Is 3mp the sweet spot?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by wdh@esle.net, Aug 4, 2003.

  1. Guest

    As manufacturers try to sqeeze more and more mp onto smaller sensors,
    the posters on this site and reviewers talk about increased noise,
    need for overly aggressive noise reduction, loss of dynamic range, and
    reduced s/n ratio. Is it possible that the best image quality is at
    about 3mp unless one goes to larger sensor sizes? The reviewers seem
    to praise image quality on 3-4 mp cameras and find fault with the
    5mp's.
    =================
    Delete "abc" to reply by email.
     
    , Aug 4, 2003
    #1
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  2. MarkH Guest

    wrote in news::

    > As manufacturers try to sqeeze more and more mp onto smaller sensors,
    > the posters on this site and reviewers talk about increased noise,
    > need for overly aggressive noise reduction, loss of dynamic range, and
    > reduced s/n ratio. Is it possible that the best image quality is at
    > about 3mp unless one goes to larger sensor sizes? The reviewers seem
    > to praise image quality on 3-4 mp cameras and find fault with the
    > 5mp's.


    When asked my opinion about a good digital P&S recently, I suggested a
    Canon G3. The G3 has more than enough resolution for what this person
    needed and it costs less than the G5.

    Currently the 2.1 MPix cameras are selling well, they seem to be replacing
    those film P&S cameras that come with a 35-105mm zoom and built in flash.
    Obviously the digitals are still dearer to buy, but the film and processing
    savings would easily recoup that cost for many people.




    --
    Mark Heyes (New Zealand)
    See my pics at http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~markh/
    "There are 10 types of people, those that
    understand binary and those that don't"
     
    MarkH, Aug 4, 2003
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  3. jpc Guest

    On Mon, 04 Aug 2003 12:31:20 GMT, wrote:

    >As manufacturers try to sqeeze more and more mp onto smaller sensors,
    >the posters on this site and reviewers talk about increased noise,
    >need for overly aggressive noise reduction, loss of dynamic range, and
    >reduced s/n ratio. Is it possible that the best image quality is at
    >about 3mp unless one goes to larger sensor sizes? The reviewers seem
    >to praise image quality on 3-4 mp cameras and find fault with the
    >5mp's.
    >=================
    >Delete "abc" to reply by email.



    The more I look into it, the more I think you are right. The big
    advantage I've seen in the newer camera's I've looked is that the
    operating systems and convienence features have gotten better.

    jpc
     
    jpc, Aug 4, 2003
    #3
  4. JK Guest

    LOL! It is just that they expect so much from the higher end cameras,
    and so little from the lower end cameras. Try finding a 3 megapixel
    digital camera that is still in production that has an optical zoom of
    at least 3x, whose lens is f2.8 or faster throughout the entire zoom
    range. I bet you can't even find one. When one looks at a higher
    resolution image at full size, noise might be more noticeable than
    for a small resolution image, but if they are both scaled to the same
    smaller size(or both used to make the same sized print), the image
    that started out larger will probably look better, perhaps much better.

    wrote:

    > As manufacturers try to sqeeze more and more mp onto smaller sensors,
    > the posters on this site and reviewers talk about increased noise,
    > need for overly aggressive noise reduction, loss of dynamic range, and
    > reduced s/n ratio. Is it possible that the best image quality is at
    > about 3mp unless one goes to larger sensor sizes? The reviewers seem
    > to praise image quality on 3-4 mp cameras and find fault with the
    > 5mp's.
    > =================
    > Delete "abc" to reply by email.
     
    JK, Aug 4, 2003
    #4
  5. In article <>, jpc wrote:

    > The more I look into it, the more I think you are right. The big
    > advantage I've seen in the newer camera's I've looked is that the
    > operating systems and convienence features have gotten better.


    Actually the sweet spot is closer to 2m pixel than 4. The problem is
    that all cameras except the Sigma SD9 use monochrome sensors. Each
    sensor is sensitive to all the colors and near infra-red. In order to
    get a color image a mask is placed over the sensor of alternating red,
    green and blue filters. The camera then combines the information to
    produce a red, green, and blue value for each pixel, but in reality only
    one is valid.

