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Author Topic: Do I need more pixels?  (Read 9299 times)
kevs
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« on: May 28, 2009, 09:07:43 PM »
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I have the 5D. Was not going to upgrade, but I am thinking of buying a wide format printer and was thinking images from a 22mil pixel camera might look much better than one from a 12 mil camera.

Am I right -- if printing very large?

I could upres in Photoshop, but what do others think? thanks.
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bill t.
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2009, 10:48:38 PM »
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Quote from: kevs
I have the 5D. Was not going to upgrade, but I am thinking of buying a wide format printer and was thinking images from a 22mil pixel camera might look much better than one from a 12 mil camera.

Am I right -- if printing very large?

I could upres in Photoshop, but what do others think? thanks.
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It depends on your subject and where you will display your prints.  Try some 12mp blow ups.  If you don't like those, you have some options...

1. print on canvas which is not so fussy about resolution
2. make stitched images if your subject allows
3. but a higher res camera
4. print even bigger, one of photography's best kept secrets is that images that don't look acceptable at medium sizes sometimes look OK at very big sizes.  It is not logical, but it is often true.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2009, 10:56:59 PM »
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Quote from: bill t.
It depends on your subject and where you will display your prints.  Try some 12mp blow ups.  If you don't like those, you have some options...

1. print on canvas which is not so fussy about resolution
2. make stitched images if your subject allows
3. but a higher res camera
4. print even bigger, one of photography's best kept secrets is that images that don't look acceptable at medium sizes sometimes look OK at very big sizes.  It is not logical, but it is often true.
Do you have an example of #4?  I've got a few that just have a lot of detail that doesn't really show itself until you print them big.  But that is more a case of having too much to resolve for the smaller size.
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kevs
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2009, 12:18:15 AM »
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Thanks guys. Well,, not printing on canvas -- you mean linen painters canvas? Printing on Epson paper, probably matte, maybe up to sizes 30x40. Shooting people and scenics.
Have you guys printed that big with 5D and compared to prints with newer 5D.
And have compared a 22mil SLR with a medium format digital?

I know what you are saying about artistic license, my fear is it just looking bad.. yes.. have to experiment.

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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2009, 06:06:44 AM »
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Quote from: kevs
Thanks guys. Well,, not printing on canvas -- you mean linen painters canvas? Printing on Epson paper, probably matte, maybe up to sizes 30x40. Shooting people and scenics.
Have you guys printed that big with 5D and compared to prints with newer 5D.
And have compared a 22mil SLR with a medium format digital?

I know what you are saying about artistic license, my fear is it just looking bad.. yes.. have to experiment.

Going from 12 megapixels to 22 will indeed permit you to print to larger sizes, but the gain won't be as dramatic as you might think, and there are lots of "gotcha's" along the way. A rough rule of thumb is that you need a 50% increase in megapixels to get a noticeable jump in resolution in print. Nearly doubling megapixels will give you higher resolution, but you'll have to print bigger than 16x24" to see it easily. Furthermore, it won't be visible unless you apply perfect technique: solid tripod, mirror lock-up, best lens quality etc.
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michael
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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2009, 08:34:27 AM »
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I'm in the camp that believes that if you want big prints you should shoot with more megapixels. Yes, sometimes a small file can handle being considerably enlarged, but not that often.

I hung a show at my gallery this past spring consisting of my work done over the past 12 month. (The show is still up). Prints were my typical 24 X 30" size. There are 33 prints in all hanging.

Most images were shot with the Canon 1Ds MKIII, Sony A900, or Phase One P65+, all between 21MP and 60MP. Two, shot in Botswana on safari last October, had been shot with the 12MP Nikon D3.

The two 12MP D3 shots stand out like sore thumbs. Even though I printed them smaller than most of the others (because they couldn't handle my usual size) they still are seen as not having enough resolution. At 13X19" or smaller they are superb, but once one gets bigger than that they can't hold up.

Simply put, that's why a lot of landscape and nature photographers shoot with the highest resolution bodies and backs that they can. For publication this resolution is rarely needed, but for large display prints it really is.

Michael

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neil snape
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« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2009, 10:15:55 AM »
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I recently went up from the 5D to the MK II just for the reason of more potential for big prints.
The 5D makes a very similar image and if printed at the largest size or smaller both look near identical. Yet if you go past the A3 size the 5D images don't look pure, whereas the 5D MKII holds up well at A3+ and beyond.
So for big prints, yes more pixels make all the difference.

A good sharpening applied by whatever favourite method you may have also helps a lot. I like what Qimage does, others like NIK products, some like their rip or what have you.

