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Thursday, 05 March 2009

Comments

Thank god someone had the guts to call a halt to the insanity. I'm running out of hard drive space as it is.

What's that low roar ... is it the sound of savvy photographers worldwide shouting "Viva Olympus!"? I do believe it is.

I remember a few years ago when Olympus said that 5 megapixels was more than enough, yet they continued to increase the resolution of their cameras. We'll see if they stick to it this time.

That, I have to say, sounds good. Sensible decision. I'm looking forward to advances in other areas, such as dynamic range and colour response.

Olympus may be the one camera maker that I respect the most without actually wanting one of their cameras. At least it is after this announcement.

Of course, this might change when they bring out their Micro 4:3 cameras...

Good for Olympus! Someone had to bring a halt to one part of the digital rat race.

I can already hear all the pixel-peepers clacking away at their keyboards as they argue for more. I'll take quality over quantity any day!

I'm just guessing that they wouldn't have said that yet if they have full frame size sensor.

I do not disagree with Watanabe's opinion and Olympus' stance.

But, unfortunately, what Watanabe has actually announced is an end to Olympus. This was an unnecessary announcement. They're dead.

It's about time someone decided to focus on pixel quality rather than quantity.

Bravo! Hopefully this give other manufacturers a precident to follow. Now about those point and shoots...

No matter what anyone declares, the market will determine where and when the megapixel race will end. Is that a 12 mp Bayer sensor or a 12mp full resolution sensor? Maybe Olympus will find a cost effective way to use all 12 mp. Could happen.

Awesome! I hope everyone heeds their call and responds... I'm printing 40" prints from my students' Pentax K100D Supers - and these are 6 megapixel cameras. The prints look fantastic. Of course, their photos are exposed correctly and all of that... I'm just sayin'...

Let's see what they do.

Current _careful_ measurements show high-pixel-count sensors to be no worse in terms of noise, despite the myth. (I don't know about dynamic range, and obviously they are worse in file size.)

But that's not to say that pouring the engineering effort into something other than more pixels wouldn't yield dividends. Especially more dynamic range would be most welcome!

Olympus's announcement sounds noble (I feel qualified to say!) but according to dpreview, the pixel density of the 12-mp Olympus E-620 is 5.1 mp per sq. cm, while the 24mp Sony A-900's pixel density is only 2.9 mp per sq. cm.

It could be that Olympus merely ran into the limits of its oft-questioned sensor-size choice, while Sony (and Canon and Nikon) may actually quit "the megapixel race" before they get to an Olympus-level pixel density on their much larger sensor.

When I got my 10 megapixel Sony R1 some years ago, I had a few shots blown up to 20 x 30 inch with fine results.

Better high ISO performance, etc is much more valuable to me than more megapixels.

Hallelujah!
Now we just need the announcement of the "new" 4/3 variant: MegaMicro4/3!!!
Double the sensors’ dimensions, get four times its area, small flange and no mirror, and we have a full frame micro 4/3 camera with, ahem, 48 Megapixels!
Yes, we can stop here.
Good news.

José S

Great Scott, he's da man! Cynic may say Olympus have no choice, but if they can improve a 12 MP 4/3 sensor to have the same ISO and DR quality of the current 12MP champ, the D3, and put that in an e-620 size body, wouldn't that be a camera that you would want in your bag?

Small cameras, large prints. Hurray for Olympus.

"This was an unnecessary announcement. They're dead."

Ken,
Naw, I think this is just marketing. You might remember a number of years ago when Hasselblad started getting pressed by Mamiya's RZ, it came up with an ad campaign called "bigger is better...up to a point." The ads argued that 6x6cm was perfect and necessary (well, not in so many words, but that was the gist) but that nobody really needed 6x7.

All Olympus is saying is "as many pixels as we have is as many as you really need." Doubtless it's feeling pressed by competition from 15-, 21-, and 24 MP cameras.

Just my take.

Mike

It is morning in DSLR land...

Excellent!

I hope, for their sake, that the mass-market of camera buyers out there learn to ignore pixel counts.

pax / Ctein

Mike, do you think Mr Watanabe can hear me clapping?

