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Author Topic: If its not megapixels what is it?  (Read 19305 times)
Doug Peterson
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« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2011, 04:35:35 PM »
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Then there's a very small group of fine art photographers who sell large nature/landscape prints though their own or other galleries. These folks in the past would have used (and many still do) 4X5" and 8X10" cameras, because that's what allows them to make large prints that consequently allows them to charge big bucks. Take Peter Lick for example. He shoots with a P65+. On a less grandiose scale there's Charlie Cramer, in my opinion a better photographer, though not as successful as Peter commercially. He also shoots with a P65+.

For those googling the last name is spelled Peter Lik. Not surprisingly Google autocorrects it from Peter Lick, but I have my SafeSearch turned on and I'd hate to think what I'd find if I didn't!  Grin

Peter Lik probably spends more money per month on the air conditioning each year for his Miami and Las Vegas gallery locations than he did on his 65+. Just as a point of perspective.

There are many niches in photography, many people making a lot of money (also many who struggle to make any), and many different styles and needs. Someone made the comment about 99% of applications not needing an IQ180. If Phase captures 1% of the international pro-camera market with the IQ180 they would throw a week long party to celebrate. The IQ180 is the creme-de-le-creme and carries the associated premium thereof.

Team Phase One makes cameras from factory-refurbished/warrantied Leaf Aptus 75, to the the Mamiya DM22 (<$10k) to the IQ140 ($22k) to the IQ180 (>$40k) and everything in between for a reason - different people will have different needs and different breaking points for incremental price vs. incremental quality.

As further example of pricing in almost every tool, toy, and technical-part in the world see the prices for the:
- absolute largest hard drive vs. one step down
- the absolute fastest CPU vs. one step down
- a impact-resistant hard drive vs. a mil spec impact-resistant hard drive
- the absolute fastest car in the world vs. one 90% as fast
- high-end commercial grade sauce pan vs. one from Target
- a bottle of Cuvee #3 vs. Harvest (microbrew beer)

Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2011, 06:16:04 PM »
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As one driven to get the highest quality from my images, I have avidly followed Michael and Mark's exploits with the new digital backs. Is there a chance there could be the same quality as presently experienced with physically smaller digital backs, eg 40 or 60MP, and hence lower price entry points into the MF field? Or are some of the quality issues mentioned purely dependent on the physical size of the sensor?
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« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2011, 09:15:59 PM »
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Then there's a very small group of fine art photographers who sell large nature/landscape prints though their own or other galleries. These folks in the past would have used (and many still do) 4X5" and 8X10" cameras, because that's what allows them to make large prints that consequently allows them to charge big bucks. Take Peter Lick for example. He shoots with a P65+. On a less grandiose scale there's Charlie Cramer, in my opinion a better photographer, though not as successful as Peter commercially. He also shoots with a P65+.


Michael







If you were to pick the top 10 photographers that you think fall into that group, many now shoot with a MFDB, but how many shoot with a technical camera? Any?
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2011, 10:08:14 PM »
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I don't have an Aptus back available for comparison.

In any event, I think it would be a tedious and difficult job finding the differences between these two. Kind of like comparing a Mercedes E Series with a BMW 5 series. No one would be happy in the end regardless of the outcome.

Michael, You are one of few who have shot both at about same time...

Let me try explain and I hope you see why I ask.

Analogy between E and 5 series is good and the difference is startling if you know what to look for and know to put a car through the curves. However, they do not share same engine, the IQ180 and Aptus/Afi 12 does (sensor). So you suggest that we go to a dealer, look at an E and at another a 5, simple test drive and buy based on that? Sorry, insufficient basis.   Smiley When buying a car, first place I look is what others and reviewers say and in detail describe. It is possible and likely they have more insight and knows more what to look for. This helps narrow down and understand differences. With a car I want to know what is under the chassis, under the hood etc and how it handles in the curves on all kinds of roads that I am not able to put it through even during a week of test driving! Thus to gain a reference of its basis upon which I will make my own opinion on test drives and inspection. With backs there is regrettably much too little such info available…

Yes, my asking of IQ180 is out of curiosity for knowing how it compares to the Aptus/Afi 12 and to the other Leafs. Same as if I pick a 5 series I wish to know how it compares to an E. I have used Aptus 65 for four years.

