Is 3mp the sweet spot?

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

  1. wdh

    wdh 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
    Delete "abc" to reply by email.
    wdh, Aug 4, 2003
    1. Advertisements

  2. wdh

    MarkH Guest

    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.
    MarkH, Aug 4, 2003
    1. Advertisements

  3. wdh

    jpc Guest

    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, Aug 4, 2003
  4. wdh

    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.
    JK, Aug 4, 2003
  5. 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

    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.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Aug 4, 2003
  6. 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, Aug 4, 2003
  7. wdh

    Mxsmanic Guest

    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.
    Mxsmanic, Aug 4, 2003
  8. wdh

    Eigenvector Guest


    I wasn't talking about that. Maybe you bought a 8086 processor in 2000, but
    I didn't.
    Eigenvector, Aug 5, 2003
  9. wdh

    gsum Guest

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

    That depends on the size of the image. You will see
    softness in a 6mp image printed at A1.
    High pixel numbers are a big deal if you have an Epson
    7600 or 9600.

    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
  10. wdh

    John Navas Guest


    In <3f2f530a$> on Tue, 5 Aug 2003 07:51:16 +0100,
    35mm film is actually taken to be somewhere in the range of 12-24 megapixels.
    John Navas, Aug 5, 2003
  11. wdh

    Mxsmanic Guest

    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.
    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.
    Mxsmanic, Aug 5, 2003
  12. wdh

    Rafe B. Guest

    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

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

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

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Aug 5, 2003
  13. wdh

    gsum Guest

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

    gsum, Aug 5, 2003
  14. 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
  15. 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.
    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.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Aug 5, 2003
  16. wdh

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Then clearly, quality is not your top priority, because LF makes 35mm
    look exceedingly lame.
    Mxsmanic, Aug 5, 2003
  17. wdh

    JPS Guest

    In message <>,
    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.
    JPS, Aug 6, 2003
  18. wdh

    JPS Guest

    In message <8MBXa.62$>,
    Faster is faster.
    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.
    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.
    JPS, Aug 6, 2003
  19. wdh

    JPS Guest

    In message <>,
    And what's your prediction for the 21st?
    JPS, Aug 6, 2003
  20. wdh

    JPS Guest

    In message <[email protected]>,
    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.
    JPS, Aug 6, 2003
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.