It seems unlikely that Olympus, stuck with the moribund 4/3 system, would ever declare that 12mp was *not* enough, if you'll excuse my cynicism. 4/3 is an IBM PC Jr., for those of you old enough to remember that miscarriage of vision.

It's apparent that for the most exacting uses, with large-size prints, that 12mp is not enough, at least at the current state of the tech. Leica seems to think that the sweet spot for most high-end usages will be somewhere in the 30s, and I think they may be right.

12mp is enough for most photo-journalistic and similar purposes, since it yields images easily good enough for most mass-market printing applications. (I can't think of why you'd want exquisite resolution, only to run it through a high-speed press.) 12mp with good ISO response, DR and color rendition, as with the Nikon D3, would be a killer camera, as long as they could keep it Leica-sized -- not that Olympus, in other than its m4/3 mock-ups, has seemed much inclined to do that. A D5II is not *that* much bigger than a top end 4/3 Olympus, and for the little extra size, I'd rather have the FF Canon and the associated system. Micro 4/3, of course, is a whole 'nother thing.

JC

For those who are curious, if the pixel pitch is maintained equal to that of a 12MP 4/3 sensor, we then have the following:

APS-C (1.6x crop) at 17.5MP
APS-C (1.5x crop) at 19.8MP
APS-H (1.3x crop) at 29.2MP
35mm (no crop) at 46.1MP

While 12MP might not sound like a lot, on a 4/3 sensor it offers a higher pixel density than any other DSLR currently available.

Yay, better iso. I think megapixels are fine, and I think they will probably continue increasing and that's fine as well, let's just not make them the star of the show. We already seem to be seeing dynamic range becoming the next big thing, at least among Slrs and that's a good thing.
On the other hand I think we need these wars, because they drive a ton of innovation and they got megapixels counts up to a reasonable size very quickly. So it was a good thing

I happen to like the 4/3rds system, and I still think it was a good choice. Why? The lenses, the lenses, the lenses.

I've got a relatively small, lightweight lens, the 14-54mm (28-108mm equivalent), f/2.8-3.5 that is consistently sharp out to the corners, has very little corner shading (aka vignetting) and only the tiniest bit of distortion.

They simply couldn't get that image quality in a full-frame lens, unless it was enormous, heavy, and expensive.

I just find it a shame the all the various size sensors on different cameras get tested just with 50mm primes on most web sites.
I'd love to see how the whole system performs with zooms that cover a wide range, because my style of shooting demands a single lens that covers at least 35-105mm equivalent.

There are obviously applications out there that demand more than my D700's 12MP will deliver. I haven't run across a need for them yet. That camera's ability to deliver amazing DR and clean images right up to 6400 ISO, though, has come in handy.

Every generation of sensors has, to this point, included an increase in resolution and in most cases an incremental increase in pixel-level image quality. I've often wondered what would happen if those same sensor designers could maintain pixel counts and focus all of their efforts on decreasing noise, improving DR, and generally giving better images. Now maybe we'll know.

Printing at 250DPI, yielding great results, 12MP sensors will deliver print sizes of 16x12 (4:3) or 17x11.3 (3:2). While it might be fun to print bigger than that, I certainly can't imagine what I'd do with an image larger than that intended for personal use

Olympus apparently also had the old Pen-style m4/3 prototype behind glass, and are promising delivery by the end of this summer. If they can deliver on that camera's promise with a few small primes at launch, and with new-and-improved 12MP sensors in tow, I think they'll have a winner on their hands, carving out a special place in many photographers' hearts.

Why would I invest in a system that has declared a resolution dead end? I too believe Oly is shooting itself in the foot saying things like this.

After skimming the comments, unless I've missed it, no one seems to have made the observation that this is an extremely self-serving statement. Olympus' choice of the 4/3rds system means they can't very well go much over 12 megapixels so naturally they want people to believe that "this is enough"! This isn't an insightful observation on the state of the industry but rather sour grapes from a company that bet on the wrong horse.