Per my own experience a test drive of a back tend to bring primarily feeling for the interface. What is more? What about IMAGE QUALITY, which is the primary reason for which some of us use these TOOLS? And, especially between the 180 and 12 since they share same sensor. RAW files are in my opinion the most important test drive, but regrettably there are not many around. Would you be able to share some with us from your shoots with these two backs (photographic such, not test targets)?

Who needs more than what I have? Frankly for portraits my Aptus 65 sings. For landscapes is another matter… and the newer backs offer advantages, money aside.

The main purchasers of MF backs are working pros doing commercial work, architecture, fashion etc.

Yes, here in Hong Kong four years ago when I purchased my Aptus 65. That was then, market has since changed and I am told a large (larger?) segment is amateurs. Do people like us need MFDB? Well… actually some of us are in it for the sheer image quality and simply joy in photography rather than gear. What is new? With film amateurs used larger sized film; MF and LF, now MFDB…

Appreciate any more ifno you can give.

Regards
Anders
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bcooter
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« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2011, 03:57:29 PM »
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Quote

for his Miami and Las Vegas gallery locations than he did on his 65+. Just as a point of perspective.



It's not really a matter of what you can afford, or JUST the cost of equipment.

I known some amazingly wealthy people that would never buy a new car, or anything they didn't get a huge discount on.  So it's not what you can afford.

It's all about business.

It's not the cost of production.  Our productions fall into the 6 figure range, but what seems like an enormous budget can get absorbed quickly with large crews, catering, just simple things like parking.  Heck in one location we had to permit through two municipalities, buy 35 parking spaces, hire a bonded valet company to move the cars from location to parking and back (and sometimes back again), so when people hear, hey they charged $_ _ _ , _ _ _. _ _ for a shoot,  that may seem like it's a lavish number that allows us to buy or rent anything we desire,  but in today's bottom line economy it really doesn't work that way.

We have to fairly but strongly negotiate every line item.  Let me repeat this.  Every line item.

Also when you take 6 figures out of your companies reserves, you need to know you'll show a real return.

So.

Its need vs. want.   Do you need it?  Do you want it? 

Me I fall somewhere in between in all equipment purchases.  I don't like renting for a number of reasons, but I never buy something that has limited use.

Presently we're buying more HMI's and I do need many multiples of them, though at 10 grand a pop it will take a while before they show a profit on the line item "lighting package".   

Do I want them?  Uh sure as long as I buy right, because those are the tools I make my living with and right now I'm living in a mostly continuous lighting world.

Though I have to admit I've never looked at a purchase with the thought of "heck" I spend more that a year in insurance, or that camera is 1/2 of our client entertainment because they are totally different expenditures for totally different reasons.

Spending a lot on one item, doesn't make it right or wrong to spend on another, not in commerce.

What does make a purchase easy is if it's a direct client request like the use of a camera like the RED, or it's will definitely expand our business and art, or better yet do all of those things faster, not slower and come out with every advertised item fully tested and functioning.

Today's market doesn't allow anyone to beta test.  We deliver or we disappear.  There is no in between.

As far as medium format, it will get my attention again when they have real  live view on camera.  That's a need, not a want, but that's just me and my projects.

We just finished a multiple location campaign that all required a large amount of back lighting for effects, type placement, and look. 

As always but more today we're under extreme pressure to perform in regards to time on set and variations.    Our projects require multiple ethnic options, multiple cropping from 16x9, double page, vertical, tight, all in still imagery, most in motion,  so time is more than of the essence, time equals budget which defines the project.

Focusing in any format with that much backlight is difficult, but having live view on camera allows me to lock the tripod down, move the cursor to the point we know will cover the subject in focus and shoot.  Almost as fast as I write this.

Also a lot of our stills are used in video so we need the backgrounds to be in a continuous position, which makes live view focusing important.

With my medium format backs this is difficult and though I can shoot a fairly close frame, walk over to the tech station, adjust, shoot another, the spontaneity gets lost, the project gets slightly slower and having a billion pixels doesn't matter if the image isn't sharp.

We also have to duplicate everything in motion imagery with the RED so for us live view on camera is more than a want.  I guess I can appreciate the newer medium format cameras with more megapixels, but still would like to see them at least keep up with some of the features of less expensive cameras that are on the market.

