!

    When manufacturers squeeze more and more pixels onto such small surfaces, the one side effect I've noticed is that the pictures become progressively more 'noisy'.

    Even at low film sensitivities, I found some of the 8MP compact digicams producing really noisy images.

    Another thing about small sensors is that their dynamic range, or ability to capture a wide range of contrast, is always less than their larger siblings.

    CLEANER IMAGES

    Compact cameras are also unable to throw backgrounds out of focus well because the small lenses just cannot provide the required 'depth of field'.

    In a nutshell, a digital SLR is able to capture images that are cleaner, have more shadow details and three-dimensionality than a compact camera, even if they had the same number of pixels.

    The difference in image quality becomes glaringly obvious if you like to enlarge your photos.

    Of course, I am not saying that consumer digicams are lousy.

    For portability and convenience, they are nothing short of amazing.

    I use a 4MP Canon camera that has churned out hundreds of sharp and vibrant photos for this paper for the past year.

    However, I cannot enlarge these photos beyond A4 size without becoming unhappy.

    Digital SLRs are the choice for professionals but I can tell you carrying a 15kg bag full of heavy lenses, batteries, flash and camera body for several years definitely took a toll on my body.

    Such cameras are awfully expensive too, ranging from about $2,000 to over $14,000 (accessories not included).

    Hey, you cannot have the perfect digicam but just don't get taken in by the megapixel mumbo-jumbo.

  2. #2
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    Good read espn. Thanks

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    Default Ken Rockwell

    Ken Rockwell has got a few great articles on this same subject. And as a professional, I like his articles very much. Those 8Mp digicams are really a big waste of money, including that CP5700 which was somewhat popular 2 to 3 years ago, before the price of dSLR plunged to about 2k.

    So, if you need a small digicam, for snapshots and nothing serious, a 3Mp with 3x zoom is largely enough. I made a mistake in getting a bulky 4Mp Olympus. I got to really squeeze very hard to get it into my pocket - so not so portable. So, now my ideal digicam should be a small 3Mp thing like a Pentax Optio or a Oly mju.

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    more isn't always better. but if the increase in pixels is matched by increase in sensor size, it'll be good because the density is similar.

  5. #5

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    but higher rez relates to bigger print outs. my most recent encounter with a 5MP is not good (oly 5050). i printed 8x12 straight from the cam, it was set at highest jpg quality & rez. the print out look pixelated & colour of the faces look like poster colour. went to a pro lab to do it, so not the photo labs fault. in fact i always bring films there to print & they have been around for a long time. me definitely need hi MP count digicams. but the price is not justifiable IMO. so still sticking to film for the time being. no hard feelings to all digi supporters.

  6. #6

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    The same thing people are taken in that more Megahertz means a faster computer, the same way consumers have the mindset that more Megapixels means a better digicam.

    Can't escape the law of physics, yah? Technology could get rid of the noise in future high-megapixel sensors, but they can't recover the crop factor that results in a missing shallow DOF.

    Different cameras for different purposes. That is why many photographers still yearn for a FF DSLR--it's more than just a technological victory.

    (Now, don't get started between N and C...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by nightpiper
    but higher rez relates to bigger print outs. my most recent encounter with a 5MP is not good (oly 5050). i printed 8x12 straight from the cam, it was set at highest jpg quality & rez. the print out look pixelated & colour of the faces look like poster colour. went to a pro lab to do it, so not the photo labs fault. in fact i always bring films there to print & they have been around for a long time. me definitely need hi MP count digicams. but the price is not justifiable IMO. so still sticking to film for the time being. no hard feelings to all digi supporters.
    Your encounter is rather strange. Some time ago I printed an image from my Coolpix 950 (2megapixel) to 8x10 and there isn't a sign of pixelation or posterisation. People whom I showed it to did not believe it's a 2mp camera. Which lab did you go to?

