8 April 2009

6 Megapixels and ISO 204,800

Let's start with a question: Of all the images you take, how many of them do you print? If you're like me, the answer is a very low percentage. Ok, of those images you print, how big do they go? A5? A4? A3? Bigger than A3? 
So, we have just found out that most likely, you print your a few images generally around A4 with the odd A3. 

Now, thinking about the pictures you don't print. How many of these do you display on the web or on a screen/TV, be it HD or otherwise? I'd bet it's a much higher number.

So why do you want 21.1Megapixels? Or even 10Megapixels? If a full HD screen is around 2Megapixels and computer monitors don't do much above 2.3Megapixels (and that's assuming you've got a really high res screen as in 1920x1200) and most post generally work at 1.9Megapixels or less. 

Well, I know you can't choose what you're going to do with your images before you shoot them, but if the bulk of them are going to be on the web/screen then why do we seem to want more and more megapixels? Why do the manufacturers keep giving us more and more? 

How good would it be to have a 6 Megapixel full-frame camera with ISO 51,200 or ISO 102,400 or even ISO 204,800 producing super clean images with no noise because of the larger pixels and advanced noise processing now available? If you could take all the features we have on a camera today and put it on a camera with that sort of resolution, it won't win the resolution race but it would be an incredibly popular camera with the vast majority of photographers. 

Just think back to the EOS 10D. Each time a new camera comes out we tend to re-base what we consider the ideal resolution, but back around the EOS 10D 6 Megapixels was considered enough for most use. And if you combine it with images that show no noise at all until you reach frankly ridiculous ISO levels, you'd be able to interpolate to bigger sizes for the odd occasion when you might need it to print an A3 or bigger with no hassle at all. And the flip side to that coin is that you don't go around shooting 22MB files and cluttering up hard disk drives all over the shop with data that you quite simply don't need. 

What do you think? Are we barking up the wrong tree or should we be campaigning for this kind of camera? You know, one with a full-frame 6 Megapixel sensor, gapless microlenses, DIGIC 4 processor, ISO 204,800 as a standard rather than expansion, full HD movie (with exposure and frame control!), Live View, 10fps and the AF system from a fixed EOS-1D Mark III? 

Would you buy it? Let us know your thoughts...and answers to the questions at the top!



Anonymous said...

I always found the 30D's 8MP to be enough for my work, which included A4 prints. More pixels don't really interest me, but genuine low-noise pixels even at high ISOs would be a huge win.

I think the camera manufacturers have lost their way some. I remember with the 50D, Canon were saying how they've improved the noise reduction and given you finer control of it - which is fine, but I'd sooner have clean images coming off the sensor and not-apply detail-robbing noise reduction.

Having said that, if we must have image noise :) then I'd sooner it was luminance noise, which is less ugly than chroma noise. The 30D seemed to be quite good for this.

edmond terakopian said...

So very true. My first professional SLR was 1 megapixel (and admittedly terrible!!). However, the second one, a Nikon D1H was 2.6 megapixels and was absolutely perfect for newspaper and even the odd exhibition print.
When I switched over to Canon's 1D MkII at 8 megapixels, I couldn't ever imagine having or needing more - although I do now have 5D MkII bodies (which are stunning).
I do agree though; give me lower megapixels but higher ASAs and faster drives. This is more true for compacts; I'd love the G11 to be a 6-8 megapixel camera which shot super cleanly at 3200ASA.