    The reason they can get away with this is that's the way the human eye
    works. It has two kinds of sensors, rods (long thin sensors that are
    monochromatic) and cones (cone shaped color sensors). There are many
    more rods than cones. Your brain takes the grayscale intensity
    information from the rods, merges it with the color information from the
    cones and you "see" a color image.

    The Sigma SD-9 uses a Foveon X3 sensor array. Each sensor has seperate
    red, green and blue sensors in it, so when you get 3m pixels from it,
    they each have accurate color information.

    This brings us back to the post I am following. The SD-9 is a $1000
    sensor, stuck in a $300 camera with about $300 worth of computer and
    software. This is a bad combination from the feature point of view as
    the processor, and feature set in the software leave a lot to be
    desired.

    One the other hand, the actual picture quality is close to that of a 12m
    pixel camera. To use film metaphor, the SD-9 is like a high accuracy color
    film, with relativly coarse grain, while a 12m pixel camera has finer
    grain, but less accuracy.

    Geoff.

    --
    Geoffrey S. Mendelson 972-54-608-069
    Icq/AIM Uin: 2661079 MSN IM: (Not for email)
    Carp are bottom feeders, koi are too, and not surprisingly are ferrets.
     
    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Aug 4, 2003
    #5
  6. wrote in news::

    > As manufacturers try to sqeeze more and more mp onto smaller sensors,
    > the posters on this site and reviewers talk about increased noise,
    > need for overly aggressive noise reduction, loss of dynamic range, and
    > reduced s/n ratio. Is it possible that the best image quality is at
    > about 3mp unless one goes to larger sensor sizes? The reviewers seem
    > to praise image quality on 3-4 mp cameras and find fault with the
    > 5mp's.


    I tend to think that for most folks, a good 3MP camera is a great choice.
    You get nice 8x10s from that many pixels, assuming the rest of the camera
    is up to snuff.

    I've had a bunch of digitals, and the 3MP Nikon 990 was the first that I
    considered "good enough" to be the only camera I needed. I've since
    upgraded to the Sony DSC-F707, and love the new features, but the
    improvement in image quality isn't significant for many applications.

    --
    Albert Nurick www.TheDeliciousLife.com
    A guide to the good life
    www.nurick.com in Houston, Texas
     
    Albert Nurick, Aug 4, 2003
    #6
  7. Mxsmanic Guest

    writes:

    > Is it possible that the best image quality is at
    > about 3mp unless one goes to larger sensor sizes?


    For snapshot-sized prints and online display, that is probably the case.
    You don't need more than three megapixels for these applications, so you
    may as well get three million high-quality pixels instead of five
    million mediocre pixels.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
     
    Mxsmanic, Aug 4, 2003
    #7
  8. Eigenvector Guest

    "Don Coon" <coondw_nospam@hotmail_dot_.com> wrote in message
    news:IqCXa.45663$Oz4.13058@rwcrnsc54...
    >
    > "Eigenvector" <> wrote in message
    > news:8MBXa.62$...
    > >
    > > "Mxsmanic" <> wrote in message
    > > news:...
    > > > writes:
    > > >
    > > > > Is it possible that the best image quality is at
    > > > > about 3mp unless one goes to larger sensor sizes?
    > > >
    > > > For snapshot-sized prints and online display, that is probably the

    case.
    > > > You don't need more than three megapixels for these applications, so

    you
    > > > may as well get three million high-quality pixels instead of five
    > > > million mediocre pixels.
    > > >
    > > > --
    > > > Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me

    > directly.
    > >
    > > Digital cameras are doing the same thing that the computer CPU industry

    > went
    > > through 3 years ago. More equals faster and better. As far as the CPU
    > > industry is concerned, it was all just hype, I'd be interested in

    learning
    > > whether or not the megapixel wars will be just hype as well.

    >
    > With CPUs it was NOT all hype -- certainly a dose of hype but I'd hate to
    > still be running my 12MHz 8086 or 100MHz Pentium or even 300MHz Pentium

    II.