Sure, lots of photographers who are sick of seeing sensors over-packed with pixels might be inclined to agree but I doubt many medium format users would think that 12 megapixels is enough! On the other hand, in my view, 12 megapixels is far too much for a digicams! As technology improves, 12 megapixels is unlikely to be even close to the limit for 35mm and, perhaps, APS also. Certainly right now it's the sweet spot for noise in 35 mm sensors but cameras in the low 20 megapixels offer an alternative choice of compromises for those who make larger prints of detailed subjects. In the rush to agree with this guy people need to remember that Nikon D3X, Sony A900 and Canon 1DsM3/5Dm2 produce excellent images sufficient for the needs for a a huge range of photographers while simultaneously offering resolutions far in excess of 12 megapixels...

Just making a virtue of necessity. Plain marketing. If Oly had anything larger than a 4/3 sensor they wouldn't be saying this.

If 12*16 is your biggest target print size, at 250 dpi on the final print you need exactly 12 Megapixels (without pixel interpolation).

Yes, as an amateur I need at most that size. Besides I need high ISO, quick response, right size, right weight, not so intrusive..... All these demands translate into a DMD ^_^

Olympus micro 4/3 seems promising.

Olympus has simply stated the obvious, the 4:3 system has reached a technological limit, it can no longer increase the pixel pitch without compromising the quality of the image. This limit has not yet been reached by FF sensors! This is not bad news as Olympus make great cameras but they are limited in what they can do by the 4:3 system.

"This was an unnecessary announcement. They're dead."

Ken, Circuit City is dead. General Motors seems almost dead. But Olympus...dead...because of the 12MP remark? I'm not sure that comment will be a primary harbinger of their fate, even in this dismal economy.

If their anticipated micro 4/3 cameras are elegant enough and functionally very good--even excellent--then they have as good a shot as the other second-tier manufacturers to continue. Maybe better. And the comments preceding mine overwhelmingly show support for Mr. Watanabe's comments. Yes, there may be some measure of marketing claptrap in there, but that doesn't negate the truth and common sense in what he says...

1. The Road Not Taken


TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

--Robert Frost

Dear JC,

Olympus didn't say "for the most exacting uses," they said for most users for most applications. And they're right-- 12 MP is entirely satisfactory for the majority of photography, both amateur and pro.

pax / Ctein

They should certainly "focus on other characteristics such as dynamic range, color reproduction, and a better ISO range for low-light shooting..." because their flagship E3's sensor offers similar quality in this terms to what amatour Canons or Nikons offered three or four years ago.

Unfortunately, I don't care about Oly even if they offer great optics. The reason is that their cameras can't compete in any category(maybe size) with new products of leading manufacturers. And nobody can persuade me that it isn't the truth.

The sort of resolution possible from 35mm film was extremely popular for decades. If you wanted more resolution you used a medium format or large format camera.
Since digital has come along expectations have suddenly jumped to having medium format or better resolution in an slr which was previously confined to 35mm film.
Taking into account the sort of resolution that satisfied slr users for a lot of years, Mr Watanabe's pronouncement is quite reasonable.

I only print life size. I need more than 12mp for mine.

Olympus is not the first to stop the MP race (cf. Panasonic LX3, for example), even if it's the first to make it official. And I don't think it's dead, it's just targeting a specific niche:

"We don't think 20 megapixels is necessary for everybody. If a customer wants more than 12 megapixels, he should go to the full-frame models," Watanabe said.

Whether that will work for them or not is another story, but there seems to be enough interest in 4/3 cameras to warrant optimism. I don't know about professional use, but Oly's amateur lens range seems well thought out. No "let's cripple the amateur line to get people to buy more expensive stuff" strategy here. They don't advertise it strongly enough in my view but even so this approach might yet pay off.

Does it really matter what comes? we have iso 6400, more stops of dynamic range than some can use in an actual print and with 12mp you can print really large.
if they made the d700 as small as a leica rangefinder, that would be an improvement.

Anything that comes now is just a nice to have

It's all a matter of perspective, for me 12mp is enough if not too much.

of course it's good to hear that there are still companies that follow reason.

Whether that's an intelligent idea remain to be verified.

I don't think though that Olympus is going to lose clients just because of that statement.

"dynamic range, color reproduction, and a better ISO range for low-light shooting..."

Sounds good, let's wait and see.

Unfortunately, I doubt Olympus customers will understand why their cameras cannot go beyond 12 megapixels while other professional cameras are reaching 35 megapixels or so.

