Friday, July 11, 2014

Do megapixels really matter much anymore?

So I was reading what Ken Rockwell had to say about the D800, which should also have meant me having a drink or shot of some sort as his writing seems to have gone more downhill than where it was years ago, but that's another blog.

He makes a comment, or something to the point that he doesn't know many professionals who use anything over 12 megapixels. Now I'm going to take liberty and assume he means that they don't "need" anything over 12, in which case, and after thinking about this, I started to agree with him to some extent.

Now I know, I know, that some professionals and some projects call for more than 12, but just think about it for a minute. How many family photos are really blown up more than 20x30? How many wedding photos are blown up a few feet by a few more feet? I would say that the vast majority of everything shot is printed no larger than 11x14, if it's even printed at all. Now I know, that's an assumption, but in keeping with that, how many mega pixels would it take to make something 11x14?

For instance, my girl friend and I just got back from a trip to France and she brought with her D40. It's a great little camera, takes great pictures, and we were totally happy with the results. We don't really have plans to print many, if any, images, and no plans at all to make large prints - these were just vacation shots. So to us, even the 6mp of the D40 is a bit overkill.

Another for instance is my headshot and portfolio business. Most of my work is printed at 8x10, if it's even printed at all, and/or it's meant for online content. I'm shooting at 17mp and that's even a bit overkill for what the client needs. In fact, and to keep file sizes down, when I do get my D800 I will still only really import them at 17 or 24 mega pixels anyway. I'm just not working with the clients who need larger images than that.

So Ken may be on to something here, and it will be interesting to see how long this race keeps up. Also, for what it's worth, I put two images on this post. One was shot with a 12mp Nikon and the other with a 30mp digital back. I'm sure you can guess which is which, that's not the point, but they are both strong images, both look good as 14x22's in my portfolio, and both did what they needed to do.