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Monday, 06 April 2009


I'd answer "yes" to that question, although for maximum utility such a camera should be built into a cell phone.

It's probably my age (a tad advanced), but I think he's, um, wrong. The advantage of print is that you can walk into a newstand and...there it is! Magazines just staring you in the face with their bright colours, calling, "Look at me!"

I'm sure there are ads for a lot of life-enriching things that I really, really need floating around on the web, but I have no idea where and I'm not interested in going looking.

And, in case anyone's thinking about relying on "targeted" ads delivered right to your browser, well, I just installed a Firefox plug-in that eliminates those very things from a certain major search engine we all know and...um...like(?).

I also think that print will go the way of film: not dead, but a niche and for enthusiats und purists.

But in the same sense I think that electronic presentation will become much better, i.e. high res screens (300 dpi? I don't know?) and fine art screens and such things. I have recently seen a 60-some year old contact print from medium format and that had a sooo lovely tonality and details, like a little jewel. Why not have the same on high res pocket screen? But then again we need a few pixels more. Maybe the sweetspot would be 6 to 10 megapixels again.

"Ads will be visual on video and electronic on the web and handheld devices" where everyone will learn to ignore them as they click through to what they want.

I see ads everywhere: trains, trams, buses, bus stops, airport terminals. And what about all those magazines grabbed for the train, bus, 'plane?

I still think the most eye-catching ads are those around me where I walk. The rest I ignore (except for TOP, where they always seems particularly targeted - one of the very few places I click-through).

I'd be really happy with the camera you describe, for just the reasons you propose.

"But what will professional photographers most need if that particular tipping point tips?"

A good eye. As has always been the case.

If it were actually fast, cheap, and had good optics, wouldn't that be a winner? Isn't that where Leica started out, after all? There's a lot of photojournalism that doesn't demand high-quality prints, no? Historically, the pictures were printed on cruddy newsprint, by cruddy processes. Add really good color rendering (and never mind what LCD panels typically do to color), and I think it might go.

10-4, Mike, but you can 86 the raw capability and interchangeable lenses. Web don't need those.

Like, say, a 50D in SRAW2 mode?

Mike, I've been playing around with my Canon G2 and my Nikon D2h quite a bit lately and find that they were already fairly mature products with good imaging chops. All the megapixels seemed important when we were aiming for double truck ads but the double truck I'm seeing most these days is called a 23 inch monitor. And we know how many pixels that requires.

It's crazy times.....

6. I think 6 megapixels should be the upper limit of the compacts. Look at the pixel density and Digic technology and tell me I'm wrong.

Oh, and don't forget - Kirk is not only a writer, he's an author, with 2 books on deck, and a few more in the hopper.

"Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography"

and his new one:

"Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Studio Photography"

Both are excellent, and highly recommended.

Who knows, maybe the soon to be released Sigma DP2 will be just that. I wonder if there is a setting to output the native 4.x MP resolution in RAW?


Yes. Exactly. With almost all photography ending up being "printed" on the web, the real innovation opportunity is in everything else in the camera and lenses. I would love to see a real "decisive-moment camera" along the lines you've discussed over the years...

I agree, in principle, but not in degree. I feel like a more sensible point to stop feels like 5 or 6mp. This is enough to make a decent 8x10/A4 with even a little cropping, at least on a small sensor.

Basically I'd love to have a remake of my A1 with an updated lens (down to 24mm equivalent at the wide end or a half stop to a stop faster even if it means sacrificing some of the telephoto reach) and coatings, updated 2/3" size sensor, and a big upgrade to speed and viewfinder. (The handling on the A1 and A2 were near perfect for a small camera like that, no need to change anything.)

3MP?! Surely you are kidding. I don't print, but I need at least 4MP - I have a nice 30" 4MP monitor! :-)

On a related note, I dread the time when my 6MP D40 dies or becomes hopelessly obsolete - I won't be able to find a low-MP camera anymore :-(.

I see 3mp digital cameras all over the place, they call them phones.
A really high quality 3mp phone camera would be something I'd be interested in. Something that sent every photo directly to the web.

I actually owned one of the predecessors of that Kodak (a 2MP, non-zoom, no-frills point-and-shoot) and you'd be surprised at the picture quality. I have an 8x10 from a photo I took using that camera, and (although I've not taken a magnifying glass to it) the quality seems indistinguishable from shots taken with my Olympus E-510 DSLR.