I'm with the marketing aspect on this. I think they've realised that with existing technology increasing the megapixel count on the 4/3 sensor will degrade picture quality, so they're concentrating on improving other aspects.

Maybe a couple of years down the line someone will come up with a sensor which works at high pixel density without any noise, and then it's a whole new ballgame.

Let's just hope this is not Olympus' Ratner Moment.

Thank f**k for that. Seriously, if it wasn't for the poor low-iso performance, my D70 wouldn't need replacing. I'm fine with even 6mp (I have provia and a Nikon Scanner).

I use a E-1 and E-500, and I love not being at the bleeding edge, saves me a ton of money and I still end up with all the photo quality I need. Others need more so they buy more and that's fine. I was just glad to hear that they intended to stay in the camera business and not just disappear.

But just to be a little opinionated, maybe comparing one model in the Oly line-up to another maker's camera doesn't show up much difference in size, but the fact is that the size and weight for equivalent field of view coverage of an average 4/3s system is far smaller and lighter. I know because I am the guy carrying it.

As I read it, Oly has decided not to compete in the "full frame" high-res segment of the market. Why do some people have a problem with that?

I would agree with the premise that for most uses 12mp is enough (and happily that's what my old 5D delivers). I would also like to see a similar limit of, say, 6mp for digicams.

This megapixel race has now reached the point where image quality is being sacrificed for marketing.

There is of course a legitimate requirement for higher pixel counts, but this is not the mainstream market.

The challenge for Olympus and others is to produce an easily understood, measurable and comparable metric to replace mega-pixels. Until then the mass market will always be tempted by bigger numbers.

Cheers,

Colin

Interesting how everyone has focussed on the megapixel part of his statements, and whether that is suitable for "critical" and "big print" work. That's not what he was saying he was saying "most users". (Actually most users never print, so 2MP is enough.)

I was just as interested in his comments on autofocus. "...imager autofocus will soon exceed phase detect." I think his points about focussing at the imaging plane eventually being more accurate (tighter focus tolerance allowed and less error from alignment of parts) is right on the money. right now, I think the big AF limitation is of depth of focus tolerance required for phase detect systems (and legacy support). Panasonic are already showing that sensor based focus can be fast.

Kodak has a graph in their old technical documents on the 4/3 system in which the resolution limits of the Zuiko lenses was... 12MP !!!!

http://img155.imageshack.us/img155/3444/grapha.jpg

.

Remember when Bill Gates asked why anyone would ever need more than 512K of RAM on their PC?

Photo geeks will be photo geeks. As long as they feel it's more important to photograph resolution test targets than take photographs of the real world the megapixel race will continue along at full speed.

"Twelve megapixels is, I think, enough for covering most applications most customers need..."

Need? When has being a photo geek ever had anything to do with need? It's all about WANT, and what photo geeks want is new gear.

So, when the other shoe drops, will Olympus announce a new 'G' series of bodies with larger sensors and 20+ mp for the 'Pro' market?...

Yes to more DR and the rest...improve what we've got...fine by me. I'd also agree with MJ on the marketing aspect of this announcement. Accepting the limitations of the 4/3 sensor size in public, seems obvious somehow. It's a corner they painted themselves into when they chose that smaller size for their sensor. The business mind amazes me most days. Combine that with technology and the surprises keep coming.

I'm still waiting for an excellent, pocket size camera, that isn't some crippled thing. Dslr image quality in a small package. I wonder who will be first to give it to us? I'm kinda liking the Panasonic G1/GH1 but it doesn't seem there yet. Is a full size 12mp sensor in something like the RD1x doable? Aahhh, the waiting is the hardest part.

"Actually most users never print, so 2MP is enough."

Although I haven't seen numbers to back that up, I would venture that the statement is entirely correct. And I think that a huge majority of people who own consumer level DSLR's and many prosumer DSLR's own them simply becuase they get better results as a function of better focus and decreased shutter lag, and that the average concumer never went to a DSLR to achieve increased resolution. That being said, I find the most intersting question and one which will make or break Oly, is when chooosing between two cameras, how many of these same consumers will reach for a 16mp over a 12mp as a function of perceived value. Clearly, given the pixel density of their current sensors, Oly has been operating under the premise that people will choose the higher megapixel camera. I would love to know what changed their minds.

