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How many megapixels do you need?

221
HTC says 4 megapixels, Nokia says 41MP and even Apple wasn't worried about boosting the megapixel figure of its new iPhone 5S : who’s right?

Megapixels. How did such a simple concept become so wrapped up in hyperbole, controversy and confusion? Compact camera manufacturers act like everyone needs more of them. Photography pundits generally wish there were less. Smartphone manufacturers are completely unable to agree where they stand on the issue. The current generation of premium smartphones includes a 4MP model from HTC, 8MP from both Apple and Google, 13MP from Samsung and LG, 20.7MP Sony and 41MP from Nokia. Surely they can’t all be right?

So how many megapixels do you really need? It’s a simple question without a simple answer, but let’s start by breaking it down into two parts. If we take the assumption that more detail is generally welcome, at what point is there no practical benefit to the user? Then there’s the issue of technical limitations. How many megapixels can a smartphone deliver before the drawbacks outweigh the benefits? 

Before we tackle these questions, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing. A megapixel rating tells you how many pixels there are in a photo. If it measures 4,000 by 3,000 pixels, multiply the two numbers to get 12 million, so it’s a 12-megapixel photo. 

It’s worth noting that a 24MP photo isn’t twice as wide as a 12MP photo. It’ll have twice as many pixels, but that means it’ll only be 41% wider and 41% taller – in this case, that’s 5,656 x 4,242. Similarly, if you halve the width of a 12MP photo, to 2,000 x 1,500, the megapixel rating drops to a quarter, or 3MP. As such, the differences between a 4MP, 8MP, 13MP and 41MP photo perhaps aren’t as big as the numbers might suggest. 

This graphic represents the relative sizes of popular smartphones’ photo resolutions (the Nokia Lumia 1020 has a 41MP sensor but its photos are 38MP at the standard 4:3 aspect ratio)

How many megapixels are sufficient for the average smartphone user?

These days, most photos are shared on social media services and viewed on computers, TVs, tablets and phones. The resolution of these screens varies from around 1MP for a typical smartphone to just over 3MP for the Retina Display on an iPad. A large number of TVs are Full HD (also known as 1080p), which works out at 2MP. A lot of computer monitors and an increasing number of phones and tablets use this resolution, too. The biggest screens around are 4K TVs, which equate to 8MP. They’re ridiculously expensive at the moment, but they’re bound to become more affordable and commonplace over the next decade. 

On this basis, the most megapixels you’re likely to need to show your photos at their best on today’s electronic displays is 3MP. If you want them to look great for decades to come, you might want to shoot them at 8MP. 

If you print photos out, the demands are similar: 300 pixels per inch (ppi) is widely accepted to be as sharp as the eye can see for photo prints. A 5x7-inch photo at 300 ppi weighs in at 3MP, while for an A4 print it jumps to 9MP. Even an A2 poster print at 300 ppi is only 35MP – still less than the 38MP photos from the Lumia 1020.

The graphic below shows how these sizes stack up – red for displays, blue for print sizes and green for the photo resolutions of the four smartphones that we’re concentrating on in this feature. The figures are included below for reference, too. A 4MP image can contain enough detail to fill an iPad screen or produce sharp 5x7-inch prints. It’s only when you get to A4 enlargements or 4K TVs that higher resolutions become necessary. Even then, 8MP is perfectly sufficient.

Resolutions compared: displays are in red, print sizes in blue, smartphone cameras in green.

Screen resolutions

  • iPhone 5                            1,136 x 640             0.7MP      
  • Full HD                               1,920 x 1,080          2MP
  • iPad Retina Display        2,048 x 1,536          3MP
  • 4K TV                                  3,840 x 2,160           8MP

Print sizes

  • 7x5in print at 300ppi      2,100 x 1,500          3MP
  • A4 print at 300ppi           3,508 x 2,480           9MP
  • A3 print at 300ppi           4,960 x 3,508         18MP
  • A2 print at 300ppi           7,016 x 4,9603       35MP

Smartphone camera resolutions

  • HTC One                            2,688 x 1,520           4MP
  • Apple iPhone 5, 5c, 5s    3,264 x 2,448          8MP
  • Samsung Galaxy S4       4,128 x 3,096          13MP
  • Nokia Lumia 1020          7,136 x 5,360          38MP

Nothing is ever that straightforward, though. For one thing, hardly any smartphone cameras include an optical zoom. Digital zoom has its place, but the best it can ever do is guess what the extra detail should look like. However, if the photo resolution is much higher than you need it to be, you can crop the photo and still have enough megapixels for a detailed image. 

