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Sweet spot for number of MPixels for home user?

 
 
Jax
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      05-13-2006
I read that more pixels is not necessarily good because noise can be
introduced and the image takes longer to save to memory.

I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.

Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?

Maybe 6 MP?

Is 7 MP too much?
 
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Paul Rubin
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      05-13-2006
Jax <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
> I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
> photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
> will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.
>
> Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?


Resolution is totally overrated. I have a 4x6 pic on my wall right
now of that was printed from a 640x480 file. It looks fine. If I
look real close I can see that the finest details are not so crisp,
but it's otherwise not noticable. The 2.7 megapixel Nikon D1 was the
premier professional DSLR for several years and plenty of commercial
photographers paid the bills with 16x20 prints made from it. Luminous
Landscape similarly did its famous comparison between the 3MP Canon
D30 and film. Here is Moose Petersen discussing the 3mp Nikon Coolpix
990 (http://www.vividlight.com/articles/411.htm):

The first big concept behind large files is that it provides the
pixels required to make large prints. When I first started I too was
under the spell of "it must be large!" That is until after talking
with folks shooting at newspapers who told me they were shooting on
"fine" mode and making six column images. What put the final nail in
the pixel count theory to me was when a software company took one of
my "fine" mode Coolpix 990 images and enlarged it to 7x4 FEET and put
it on display at a major photographic trade show. When folks walked up
to the print, the guesses at how it was made were so far off the mark
it was laughable. When they were shown the original file and told what
camera it was taken by and the file size, they were blown away! The
moral is the biggest file wasn't required for the big print to produce
giant results! (Superior digital image quality comes from a great
workflow, which is the point of this series.)
 
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grruffbowwow@yahoo.com
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      05-13-2006
Jax wrote:
> I read that more pixels is not necessarily good because noise can be
> introduced and the image takes longer to save to memory.
>
> I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
> photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
> will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.
>
> Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?
>
> Maybe 6 MP?
>
> Is 7 MP too much?


It depends....

What do you want the camera to do? For some, a point and shoot with a
bit of noise is quite acceptable, they want small, or fast, or long
zoom, or cheap, or wide, and they'll accept a bit of noise. Others want
no noise at all; they don't care as much about size or cost or
whatever. A better reason to pay attention to megapixels is if you
think you'll be cropping a lot of shots - in which case the more the
better.

Remember too, there's more to the camera than the sensor - there's the
lens, the viewfinder, controls, internal processor and software - all
of which affect the photographic "experience" as much or more than the
sensor. The way the camera processes the information coming from the
sensor has a lot to do with noise and resolution.

Each sensor is different too - although *in general* the smaller the
"pixels" the more noise, there are also good and bad sensors. A 6 MP
sensor from, say, Kodak won't be the same at all for noise, color and
resolution as a same-sized 6 MP sensor from Sony or Fuji.

I can tell you that 8X10 prints are "do-able" with as little as 2-3 MP,
not sharp "noseprint close" but at 2 feet they're fine. 4+ MP is quite
acceptable. Noise tends to disappear in smaller prints; with an old 5
MP Oly C-5060 it started to show at 8X10 but didn't become really
objectionable until about 12X16 or 15X20, by which point resolution was
more of a problem.

Your best resource for this kind of info is reviews, at DP Review,
Steve's Digicams, Imaging Resource, Megapixel.net and others. Decide
what you want the camera to do, read the reviews, and pick a few
cameras that fit your requirements as well as possible. Go to a store
and pick them up, fondle, shoot a few pics, see if it feels right. Buy
the one that feels best.

Good Luck.

 
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Bruce Lewis
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      05-13-2006
Jax <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
> photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
> will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.
>
> Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?


Not enough information. Do you always frame your shots well? If so,
2MP is your sweet spot. If you often crop photos down to a third their
original size, 6MP is your sweet spot.

(I'm trying to err on the high side here. I thought the 5x7s from my
old 1.3MP Olympus were fine. My wife didn't. She has no problem with
5MP, even when cropped down to probably about 2MP.)

--

http://ourdoings.com/ Easily organize and disseminate news and
photos for your family or group.
 
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MarkČ
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      05-13-2006
Jax wrote:
> I read that more pixels is not necessarily good because noise can be
> introduced and the image takes longer to save to memory.
>
> I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
> photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
> will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.
>
> Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?
>
> Maybe 6 MP?
>
> Is 7 MP too much?


If you're talking about point-and-shoot digitals (and the small sensors that
go with them), and only printing to sizes you mention, then there is very
little reason to go above about 5MPs. The 8 and 10MP mini cameras offer
little to no benefit because their resolution is betrayed by both the lenses
feeding them, and the noise that taints the image.


 
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Ron Hunter
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      05-13-2006
Jax wrote:
> I read that more pixels is not necessarily good because noise can be
> introduced and the image takes longer to save to memory.
>
> I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
> photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
> will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.
>
> Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?
>
> Maybe 6 MP?
>
> Is 7 MP too much?


Much depends on your budget, and what you will do with the images. For
me, 4-5 seems to be the best. Going over 6mp is getting into the high
expense range (if you want a good sensor). As the size of each sensor
element gets smaller, the noise level increases, as the physical size of
the sensor decreases, as does the amount of light that can fall on that
sensor element. Sometimes the laws of physics limit the design of the
hardware.
 
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philo
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      05-13-2006

"Jax" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:Xns97C2126877869628D1@127.0.0.1...
>I read that more pixels is not necessarily good because noise can be
> introduced and the image takes longer to save to memory.
>
> I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
> photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
> will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.
>
> Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?
>
> Maybe 6 MP?
>
> Is 7 MP too much?



For 8 x 10 photos a 5 MP camera will be just fine...
you could even get by with 3-4 MP however I would not shy away from a camera
with 6 - 8 MP
either. You can always shoot at less resolution if you wish and get more
images on your memory card.


 
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Paul Furman
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      05-13-2006
Jax wrote:

> I read that more pixels is not necessarily good because noise can be
> introduced and the image takes longer to save to memory.


In theory fewer MP means larger pixels that hold more photons & are more
sensitive but in practice, the newer sensors are better designed and
nobody really makes great low MP cameras. One way to work this angle
might be get an old used pro DSLR but that may not be really practical
for a casual user.

My old 3.3MP P&S Olympus digital made nice 8x10's but these days if you
look at anything less than 5MP that (more or less) automatically puts it
in the cheap consumer garbage category. So, I don't know, your needs are
not difficult, whatever gets good reviews in your budget will probably
be plenty satisfying.

If you really want low noise, look at an entry level or used DSLR but
that's going to give you a much bigger camera with less zoom range than
a common P&S digital. But that's how you'd get the ability to shoot
stuff like fast moving babies in ordinary home lighting or party shots
at night, combined with a separate $100 fast normal lens & you'd have a
significant advantage over a pocket P&S.

> I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
> photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
> will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.
>
> Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?
>
> Maybe 6 MP?
>
> Is 7 MP too much?

 
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Steve Wolfe
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-13-2006
> I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
> photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
> will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.


I would first look for cameras in your price range that have the features
you want, and then look at the noise characteristics. Choosing a camera
doesn't have to be a terribly hard task. =)

steve


 
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Stacey
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      05-14-2006
Jax wrote:

> I read that more pixels is not necessarily good because noise can be
> introduced and the image takes longer to save to memory.
>
> I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
> photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
> will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.
>
> Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?
>



5 good clean pixels is plenty, even for a nice 11X14.

--

Stacey
 
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