Unless you're making 16x20 or larger prints, the only real value I can see to more than about 3-4MP is the ability to crop without losing any visible quality -- which can be a pretty decent advantage in some situations. You can turn a 150mm lens into a 300mm lens simply by cropping, and as long as you don't lose any visible quality in so doing, who's to know or care?

I think a good 3MP camera is a good idea. In fact, the camera that's always in my pocket is a 4MP camera, bought to replace a 3.2MP camera that was stolen. The 4MP job was the closest thing I could find to replace it. That camera now needs replacing as its quite beaten up by hard use and starting to have, um, issues as a result. I think the closest thing out there at present is 8MP.

Why? An image from a 3MP camera can make a good A4 print, even with a bit of cropping. (My rule-of-thumb goes: 3MP is about ideal for A4, 6MP for A3, 12MP for A2 etc. or substitute 2MP as the base for "adequate" rather than "ideal" sizing.)

Now, most people I know don't have a printer that can print larger than A4 / letter size. And very few pay the money to have larger prints made by someone else.

It seems to me, then, that most people could get by quite nicely only using a 3MP camera or, say, 6MP to allow for fairly radical cropping while retaining the 3MP needed to print the largest size they're likely to print.

Certainly a well built 3MP pocket camera with a decent lens would fit my replacement needs nicely as I can't recall a single occasion where I've thought I'd like a photo from my pocket camera printed larger than A4 (though I have many printed at that size) and I'm not much for more than fairly minor cropping. But it seems that such a thing no longer exists.

The 8MP device that's closest to what I need seems too much for the requirement, and costs too much as a result. (While not especially expensive, it still costs way more than it should to meet my needs.)


I don't know if we need more or less megapixels but I look at it from the point of view of a musician in a studio with the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gear at their disposal.
They record, mix and master the music to the nth degree and then finally sell it to Joe Public who listens to some half baked mp3 version through tiny ear phones.
The people who make the music tell me that if you start with the best - even if lots and lots of information is thrown away it'll still sound pretty good anyway.

I'd like to add one more point Mike -
What I'd really, really, really like is an SLR or rangefinder camera that offers me the choice of replaceable, different sensors.
I'm sick of buying new bodies.
I used to buy the film I wanted to fulfil a task - now give me a range of sensors inc the 3 mp version and a 12 mp and a 24 mp and a good monochrome version....

as a snapshooter? yes. make it 4mp, which is good for a decent 18x24cm print and i am in. D700+ image quality required. full manual controls, a fast AF and reliable MF controls.
but then noone would buy a new camera after that for years. the suits will know how to prevent that from happening..

I would buy a high quality 3-4 MB camera with a fast lens in a second. My Canon G2, which was sadly stolen, made passable 20x24" prints. The only thing I might disagree with is if that whole point is to make a web camera, even 3MB is a bit high. A 24" monitor has a typical resolution of 1920x1200 which is just over 2MB assuming you used every pixel of your monitor.

I was kinda hoping the Sigma DP1 would be just such camera, but it's pretty deficient in many respects.

For me, another joy of digital photography is that I do not have to print everything in order to enjoy it; I already have too many boxes full of old silver prints.

I've discarded all of my old inkjet prints, because printing technology keeps getting better.

Now all images are stored neatly on hard drives, yet ready to print at the press of a button.

I do spend a lot of time looking at final image files on the monitors, and we all know what a poor relation the reduced Web files are.


In an entirely different sort of photography than is usually discussed, I routinely take 3MP or 12MP (because those are the cameras that I have) photos of damaged mechanical parts. I reduce those files to 800x600 pixels and include them in a report that is emailed to engineers. You'd think that such a small file would not have the resolution necessary to reveal the necessary detail but that is not a problem. A typical report might include 5 to 15 such .jpg files of about 100KB each. If the files were 1MB each there would definitely be a problem because the firewalls for many businesses would not accept such large attachments to an email.

The truth hurts.

The Mpixel march may have to do with these two things:

1. Although people may use a small fraction of features (or megapixels) 99% of the time, they buy a camera for its ability to handle the remaining 1%, or its potential to do so. This is the "one person car" fallacy: although a vast majority of cars carry a single person at any one time, people do buy larger in order to handle the few trips where they really need the room.