This can be done manually in editing software, and it’s also how the zoom function on the Nokia Lumia 1020 works. It can shoot 38MP photos, but switch to 5MP and you can zoom by up to 2.7x – there’s still a pixel on the sensor for every pixel in the photo, so no digital interpolation (read guesswork) is necessary. 

It’s worth noting that applying a 2x digital zoom means you’re only using a quarter of the surface area in the center of the sensor – half of its width and half the height. So for an 8MP camera, applying a 2x digital zoom means you’re effectively capturing a 2MP photo. In most cases, this will be raised back up to 8MP using interpolation. 

The Nokia Lumia 1020 uses the central 5MP area of its 41MP sensor to provide a 2.7x zoom function (above). It also saves the full 38MP photo (below), just in case you decide to zoom out again or crop to a different area after taking the photo.
The two files have just as much detail per pixel (although the 5MP version (left) appears to have stronger digital sharpening applied). It’s just that the 38MP version captures a larger wide-angle scene.

We recently looked further into the Lumia 1020's zoom image quality in our 11-page review of the device; see the section on image quality and performance to learn more. 

 Another reason for choosing a resolution beyond 3MP is that digital cameras rarely capture the sharpest possible details per pixel. On a smartphone camera’s sensor, each pixel measures either red, green or blue light. These colors are arranged in a mosaic layout, typically with two green, one red and one blue in a two-by-two grid (read more about this here). The camera’s software must then calculate a full-color value for each pixel, but ultimately there’s always a bit of guesswork involved. If you wanted a genuine full-color measurement for each pixel in your final image, you’d need to drop the resolution to a quarter of the original. 

Detail can also be lost due to anti-alias filtering. This is to avoid artifacts such as moiré and false color, where the details in the scene cause interference with the regular grid of pixels on the sensor (more information here). In a digital camera, anti-alias filtering essentially involves gently blurring the image to hide these artifacts, and then sharpening it up again digitally.

In practice, all this digital processing for creating full-color, artifact-free photos is pretty sophisticated, and the best cameras are perfectly capable of capturing sharp details. However, reducing the resolution using a high-quality resizing algorithm does tend to give crisper details per pixel. As such, shooting at 8MP and dropping the resolution to 4MP will often give crisper fine details than shooting with a 4MP camera.

The image on the left is a 1:1 pixel crop from a photo taken with an Olympus E-PM2. Focus is pixel-sharp, but details aren’t quite as precise as the version on the right. For this shot, we zoomed the lens from 14mm to 42mm (a 3x magnification) and then resized the image in Photoshop to match the sizes. 

We’re now ready to answer the question of how many megapixels are useful in practice. For most sharing destinations, 3MP is fine, while 8MP is enough for A4 prints and 4K TVs. However, to achieve the crispest possible details, you might want to scale these figures up a bit. If you want to crop the photos – especially if your camera lacks an optical zoom – there’s no upper limit to the number of megapixels that might be useful.

How many megapixels can a smartphone realistically deliver?

It’s all very well wanting something, but that doesn’t mean you can have it. There’s a reason why 1,000-megapixel cameras don’t exist, and it’s not because no one wants them (in fact, gigapixel photos are popular – they’re made by stitching hundreds of photos together).

There are three technical limitations to raising the megapixel rating of a camera in an effort to boost quality. One is simply that a higher resolution takes longer to process and consumes more storage space. Cameras' and smartphones’ processors are getting more powerful and memory cards are getting bigger and cheaper, but there still needs to be a balance between resolution and the practicalities of saving the images.

Another limitation is the sharpness of the lens. There’s little point in capturing more pixels if all they’re recording is a blurry image. At the current resolutions offered by smartphones, we’re already seeing lenses that struggle to maintain sharp focus throughout the frame. Details are usually pretty sharp in the center but they tend to fall off slightly towards the edges. That’s not necessarily a disaster, as the main subject is usually somewhere near the center. However, it stands to reason that there would come a point where increasing the resolution would only capture the defects of the lens in increasing detail.

Then there’s the thorny issue of sensor noise. This is caused by inaccuracies in the measurements for each pixel, and it takes the form of a speckled graininess across the image. Digital cameras try to mask it with noise-reduction processing, but it’s hard for a camera to distinguish between unwanted noise and fine details in the scene. As a result, noise reduction also removes some of the fine detail from a photo. In dimly lit scenes, the camera must boost the exposure, and this boosts noise levels too. That’s why low-light photos often look grainy or exhibit smudged, syrupy details – the telltale signs of aggressive noise reduction. 

