Resolution - when is Enough ENOUGH? (a personal view)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by VT, Sep 9, 2003.

  1. VT

    VT Guest

    In the previous thread
    5 Megapixels Compared to Velvia, Kodachrome, Portra and 200 Gold
    (see reference posts quoted below)
    posed some interesting scenarios.

    Many people here hold that 200PPI is good enough for photo quality

    I regard about 10x8 as the largest print that one is likely to go
    nose-to-paper or want close scrutiny.

    Anything larger would (hopefully) be viewed at more "normal" distances
    and not engender such demanding scrutiny

    If that is the case then we had reached "Enough" quality at the 3Mp
    level since the average 2048x1536 will produce 10.1"x7.7" prints at

    I am not arguing 200ppi produces very satisfactory prints
    (afterall I have produced 10x7.5" prints from 2Mp and even 0.8Mp that
    although not exactly "sterling" were nothing to be ashamed of - and
    are actually currently exhibited)

    However with the reference thread I had re-visted printing out crops
    to the equivalent of 10x7.5 from sample test images from and inspecting for quality. I used the 11.4Mp
    Canon EOS 1Ds as a benchmark and looked at highly rated 3Mp, 4Mp, 5Mp
    and 6Mp digicams/DSLRs.

    Just using visual inspection and with the aid of a regular (~2.5x
    linear) magnifying glass - I can see -

    3Mp (200ppi) just starting to show some image breakdown on finer
    details - but I can see this only really with the magnifying glass.

    4Mp (227ppi) does not have the image breakdown.

    5Mp (259ppi) gains some visual crispness - but I cannot quantify it.

    11+Mp (406ppi) I could detect enough improvement over the 5Mp image -
    there were obviously characteristic differences that make comparisons
    difficult (for example much less in-camera "sharpening" for the EOS

    Just from this ad-hoc comparison I would hazard that somewhere between
    227ppi and 259ppi - we have hit the point of diminishing returns at
    least for the Photo printer I was using (Epson Photo Stylus 780 using
    Epson Matte Heavyweight paper at 1440dpi).

    200ppi was good - but for me still somewhat marginal.

    [an aside: I found that current 3Mp digicams like the "budget" but
    popular Canon A70 produces better prints to my eyes than say the once
    top 3Mp resolution king of the Sony S75 or even the previous 4Mp
    resolution king -Sony S85]

    So is a current 5Mp "good enough"?

    In a word YES.....

    But some may argue that one needs some margin for cropping imperfectly
    framed shots - or being able to use a smaller area to enlarge.

    Some (and that includes me) used to argue that 300ppi was really
    needed for true photo quality - and
    Please Remember - my comparisons are self-limited by the quality of
    the output from my home photo printer/paper combination - commercial
    digital photo printing can produce higher technical quality prints.

    If we use 300ppi as a yardstick for 10x8 - then that's
    3000x2400 pixels = 7.2Mp

    Allowing for the typical 4:3 aspct ratio of digicams -
    3200x2400 = 7.7Mp

    With 3200x2400 (7.7Mp) one can produce a
    13.3"x10" print at 240ppi
    16x12 print at 200ppi
    21"x16" print at 150ppi

    So for me the peg in the ground - or to replace all my photo gear
    would be somewhere around 7.7Mp

    With the prosumer Sony F828 we have already reached that level - it's
    probably not too long before compact digicams will use 8Mp......

    Your thoughts?

    remove CLOTHES for e-mail

    5 Megapixels Compared to Velvia, Kodachrome, Portra and 200 Gold
    VT, Sep 9, 2003
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  2. Agree!

    But there are reasons for more Mpixels than 5-6-7 or so.

    1. You want bigger prints that still are sharp.

    Then you really also want bigger sensors as it is difficult
    to make lenses that are sharp enough otherwise. You can of
    course use stitching instead if you want bigger pictures
    (or wider angles).