I'm sure some people feel differently.

IMO

BC
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fredjeang
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« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2011, 06:04:23 PM »
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As often, if not always, I read a truth in your lines.

But on the other hand, I'm preocupated why these kind of posts are not showing-up more often in this part of the forum where commercial photography is largely represented.
A part from Cooter and a very few others, that are working hard and keep moving forward, and I thank them for the constant quality of their interventions, it seems that there are indeed parralel universes.

It appears to me that what is going on today in terms of digibacks is nothing less than an eccentricity.

Eccentricity in the price.
and eccentricity in the form.

We need more than MP and a few improvements in the curves for the maniacs, or the perfectionists... even if they are welcome.

When I compare what Red or even Arri, in terms of equipment-price are putting on the table, and I see where the wind is blowing from on the high-end still manufacturers, I can't help thinking that or these guys are giving up, or they are targetting a space on the Prado museum in the sculpture section.
Same for the softwares.

I'm not even sure if this direction (the argument of huge prints) is really interesting for most artits. I said that because I actually know a few, pure art-gallery photographers and talked with them about those equipments and they simply said no way. And it is not a price matter.

When I see all that panorama from my little position in Madrid, where we are all under pressure and to use a B.C sentence, As always but more today we're under extreme pressure to perform in regards to time on set and variations., I have the feeling that there is still a world outside, that I do not know, wich seems to be cool and relax, a world that can be excited by 20 more mp and a bit less of moire at 50000 bucks, o yes, and a new media management software in my mail.

Maybe I need to go more often doing camping on those wild canyons to understand.

In this other world, of continuous light, (yes as Coot and many we also are there now), where the time and workflow efficiency is not kidding, and remember that we also shoot stills swith continous lightning, what is really important is an "all-in-one" solution, both in terms of gear and softwares.  

I've spend this month on softwares solution and workflow, I compared, I even did the numbers wich is rather strange for me. When I received the Phase newsletter the first thing I asked was, does it reads Red Raw?...then I woke-up.
There are today extremely powerfull "all-in-one" softwares and suites for a very competitive cost and the same can be said for cameras.

I've been under harsh pressure those weeks, both for a personal choice to work hard on the video learning curve, and for assignment reasons where I've been bombed by work. Today I have 11 assignments on my board and only 3 are completed and the time is very short. Thank god I do not sign the cheques. No life, no sex, no bars except for coffees but just work. But you know what? It is more fun than ever! (it's even better than sex)

Finally, yesterday I've been very happy because I'm seeing that my efforts are starting to be rewarded.

What I find, is that it is very hard to be back on Photoshop or C1 after smoke or Avid, and for me, it is hard to feel excited by those backs after using a Red camera. But it could be, not in the current form with the current design and the current softwares.

So yes, like James, I can have a sweet eyes for those cameras, but I honestly would not know what to do with them in the context.
 
« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 02:10:18 AM by fredjeang » Logged
michael
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« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2011, 06:15:02 PM »
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If you were to pick the top 10 photographers that you think fall into that group, many now shoot with a MFDB, but how many shoot with a technical camera? Any?

I obviously don't know everyone. But of the ones I know, most now have switched to MFDBs. This includes, as I've already mentioned, Peter Lik, Charlie Cramer, Alain Briot, Bill Atkinson. Mark Dubovoy, and Tim Wolcott. All make a part of their living from selling fine art prints and all have work in either their own or major independent galleries and museums in the US or abroad.

Your point is?

Michael
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« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2011, 06:45:34 PM »
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Then there's a very small group of fine art photographers who sell large nature/landscape prints though their own or other galleries. These folks in the past would have used (and many still do) 4X5" and 8X10" cameras, because that's what allows them to make large prints that consequently allows them to charge big bucks. Take Peter Lick for example. He shoots with a P65+. On a less grandiose scale there's Charlie Cramer, in my opinion a better photographer, though not as successful as Peter commercially. He also shoots with a P65+.

I would argue that today people looking at the highest possible image quality cannot ignore stitching, whatever the base camera used (DSLR or MFDB).