It’s especially true of smartphones and budget compact cameras because their sensors are physically very small. A small sensor has a small lens sat in front of it, which captures less light than a bigger sensor and lens. Without getting bogged down in the physics, it’s clear that an SLR’s lens gathers much more light than a smartphone’s tiny lens. If both cameras have the same resolution, each pixel on the smartphone’s sensor has a tiny amount of light to measure. It’s harder to measure something accurately when it’s very small, so inaccuracies – and noise levels – are higher. 

If you doubled the number of megapixels on a camera’s sensor, you’d halve the amount of light that each pixel would have to measure, which means even more noise. In fact, it might well be more than double as you’d have to find room for all the extra ancillary components on the sensor too. So while increasing the resolution seems like it should boost the amount of detail captured, there’s a chance that the resulting stronger noise reduction would actually decrease the detail levels. 

However, it is possible to increase the resolution without boosting noise levels if you also increase the physical size of the sensor. This explains why SLRs are able to offer 24MP and higher resolutions but still deliver lower noise than compact cameras with their tiny sensors.

It also explains why the Nokia Lumia 1020 is able to capture 38MP photos that aren’t completely awash with noise. Its high resolution is matched by a 1/1.5 inch sensor – that’s twice the diagonal and four times the surface area of the 1/3 inch sensors that are commonly used in smartphones. It’s a bit like taking four conventional 10MP smartphone sensors and arranging them in a two-by-two grid.

The HTC One takes the opposite approach with its 4MP sensor. It’s a conventional 1/3 inch size, but because each pixel has more light to measure, its noise levels are significantly lower than from sensors with more densely packed pixels. Then again, merging multiple pixels averages out noise levels, so resizing a 12MP sensor’s output down to 4MP also helps to reduce noise.

This is a can of worms that we’ll quickly put the lid back on – debates about pixel density will surely go on forever. It’s the overall physical size of the sensor and lens which play the biggest role in determining the amount of noise for a given print or screen size. 

These crops have been taken from our Low Light Studio Scene. It’s not a direct comparison of the sensors’ performance as these shots are at different exposure settings and sat behind different lenses (the Galaxy S4’s relatively noisy output is largely due to the camera picking a faster 1/30s shutter speed, which has pushed the ISO speed up to a higher value than the others). We’ve resized them so they’re the same size as the HTC One’s 4MP output. The Nokia is the clear winner here, not so much because it has a huge resolution but because its sensor is so much bigger than the others. This reduces noise and minimizes the need for detail-slaying noise reduction. 

The bottom line

So how many megapixels do you need? Here’s the shortest answer we can muster: for most purposes 3MP is plenty, but you might want to shoot at around 8MP for the crispest possible details. 8MP is a sensible minimum for big prints and 4K TVs, and even higher resolutions allow you to crop photos without sacrificing quality too much. However, make sure that very high resolutions are matched by an equivalent increase in sensor size. 

Of course, image quality is also defined by the design of the sensor, the quality of the lens, the intelligence of the metering and automatic exposure system ... the list goes on. It’s a good job, because if you could tell a camera’s quality just by its megapixel rating, we’d be out of a job.

Comments

Total comments: 221
12
perrycas
By perrycas (10 months ago)

We have a 3.2 canon sure shot (?) that my wife still uses it. Over the years, at postcard size jpg' its image has proven to be almost impossible to tell from either hi end film or digital cameras used at the same time in the same conditions. I assume that most people take snaps with their phones. Good on 'em. Nothing wrong with snapping. For hi end images tho, you need a hi end (real) camera with a similar lens.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

You have a point but output size matters too. And newer sensors, in cameras and phones, can do somewhat higher ISOs better.

As I say: at base ISO my 2001 4MP Canon G2 beats most smart phone cameras today. And produces jpegs that can be easily printed at 12" x 18".

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (9 months ago)

for a half-kilogram device that used to cost $900, sure that's understandable

0 upvotes
jderrico
By jderrico (10 months ago)

Isn't it strange that with so many improvements in the camera capabilities of these cell phones, I still see many people walking around in their front yards, driveways, and streets trying to pick up a signal to talk on their phone? Wouldn't it be easier to build cell phones into regular cameras? You'd still have people trying to get a signal, but at least they wouldn't have to worry so much about their picture taking capabilities. Wouldn't it be easier to put a cell phone in a camera than the other way around?

1 upvote
Horsefeathers
By Horsefeathers (10 months ago)

I makes good sense! But it's too simple to be picked up by the boffins.

0 upvotes
perrycas
By perrycas (10 months ago)

Brilliant idea! Or just make the phone big enough to put a real camera in it!