Mike, methinks you're right about marketing. :-) There is one little phrase that everybody seems to skip.

"Twelve megapixels is, I think, enough[...]"

Besides, the announcement is really nothing new. When they were introducing E-400 over here, 2.5 years ago, the guy from Olympus said they had no intention of competing with the likes of Canon 1Ds which then had 16MP. But that target is moving...

Then, the 4/3 patent specifies a range for the sensor size. So they could make a slightly bigger sensor and still comply with the standard. Whether they will do that and fight what comes with it in terms of falloff, I don't think so, but who knows.

Then, yes, I've seen prints from E-1 - 5MP - blown up to something like A1 (84 x 60 cm) looking no worse for the wear. I printed E-1 and E-300 (8MP) files to 30x40cm/ 12x16" without problems. How many magazines you know that have spreads bigger than that? Exactly how many?

And funnily enough, I've just read somewhere that the 8MP of E-300 and E-500 was "undoubtedly" the limit of what Olympus could do with their sensor size and "their micro lenses network which limits the wide-angle lenses". It was written in 2005. Hah!

Olympus have been moribund and dead since 2003, haven't they?

You'll be able to buy 3 generations of micro 4/3 for the price of a FF. That should take you out 6-8 years and maybe by then we'll see the DP-2.
And there's Samsung APS-C mirrorless lurking in the weeds.
bd

I've been reading the pundits talking about the demise of Olympus since the introduction of the OM-2. They love to look down their long noses and snort about how Olympus is behind Canikon or inferior to Minoltica. Yet Olympus still keeps turning out great lenses and cameras with systems about one third less heavy and bulky. I suspect they'll be doing the same two decades from now as well.

"They simply couldn't get that image quality in a full-frame lens, unless it was enormous, heavy, and expensive."

I have a bag full of Zuikos that say you are wrong.

Well, if they work at it, they can get their DxO marks up there with the D3X II and 5DMarkV, no one would know that it is a 12 MP vs 60-80 MP FF.

Marketing move or not, Olympus users will directly benefit from Olympus and Panasonic improving other aspects of sensors besides megapixel count.

Personally, my own hobbyist photography only probably needs 6 MP so I could print nice 8x12 photos. I'm forced to get higher MP models since I value the speed gains more than the MP count itself.

Surely, high MP count is needed by professionals, but not everyone does.

I think that Olympus is derided by a lot of people here and in forums simply because they heralded the 4/3 standard. Had Canon or Nikon made that pronouncement (say, 24 MP cap on FF models and 12-15 MP cap on all other DSLRs), everyone would be universally applauding them on their enlightened decision and bowing to their supreme intellect.

That's not a dig on the two manufacturers, whose products are, for the most part, very good, but more of a tongue-in-cheek remark about a lot of the photography-loving internet denizens of the world.

I suppose it is worth pointing out as well that, though they've never stated it explicitly like this, Nikon seem to know this as well. They continue to make piles of money selling 6MP and 10MP D40s, D40Xs, and D60s, aimed squarely at the average consumer. With the exception of the D3x (easily described as "pro-only"), they've yet to exceed 12mp. Canon, for their part, have been met with plenty of skepticism over the 50D, and whether it is actually an improvement over the 40D (along with pretty convincing evidence that it is not). And that's just 15MP!

Clearly, the band marches on, and higher counts pay dividends for the D3x, 5Dii, A900, and other pro bodies. Those counts will keep rising, and with good reason. Whether Olympus is walking away from the pro market, or just realizing that pros that use their gear tend to do photojournalism and other types of photography that aren't resolution-intensive, who can say? Either way, it's the smart play for Olympus. And if it means the 2nd generation Pen digital can get high iso results like the D700 does... then bring it on.

Colin Work wrote:
This megapixel race has now reached the point where image quality is being sacrificed for marketing.

Exactly. Dynamic range is the Achilles heel of digital, not resolution (for most reasonable print sizes). And if you want more per-pixel detail, you can reduce or eliminate the anti-aliasing filter, as Leica has done in the M8.

