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Megapixel "Penis Envy"

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Steppenwolf
16 Nov 2012 - 9:56 AM

It is weird how high pixel count sensors seem to cause so much sniping - usually from people who have lower pixel count cameras and are just looking at it from a theoretical point of view without any practical experience. I remember a few of the old arguments that were wheeled out whenever the subject came up - high megapixels were a marketing gimmick to sucker stupid people into buying the camera, high megapixels caused more noise, high megapixels were unnecessary, etc etc.

When Sony brought out its 24Mp APS-C sensor it was roundly rubbished on a lot of forums - including this one. However, when Nikon brought out the D800 with its slam-dunk 36Mp (probably a Sony sensor) - and it proved to be an exceptional camera - these arguments seemed to subside. Nikon are a "serious" camera manufacturer, unlike Sony, so the cameras had to be taken seriously. But I see now that the arguments haven't gone away - they've just become a little more esoteric. Now the line is that the high Mp cameras maybe good but they're wasted on "enthusiasts" who use them to "simplify their photography" by cropping or other such blatant abuses.

I just regard the 24Mp of the A77 as a "free lunch". You get the extra resolution and the greater cropping power if you want it, for whatever reason, without any significant downsides. What's not to like?

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keith selmes
16 Nov 2012 - 10:16 AM


Quote: I remember a few of the old arguments that were wheeled out whenever the subject came up - high megapixels were a marketing gimmick to sucker stupid people into buying the camera, high megapixels caused more noise, high megapixels were unnecessary, etc etc.

It was all true, and still is on some bottom feeder kit. But technology moves on, and we seem to have genuine high quality high pixel counts (hurrah) . Even now though, I saw something recently about manufacturers having to build for certain level of megapixels, even if it was more than the optimum for the sensor, to achieve the standard sizes expected by the average consumer. To some extent megapixels are used as a marketing gimmick, like digital zoom, for people who don't know any better.

To put it in context a bit, my tiny compact has 10MP crammed in, the M43 has 12, and the DSLR has 12. I think the compact might have been better with less. I think the DSLR has as much as I need, but if someone gave me a new DSLR with 36MP, I wouldn't complain. And my nephew is still doing great work with my old 6MP DSLR. I find it all very interesting, but not worth arguing about.

paulcookphotography

I dont think anyone is doubting that the D800 is an exceptional camera. Far from it. Do we really need 36MP? Well, thats debatable. Most photographers were perfectly happy at around 12, and the vast majority of people with high megapixels will never see the benefit of it. Since most people rarely print large images, and mostly either have them on their hard drive or reduce the resolution for displaying online, then it is a little bit of waste.

Sure there are those who do require the extra pixels, but personally i think most will use them because they can, and not necessarily because they have to. I remember the days when 'digital zoom' was a no-no and anyone with a bit of camera knowledge would have advised against it. These days, we seem to have an abundance of extra pixels that (for the most part) seem to be used for cropping (essentially digital zoom). That is ultimately up to the user.

However theres other options. I have Dx and Fx cameras. If i need the extra focal length, i can bolt on a decent zoom (with a convertor, if needed) and gain more focal length that way and still produce an image that will be just as sharp and clear as an image that was shot on a D800 (or similar) and cropped. If i need to shoot wide, then i will use the Fx with a decent wide angle lens.

Yes, so not everyone has two cameras and is able to do this, but my 'gripe' (for want of a better term) is with those people i have spoken to that have a very similar kit to me and have decided to invest in the D800 to 'cut corners'. I personally dont see the point. Its not envy by any means. Its more a case of i dont understand their reasoning. They were perfectly happy with the images they had before buying a new body, and they themselves have said that they didnt need to replace any cameras. They bought a new body and suddenly its all "look what i can do". Fair enough, but how much money did you spend to do pretty much what you could (and did) do with your other kit?

So i dont see much 'penis envy' coming from those who dont have a D800. I see more D800 users saying 'look what i have/look what i can do'. I chose not to buy one as i didnt see the need to upgrade. If i was given/won one then great, but i dont see it changing how i shoot, it replacing any lenses i have, or me cropping any more than i need to at the moment

Carabosse
Carabosse e2 Member 1139452 forum postsCarabosse vcard England269 Constructive Critique Points
16 Nov 2012 - 12:04 PM


Quote: Do we really need 36MP? Well, thats debatable. Most photographers were perfectly happy at around 12

I've said it before............... and I'll say it again! Grin

When I first joined EPZ it was: "Why on earth would anyone need more than 6Mp in a DSLR?" Nowadays you couldn't even sell a shirt-pocket compact with as low resolution as that.