2. I suspect that for a camera with a good lens, good viewfinder and good electronics, the difference in price between putting a 3Mp vs. an 8-10Mp sensor would be marginal.

This said, even with moderate printing needs, low megapixels would work. I have never printed large enough to see the limits of my 6Mp dslr (the limits of my photographic abilities somehow do show much earlier).

I still happily use my 5MP Leica Digilux 2 nearly every day, despite its vintage status, and for 95% of the images I capture with it, I honestly believe that 5MP worth of good pixels is enough.

If Panasonic/Leica would see fit to update it with current technology -- a better EVF, less noisy sensor, larger buffer and/or a faster image processing pipeline -- and bring it to market for less than $2,500 (Hey, it's a Leica...), I'd whip a credit card out of my wallet so quickly the plastic would melt!

Well, I think Mike is right on target, here. I’ve been astonished recently to discover how many of the quick shots taken with a cell-phone camera or P&S that I’ve done recently are really interesting but simply suffer from lack of quality. If the noise were down and the color closer I wouldn’t care a whit about massive-megapixels. Here’s a good example I found recently—historical, you see, so you can’t quibble about megapixels, It’s the, at the moment, top picture on the Helena History Site: On the Lamb Ranch in the Helena Valley, 1920s
Isn’t it wonderful? Fuzzy and all?
A 3mp with good optics and a big sensor could do much better than that but wouldn’t get in the way of the moment.


Not that i'm good enough, or will ever have the opportunity, but i always shoot with the purpose of printing, large scale, for an exhibition. Any other purpose can be managed if the file holds up at that size. I don't know why anyone would want to shoot for just the minimum resolution they might practically use at that very moment.

I don't print many of my pictures, as they don't meet my own expectations. But, on the rare occasion that i capture something i actually like, i'd cry if it were only made on a device that allowed a 'good web presentation."

That's why i have the 5DMkII. And, i wouldn't mind using the upcoming Leica S2 or a Hassy H3 with one of the big backs, or a 6x7 camera with film.....

The point hits harder each time i simultaneously shoot 35mm film and 6x6 film, and compare the results. Lower resolving media always seems like such a compromise when there's a basis for comparison, even if TODAY's output doesn't completely utilize it.

Restrict the megapixels, improve the noise. It's there, someone just has to implement it. I've lived with my 6 megapixel Nikon D100 with no difficulty whatsoever.

I'm not entirely sure why everyone gets so in thrall to the capability of doing large prints. Large sized prints may suffer from aesthetic loss, are expensive to print, and something the average photographer needs to do but very rarely, if at all. And I bet you 95% of the market doesn't recognize or notice uprezzing anyway.

On the other hand, better low light performance, higher usable ISOs, better dynamic range and color gamut/sensitivity, better lenses all have an impact that increases the usable quotient of pictures for the average shooter.

We don't need an expensive Leica, but the digital equivalent of a film Canonet or film Olympus small camera such as the XA or OM1 would be very welcome indeed.

If your images demand only the 2-5 second attention span for web delivery, 3mp is probably just fine.

Higher ISOs is the key to this: that's the one thing that many snapshots (at least mine) would benefit from. I have hundreds (maybe 1000s?) of photos that I've tried to take with only the light of a single 60 watt bulb. I'd love a small camera - 2 or 3 MP would be fine - that could produce a good photo in dim indoor lighting. Doesn't need to produce a print any larger than 5x7 for that sort of snapshot.

I have to say that the print will die ... in a corporate environment. But that supposses that everyone is connected to the internet [which does not happen, incidentally].

Surprisingly, it has never been as easy as it is nowadays to print at home with more than acceptable quality [being the ink more expensive than the printer itself].

My snowball [I mean, my crystal ball] says that we will see an explosion of guerrilla advertising [stickers, banners, whatever you want] and those being more effective than large billboards, due to over saturation.

That is a market to explore [and please, dear marketing agencies, stop talking about viral marketing campaigns. A viral whatever can not be controlled, nor can be planned. THAT IS WHY IS VIRAL].

0.5 MP is plenty for an iPhone

For many people, this is the iPhone. It's better than most every cell phone camera this side of Japan (and that's not saying much), and people always have it with them. It's always connected to the internet, so they can instantly share their shots through Flickr, Twitpic, or a hundred other services. Oh, and don't forget it's also computer, with a myriad graphics apps you can install, so you can actually "Photoshop" your image right there on your camera.