    I wasn't talking about that. Maybe you bought a 8086 processor in 2000, but
    I didn't.

    >
    > Having said that, the megapixel certainly include a measure of hype. But
    > I'd rather have 6MP to work with than the 3MP I previously had -- if only
    > to allow greater cropping margin. And when I snap than perfect picture,

    I'd
    > like all the pixels I can for the 11x16 I'll get printed.
    >
    >
    >
    >
     
    Eigenvector, Aug 5, 2003
    #8
  9. gsum Guest

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Mxsmanic" <>
    Newsgroups: rec.photo.digital
    Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2003 3:09 AM
    Subject: Re: Is 3mp the sweet spot?


    > Eigenvector writes:
    >
    > > ... I'd be interested in learning whether or not the
    > > megapixel wars will be just hype as well.

    >
    > As one moves beyond six megapixels, greater numbers of pixels become
    > increasingly irrelevant. Six megapixels is the minimum require to match
    > human visual acuity at normal viewing distances in a full (uncropped)
    > image. You normally can't see more than that, except under ideal
    > conditions. Even under _really_ ideal conditions, you can't see more
    > than 24 megapixels at all.


    That depends on the size of the image. You will see
    softness in a 6mp image printed at A1.

    >
    > High pixel numbers improve depth of modulation (but only a bit), and
    > they permit aggressive cropping of images and extremely aggressive
    > enlargement, as well as very close viewing distances. But none of these
    > is common in photography, so high pixel numbers are not that big a deal.


    High pixel numbers are a big deal if you have an Epson
    7600 or 9600.


    >
    > This is also why digital is doing well. Digital doesn't provide as many
    > pixels as film, but both high-end digital and film already provide far
    > more pixels than most applications require, so it doesn't matter.


    A 6mp camera will capture far more information than
    typical 35mm film. ISO 100 print film for example has
    about 12million grains per frame. Each grain
    represents a prime colour (or inverse colour) and so
    is equivalent to 1/3 of a pixel i.e. about 4mp in total.
    Grain is much more likely to suffer from noise though,
    hence the much poorer quality of film.
     
    gsum, Aug 5, 2003
    #9
  10. John Navas Guest

    [POSTED TO rec.photo.digital - REPLY ON USENET PLEASE]

    In <3f2f530a$> on Tue, 5 Aug 2003 07:51:16 +0100,
    "gsum" <> wrote:

    >A 6mp camera will capture far more information than
    >typical 35mm film. ISO 100 print film for example has
    >about 12million grains per frame. Each grain
    >represents a prime colour (or inverse colour) and so
    >is equivalent to 1/3 of a pixel i.e. about 4mp in total.
    >...


    35mm film is actually taken to be somewhere in the range of 12-24 megapixels.

    --
    Best regards,
    John Navas
    [PLEASE NOTE: Ads belong *only* in rec.photo.marketplace.digital, as per
    <http://bobatkins.photo.net/info/charter.htm> <http://rpdfaq.50megs.com/>]
     
    John Navas, Aug 5, 2003
    #10
  11. Mxsmanic Guest

    Eigenvector writes:

    > Well that kind of a comment certainly speaks well for
    > the abilities of the human eye compared to what
    > technology can do.


    It's perfectly possible for technology to surpass the human eye, and it
    has been doing so for hundreds of years. It's not always cheap, though.

    > I guess then the real comparison will come when those 6
    > or even 7 megapixel cameras can be sold for a reasonable
    > price from the get-go.


    It's hard to say when that will happen, as it depends on supply and
    demand. For the prices to come down, demand will have to go up in order
    to drive more economical manufacturing, and that depends on how many
    people really want six megapixels or more. If 2-4 megapixels satisfies
    most people, they probably won't buy anything fancier, since the fancier
    cameras will always be more expensive and won't offer any advantage (in
    their view).

    After all, if all people cared about were quality, view cameras would be
    outselling every other type of camera.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
     
    Mxsmanic, Aug 5, 2003
    #11
  12. Rafe B. Guest

    On Tue, 05 Aug 2003 13:30:22 +0200, Mxsmanic <>
    wrote:


    >After all, if all people cared about were quality, view cameras would be
    >outselling every other type of camera.