1 upvote
WengLim
By WengLim (10 months ago)

Have a look at the Samsung S4 Zoom

0 upvotes
Binary Hulled Ion
By Binary Hulled Ion (10 months ago)

(double post)

Comment edited 33 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Tim the Grey
By Tim the Grey (10 months ago)

I have a 5MP 4/3 Olympus E-1, and a 12MP Nikon D700. Both with VERY good glass up front.
Guess what? Most days the old E-1 takes JUST as good a .jpg as the D700. No, it's AF cannot keep up, and it's ISO performance is laughable, compared, but it does take a damn good PICTURE.
Which, the last time I looked, is what counts, yes???
Who cares if you have 3, 8, or 800 MP? Is it a good image.

4 upvotes
Cameracist
By Cameracist (5 days ago)

Having an E-1 and a Canon 5D I can confirm that:)

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

camera was invented to take portrait and I think "human viewed by human" is a good angle to see "how many megapixels we need."

"human" can be defined as a sheet of paper or display the size of a human. a tight rectangle enclosing an average person maybe 67 x 18 inch (height x shoulder width).

"viewed by human" can be defined as retina resolution at 10 inch or about 344 ppi.

then we get 67 x 18 x 344^2 = 143 MPix,
1.45 times more for Bayer or 207 MPix.

some people may prefer cutting the lower part and put some room around the upper part (like Mona Lisa). but 160 MPix looks a good number what we need, where I expect the "MP war" ends for mass market cameras for resolution.

for phone/video cameras, 40 MPix looks a good number for standard resolution (that is, the low end).

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 13 minutes after posting
1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

high resolution will mean >> 160 MPix.

a word for resizing. when we resize images of different pixel counts to a common resolution for comparison, the output better be of 0.7 or less pixels than the lowest to take out the effect of Bayer filters (or the HTC One will look less sharp which is a Bayer issue, not something we want to see here).

0.7 is a subjective number that I use.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
alanklughammer
By alanklughammer (10 months ago)

The first cameras were actually used to record scenes. They were far too slow for people.
Most pictures (as stated in the article) are never going to be seen with a device needing more than 10MP.
Also you need to keep in mind viewing distance and apparent size. (I used to print billboards, and we rarely printed at much over 75ppi.) At 24" most people cannot see any improvement over 200ppi but let's use Apples 220ppi (macbook) as a maximum.
A 20" x 30" print looks HUGE when viewed from 2 feet away. Doing the math, this requires a 29MP image. We have already reached the maximum viewable pixel size for larger cameras (My D600 is 24MP, a D800 is 36MP, and some medium format backs are 40+)
With smartphones, the issues are noise and lens resolution. Give us a decent (even if small) sensor and a good lens (preferably with some kind of optical zoom) and very few will see any difference in resolution after 10MP.
No one needs more than 50MP unless they need to crop.

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

let's get away from this "no one needs more than xx MP" as there will always be someone who will find a practical benefit to having more, and they'll get a MF if they care. as far as the 80th percentile goes, DPreview already concluded that 3MP resolution meets most consumer displays.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

3 MPix is a good number for Bayer images down sampled to fit a 1920x1080 screen.

but this is really not we need, but the current technological limitation which is an important and changing factor. so better look to the other end, human and human vision which won't evolve too fast, for an answer that won't become obsolete too quickly.

I know friends who take photos of their kids with phone cameras. but when the kids grow up, they are going to watch the photos on standard 8K TVs and this is the technological limitation we are going to have in 7 years.

so instead of 3 MPix, we will need 48 MPix for a standard display in 2020s (though well interleaved 20 MPix images may fool most eyes well).

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

you assume that your friends' children are going to install 220" tvs in their homes, which is where 8k resolution matters at normal viewing distances. if the tv is only 80", they'll have to sit closer than 2 feet to the tv or else 8K is not going to be noticeably different than 1080p.

and you can't compute megapixels from a retina screen because human vision isn't uniform, only the direct center is sensitive to detail and color, the peripheral is a blurry mess, which is why optical illusions work

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

what I assume is the same as NHK for 8K TV. I don't care if the rest part be displayed at much lower resolution (for "beautiful bokeh") but I think 8 MPix should be needed for facial (200-300 cm2 projected) better over 10 MPix because our eyes are really good at facial details.

for uniform resolution across the frame, divide the number by 5-8%, area that a face usually occupies in a standard portrait.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

note: there may be well less than 3 MPix for a face displayed on 8K TV, which looks good by today's standard. 8 MPix is for enlarged display to match the best we can see but not too much to have a macro feeling (that we don't see with naked eyes).