    2. You want to avoid aliasing with a stronger anti alias filter.

    If you want to remove almost any trace of aliasing, you need more
    pixels and a stronger anti alias filter. You could also use
    a Foveon sensor, which is much more insensitive to aliasing.

    Roland Karlsson, Sep 9, 2003
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  3. Vincent,
    (Ooh, named after my favorite painter, are you?...)

    Right you are.
    I would say that for holiday snapshots, 3 megapixels are quite enough.
    (They are mostly printed in just small hand-sized prints.)

    For most professional work, about 6 megapixels does fine.
    (A good 6-megapixel image can easily be printed in a double-spread
    magazine size. And really, I don't see that size used too often
    (What I make with my D100 is better than anything I ever managed with a
    35mm camera. And I did rather better than most on such.)

    Beyond 6 megapixels is only needed for rarified professional uses, and
    for art freak Ansel-Adams wannabes like me, who get all wet thinking
    about huge pictures with pinsharp details and tones. :)

    Eolake Stobblehouse
    Eolake Stobblehouse, Sep 9, 2003
  4. How very right you are, EXCEPT for cropping ....

    Stephen G. Giannoni, Sep 9, 2003
  5. VT

    VT Guest

    You may well be right on that -

    However I think at 240ppi for 10x8 for me probably is good enough
    (that's about 5Mp) - so 7.7Mp would give quite a "healthy" margin for
    cropping and using a smaller area for enlargement.

    For me, the most I have cropped under normal circumstances was to
    about 80% (linearly) of the orignal image - but I'll also admit to
    probably being influenced (subconsciously?) by a lack of quality
    beyond that.

    So an 80% scaled (linearly) image from the 3200x2400 (7.7Mp) image
    would be one of 2560x1920 - which is close to 5Mp.......
    that will allow a 10x8 print to be made at 240ppi......
    (neat how the numbers seem to just fall into place :) )

    Thanks for the input.
    VT, Sep 9, 2003
  6. VT

    Ed Ruf Guest

    How appropriate, given you needed 146 lines for your reply, which took
    what, all of one line?
    Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    See images taken with my CP-990 and 5700 at
    Ed Ruf, Sep 9, 2003
  7. Yep, this is a personal view kind of issue.

    Myself, I like 300 to 400 ppi for printing.

    I want to be able to print 12" x 18" images
    without upsizing.

    For this calculation, I'll use 360 ppi.

    12 x 360 = 4,320
    18 x 360 = 6,480

    4,320 * 6,480 = 27,993,600

    So I'll be momentarily happy when we get 28 MB sensors.

    When will we get such a sensor in a 35-mm frame
    size in a sub-$2000 body ?

    Perhaps never. Perhaps by 2010. I'm guessing the latter.

    Amazing little revolution we're getting to enjoy.
    As noted by many, 6 MP in a DSLR is Very Good,
    and things are only getting better.

    Stanley Krute, Sep 9, 2003
  8. VT

    Mike Graham Guest

    That doesn't leave you any slack for cropping, though.

    4MP would give you that little bit extra.
    7.2 is the point where you hit 300dpi on a 8x10 print, so 8MP might be
    the magic - to give some cropping room and still have the snob-appeal of
    300dpi. :cool:
    I should have kept reading. You're covering everything I've said. :cool:

    Mike Graham | Metalworker, rustic, part-time zealot.
    mike 'at' |
    <>| Caledon, Ontario, Canada

    Lousy photographer with a really nice camera - Olympus C3020Zoom.
    Mike Graham, Sep 10, 2003
  9. VT

    Mike Graham Guest

    I'm not expert on Ansel Adams, but I expect he'd rather hop naked on a
    pogo stick through a feminist picnic than have to use a 35mm camera to do
    his landscapes... I thought he was a dyed-in-the-wool medium-format
    photographer. But I could be wrong...