    It all boils down to quality and not quantity of the pixels. For example, a 6mp Nikon D70 or Canon 300D is definitely going to beat the crap out of a 8mp prosumer camera like the Coolpix 8700, Oly 8080, Sony F828 etc. Heck, I think even a 4mp D2H or 1D can already beat it. Yes they (D2H/1D) cost a lot more but they only have half the number of pixels.

    Regards
    CK

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    Quote Originally Posted by ckiang
    Your encounter is rather strange. Some time ago I printed an image from my Coolpix 950 (2megapixel) to 8x10 and there isn't a sign of pixelation or posterisation. People whom I showed it to did not believe it's a 2mp camera. Which lab did you go to?

    It all boils down to quality and not quantity of the pixels. For example, a 6mp Nikon D70 or Canon 300D is definitely going to beat the crap out of a 8mp prosumer camera like the Coolpix 8700, Oly 8080, Sony F828 etc. Heck, I think even a 4mp D2H or 1D can already beat it. Yes they (D2H/1D) cost a lot more but they only have half the number of pixels.

    Regards
    CK
    i agree with CK... you're not getting the whole point of the article. seriously, it's been said very often but i think many folks still don't get it - "Not all pixels are created equal". i suspect a 8x12" printout from a 2.7MP D1H would still wipe the floor with any 8MP digicam available today...

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    Yupz. Agree with CK. I still have an array of 8R blow-ups that don't look like prosumer pix, all out of my trusty ole Coolpix. My regular lab even mistook a few as S2 Pro or film pix.

    It boils down to quality of shot and how you shoot. I still have my 2mp cat around somewhere too.

  10. #10

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    maybe u can recommend me your photo lab for me to give it a try. really can't wait to see the difference.

    still, i think the MP size will affect the max print size, quality issue aside. just like the maga hertz issue in cpu, by saying higher clock speed doesn't mean faster cpu, u r only addressing the problem of efficiency in processing. imagine if a P4 cpu runs at 100THz, whats the chance of it losing to a 2.4GHz AMD/G5 cpu? if u can cycle at 10000rev per sec, whats your chance of losing to a BMW? only not efficient but not anywhere slower.

    the juice of it is: pure brute force is only a portion of the whole story. just like the new 1Dmk2, who wants to challenge & say its totally a waste of money, technology, quality, etc. to implement an 8MP sensor. size doesn't matter? really? who doesn't love the 1Ds with 11MP please stand up.

    i think we should addr the quality & quantity at the same time & not weigh down 1 or the other like in the article, weighing down the pixels count.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nightpiper
    the juice of it is: pure brute force is only a portion of the whole story. just like the new 1Dmk2, who wants to challenge & say its totally a waste of money, technology, quality, etc. to implement an 8MP sensor. size doesn't matter? really? who doesn't love the 1Ds with 11MP please stand up.
    I don't. I don't love the 1Ds with 11MP. And regarding your challenge, do a search in the Nikon forums, it's been significantly debated and argued one. Let's not start a flame war here.

    To me MP is not everything. The sensor size & the quality of it is what matters more.

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    if sensor size remain the same and more MP are squeezed onto it. Quality is compromised.

    For a 1Ds, the sensor is a correspondingly large 35mm full frame. The resulting quality is definetly better than all the dslr except the kodak series maybe.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by zekai
    if sensor size remain the same and more MP are squeezed onto it. Quality is compromised.

    For a 1Ds, the sensor is a correspondingly large 35mm full frame. The resulting quality is definetly better than all the dslr except the kodak series maybe.
    haaaaaa....as if u noe everything...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonker
    haaaaaa....as if u noe everything...
    what is the point of creating a new nick just to be a troll.