The megapixel race has been a marketer's dream. Convince the public that one oversimplified number means everything, then up the numbers ever year, and all the lemmings follow, buying something new every year.

What they don't tell you is how washed out your whites can get, or how much fine detail they are smoothing away to eliminate the noise.

I have an Oly 300 and a Lumix L1. I NEVER print larger than 11x14, and these two bodies are great. And yes, I have two packs of 11x14 paper (Red River makes that size).

How many people go through a pack of 11x14 paper in a month? Most put their images on Flickr, or such. I'm keeping that e300 until it dies.

The Kodak chip in it is gorgeous. Finally, someone said stop the insanity. Gee, where's my 100MP APS chip? I want to print a mural.

Speaking of murals, remember that digital/film British mag test you ran? They made a building sized mural from 12MP. Everyone was impressed.

"Kodak has a graph in their old technical documents on the 4/3 system in which the resolution limits of the Zuiko lenses was... 12MP !!!!"

Funny. According to that graph, the 10MP Olympus cameras with 4.7 microns are already out of the resolving power of the lenses...

The Olympus E1 design was to die for, lovely to use and a joy to hold!

Its sensor was too small, its mirror too small and its viewfinder sucked by the physical limitations imposed by the tiny mirror.

If Olympus had used a larger sensor (and stuck with the E1 form factor) say a squared off 35mm sensor that would have made for a *VERY COOL ALTERNATIVE* camera.

As it is, the four thirds system deserves its place in history, right along side the Olympus Pen!

"I've been reading the pundits talking about the demise of Olympus since the introduction of the OM-2."

I've been reading about their funeral for years. I have two 4/3 bodies, and a complement of lenses that say they're wrong.

Dear Ruben,

Don't have a context for that graph you linked to, but I've two problems with it.

1) It's not at all hard to design a full-frame lens with a lot better than a 5 micron blur circle. Lots of lenses out there exceed that handily. Even easier with smaller formats. Dunno why they pegged that as the 4/3 lens limit, but it's just plain not true.

2) Even if it were true, there are some compelling reasons for wanting your pixel size to be smaller than the blur circle, especially with a Bayer array. For one such reason, look at the illustrations at the end of this column:

http://tinyurl.com/c4dj5n


pax / Ctein

Ctein said:

"Dear JC,
Olympus didn't say 'for the most exacting uses,' they said for most users for most applications. And they're right-- 12 MP is entirely satisfactory for the majority of photography, both amateur and pro."

Dear Ctein,
Exactly as I indicated in my post -- for journalistic and most other applications, 12 mp is fine.

But the attitude in the Olympus guy's comments was essentially to blow off high resolution as trivial, as though it were for a few photo geeks. Well, maybe he's right -- but I would suggest to you that the market for very expensive high-end photo systems, like the Olympus E3, are among that very same set of photo geeks. But is 12 mp enough for the uses of this set? Not for most of them, I'd bet -- if Nikon's next generation is a 21mp replacement for the D3, with the D3s ISO response and DR, and a 32mp replacement for the D3x, and canon matches that, at prices not much different than a 4/3 E4, do you think 12mp will still be seen as sufficient for the high-end gear buyer? I don't.

And like I said in my original post, micro 4/3 is a whole different thing. There, they may have an argument, because the discussion really isn't about resolution, but about optimizing the qualities of system size, handiness AND resolution. The optimum solution there might be 12mp, but only if packed in very small systems.

I think one problem that arises in discussing this is that old people, like you and me, are comfortable with "art" photographs at 8x10, because we grew up with that. And they weren't even colored! I don't think generation Z photographers buy that. They want prints and posters the size they see in the windows of Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria's Secret, and that's where photography is going. Big, with high resolution. At least as an option.

JC

"Remember when Bill Gates asked why anyone would ever need more than 512K of RAM on their PC?"

No, and neither does he:

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/gatesivu.htm

"Q. Did you ever say, as has been widely circulated on the Internet, "640K [of RAM] ought to be enough for anybody?"
A. No! That makes me so mad I can't believe it! Do you realize the pain the industry went through while the IBM PC was limited to 640K? The machine was going to be 512K at one point, and we kept pushing it up. I never said that statement–I said the opposite of that. "

Discussions about Olympus seems to have a polarizing effect, one half sure they are crazy, the other half declaring they are brilliant. I like their out of (mirror) box thinking and have a lot of history with their cameras. That said, these are perilous times even for well run companies and I really hope the micro 4:3 will increase their chance of survival. Listening to NPR this morning I heard even Toyota was looking for a couple of billion (dollars not yen)bail out money, TOYOTA! for crying out loud.