36Mp? That will be the norm in 2-3 years. The D800 is ahead of its time. That's all.

mikehit
mikehit  56475 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
16 Nov 2012 - 12:59 PM


Quote: Its more a case of i dont understand their reasoning. They were perfectly happy with the images they had before buying a new body, and they themselves have said that they didnt need to replace any cameras. They bought a new body and suddenly its all "look what i can do". Fair enough, but how much money did you spend to do pretty much what you could (and did) do with your other kit?



And that is the core sales of these cameras; it is what the marketing men rely on. I am convinced that the average enthusiast has far more modern kit than the average professional: the enthusiast buys because they want to, the professional buys when they are convinced the outlay will pay for itself.


Pride of ownership is as valid a reason for buying as utility. If you substitute 'car' or 'house' for 'camera' and you cover a huge percentage of the buying population.

strawman
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
16 Nov 2012 - 4:19 PM

Each camera and its sensor needs to be judged on its own merits and with thought as to the end use. Keith makes a good point re the number of pixels and size of sensor and time rolls along. There is a lot to be said for the pressure of marketing and the pressure to have more fact is it sells cameras. Whether more gives the users more is another question.

I think Paul makes a fair point, in fact there was also an article indicating why for some the D600 was the better match to many peoples requirements. That is not to say the D800 is in some way inferior, but that many users may end up getting better value for their money with tiny or no compromise. How many pixels do you need? work out your maximum print size, allow for modest cropping and work backwards. This article gives a good set of things to think about.

How do you know you have too many pixels, well if you cannot see the extra resolution in prints?, if you have to apply very aggressive noise filtration and throw away resolution to get the same noise level as the lower mp sensor? If your buffer fills to quickly. If you just spot you do not have enough depth of field or can only see the lens defects....

As CB points out how many do you want moves with technology and time, but not always by need. It is entirely possible that the 36mp full frame is a good choice for landscape and low light work, while a 24mp crop camera is a bad choice for sports and low light work. Another generation of silicon and some increased processing power and buffer memory may make the 24mp crop sensor a more sensible choice. It is horse for courses. And there is the point where due to limitations of lenses and sensor size you start to hit the limitations of the optical system to resolve detail and start to get little advantage for more pixels, just the downsides.

It all depends on the reasons you have for wanting more pixels. Is it to print bigger images then as long as you are within the capabilities of the optical system and the noise levels you can live with go for it. If it is to crop more, well take care to think about the option of just buying a longer focal length lens. If you have a standard 70-300 f5.6 zoom then buying a large mp camera to crop more could lead to dissapointment, then buying a new lens as well. But if you have a 300 f2.8 prime that is modern then it could be ok.

I view it as all being about balance and balancing out all the elements. Would I like a 36mp full frame camera, for free I would give it a go, do I print big enough to need it, not really. Often in life when weighing up the costs of new kit, you have to ask the question would you get more by spending the money on trips to photograph things or indeed training rather than the latest camera. But on balance sometimes the old kit can cramp your style.

Steppenwolf
16 Nov 2012 - 5:27 PM


Quote: However theres other options. I have Dx and Fx cameras. If i need the extra focal length, i can bolt on a decent zoom (with a convertor, if needed) and gain more focal length that way and still produce an image that will be just as sharp and clear as an image that was shot on a D800 (or similar) and cropped.

Possibly, but you're carrying an extra lens around and decent long lenses are very expensive. With a 24Mp APS-C sensor I can do a 1.4X digital crop giving the angle of view of a 1.4X longer lens (and see the result in the EVF with the digital TC) and still get a 12Mp picture without the expense of buying another lens - and without having to carry it around.

As CB said, these debates about how many pixels "you need" will all seem pretty ridiculous in a few years time - and some people who have talked about the 12Mp sweet spot will have subtly shifted their ground. Basically it'll be like it was with PCs. When the technology was new we bought a PC with its speed being one of the most important criteria. Nowadays PCs are so fast that, unless you have some special requirements, they're way faster than you'll ever need - and they're probably IO limited anyway.

strawman
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
16 Nov 2012 - 5:46 PM

The computer analogy is a good one as the processing power has risen to the level that for most people they no longer worry, and it is the same for mp for a lot of people already today. For many users who do not print above A3 then the value of going above 12mp is a good question to ask. The sweet spot moves with output size, technology and sensor size. Some aspects will be set by physics. As ever more is not always best. As for the digital crop as long as the lens and AF system are up to it, then it works. For budget lenses it will not always work.

when you can out resolve the lens by about 10x you can make better use of digital signal processing to correct lens defects and remove the anti-aliasing filter. But it does not mean you are resolving 10x the detail.