Mike, there is just such a camera now, 4.2 MP, super-fast, super responsive, great lenses, fully professional, and you can get one for 10 - 20 percent of its new price. It's the Nikon D2H, or better still, the D2Hs. A perfect pro camera for the needs you list.

Losing the ability to make a good print is no small thing, especially for enthusiast or pro photographers. Who knows that you might make a photo with that camera, which is really worthy of printing?

In my view, Sigma DP2 is better suited to the above needs in every way, if it no longer remains the slow laggard DP1 was.

"I'm sick of buying new bodies.
I used to buy the film I wanted to fulfil a task - now give me a range of sensors inc the 3 mp version and a 12 mp and a 24 mp and a good monochrome version..."
I'm sorry, no offense meant, but this made me laugh.
Um, why don't you just buy film instead of new camera bodies? Won't that be cheaper?

Hasn't anyone noticed that webcams and inexpensive video cams are now tuning in on offering a "one button-push" path to YouTube? Typically priced between $100 and $200, with 6-8 MPixels. I suppose imaging chips with fewer pixels than that are just not available.


I don't know if he is 100% correct, but I suspect that he is more right than wrong. A number of Japanese magazines (including some of the photo mags) have been offering extra content, first on attached DVDs/CDs and then on the Internet.

In the case of photo magazines, this works well because viewing photos on the web is a much better experience than seeing the same thing in print in a regular magazine. (Another example: a story on editing photos is much easier to understand when you can see the actual process on a computer screen.)

Other types of magazines, such as cycling, have offered videos and other materials on the Internet.

I also agree with his idea the the walls between writing, filming, and photographing will crumble. I think that is already apparent in some areas.

I have made 50 x 70cm prints from my 2-MP Canon Ixus V and have been quite happy with them. 3-MP would be plenty enough for me. I shoot daily with a 12MP Canon 5D just because I like the shallow DOF of a full frame and low noise. I don't need even half of the MP on that thing.

A lower megapixel camera doesn't really have less visible noise than a higher mp camera if the two are viewed/printed at the same size. More pixels equalling more noise is a misconception. When I print my 24mp camera's files at 6x4, ISO 6400 is virtually noiseless, and I have an option of going large as well. I would NEVER buy a 3mp camera at this point, because it doesn't have an advantage at small sizes (aside from saving hard drive space,) and would get demolished at larger sizes.

For less than the price of a mid-level DSLR I recently picked up a used Canon 1d Mark II. I don't need more than 8-MP for web or printing (which admittedly I don't do as much as in the past) and meanwhile I have a pro-level camera with more performance than I'll ever be able to extract from it. Not as low as 3-MP, but certainly far from what many would consider the number of MP "you need".

3mp Pen F anyone ?

Even if a photographer rarely makes prints, or even has never made a print, what if the time comes when he wants to make a print, or the photograph demands that it be printed, the photographer is limited to working with only 3 MPs. It's about options as always. Why would a photographer want to work with a tool that limits him to small prints when he could just as easily work with a tool that doesn't?

I used to own a Nikon Coolpix 990, which was a 3.2MP camera, and I thought the 8x10"s were really nice, but not quite there. I suspect that a 4 or 6MP camera would get all the way there. I would suggest 6MP to leave a little room for cropping, and to allow great 8x10"s. I also own a 30" monitor with 2560x1600 resolution. A 4:3 aspect ratio large enough to make a desktop background image for this without upscaling would be 4.9MP, and allowing for a bit of cropping for composition: 6MP. 3MP is for me too little for what I do and would want to do. 3.2MP was already too little in 2000. 6MP would be a nice size.

You're describing what the Sigma DP1 and DP2 should be.

Sigma needs to develop a DPx, with interchangeable lenses using the micro-4/3rds mount. They need to offer 28mm and 40mm (35mm equivalent) pancakes, and a 28-90 equivalent zoom. They need to have good performance up to ISO 800. They need a 3" VGA screen on the back, quick AF, no shutter lag, and the ability to shoot 3 fps continuously until the SD card is full. Oh, and they need to add HD video capability. All of this should be done in a camera body that is no bigger than the DP1/DP2, and ideally no bigger than a Panasonic LX3.