  15. #15

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    well the 1D is 4MP & the new one is double, 8MP. have anyone seen the sample images? stunning!!

    http://www.digital-photography-resou...=517&password=


    quality wise, not very far off from old 4MP.

    may i ask mr espn what camera r u using? will u want to buy a nikon D1 2.7MP now? lets not talk about buffer size, shutter lag, etc thats more appealing in the new DSLR that makes u buy it. after all, leica M series still has no AF or Matrix metering.

    for all those hardcore believers of all-quality-&-low rez DSLR, go do what u preach & 'upgrade' to the nikon 1st DSLR which is 1.3MP. embrace it, put it to your heart & make an oath that u will never need anything higher than 1.3MP

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonker
    haaaaaa....as if u noe everything...
    He's right dude.... go and read up more about digital signals and instrumentation (data acquisition systems, etc.) for verification.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nightpiper
    well the 1D is 4MP & the new one is double, 8MP. have anyone seen the sample images? stunning!!

    http://www.digital-photography-resou...=517&password=


    quality wise, not very far off from old 4MP.
    Go post this in Canon subforum. Stunning? Urm... I think megaweb can take better pictures than those using a D60. Ok... stop here before flame war again.




    Quote Originally Posted by nightpiper
    may i ask mr espn what camera r u using? will u want to buy a nikon D1 2.7MP now? lets not talk about buffer size, shutter lag, etc thats more appealing in the new DSLR that makes u buy it. after all, leica M series still has no AF or Matrix metering.
    The D1H was a happy 3MP as well, D30 was also a 3MP. Like I said, the MP doesn't matter, buffer, speed, shutter lag, and many more are the deciding factor.

    What I use? If you need to ask, you don't need to know..




    Quote Originally Posted by nightpiper
    for all those hardcore believers of all-quality-&-low rez DSLR, go do what u preach & 'upgrade' to the nikon 1st DSLR which is 1.3MP. embrace it, put it to your heart & make an oath that u will never need anything higher than 1.3MP
    My my, getting touchy here aren't we?

    We said MP doesn't matter, but we didn't say because of that we need to go back to lower MP just to practice what we preach right? Your reasoning & argument are getting out of topic here, we're talking about MP isn't everything, not more MP is un-necessary.

    You're going up the wrong wall pal, don't take it so personally when we say MP isn't everything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nightpiper
    well the 1D is 4MP & the new one is double, 8MP. have anyone seen the sample images? stunning!!

    http://www.digital-photography-resou...=517&password=
    Just a point to note, while 8 MP is double of 4 MP, it doesn't equate to saying that the resolving power has been doubled. Do remember that images are 2-dimensional in nature - to double resolving power, in theory, u need 4 times the number of pixels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mpenza
    more isn't always better. but if the increase in pixels is matched by increase in sensor size, it'll be good because the density is similar.
    Actually, mpenza has already summarised this discussion. That's the main idea (the assumption is that the data acqusition system, lens resolving power are optimal).

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by espn
    Go post this in Canon subforum. Stunning? Urm... I think megaweb can take better pictures than those using a D60. Ok... stop here before flame war again.
    talking about the detail & image quality, not so of the composition, lighting, arty aspect of it. if u notice, its just a link to samples only, not some big name photographers' work. also not getting into how to make images sharper, better colours, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by espn
    The D1H was a happy 3MP as well, D30 was also a 3MP. Like I said, the MP doesn't matter, buffer, speed, shutter lag, and many more are the deciding factor.
    talking about the non-H ver. just plain D1 with max 2.7MP, effective is only about 2.6 so u might want to get hold of one of this & see if MP is equally important as quality.



    Quote Originally Posted by espn
    We said MP doesn't matter, but we didn't say because of that we need to go back to lower MP just to practice what we preach right? Your reasoning & argument are getting out of topic here, we're talking about MP isn't everything, not more MP is un-necessary.
    well it seems to me that this whole thread is about MP unneccessary. like i said, MP is as neccessary as image quality. its is part of that everything. but we have people saying that 2MP, 3MP, 5MP is sufficient for great details & enlargement, making it sounds like more MP is unneccessary.

    lastly, no where i mention that double MP equals to double resolving power. just like 100MHz pentium & 200MHz pentium, not double in processing power, that i do know. thanks for reminding everyone imaginary_number. however do note that there will be an improvement in resolving power nevertheless.

    thx for everyone attention. i think this thread will go into OT. :O

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