    Mike Graham | Metalworker, rustic, part-time zealot.
    mike 'at' |
    <>| Caledon, Ontario, Canada

    Lousy photographer with a really nice camera - Olympus C3020Zoom.
    Mike Graham, Sep 10, 2003
  10. His initial conditions included the assumption that at sizes over 8x10,
    viewing distance will also increase and thus no increase in resolution
    is necessary. This is a common stance, but obviously for some applications
    may not be ideal.
    Jason O'Rourke, Sep 10, 2003
  11. VT

    mcgyverjones Guest

    mcgyverjones, Sep 10, 2003
  12. VT

    MarkH Guest

    I can already see very high quality, low noise 16MP full sized sensors
    looming on the horizon.

    My 10D has 6MPix and excellent low noise, high quality images. If the
    sensor had the same pitch, but bigger, it would make a 16MPix full frame
    sensor. This MUST be currently possible, even if at an expensive price.

    It wouldn’t take too much development to use a finer pitch (sensels closer
    together) and make a 24MPix full frame sensor. This would give the ability
    to crop half the width and half the height to give a 6MPix image which
    would print to a decent size without pixelisation. That’s some pretty nice
    cropping ability.

    With film, how big could you print a picture that is cropped to ½ x ½ and
    still have a clean and sharp picture?

    I am sure that digital will be good enough for 99.9% of photographers soon
    enough. It may not happen within the next 2 years, but by 2020 it will
    have happened!
    MarkH, Sep 10, 2003
  13. VT

    Marty West Guest

    Ansel Adams' artistry was in the darkroom. He took summer Maine sky
    shots (dramatic clouds) and put them over otherwise boring shots of
    western mountains and deserts. he used his hands. Maybe he would have
    done the same thing with a computer today. Or ... maybe not?


    Marty West, Sep 10, 2003
  14. VT

    FOR7b Guest

    Sorta. Medium format to Ansel was 4X5, while 35mm he called miniature
    He did use a Hasselblad later in his life.

    FOR7b, Sep 10, 2003
  15. He used them from the day they came out. From his autobiography:

    "The Hasselblad has been my camera of choice for the past 20 years. ... I
    met Dr. Victor Hasselblad in New York in 1950. On my return to SF, I found
    one of his first cameras awaiting me: the 1600F model, ...
    The next model, the Hasselblad 1000F was much more satisfactory in all
    "I have made many of my well-known photographs with the Hasselblad, but to
    single one out, a favorite is Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park,

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Sep 10, 2003
  16. VT

    Ozymandius Guest

    FWIW- Recently there was an exhibition at the Western Forestry Center here
    in Portland, OR of Adams work. One of the pictures they had was "Moonrise,
    Hernandez, NM", which I looked at quite closely. I was surprised to note the
    lack of detail when you got within a few inches, and remember thinking that
    my Sony F717 could have gotten more detail.

    Now if only I could find a store to purchase a hundredth of his talent!

    Ozymandius, Sep 10, 2003
  17. VT

    Mike Graham Guest

    I have thought about this, and I suspect that a lot of the talent of
    high-end nature photographers is patience.

    Mike Graham | Metalworker, rustic, part-time zealot.
    mike 'at' |
    <>| Caledon, Ontario, Canada

    Lousy photographer with a really nice camera - Olympus C3020Zoom.
    Mike Graham, Sep 10, 2003
  18. Before Ansel Adams died, digital photography was in its infancy, and he
    is reported to have been very very interested in it.

    I think we often make erroneous assumptions when we look at famous
    people who reached a high mastery of one form, we might think that they
    would look down on other forms.
    Eolake Stobblehouse, Sep 10, 2003
  19. VT

    JackD Guest

    Actually it is sold as a replacement for film and chemicals. Not as a
    replacement for vision or for cameras, though it does allow some new and
    interesting formats (just as new films allowed new formats - roll film and
    35mm for example)

    Who cares whether it is a "valid media"? What does that mean anyway?

    JackD, Sep 10, 2003
  20. VT

    Don Stauffer Guest

    This implies never needing to crop an image.
    Don Stauffer, Sep 10, 2003
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