Last Modified By strawman at 16 Nov 2012 - 5:48 PM
paulcookphotography

Just to re-clarify, the issue and people i was referring (friends/peers) to had:

Long lenses
Converters
Dx bodies

But they feel the need to buy more pixels and not sell/reduce their kit. They are also not cropping any more on their long lens shots on the D800 than they did on their D700 or D3. All they seem to be doing is spending more, and carrying less kit. Where is the benefit in that? By all means sell a lens to justify the new body, or use the pixels to crop if you need to, but that hasnt been the case in those i have spoken to (in the majority of cases). And somehow thats meaning the rest of us are envious? Hmmm

strawman
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
16 Nov 2012 - 5:55 PM

I understand Paul, but then lots of companies love the sales it generates. I have met people who have had to buy the "latest" from a particular manufacturer, even when the latest is a minor change from the old one. You see it in lots of places, phones, etc. The quest to pick up the latest iPhone/pad etc. Sometimes it is because there is something worth having, and sometimes it because people want to know they have the "latest" "newest"...

Its part of human nature. Perhaps they feel that for the occasions they want a large print it is worth it? I know in the past I have bought a more capable or more expensive product thinking this extra feature is worth it, to find I seldom if ever use it.

Just Jas
Just Jas  1225752 forum posts England1 Constructive Critique Points
16 Nov 2012 - 6:03 PM

It is part of human nature and is probably what prompted us to move from a damp cave to the latest centrally heated house.

Probably.

Not all in one go, though Smile

Ade_Osman
Ade_Osman e2 Member 114521 forum postsAde_Osman vcard England36 Constructive Critique Points
16 Nov 2012 - 6:06 PM

Where's it all going to end is the question I ask myself, just how many more features are you going to be able to have in a camera? I see the latest thing from Samsung is a camera with an Android based OS.........Does this mean the next big thing will be you'll be able to manipulate your images without the need for a computer?........Is Canon/Nikon going to bring out a camera with a version of Photoshop/Lightroom or whatever preloaded on the camera which will come complete with a touchpad or a miniature mouse so you clone away the detritus or whatever in camera.
I can see it now, folk sat down wherever not only chimping their images but manipulating them, before uploading them to EPZ or wherever using 4G phone technology and ordering prints at the same time. Crap I may have made a mistake buying a new computer this year as in 12 months all it will be is a redundant dinosaur gathering dust in the corner GrinGrinGrinGrinGrin

Ade

paulcookphotography


Quote:
Its part of human nature. Perhaps they feel that for the occasions they want a large print it is worth it? I know in the past I have bought a more capable or more expensive product thinking this extra feature is worth it, to find I seldom if ever use it.

Very true. But the fact is although there are some who might be envious of someone who has new kit, the vast majority of folk will be happy for you (or the person buying it) but are happy with what they have. The 'Penis Envy' concept really stems from those who have and want everyone to know it.

Will new kit make you happy? Yes. Will folk want to see and have a play? Probably. Will it make you a better photographer? In most cases no. Give a good photographer any decent camera and they will make it work for them and make the most of it, no matter how many pixels it has. If you feel you have out-grown your camera or you need to replace it due to a mechanical fault or whatever, then by all means upgrade, but there is a hell of a lot more to the art and skill of photography than a few extra pixels in your pocket

lemmy
lemmy  71875 forum posts United Kingdom
16 Nov 2012 - 6:39 PM


Quote: Crap I may have made a mistake buying a new computer this year as in 12 months all it will be is a redundant dinosaur gathering dust in the corner

Not if the last five years are anything to go by, I'm glad to say.

I run a Core Duo 3Ghz machine bought five years ago in London and an i5 3.3Ghz in France. In normal day to day use, Photoshop, Lightroom, Sony Vegas, web and email running together, you cannot tell the difference. The only time is when doing a big video render but since that can take up to 4 hours on the London machine and up to 2 on the one in France it makes no practical difference whatsoever. I Just set it rendering when I pack up for the day and it closes down after backup.

36mp cameras are fine if you need it. I take pictures for stock agency and web these days so have no need whatsoever. I doubt there are many amateurs (or professionals in general) who have any genuine need use for 36mp but if they do or think they do, why not?

I don't think 36mp will be the norm - few people want to spend money on something that simply increases file sizes and processing time for no gain. It might make a difference to compact sales or even mobile phone cameras, people for whom bigger is always better (just as faster is always better, louder is always better), the same folk who buy 4x4s for driving around the London suburbs.

Maybe there could be a whole new genre for them, FF, APS, M43 Bridge, Compact and...Chav Compact Grin

mikehit
mikehit  56475 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
16 Nov 2012 - 6:47 PM

I agree.
One thing is that people are too embarassed to say "I spent 4 grand on a new camera because I can" because it sounds ostentatious so they make up excuses like 'it has more resolution' (with the unspoken admission "that I don't really need"). Who cares if they are fooling themselves?
Similarly if you talk to someone who has just bought a new high-performance car they talk about the top speed and its handling on sharp bends at high speed - ask them where they are going to use those qualities you get an acknowledgement that they won't (ahem!). I have cameras and hifi as hobbies. Thank God I am more functional when it comes to cars!

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