Is megapixel a dirty word or is just misunderstood. Even worse has it become a synonym for MINE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS? Nit Pickers, stop and smell the digital ink. Just go shoot and make pretty pictures.
Way back when in ancient or near history cameras that did not use film were introduced to the market as an incredible technological advanced method for recording images. There were now two ways photographic ways of producing an image. Digital and film. Sorry Kodak you lost.
It was in May 2000 Canon introduced digital cameras to the consumer market for around 5,000.00 dollars, the Canon D30 3.1 ,megapixel consumer level, and Nikon went up against Kodak in 1998 in the pro market for around 8000.00 dollars. The sensor was considered to be 2.7 megapixels but actually a lot more, grouping photosites together for better noise performance. The price of the Nikon D1 was about 8,000.00 dollars compared to Kodak’s 30,0000.00 dollars.
I should mention that Canon’s early pro history started in 1995 when they collaborated with Kodak to produce their first digital Slr professional cameras. It was a pretty rough history to say the least.
In February 2002 Nikon introduced its first consumer level Dslr the Nikon D100, 6 megapixel camera. It initially cost 1999.00 dollars.
To go back just a tiny bit further, there was a very strong Nikon Fujicolor collaboration for the Nikon/Fujix camera. Read about it here.
And so it began. And here we are today.
So let’s just say that the megapixel wars and the advertising hype about those megapixels ushered in a new era. No longer was it whether or not a camera focused faster or more accurately with auto focus or more autofocus points in the system. No longer is it about how many multi metering points a camera has and it is not even about image stabilization and which method is better.
What is disappointing is that the megapixel wars era has not ended. In reality it could have ended at 12 or 16 megapixels. By the numbers a 16 mp sensor coupled with good glass, and good processing techniques will give you an 11×16 print on paper that will be superb.
Here is a link to what I feel is a pretty accurate chart about how megapixel in Dslr cameras correlates to print size. Here is the link to the chart.
Here are the things you need to ask yourself.
- How big an image do you THINK you might want to put on paper? Are you going to make lots of 16×20 or is 8×10 more likely your big number?
- Do you crop your images a lot, just a bit, not at all?
- If you find yourself cropping a lot, then you should ask yourself if you are capturing the best possible image you can? Cropping is okay from an artistic point of view but creating a whole different image out of the one you captured begs the question why did I not capture this crop in my camera in the first place.
- Do I really need a new camera that has 24 or 36 megapixels or can I do with 16 megapixels? For most of you out there the answer is going to be a resounding YES!
That does not mean that you are not going to invest in the system you already have. Megapixels aside, now you have to make the right investment in glass. Lot’s of megapixels and not very good optics is like having less megapixels. It all works together. Make a glass investment and not a camera investment. If you already have 16 megapixels, a promise to compose and shoot an image that does not need A LOT OF CROPPING, and getting the best glass will make your images better. Invest in the best glass your manufacturer has available or look to companies like Sigma who also produces SOME very excellent lenses.
So what happens if you decide you want to get a 16 x 20 of this really great image you shot properly? There is software available (CLICK HERE) called Alien Skin Blow up which works in Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Elements.
With this brief history lesson as well as a discussion concerning megapixels I have to face facts that there are photographers who are making a living by selling large prints. These are the folks who need to pay a premium for those high megapixels because they get a payback from the images they produce.
There are also the worry warts how will hear the words “YOU MAY NEED THOSE EXTRA MEGAPIXELS IN ORDER TO CROP OR WHAT HAPPENS IN TWO YEARS IF YOU WANT A 20X24 OF THAT PICTURE…..?????”
If you noticed I did not talk about sensor size. Remember there is Full Frame = to 35mm film. There is APS in different configurations and there is Micro Four Thirds. So we have biggest, smaller and even smaller than smaller.
What drives me crazy is why it is necessary to continue to compare size to 35mm film. Digital is a format on to itself. If lenses are made specifically for Micro Four Thirds, then call them what they are. Don’t tell me that a 25mm lens designed for micro four thirds is a 50mm lens on a full frame. Don’t tell me that a 23mm lens that has been designed to work with that sensor is a 34mm lens on a 35mm camera. .Call it what it is. These lenses are different because they have been designed from the ground up to work with specific size sensors. Think about 35mm cameras like those from Nikon or Canon or Pentax, etc. For the most part their lenses are designed to cover a 35mm frame. That is why these companies also make lenses specific to APS sensors and not full frame. It’s all very confusing. Unfortunately the best glass from these companies are designed for the full frame format. They are better than lenses designed for APS.
On the other hand companies like Fujicolor, Olympus, and Panasonic have incredible lenses rivaling the best glass out there. They have designed and built and sell to consumers who are not engulfed in the endless pixel wars.
Don’t simply think about your needs today, but think about what it is you want from your photography down the road and then make decisions from there.
OPINION:::::::-more direct than my opinions above. This is what the Nikon DF should have looked like, SORT OF.