    Indeed. A camera isn't much good if it's too heavy or
    bulky to bring along. Or if it's so slow and unwieldy
    that it can't capture the action in front of the lens.

    There are precious few souls who are willing to take
    hikes in the deep backcountry with a 4x5 camera
    outfit.

    Being able to resolve the last grain or dye cloud in
    a slide or negative is to miss the point of photography,
    IMHO.

    The most important photos of the 20th century were
    taken with 35 mm cameras.


    rafe b.
    http://www.terrapinphoto.com
     
    Rafe B., Aug 5, 2003
    #12
  13. gsum Guest

    "Mxsmanic" <> wrote in message
    news:eek:...
    > gsum writes:
    >
    > > That depends on the size of the image.

    >
    > No, it does not. If the viewing distance is a constant proportion of
    > the image size, the number of pixels required is also constant, no
    > matter how great the enlargement.
    >
    > > You will see softness in a 6mp image printed at A1.

    >
    > Only if you look at it more closely than from standard viewing distance.
    >
    > > High pixel numbers are a big deal if you have an Epson
    > > 7600 or 9600.

    >
    > No, they still don't matter. What matters is the angle subtended by the
    > final image in the visual field. As long as this is constant and equal
    > to the angular size of a typical image viewed from a standard distance,
    > the number of pixels required does not increase. The type of printer
    > you use is irrelevant, unless it it limits resolution to _less_ than
    > this required number of pixels. In large print sizes, few printers are
    > that bad.


    I half agree with you on these points but the fact is that
    when you get your hands on an Epson 7600 you start
    to lust after more and more mpixels to get the best
    out of the printer. A large format image printed at
    150+ ppi is much more impressive than one printed
    at a low ppi.
    >
    > > A 6mp camera will capture far more information than
    > > typical 35mm film.

    >
    > No, it will not. But it doesn't really matter, since 6 megapixels is
    > sufficient for most purposes.


    Well that's what my eyes tell me and most of the serious
    research that I've seen backs up my statement.

    Graham
     
    gsum, Aug 5, 2003
    #13
  14. "Rafe B." <> wrote:
    >
    > Indeed. A camera isn't much good if it's too heavy or
    > bulky to bring along. Or if it's so slow and unwieldy
    > that it can't capture the action in front of the lens.
    >
    > There are precious few souls who are willing to take
    > hikes in the deep backcountry with a 4x5 camera
    > outfit.


    Actually, the _only_ thing 4x5 owners seem to do with their cameras is drag
    the damn things on hikes in the deep backcountry. Probably because that's
    the only thing they're good for...

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
     
    David J. Littleboy, Aug 5, 2003
    #14
  15. In article <>, Mxsmanic wrote:

    > If 2-4 megapixels satisfies
    > most people, they probably won't buy anything fancier, since the fancier
    > cameras will always be more expensive and won't offer any advantage (in
    > their view).


    That's about what they want. 2mb (1800x1200) is fine. The "sweet spot"
    for a printer is 200-300 dpi, around 280. Now DPI is not Pixels per
    inch, a pixel takes up a "cluster" of dots, at least 3 wide. So to print
    a high quality to the eye at a normal viewing distance 4x6 inch picture
    you need about 400x600 pixels.

    Obviously a higher resolution image especialy when printed on a higher
    resolution printer with produce more detail and more subtle tones, but
    they may not be noticable to the "guy on the street".

    I bought a package about 2 years ago of an HP 2mp camera and 2400dpi printer.
    I can tell the difference between A4 photos taken using the digital
    camera and a film camera because of the way the blocked out highlights
    look under close inspection. From 2 or 3 feet, they would look the same
    as film printed on "regular" photgraphic paper.
    >
    > After all, if all people cared about were quality, view cameras would be
    > outselling every other type of camera.


    Would they? I get about as good as I'd ever want from my Nikon 35mm camera.
    To me the pictures come out as good as they would from a view camera, but
    then I don't print anything bigger than 8x10 for film or A4 for digital.

    Geoff.