The only drawback with the 5D II is file size makes shooting slower, storage needs a lot more, but when you print big it's worth it. I can imagine a P65+ would be ideal for wall size prints.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2009, 12:16:10 PM »
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I currently shoot with a 12mp DSLR (D300). For my landscape work I've found that if I do everything right, I can get 16x24 prints that are generally quite good. By everything right I mean:

- Top quality lens shot at optimal aperture
- Sturdy tripod, cable release, and mirror lockup.
- Carefully composing in-camera to avoid cropping.
- Careful post-processing and sharpening.

Going any larger than 16x24 is very hit-or-miss, some images will still look decent if you don't get too close, others really break down. And even at 16x24", more resolution is advantageous. I was making some 16x24" prints last night, that were a mix of single-frame images and images stitched from multiple frames. The stitched images are noticeably superior, and you don't need a loupe to see the difference.

So I while I can't say for certain that you 'need' more pixels, it certainly can be helpful. I'm just waiting for a D700x or price drop on the D3x.

If I wrote this reply on certain other forums, someone would inevitably suggest that I must be doing something wrong, because they've gotten fabulous 40x60" prints from their 6mp cameras. To which I can only reply that different folks have different standards for print quality.

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kevs
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« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2009, 01:18:27 PM »
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Thanks guys, nice info.
I never use tripods, more handheld. Was hoping not to have to fork out another $2700.00, but then again I was not thinking of doing huge fine art prints either. So maybe I will get the 5D2, and keep the original 5D for consumer shoots I would never print fine art.
I may rent the 5D2 first and do a test. I think it would be fun also then to rent a medium format as well. Any recommendations on which one to try?  I could never afford to spend 15 to 20k on a medium format system though. I read a review here that the 1DS2 performed basically as good as medium format.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2009, 04:57:51 PM »
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Quote from: kevs
Thanks guys, nice info.
I never use tripods, more handheld. Was hoping not to have to fork out another $2700.00, but then again I was not thinking of doing huge fine art prints either. So maybe I will get the 5D2, and keep the original 5D for consumer shoots I would never print fine art.
I may rent the 5D2 first and do a test. I think it would be fun also then to rent a medium format as well. Any recommendations on which one to try?  I could never afford to spend 15 to 20k on a medium format system though. I read a review here that the 1DS2 performed basically as good as medium format.

Ah.
Unless you use a tripod, the money spent on a higher resolution camera or (God forbid) a medium format digital system will be wasted. By the time you're talking about a 20x30" print, the degree of enlargement is such that any fault in technique will ruin the quality of the result. You can prove this to yourself easily enough; just take a hand-held photo of a brick wall at low ISO, with a lens around 100 mm and a shutter speed of 1/125th or 1/60th sec.; then take the same photo with the camera on a tripod and using mirror lock-up. Bring both images into Photoshop and zoom in to 100-200%. Yikes!
You'll see more improvement faster from using optimal technique than from buying more megapixels.
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kevs
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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2009, 10:16:50 PM »
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Geoff,
that's interesting. As a longtime   people, and occasional scenic shooter, I have always found tripods to be very annoying -- kind of like wearing a tie.  But that's an interesting comment. I will have to test that out.


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Clearair
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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2009, 07:32:29 AM »
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Quote from: kevs
Geoff,
that's interesting. As a longtime   people, and occasional scenic shooter, I have always found tripods to be very annoying -- kind of like wearing a tie.  But that's an interesting comment. I will have to test that out.


I go for maximum quality in results wherever possible.
But you can't always use a tripod or mirror lock up etc etc.
Does this mean these shots should not be printed huge?
No, prints are sized for effect as well and sometimes this is as important as resolution to the customer.
Dramatic prints or stylized prints don't always need to be pin sharp, just avoid digital artifacts which are worse than grain was.

Do I dismiss my 5D shots now that I have a 5D11, no way. Try looking at all those old photos we all have from way back when. Do they all have less value due to the processes at available at the time?
Anyway, buy more pixels but don't think that a perfect sharp print is the most important issue.
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dct123
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2009, 11:25:46 AM »
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Do a search for Jeff Schewe's article "The Art of Uprez".
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2009, 11:56:11 AM »
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Quote from: Clearair
I go for maximum quality in results wherever possible.
But you can't always use a tripod or mirror lock up etc etc.
Does this mean these shots should not be printed huge?
No, prints are sized for effect as well and sometimes this is as important as resolution to the customer.
Dramatic prints or stylized prints don't always need to be pin sharp, just avoid digital artifacts which are worse than grain was.
You make valid points. I didn't read Geoff's reply as saying you can't print hand-held shots large, just that they aren't going to be as sharp as tripod shots, and there might be little or no advantage to moving to upgrading to a higher-MP camera if you're going to be shooting hand-held (which I happen to agree with).
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Paul Eby
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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2009, 03:21:22 PM »
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Quote from: dct123
Do a search for Jeff Schewe's article "The Art of Uprez".

Took me a bit to find the link so I thought I'd post it here.
The Art of Up-Res
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kevs
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« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2009, 03:45:05 PM »
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Thanks guys, I didn't know the tripod issue was so vital for the extra pixels to shine through.
What do you all think of medium format digital vs 22mp SLR?