When the scene allows it, and many do, I would personally not understand the claim of a photographer about his high image quality standards if he doesn't use stitching whenever possible. That is especially true for easy South West scenes when red rocks don't move much. Smiley

I do understand that many people don't want to bother with stitching, but those photographers should stop claiming they are at the forefront of image quality, even if they use the latest MFDB.

They potentially are very far behind their competition and as we have heard a lot these days, resolution does matter even in small prints. There is no reason whatsoever to think that 80 mp is the end of things. I prefer by far to go with 300 or 400 megapixels.

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #28 on: May 17, 2011, 07:30:23 PM »
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Wow, thanks for introducing me to Charles Cramer's work.  Very impressive, very different style than Lik for sure, lots of focus on the details with a scene.  Lik more likely to try and capture the whole vista.

I clicked on his Yosemite gallery expecting to see all the standard shots and was very pleased with what I found.
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« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2011, 07:55:58 PM »
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I obviously don't know everyone. But of the ones I know, most now have switched to MFDBs. This includes, as I've already mentioned, Peter Lik, Charlie Cramer, Alain Briot, Bill Atkinson. Mark Dubovoy, and Tim Wolcott. All make a part of their living from selling fine art prints and all have work in either their own or major independent galleries and museums in the US or abroad.

Your point is?

Michael

I think you missed my question. I agree with you that many, if not most, of the photographers on any short list of fine art landscape photographers for whom ultimate image quality is the end all/be all now use medium format backs, yet none of them, as far as I know, use technical cameras and lenses. This is true despite the fact that, at least in terms of theoretical resolution, as opposed to real world, what can you achieve in the field, sharpness, technical cameras and lenses are superior to medium format cameras and lenses. Why do you think that is? I read that you recently purchased an Alpa STC to use with a back. I will be curious to hear your views on whether you feel that the Alpa enhances or detracts from your ability to make compelling images.
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« Reply #30 on: May 17, 2011, 08:32:54 PM »
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They potentially are very far behind their competition and as we have heard a lot these days, resolution does matter even in small prints. There is no reason whatsoever to think that 80 mp is the end of things. I prefer by far to go with 300 or 400 megapixels.

Bernard,

We have had differing opinion about stitching over the years, but perhaps we are narrowing in view?

What it ultimately need to come down to is the image, and how large the print will be, with how much detail and the ease and quality of capture. For certain applications 300 and 400 MP will be applicable, as for the future digital of likes of Clyde Butcher. For fashion and product shots, perhaps it will not.

I believe it makes sense though to be able to capture in one shot, or at least 2-3 quick ones. Though for top image quality it needs to be flat stitching by moving sensor instead of camera (a difference between Horizon camera and a Technorama per say, actually more so since pixels are interpolated when turning camera). The sweetness with these 80MP backs is that they are more versatile than a single shot panoramic camera. In one instance the back can be mounted on a MF camera for portraits, in another on a tech camera for panoramic or higher resolution e.g. 3:4 flat stitching.

On a tech camera these 80MP backs thus become increasingly sweet. Take the Alpa STC as most portable and perhaps best designed example. It offers +/-18mm shift and a dedicated lock mechanism to enable stitching of around 134MP using one of these 80MP (this is already stitching to a width of 57.5" or 1.5m @ 300 ppi). Yet it is low weight and with a Schneider 47 digitar is of similar weight as a Nikon 14-24 lens (not counting the back)!

Perhaps we should note that while 80MP may seem as the current craze to gaze at, it really is not and likely quick will be overtaken by more MP in next few years. Pixels aside, what I ultimately find most interesting with the IQ180 and Aptus/Afi-II 12 is the advancements that appear to be in image quality; there is finer gradation of color tones, broader dynamic range, improved color palette etc.

Regards
Anders
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« Reply #31 on: May 18, 2011, 12:30:23 AM »
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I would argue that today people looking at the highest possible image quality cannot ignore stitching, whatever the base camera used (DSLR or MFDB).

When the scene allows it, and many do, I would personally not understand the claim of a photographer about his high image quality standards if he doesn't use stitching whenever possible.

I do understand that many people don't want to bother with stitching, but those photographers should stop claiming they are at the forefront of image quality, even if they use the latest MFDB.

Amen!