"But is 12 mp enough for the uses of this set? Not for most of them, I'd bet"

John, I'd say just the opposite. 11x14" or 12x16" you get with 12MP is quite enough for most of periodicals. And books, too. Wedding shooters, I don't know enough about it, but I'd say they don't often print bigger than that.

More or less, that leaves big landscape prints and specialty needs.

Oh, yes. That also leaves people who think they need bigger resolution. Like manufacturers of gadgets. I've seen a product shot of a mobile phone shot with P45. Like anybody was going to print it at 70x50cm. Even more, it was sent with a press release at three megapixels.

"if Nikon's next generation is a 21mp replacement for the D3, with the D3s ISO response and DR, and a 32mp replacement for the D3x, and canon matches that, at prices not much different than a 4/3 E4, do you think 12mp will still be seen as sufficient for the high-end gear buyer? I don't."

Firstly, it's very doubtful the price is going to be "not much different".

Secondly, it's a completely different matter that doesn't have much to do with needs.

Ctein is once again the voice of reason as witnessed by his featured comment. (And I think he actually knows of which he speaks.) Nonetheless, chat room photographers will continue to make unfounded statements simply because they can. Disparaging Olympus for its four thirds format has become almost another hobby for some. Instead of railing against Olympus and four thirds, why not just buy another brand of camera and be done with it?

BTW, I have thought for a long time that 6-8 MP was enough for my purposes.

"...at prices not much different than a 4/3 E4..."

JC - The E3 doesn't compete in the price ranges of the Canon 1 series or Nikon D#'s. It's more like the D90 and 50D price-wise, somewhat below the D300 even. Comparing them to full-frame Nikons and Canons and assuming that the E4 will have a price not much different isn't very valid I don't think.

Twelve megapixels may be considered very good if one has the luxury of time and circumstance to compose and frame a decent shot, and desires high-quality prints of moderate size. Not all of the real world photographs as easily as a politician at a news conference or a product in a light box. It'd be nice to get more decently printable shots of less cooperative subjects (such as small birds), shots which require heavy cropping. Speaking (writing?) as a hobbyist, I'm all in favor of a relatively compact, lightweight and inexpensive 4/3 or Micro 4/3 system with 24MP or greater sensor.

Olympus has made engineering and marketing decisions in the past which resulted in diminished market appeal, such as their insistence on the use of SmartMedia and XD cards.

An unilateral ceasefire means either you've just rolled over the competition, or you're trying to save face on a defeat.

I don't see the former here.

The manufacturers and their Ad agencies have been hyping up the need for more and more pixels for ages, probably because it delivers a very uncomplicated advertising punchline!
With film cameras, the end result depended on the quality of the film used, and the size of the Neg/Tranny and the quality control applied during processing ... the National Geographic magazine is proof of this statement.

Whilst digital cameras have improved over the years, the complexity of their testing in camera reviews certainly hasn't fundamentally changed and things like noise, levels of distortion etc, still remain unquantified 'numbers wise', although I would guess that the manufacturers do have lab tests which could deliver this info, but prefer to keep this to themselves.

As for Olympus and the 4/3rds system, if you remove the 'prattle' about the sensor size, look at the improvements that their Telecentric optics have delivered on things like reducing fringing and other chromatic abberations, their proposal to direct more attention to things like the 'Quality' of the sensor they manufacture by reducing noise, cross-talk and making the sensor far more accurately, could well deliver far higher quality images than by just 'upping' the pixel count.

Akira Watanabe's views are very valid, and I applaud him for highlighting areas in design that get little or no attention whatsoever, but deserve far greater R&D spent on them than (I am guessing) camera manufacturers do at present.

The article has been corrected. Olympus said those who need more than 20 megapixels should look to full-frame 35mm sensors.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13580_3-10189546-39.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-5

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