What I wouldn't mind seeing is someone sticking the old Fujifilm 6+6MP SuperCCD in a compact. 6MP is pleanty to make an 8x10 and have a little breathing room to crop.

But yes, a 4-6MP chip made with the technology found in something like the D700 sensor would be very, very interesting...

If there was an amazingly awesome 3MP camera with all the features in the DSLRs today I'd buy one :)

Still using my 3.3 MP Coolpix 995 for close-up and macro - good A4 prints too.

I've been very impressed with the A4 prints from a borrowed iPhone - nice fixed lens, about 35mm equivalent.

My next phone is going to have a decent camera built in - I'll keep the existing one until there is something suitable.

Just wack it into my phone/net/music weddings parties and everything gadget please

Until a really viable color electronic paper or flexible folding display is developed along with a low cost means of content delivery, paper is not going to go away. Even after the development of such displays it will be many years before they saturate the market.

I could find a use for a good 3mp camera with video capabilities right away. However I'm sure bigger and badder cameras will rule the day.


Does that then mean we all need 2 categories of camera, one for web and one for prints? Do I just bring the web-camera today or do I carry both?

Sounds like a strain on pocket books, camera bags and carbon footprints. That said I think Kirk is of course on to something here. I have been making pics with my Blackberry of late, and chose the NOW AND THEN in your poll on printing.

I am currently using a Canon G3 a 4 mega pixel camera I am constantly amazed at how good the prints are from this camera. I have made 11" x 17" prints that have done very well in print competitions. No one can tell they were taken with a 4 mega pixel camera with a tiny sensor. So I guess a good 3 mega pixel camera using today's technology would be just fine for most uses.

With a nod to Stephen Gillette's featured comment...

For me, this debate over 3MP vs. 12MP has, in a way, already been played out in micro form with my cameraphones. For the past 4 years or so I've been using the latest Sony Ericsson Cybershot cameraphones but at this upgrade I dropped my feature-crammed 5MP SE and "defected" to the iPhone (the only downside being I look like an Apple fanboy now... ho hum!). Anyway, I was originally going to buy an old compact to make up for my lost Cybershot feature but before I got onto eBay I took a few snaps with the iPhone's measly 0.5MP fixed focus camera... and was shocked at how good they came out.

A month before I bought my iPhone I was convinced that all Sony needed to do to build on it's Cybershot reputation, which I felt was hitting a bit of a wall megapixel-wise (the latest has 8MPs crammed onto it's tiny sensor!!), was to stick a phone into one of it's existing cameras... now I'm not so sure. The iPhone's camera feels a bit like a digital Olympus Trip or XA2; no frills, no snazzy features, just a button to trip the shutter and a decent output.

I'd love to see cameraphones take on that Trip/XA role, and then some decent compacts hop out of the megapixel race to concentrate on becoming the 21st Century reincarnation of the rangefinder... we can but dream I guess...

Some folks have touched on this, but I thought I'd make it explicit. Most of the photography I do is interesting to friends and family now, but will be REALLY interesting in 30 years. And I say this with suitcases of my grandparent's photographs sitting in the attic. For me this is mostly visual record-keeping in a personal mode, although this sort of vernacular photography has some limited historical value too. But from that perspective, you really don't know what will be the significant detail that you recorded, and you won't know for some decades. The bias there is for being over rather than under some minimum threshold for the recording medium, particularly as Moore's law and the price of digi-storage continue their respective marches.

I agree though that there are many wasted 01010101010's if you use the current crop of digicams and a 6x9 inch display on the Web is your only goal.

I have the perfect one right at hand:

A nikon F5 and film scanning at Target. Turn your nose up if you must, but any modern one-hour can give you a cd of 5mp files instead of prints. So instead of a $3,000 digital (or even $1,000 digital) you get an F5 and world-class lens (or or Leica IIIF or Canon T90 or whatever you like) for $500, spend the remainder on film/processing and get negs AND digital AND a great body/lens combo.

I can see a difference between D70 vs D200/D300, 3 cameras I own. I think even 10-12 MB pixel (good one like dSLR or M8 etc.) give you something which a lower pixel does not.

For about $150 you can get a 3.25 megapixel canon D30 DSLR. For about $200, a 6 megapixel D60 or Digital Rebel. About $300 will get you a 8 megapixel Rebel XT.