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 15 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Binary Hulled Ion
By Binary Hulled Ion (10 months ago)

PPI doesn't actually matter until you print the image. How many people are taking pictures with their cell and hanging them in a gallery? I'd bet less than half a percent, but that number really can't be quantified among all pictures taken with a cell.

Keep in mind that as you go to larger and larger prints, you expect them to be viewed from further and further away. I'll spare the math, but a 12MP image (without cropping) can manage most commonly-available print sizes comfortably. Now that it's hard to find a sensor that can't manage 12MP, the game is more about image quality than MP.

Adding MP is now more about getting more room to crop and doing some tricks with light collection, along with trying to make smartphone cameras more competitive with the small camera market. But, as long as people still buy into the idea that more megapixels yields higher quality, the war will continue, because the game at that level isn't about taking pictures at all: it's about selling stuff.

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

@Binary Hulled Ion,

please search "angle" here and get the answer.

life-size is a good word but it's not really the size that matters. it's the detail (close focusing distance limited) that we care, like how many pixels will be needed to match the detail we get with 20/20 vision.

as for cropping, up to 40% (my arbitrary) of a frame may be cropped to reframe a photo, otherwise enlarge to life size and view at 10 inch (or print at 344 ppi) sounds good to me, then it depends on the magnification (frame area as unit).

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

> frame area as unit

or just object field area which won't go too large for standard lenses because we have an issue of heat haze for far subjects. we will have to "sweep panorama" but this is also what we do with eyes.

then "print the object field" may define the resolution we need including cropping/enlarged view.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

it's effectively the same calculation but if we think a portrait usually has an object area of 0.5 to 0.8 sqm, then we will need 120 MPix (180 Bayer) to print 2/3 sqm at 344 ppi.

0 upvotes
brdeveloper
By brdeveloper (10 months ago)

Wouldn't the new iPhone 5S have a bigger 8MP sensor than the previous version? This article points to the same sensor size.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

the difference is larger than between Nikon and Canon APS-Cs but we may roughly call them the same in the sense that it's no full-frame nor 4/3".

0 upvotes
infocus
By infocus (10 months ago)

The difference between the iPhone 5 and 5S is not enough to get me to "upgrade." But I have been interested in getting better quality from the images I do take. I use the Noiseware plugin in Photoshop which can easily reduce of the noise found in low light iPhone images. And, I have also found Photo Resize to be of help in enlarging photographs.

0 upvotes
robertjtales
By robertjtales (10 months ago)

Fantastic view what is really dpi about.

0 upvotes
Olgierd
By Olgierd (10 months ago)

iPhone 5 screen res is: 1,136 x 640 not 1,136 x 6400. Typo.

0 upvotes
Photomagicromania
By Photomagicromania (10 months ago)

should we expect to have 1Gb size photo soon. We are going faster to bigger sensor size with bigger picture sizes.

0 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (10 months ago)

An article stating 8mp is good enough right after the new iphone is released with an 8mp sensor?

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

no, it said 3mp is good enough.

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

3MP should be good enough for the sharp in focus eyes, eyebrows, and nose in a portrait. this is one of reasons why people want to frame portraits tight and tighter when shooting with resolution challenged cameras.

0 upvotes
MikeCanon
By MikeCanon (10 months ago)

A4 print at 300ppi 3,508 x 2,480 9MP
A3 print at 300ppi 4,960 x 3,5081 8MP
A2 print at 300ppi 7,016 x 4,9603 5MP

Is this data is correct? A4 needs more MP and A2 less ????

4 upvotes
Frederik Paul
By Frederik Paul (10 months ago)

6MP for A4 and then double as you step up. But half is okay, too, because 150ppi are enough. Also consider the viewing distance.

1 upvote
Marvol
By Marvol (10 months ago)

I don't think you read what Mike was asking about.

The answer was given below: the space after the size is misplaced, it should read "x 3,508 18MP" and "x 4,960 35MP".

3 upvotes
OneMoreComment
By OneMoreComment (10 months ago)

Marvol is right, type-o's.
A4 print at 300ppi 3,508 x 2,480 9MP
A3 print at 300ppi 4,960 x 3,508 18MP
A2 print at 300ppi 7,016 x 4,960 35MP
but lowering the pixel density you can double the size of the print.

4 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

I think Bjorn_L is the person who pointed it out first. others could just go down and LIKE that post.

0 upvotes
itsastickup
By itsastickup (10 months ago)

7x5 is a reasonable max sized print from what is effectively a snap machine. Throw in a bit of cropping potential and 4 to 8MP is just fine.

It's a nice bonus to be able to digitally zoom but really for those that serious, it's time to step up to a zoom p&s.