If you're not capturing the entire image circle of today's digital MF technical lenses, you're leaving a lot on the table.  Can't wait to scoop up a 100mm digitally designed image circle with a 5.2 micron MF sensor, mmmmm, my mouth is watering:)

« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 10:54:45 AM by Alan W George » Logged
hjulenissen
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« Reply #32 on: May 18, 2011, 01:46:06 AM »
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They potentially are very far behind their competition and as we have heard a lot these days, resolution does matter even in small prints. There is no reason whatsoever to think that 80 mp is the end of things. I prefer by far to go with 300 or 400 megapixels.
To make things simple:
Given a very good stitched source, printed as a small print using state-of-the-art printing. If you did a side-by-side where one side was degraded by high-quality downscaling/upscaling to e.g. 8 megapixels or 20 megapixels. Under what conditions do you think that "resolution would matter"? (e.g. print size, source resolution, viewer behaviour, etc)?

-h
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« Reply #33 on: May 18, 2011, 02:01:20 AM »
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I would argue that today people looking at the highest possible image quality cannot ignore stitching, whatever the base camera used (DSLR or MFDB).

When the scene allows it, and many do,


I use multishot backs for static scenes and repro, but I think you are vastly overestimating the percentage of work that can be stitched or captured with multishot for most photographers. Probably for those that shoot scenes that can be stitched, a scan back is a good idea too and a lot less money with higher DR.  Maybe most of your work is done with stitches, and for you its working fine but I think you go too far to suggest that people who consider these new backs have missed considering that technique.  I see that statement as both myopic and arrogant.   
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« Reply #34 on: May 18, 2011, 02:23:25 AM »
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Hi,

My view is that you can never have to much resolution or capture to many photons. Whatever the image size, it is always possible to improve it by stitching. Stitching gives you about one formate size advantage in resolution. Bernard is right the very often it is possible to stitch. It's way of making best use of what we have.

Quite often stitching won't work, but it's always worth a try.

Capturing more photons is good for image quality.

Best regards
Erik


I use multishot backs for static scenes and repro, but I think you are vastly overestimating the percentage of work that can be stitched or captured with multishot for most photographers. Probably for those that shoot scenes that can be stitched, a scan back is a good idea too and a lot less money with higher DR.  Maybe most of your work is done with stitches, and for you its working fine but I think you go too far to suggest that people who consider these new backs have missed considering that technique.  I see that statement as both myopic and arrogant.   
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« Reply #35 on: May 18, 2011, 02:39:29 AM »
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Finally!! megapixels earn their place in voodoo land alongside silver cables for audiophiles..

There is no scientific evidence to show any difference between a normal el cheapo (shielded) copper cable linking your amp to speaker - but those with "golden ears" can really hear the difference between cables.. btw - if you can't 'hear' the difference you (obviously) don't have a 'golden ear'...
now a new one in photography land...something 'special' about 80 megapixel 11x8 prints  versus prints from ordinary lesser megapixel backs..if you can't see the difference ..you (obviously) don't have the 'golden eyes'...
 Cheesy

next move is blind ABX testing of teh phenomenon - and we have photogrphicaudiophilia ...yee haaa!
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« Reply #36 on: May 18, 2011, 03:40:54 AM »
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It strikes me, from the limited amount of testing that I have done with my own MF DB versus prints made from DSLR cameras with a much lesser megapixel count, that -

If we have two prints at say 16x20 from two MF DBs, one say 40MP and the other 80MP printed at the same resolution say 360 ppi of the same subject and framing using the same lens at the same distance -

Then both pictures as prints have the same number of pixels in each dimension.

If we arrange the image size so that the 40MP back is printing at or close to its native resolution (no upsampling or downsampling) there will be no loss of quality.

But the 80MP back will be downsampling to fit the image to the paper and will be losing its quality potential, as pixels are being discarded.

Therefore the apparent quality of the 80 MP image will be greatly dependent on the software downsampling algorithm, and we could expect different subjective responses to the two prints depending the printing application in use.

It is most unlikely that any image quality advantage seen from the 80MP back could be attributed to its having more megapixels, because the printing process has thrown lots of them away and the two prints are exactly the same in this regard. So the 80MP cannot be resolving more detail in the print, for example.

