Back To Megapixels Race

Left side is Canon 6d 20.2MP, 24-105L f/16. Right side is Sony A7s 12MP, 24-70 f/16 Bottom image shows 200 percent view of respective files.

Left side is Canon 6d 20.2MP, 24-105L f/16. Right side is Sony A7s 12MP, 24-70 f/16
Bottom image shows 200 percent view of respective files.

Canon recently released their upgrade to 5D Mark III. This time they are maxing out the megapixel a 35mm sensor can accommodate. The new 5DS and 5DS R is packed with 50 megapixels. I feel bad for the photodiode having no room to breathe. In some forums, they claim that it’s not technically possible to get effective 50 megapixels.

Of course the laws of physics cannot be recreated so when you amplify one aspect of the sensor in recording light, you’ll have to pull down some other aspects. In the case of Canon, the newly released 5D chose megapixel over ISO. They claim that in commercial photography, ISO is not an issue since shots are mostly done in a controlled lighting environment.It is quite obvious that Canon is trying to serve and customize their lineup according to market segment. Photographers are always clamoring for a camera that would fulfill their demand and it’s impossible for a product that can serve photographers shooting different genre. So they made different version for different photographers.  I think it’s a good  marketing strategy for Canon.

What confuses me is the comeback of the megapixels race. Canon started it and when Nikon came up with 36MP in their D800, Canon suddenly focused on ISO. For a while, they were pushing the ISO sensitivity in their flagship cameras but now they’re back into the forgotten race.

I’ve been in the printing industry for two decades already. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think we need more megapixels in our images. If we are referring to billboards, I hate to break it but those tarps up in the billboard structures are printed as low as 20dpi. It’s impossible to print billboards in high resolution unless you can open and process 50 gigabyte image. Not even Photoshop can create such file.

Billboards are also printed at low resolution because the farther the image, the less dots you see. The only reason for you to use high resolution images is for large printed images found in wall graphics or backlighted ads. It does make sense but the issue is the printer. I haven’t seen a large format printer that carries a 2880dpi printing vinyls, panaflex or versa boards.

The only sensible reason you need a high resolution image is when you do an art printing. Using high resolution printer and expensive substrate, you’ll be able to handle high resolution printing. These are the prints you see in art galleries and the cost of printing is way above the ceiling.

Keep on shooting everyone!

Text and photos by Albert Pedrosa

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