By limiting the MPs, the cameras on smartphones could address their dire dynamic range that so massively degrades image quality compared to even disposable film cameras.

So all in all, the HTC is showing the way.

2 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

??
"If you doubled the number of megapixels on a camera’s sensor, you’d halve the amount of light that each pixel would have to measure, which means even more noise"

How come and the "more pixeled" (but the same pixel size) full frame cameras, outperform much better in low light conditions than those with APS-c sensors ??

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
ondrej simecek
By ondrej simecek (10 months ago)

Actually, that's not true.
Even the highest megapixel retail full frame camera (Nikon D800 at 36 megapixels, released 2012) has 4.88 micron pixels, while an 18 megapixel Canon 7D (2009) has pixels that measure just 4.3 microns across. Most full frame cameras actually have much larger pixels than APS-C, since the D800 is an outlier when it comes to pixel count in consumer cameras.

1 upvote
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

Actually it is
Nikon D800 is equipped with 36mp 4,88μm pixel size while Nikon D7000 has a 16,2 mp with 4,78μm pixel size,

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

D800 and D7000 have about same sized pixels but D800 can deliver well over a stop of better image quality.

it's clear that pixel size is irrelavent to image quality.

0 upvotes
Azurael
By Azurael (10 months ago)

The D800 and D7000 use different generations of sensor. Sony has quite consistently added about a stop of high sensitivity performance to each successive generation of their CMOS line. I guess if you scaled down the D800's sensor to APS-C, you'd get identical per-pixel performance. The 24MP APS-C sensor is a parallel development, but obviously it has smaller pixels so isn't directly comparable. Still, as you may have noted (at least in Nikon's implementation), it delivers quite impressive performance for its pixel size - in good light comparable detail 'per pixel' to the 'old' 16MP sensor, and not too far behind at higher sensitivities resulting in a net win for detail capture. Pixel size isn't at all irrelevant to image quality - it's just that it's only one of many factors influencing IQ. And how are you even defining IQ? Low light performance, resolution, DR? It's foolish to try and pin IQ on any one attribute of a lens/sensor/processing combination.

4 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

Pixel size, pixel count, generation of sensor and cpu all make a difference but most of all the lens

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

> Pixel size, pixel count, generation of sensor and cpu all make a difference

difference of a small fraction of a stop, while lens aperture makes difference of several stops.

compared with full-frame at the same f-number, APS-C cameras perform about 1.3 stops worse (for less than half of aperture area), 4/3" performs nearly 2 stops worse, and we go all the way down to more than 7 stops worse image qualities for low end mobile cameras (1/5").

btw, D800 has a DX mode which gives similar result as D7000. one can think D800 got two D7000 sensors stitched together (2.347x area).

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

DxOMark gives D800 a low light ISO of 2.445 times that of D7000, which is slightly larger than 2.347 sensor area ratio and this should be the difference made by "new generation technology".

it's about 0.06 stops which should be taken as error than real difference.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

Yabokkie, want it or not FF sensors deliver better IQ under any kind of light compared to undersized APS-C sensors, so the :
"If you doubled the number of megapixels on a camera’s sensor, you’d halve the amount of light that each pixel would have to measure, which means even more noise", argument is not valid.
あなたはそのを理解してない ?

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

people better understand that image quality is not pixel quality.

image and pixel qualities have nothing to do with each other because they are measured under different conditions. though the technologies we have happen to favor more pixels in general.

image quality is measured against the whole frame and won't change no matter how pixel size changes.

on the other hand, when people compare two pixels from 10MPix and 20MPix sensors, they compare one 10Mth arera of one sensor against one 20Mth area of another.

Comment edited 13 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

there are some who really cannot see the irony of their argument, they will continue to talk about full frame sensors and its merits on an article devoted to mobile device technology. and they are the ones who keep saying that phone cameras shouldn't be compared to "real" cameras, where they really mean DSLRs they keep bringing into the discussion.

1 upvote
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

There are also some who do not have an argument, but they comment just to satisfy their feeling of inferiority, Victor get a life.

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

> some who do not have an argument

exactly, at least no one has a theory to explain and predict how smaller pixels can lead to worse image quality (has anyone ever seen it in the first place?).

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

looks like someone doesn't even know who he's talking to

1 upvote
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

Yabokkie !!!!! you are a collateral damage, the comment wasn't for you, you're in between --a keyboard vendetta-- , now if you please let us CAP LOCK emphasize with our comments.
By the way pixel size matters, the bigger the better.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

the words of wisdom from someone who said he can recognize moire but a PRINTER CAN'T !!!!