Dawson: the current iPhones have 2MP cameras.

The problem is, you're all talking about *bad* quality. If you were satisfied with bad quality, there've always been cameras that would satisfy that urge -- no need to have 35mm cameras at all. You could take your disposable fixed-lens camera down to Walmart (or your 8mm Minox) and they'd be happy to develop the film and give you perfectly viewable 4x6 prints (viewable as long as you made the photos in good sunlight, and nobody moves too much.)

Here's an experiment. Put one of your 3mp shots up on a good monitor, then take a photo of it with a high-res digital and print the result with a good printer on good paper. You almost can't look at the result -- you're looking at a TV set, and outside the context of "TV set," in which context we've trained ourselves to accept bad quality, the photos suck. No details, everything's a blur.

So you're "amazed" by the quality of your digital cell phone; hell, I'm amazed by a cell phone. I can walk around anywhere, and talk to people on a a little tiny phone crammed with virtually useless apps, including a carpenter's level and a plumb bob. But, I'm less amazed now than I was a couple years ago, and in a couple more years, I doubt that I'll be amazed at all. In a couple of years, I'll be pissed because the sound quality isn't as good as with a hard-wired phone. And you'll all stop being amazed by your 3mp camera phones and be pissed that this piece of junk can't give you usable 13x19s at ISO 1600.


To Harry's point above: why won't Nikon take half of the D3/D700 sensor and stick into a D40 body? Is it a cost issue?

I've had several. The Minolta Dimage X was a gem. Small, easy to use, great lens/sensor combo.

How about the upcoming Sigma DP-2? 4.7 megapixels from a Foveon sensor should be as good as about 9 megapixels from a Bayer sensor (and still only occupy 4.7 megapixels worth of space on your hard drive). Perhaps Sigmas "pixel inflation" policy of counting each site as 3 pixels will benefit us here, pleasing the masses with numbers ("14 megapixels!") while pleasing the rest of us by being sensibly small.

My cell phone isn't quite so good. But if you down size to a single pixel it sharpens right up.

Great article. I agree with the spirit, this is why I have held on to my E-1; I love its ergonomics and images, and 5mp is perfectly fine for my needs. For the same reason, I wouldn't turn my nose up at a nice Digilux 2 - Loretta Lux was making world-class (ie very expensive) images with that camera for quite some time. Mike

I could definitely see a benefit to having a cut-off point of pixel density depending on application. 3mp for cameraphones, 6mp on consumer point and shoots and 12mp for consumer DSLRs. I like the 12mp of my Olympus E-520 not for printing huge sizes, but that I can get a pretty tight crop without pixelization.

Olympus recently made a public announcement that "12mp is enough" and that they're going to devote their time to dynamic range and IQ. Well... and "art" settings to sell to the QVC crowd.

I think what you really are after is a way to preserve RAW mode, but to use fewer pixels. Perhaps we could have 12 or 15 mp when we need it and the light is adequate, or a lower res with pixel binning for low light applications. All of these choices would be in RAW mode.
That is what I am looking for in a camera.

My Apple monitor has four megapixels, and that's three years old now.

Bahi: Thanks, I stand corrected! I think someone on here mentioned it was a 0.5MP so I didn't check after that! Not as impressive then, but still better than my 2MP SE shots...

Great discussion. Re the comment about economies of "scale": this is an interesting insight, and makes Fuji's EXR more intriguing--one sensor with both a low res high ISO / HDR bracketing mode and a high res low ISO mode.

I'd prioritize fast and handy over any pixel count though. Meaning: pocketable, but with dedicated controls with tactile and audible feedback for essential settings so one can quickly adjust them without looking at the camera, no AF lag, and otherwise great shooting ergonomics.

Personally, I find it awkward to shoot with a cell phone--I'm sure I would find it just as awkward to make phone calls with a real camera.

In my field of photography interest it is all about trains, specifically and 90 percent of the time, the locomotives. And too the so-called instant feature of the internet means for many, the ability to get your photos up there with all the other raving idiots who do so is what counts. Get your name in print or rather get your photograph on the internet, be it good bad or generally downright crap.

For most of these people, three megapixels is more than adequate. Because the picture on the internet is rarely if ever larger than what something at 72 dpi can handle, heck even a two megapixel camera will do the job.