    --
    Geoffrey S. Mendelson 972-54-608-069
    Icq/AIM Uin: 2661079 MSN IM: (Not for email)
    Carp are bottom feeders, koi are too, and not surprisingly are ferrets.
     
    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Aug 5, 2003
    #15
  16. Mxsmanic Guest

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson writes:

    > Would they? I get about as good as I'd ever want from
    > my Nikon 35mm camera.


    Then clearly, quality is not your top priority, because LF makes 35mm
    look exceedingly lame.

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
     
    Mxsmanic, Aug 5, 2003
    #16
  17. Guest

    In message <>,
    "gsum" <> wrote:

    >True but the prints from my daughter's cheap 2mp Fuji
    >are as good as those from my D100 at up to 8 by 12 inches
    >i.e. they are astounding. The D100 comes into its own
    >when printing larger sizes and is generally much more
    >capable.


    No offense, but your vision is sub-par. Your comments on image quality
    are not very useful to other people.

    I have the Fuji 2650, and the colors are not as accurate as a DSLR, and
    that is visible at all print sizes. Larger than about 8"*6", the lack
    of resolution really shows. There are artifacts in the sharpening.
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <>
    ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<> <>>< ><<> ><<> <>><
     
    , Aug 6, 2003
    #17
  18. Guest

    In message <8MBXa.62$>,
    "Eigenvector" <> wrote:

    >Digital cameras are doing the same thing that the computer CPU industry went
    >through 3 years ago. More equals faster and better.


    Faster is faster.

    >As far as the CPU
    >industry is concerned, it was all just hype,


    That depends on the usage of the computer. I've never bought the
    fastest CPU available, because I know they are over-priced, and that a
    CPU that runs at 75% the top current speed will cost 25% as much. I
    fully realize that a CPU that is 33% faster is nothing like getting 33%
    on my savings account in scope and magnitude. It would mean 3 seconds
    instead of 4 seconds. 3 milliseconds instead of 4 milliseconds. 3
    microseconds instead of 4 microseconds; nothing dramatic. However,
    someone might be using the computer to generate animation in realtime.
    The program might sync to a 60Hz video refresh, and a CPU that is 33%
    faster might make the deadline for each frame, and one that is not will
    give jerky performance, showing some frames for 1/60th of a second, and
    some for 1/30th of a second.

    As for larger CPU differences, again it depends on the usage. A person
    who visits chat rooms and visits web-pages to shop doesn't need much CPU
    power. Many would get better overall performance with a 200 MHz CPU and
    a broadband connection than a 2.7GHz CPU with dial-up. If you're doing
    any kind of massive data manipulation, though, a faster CPU is always a
    good thing.

    >I'd be interested in learning
    >whether or not the megapixel wars will be just hype as well.


    Again, it depends on the usage. A person printing at large sizes needs
    all the pixels they can get, if they want detail in their pictures. So
    does a person who wants to crop way into the picture. A person who puts
    320*240 pictures on e-bay doesn't need a lot of pixels, nor a person who
    views their pictures as a slide-show on a TV.
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <>
    ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<> <>>< ><<> ><<> <>><
     
    , Aug 6, 2003
    #18
  19. Guest

    In message <>,
    Rafe B. <> wrote:

    >The most important photos of the 20th century were
    >taken with 35 mm cameras.


    And what's your prediction for the 21st?
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <>
    ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<> <>>< ><<> ><<> <>><
     
    , Aug 6, 2003
    #19
  20. Guest

    In message <gLRXa.72459$YN5.55036@sccrnsc01>,
    "Don Coon" <coondw_nospam@hotmail_dot_.com> wrote:

    >Huh? That's 100ppi (not dpi). By any standard I've seen 100ppi is
    >sub-minimum. 300ppi is ideal, 240 = excellent, 200 good, 160 adequate, 128
    >minimum.


    I wouldn't call 300 PPI "ideal". Many people can see the extra
    sharpness of 600 and 1200 PPI. 300 is more the point where the eyes and
    brain are *satisfied* that there is plenty of detail.
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <>
    ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<> <>>< ><<> ><<> <>><
     
    , Aug 6, 2003
    #20
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