If there is a difference, it will surely be due to other factors, such as the manufacturer of the sensor, Bayer array design, photosite design and density, ADCs, and the firmware. All of these could contribute to smoother, more subtle colour reproduction, for example. An interesting test would be to repeat the printing exercise in monochrome, using a straight grayscale conversion, and see if there is still a detectable difference then. If not, then it is the colour handling that is the key, not zillions of pixels.

I certainly don’t dispute that Michael and others are seeing a difference in same-size small prints, but to me it seems unlikely that this has much to do with megapixel count, if the 80MP is being downsampled. As soon as the 40MP has to be upsampled, though, for large prints, then of course the 80MP should run away with the victory.

John
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« Reply #37 on: May 18, 2011, 03:41:13 AM »
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Finally!! megapixels earn their place in voodoo land alongside silver cables for audiophiles..
I dont think that it can be dismissed as easily as expensive audiophile cables can. Making images is a creative/art process, meaning that anything is "legal", meaning that it is difficult to characterize a camera behaviour in such a way that the visibility of an increase in resolution can be dismissed as a blanket statement.

It is entirely thinkable that someone choose to crop a minute section of that large sensor. If there are any real differences in resolution, then they may be visible for that case. Compared with audiophile cables, there is no sensible scheme in which (for instance) the playback volume is raised by 100dB during completely silent parts of the recording, making otherwise inaudible noise audible.

-h
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« Reply #38 on: May 18, 2011, 03:45:50 AM »
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Making images is a creative/art process, meaning that anything is "legal",
-h

I'm not saying that some gigantic megapixel back doesn't serve a purpose, though I'd be really surprised if any buyer of photography at any level can really discern the difference between 40 and 80 megapixels.

Remember I said buyer of photography.

Regardless, most of the talk I read about need  vs. wanting a 80 something mega something back comes from landscape photographers which somewhat surprises me that they don't clamor for live view for focus, and more extension of iso for late night and dusk shooting, not the least to mention the ability to fine tune the sensor to each lens for focus. 

So many of these functions are offered in cameras at a 1/10th of the price and I would think as a group that seems focused (pun intended) on ultimate detail in their images, these missing attributes and rarely mentioned.

Anyway, I don't really do landscapes, everything I shoot is usually breathing or if it's static the camera is moving, so I'm more interested in equipment that more fits my needs, though a friend who is one of the best architectural photographers (and one of the busiest) shoots most of his work with a p45+ and a Canon 5d.

The one constant I do know since the start of digital capture is, if you want to know what Canon or Nikon will soon be offering, just look at medium format because they seem to announce double the pixels right before Canon introduces a new camera.

15 megapixel Canon, 30 megapixel Phase, 22 megapixel Canon, 40 megapixel Phase, so now that Phase and their new brand Leaf have 80 megapixels, I guess Canon will soon come out with 40 or 44 or something.

I don't hang many large prints, though in our LA facility have 5 approx 40 x 60 prints  in various rooms and during a lighting demonstration a _________ rep that sells a new line of HMI's and whose company still makes digital backs looked at one of the prints and said "wow great image, great detail, what did you shoot this with?". 

I replied the original canon 1ds and tungsten lighting.

IMO

BC


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« Reply #39 on: May 18, 2011, 04:17:45 AM »
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I'm not saying that some gigantic megapixel back doesn't serve a purpose, though I'd be really surprised if any buyer of photography at any level can really discern the difference between 40 and 80 megapixels.
i think that one of the sources of confusion is that most people dont see the point in separating resolution from an unknown number of other variables. Comparing a 2011 80 MP camera to a 200* 30 MP camera may well give significant visual differences, but it is really hard to know if the MP count is significant.

Therefore I was suggesting comparing assumed "ideal" references, with the same reference taken through a controlled degradation process (downscaling, upscaling) where one knows exactly what is degraded before printing. It would be really interesting if people can spot the difference between a good 80 MP image printed at small sizes using really good printing, and the same where the quality was intentionally degraded to 20 megapixels.

Now, if one cannot spot the difference for that case, one could move on to other likely sources of difference in 80 vs 20 MP cameras. One candidate would be that a 20MP sampling system does not correspond ideally to a 80 MP sampling subsampled by ideal windowed sin(x)/x filters.

-h
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