Me, I still use film and my pictures don't appear on the internet. Besides, I know the difference between good and bad images.

My pictures are bad to the bone so I don't post them. Bad you say? Yes, lousy with poor composition and inadequate lighting. But you know what? They are mine, I can recognize them unlike all the other photographers whose images all look the same!

Clint: Haven't tried the current Target scanning, so dunno how I'd rate it. The LAST time I tried it it sucked, but things improve. And "6MP" of scanned film is less image than 4MP of good digital capture.

What's it cost to buy, process, and scan a roll of film, though?

And then it'll cost me extra because I have to overshoot more since I can't check to see if I've got any of those "5%" shots that my work so often seems to depend on.

Last time I was using film regularly I figured it cost $20 to buy the film, have it processed, and contact printed (I was doing the scanning myself).

Maybe it's down to $15 at Target now, with scanning but without contact sheet?

What that tells me is that even my D700 body will pay itself off in less than its expected lifetime just in film and lab savings. A working professional would benefit hugely more, since they'd take a LOT more photos than I do.

And my D700 is AMAZINGLY better than 35mm film at any ISO; and the amazement gets even bigger anywhere past ISO 400.

But it's expensive, certainly. People who shoot only a few rolls a year have a very different economic equation here than I do.

While a Sony A700 is my current camera of choice and I love it, my two best selling shots were both taken with an early model Kodak 3mpg camera. The IQ isn't better, but it is good enough.
Handles A4 with ease.

Had to comment, I use my old Fuji S7000, set at ISO 800 it gives 3MP images that are fairly clean for such a high ISO in an older camera. It is fast, offers a decent 6X zoom range and lots of interesting features (no RAW at 3MP however). This has become my family and friends camera since I can still get good 4"X6" prints for family albums and excellent web shots.

In response to Colin Work's astute observation about the direct cost of manufacturing a given size sensor being roughly the same whether it contain 3 MP or 12MP I agree that it would not reduce the cost of the sensor (and also acknowledge the possibility of higher costs due to smaller production runs of each). But where the smaller sensor would help lower costs is by enabling a camera that has less need of brute force processing abilities, less RAM, less storage etc. All this still just talking about the camera itself, though these factors also play into post-exposure as well.

As to how to market less is more I agree that it is a tough nut to crack, but certainly boutique manufacturers exist in many industries. Probably the most likely for this sort of thing would be either Fuji, who are quite willing and capable to produce their own sensors without third-party customers; or else Foveon/Texas Instruments as I mentioned above. I really think the Foveon at native resolution would produce outstanding results.


Um, why don't you just buy film instead of new camera bodies? Won't that be cheaper?

Posted by: photogdave | Tuesday, 07 April 2009 at 12:44 AM

Thanks for the advice but I don't want film or I wouldn't have commented otherwise.
I'm the customer and I believe in this case I'm right.
Believe me, the day will come when we have interchangeable sensors or my name's not blinder...

Remember what Michael Reichmann wrote eight years ago?
Not that I want D30 back, but why all these pixels?

It's about time camera manufacturers stop pretending that one sensor element equals one pixel. In a regular 12MP camera only 3 million pixels capture red, 3 million capture blue and 6 million sensors capture green, then the color of each pixel is estimated from its neighbours.

As such, it makes sense to use 2x2 sensor elements to generate a more accurate full-color pixel, meaning that a 12MP camera should ideally output 3MP JPEGs (RAW would still need all 12MP to be meaningful).

In fact, if you have a 12MP camera, try to reduce the JPEG size to 3MP (but with maximum JPEG quality). If the camera is even remotely well designed, those 3MP pictures should be *far* crisper than at 12MP and will allow quite a bit of upscaling for print (much more than a native 3MP camera ever could since it had less accurate color information).

If this sounds boring you can still buy that Sigma with 4.6 million full-color Foveon pixels...

With all the comments about the D700, having just had a chance to use one recently, I think there is an expensive solution here: use the D700 in DX crop mode. You have all the benefits of D700 IQ with a 5MP RAW file. As an added bonus, the entire image area is framed in the viewfinder with ample space outside the image area like on a Leica viewfinder to aid in predictive shooting. It is of course a steep price to pay though, both in terms of money and weight.

Absolutely!!! 3MP in today's technology will mean really good performance in high iso levels!! I'll trade MP for that anytime!!

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