0 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

EXACT-LY !!! and in particular screen printing !!!

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

wow, he hasn't made any sense for a long time, but this rambling just goes on

0 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

Can't resist your bullshitology, lessons

0 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION,.... ACCEPT IT

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

the more you write, the more we become aware of your ignorance

0 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

~~The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge~~
Stephen Hawking

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

that equally applies to you

0 upvotes
Petrogel
By Petrogel (10 months ago)

I'm sure mr. Hawking had someone like you in mind when he said it.

0 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (10 months ago)

Whoever wrote this article knows nothing about digital sensors or where noise comes from:

"Then there’s the thorny issue of sensor noise. This is caused by inaccuracies in the measurements for each pixel, and it takes the form of a speckled graininess across the image." Uh...no. Most of the noise is in the light itself, even if it were measured perfectly.

"If you doubled the number of megapixels on a camera’s sensor, you’d halve the amount of light that each pixel would have to measure, which means even more noise." Even worse. This is just flat out false and perpetuates a long-held myth that DPReview helped to start and to perpetuate. In fact, more pixels in the same size usually leads to less noise not more, for various reasons.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

"In fact, more pixels in the same size usually leads to less noise not more, for various reasons."

Wrong.

Somehow Nikon's serious lowlight DSLRs live by what you call a "myth". Those Aptina sensored Nikon 1 series cameras also live by this "myth".

Then compacts like the Panasonic LX7 or the Olympus XZ10.

Thanks not for the Sony marketing.

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

> more pixels in the same size usually leads to less noise not more,

we have been witnessing it for decades. but in general pixel count and image noise should have nothing to do with each other.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (10 months ago)

"In dimly lit scenes, the camera must boost the exposure, and this boosts noise levels too. "

This is hilarious. Increasing exposure decreases noise, actually. If they meant boosting amplification, it does not boost SNR, since it increases both the signal and the noise.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

yabokkie--

Pixel density, not "count" has something to do with noise. As do circuit placement and heat dissipation. There's also how the computer in the camera processes the data.

There be a reason the Nikon D4 is so good at high ISOs. Then there be a reason that smaller "BSI" sensors have improved the ISO performance of small cameras like the extraordinary Olympus XZ10.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

Just another Canon shooter:

Um, just so you realize increased exposure can mean that the sensor gets hotter during exposure and therefore noise increases.

Just saying that your point has a limitation.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

pixel density may give a wrong impression that many people tend to think unit area of mm2 or square inch. it's not pixel count in unit area but pixel count in the frame (area = 1 regardless of actually size).

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

ya:

All right: density per square X unit, so likely per sq. CM or MM. And yes it's density per sq. CM that is important, not count in the frame.

Also I think the term "density" includes the "per" in the term.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

> And yes it's density per sq. CM that is important,

important for what?

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

ya:

Figure it out.

1 upvote
Max@Home
By Max@Home (10 months ago)

Ah, now I see, typing error: the [space] was placed after the digit :-)

A3 print at 300ppi 4,960 x 3,5081 8MP
A2 print at 300ppi 7,016 x 4,9603 5MP

should be:

A3 print at 300ppi 4,960 x 3,508 18MP
A2 print at 300ppi 7,016 x 4,960 35MP

:-) Max@Home

0 upvotes
Max@Home
By Max@Home (10 months ago)

print sizes:
A3 print at 300ppi 4,960 x 3,5081 8MP
A2 print at 300ppi 7,016 x 4,9603 5MP

Isn't this wrong, shouldn't this be about 18 MP for A3 and about 35MP for A2 ?

Kindest regards,

Max@Home

0 upvotes
JimTinCT
By JimTinCT (10 months ago)

Funny, my biggest concern with deciding on how many megapixels to use was not mentioned in the article. i.e., whether I will be sharing the photo online or via text or email.

0 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (10 months ago)

". If you want to crop the photos – especially if your camera lacks an optical zoom – there’s no upper limit to the number of megapixels that might be useful."

Sorry, this is wrong. You are enlarging the aberrations of the lens, diffraction softening, etc. While there is no theoretical limit, there is certainly a practical one.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

let's say that when we look at our loved ones closely, there may be more than 3MPix covering less than 1/3 of the face (the exact number can vary but let's say 10MPix for "chin up") .

then it's about 6% of the frame area for a portrait like Mona Lisa or we need 10 / 0.06 = 160MPix so that one can go close and look at the photo as if he were looking at his loved woman sitting infront of him "knees against knees."

just one example, not a demanding one. it's physically viable for we can see it with naked eyes.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 13 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (10 months ago)

One thing that improves cell phone pictures is having lots and lots of flat light.