Also, the wide body Epson printers: so dang expensive -- 5, 6k and there do not seem to be many good deals out there.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2009, 03:46:57 PM »
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Quote from: Clearair
I go for maximum quality in results wherever possible.
But you can't always use a tripod or mirror lock up etc etc.
Does this mean these shots should not be printed huge?
........
Anyway, buy more pixels but don't think that a perfect sharp print is the most important issue.

My experience is if you have good image stabilization, shoot at a reasonable speed for the amount of zoom you're using, and take 6-12 shots of whatever you need to be sharp, there's a good chance at least one will come out as sharp as the background noise will allow. There may be a few exceptions where the noise is so low and the resolution great enough that none of the shots will be visibly as sharp as a tripod shot at 100% viewing, but that's going to depend on your subjects and how much control you have over all other factors.
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Roscolo
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« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2009, 04:37:17 PM »
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You may want to consider shooting film, especially if you are working in B&W. I shoot 4x5 film, scan with a Polaroid Sprintscan 45 Ultra I picked up used, and regularly print 32x40 up to 40x50 inches on a z3100 and the results give me as good / better results than a $20,000 - $30,000 camera for a fraction of the cost. If most of your work is hand held you would want to use a medium format, maybe a 6x7 or 6x6. You can pick up excellent film cameras and lenses for cheap and again, if you shoot B&W and process your own film, the cost is negligible against a $30,000 digital camera that needs batteries and TLC (really hurts when that $30,000 camera falls in the creek, not such a big deal when I drop a 4x5 film holder!).

If you're shooting color, the cost goes up, obviously. I purchased the z3100 44" printer to print really large, but short of spending enormous sums of money ($15,000 and up), there's nothing digital that gets the sharp res I get from 4x5 film. A scanning back isn't an option for a portrait or any other subject that moves, and stitching really isn't either.

My system works really well. You can pick up really good film equipment and scanners for very little. The Polaroid Sprintscan 45 Ultra is as good as a drum scanner and you can find them on the used market for very little ($700 - $1,400). It is a SCSI scanner, so you would need a SCSI card. I think my system will work very well into the future. By the time they stop making film entirely, I'm sure 50-60mp cameras will be commonplace and affordable.

Might not help you. Might not apply to your situation. But another option to think about that I'm surprised more people don't consider. I know guys who are still making payments on now outdated $20,000 + cameras / backs that haven't come anywhere near justifying the purchase or saving even 1/3 of the cost of just shooting / scanning. There is a little work in processing / scanning, but I've got an old video based thingy that allows me to preview my negs as positives on a video monitor (not digital, just run the film over a light box / video camera and it appears instantly on the television). Primitive, but fast, efficient for previewing negs. Always hated making contacts, and I'm not about to scan every neg I shoot.

Good luck.

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Desmond
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« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2009, 10:04:26 PM »
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Kev, I am not sure how "big" you really mean, if your "wide format" is talking about A2, and you are new to printing, my experience may be of use. I bought my first serious printer, the Epson 3800 an entry to wide format, last Christmas. When I browsed through the library looking for something worth printing big, (for me A3+ was pretty big) I found the reasons I dismiss a candidate were usually off focus, imperfect exposure and shaken image, but not resolution not high enough. One of my best A3+ print was taken with my old D70, 6Mp image. With the 12Mp of my D300, I am comfortable to go up to A2 (limit of the 3800), provided everything is right. It is not possible to use tripod, mirror all the time, but they really more critical then camera pixel count in real world.

My suggestion is you go get a good printer now and start printing. Print something big, look at the print, look at the image zoom to 200% or more, you will be able to tell you need more pixel or not. Everything being equal, higher pixel is better, but in real world, a camera is unlikely the most effective step to take. My experience is there is a lot money to spend after you get a printer, papers, ink, a faster computer, second monitor, software, hardware for colour management, reference books, sharper/ faster lens may be.


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Regards,

Desmond
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« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2009, 12:02:54 AM »
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Quote from: kevs
Thanks guys, I didn't know the tripod issue was so vital for the extra pixels to shine through.
What do you all think of medium format digital vs 22mp SLR?
Medium format covers a pretty broad range, depending on whether you're talking about a slightly older used back, or the latest and greatest 'full-frame' MF back. The high-res DLSR's are no match for the latest MF backs. But if you're talking an older MF back in the ~20mp range, it's not so clear-cut.

Quote
Also, the wide body Epson printers: so dang expensive -- 5, 6k and there do not seem to be many good deals out there.
They're still new, and Epson is targeting them at a market for which the price tag isn't much of an issue. I would expect the prices to come down eventually, and/or some trickle down of the new technology into printer models aimed more specifically at photographers. In the meantime HP and Canon have some compelling offerings you might want to consider.
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