2 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

you could have reduced your sentence by 2 words

1 upvote
Harry Adam
By Harry Adam (10 months ago)

300ppi is a fallacy for inkjet printing - but not for magazine printing. The reason is simple - mags print using half-tone dots in a regular array. The eye is brilliant at seeing patterns and at less than 300 dpi, the linear array becomes visible. Inkjet printer, on the other hand are far more sophisticated and dither. I have taken a 5mp (Oly E-1) picture and printed out at 360 ppi, saved the file, resized to 250 ppi, printed out at the same size, and down to 180 ppi again printing out at the same size. Pro photographers cannot distinguish the images, despite the smallest file containing 1/16 of the information of the original. What the inkjet software does to your file behind the scenes is the issue. For pretty much most amateur photographic uses, 5MP is more than enough. Selling to magazines is another issue.

0 upvotes
Vallkar
By Vallkar (10 months ago)

150ppi is good enough for printing photos. 300ppi is carried over from the pre-press industry and you are right it does not apply to printing photos by inkjet or even by photo-labs.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

Neither of you care much about printing I see.

There are pretty obvious reasons for printing beyond 300dpi.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

it says ppi, not dpi. it depends on the printer but 300ppi could mean 1200dpi or much more.

300dpi is the number from commercial printers which are quite coarse. on the other hand, 300ppi, if printed well, is about the limit of retina resolution (like 326ppi iPhone, 344ppi is also a popular number).

anyway, print is not a good format for photograph for low contrast, low gradient, and unstable color. it's a choice of availabe technology for long time though.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

yak,

Okay you have a point, I missed the "ppi".

Right, yes many printers print at say 1200dpi, or even 4800dpi.

And all I all I was saying is that starting with a resolution in the data file beyond 300ppi can be helpful.

My printer won't really recognize files beyond about 720ppi, even though it can lay down ink in drops much much finer than that.

1 upvote
Rick Knepper
By Rick Knepper (10 months ago)

More MPs is always better if one likes to capture detail. Not sure why DPR felt there was a need for an article about MPs or why they decided to quantify a ridiculously low number for general purpose photography. The problem with cameras in cell phones is not the MPs, but the size of the sensor and the folks who use them and wouldn't know good IQ if it slapped them in the face.

3 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (10 months ago)

That's why I like the upgrade
We pick Lumia 920 and a typical 1/3" sensor
The new Lumia 1020 has 2/3" sensor
which means 4 times the area
Then you go for the u4/3 which is again 4x area
Finally FF = 8/3" gain 4x area of micro 4/3"
Each time the difference is HUGE
So the best thing about the Lumia 1020
is not only the zoom and re-frame and pixel fusion and OIS and Pro Camera software and full 38Mpx images, but simply the size of the sensor
Now
with the MS money bring a huge bulge phone Lumia 1620 and a 4/3" sensor. Yeah!
(I would even like the Nikon 1" intercganeable option)
more! More! MORE ! *M*O*R*E*

area

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

more area yes, the aperture area.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (10 months ago)

Rick--

My 2001 4M Canon G2, at base ISO, will beat for image quality almost any smartphonecam, with the possible exception of the new Sony or the Nokia.

In fact because of noise problems more pixels does NOT always mean more detail, except when shooting at base ISO.

Then there's the whole smartphones only shoot jpeg which means lost details.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Frederik Paul
By Frederik Paul (10 months ago)

The majority of people needs 3 MP, max 6 MP. That would be DIN 4A at 300 ppi or roughly 8x10". Even 3 MP is okay for that size.

0 upvotes
RichardBalonglong
By RichardBalonglong (10 months ago)

In reality, those photographs taken using those different smartphones will just end up at sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. where the megapixel counts is ignored...

1 upvote
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (10 months ago)

That's why the zoom should go down to a quarter of the 720p eg. 640x360 oe even smaller!
Let the (social) user decide the zoom minimum!

1 upvote
Alpha Whiskey Photography
By Alpha Whiskey Photography (10 months ago)

My 3 year old Nokia N8 still takes excellent photos and seems to be perfectly capable to me. Image quality is perhaps also defined by the creativity of the user... :)

http://alphawhiskey.slickpic.com/photoblog/post/RAFMuseumByPhoneInBW

2 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

the n8 was and still is an excellent camera. In ideal scenes, ie daylight landscapes the resolution and pixel quality is really quite impressive.

0 upvotes
deep7
By deep7 (10 months ago)

Great article. The conclusion is dead right too!

2 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (10 months ago)

It looks like the Lumia 1020 is the only barely acceptable camera phone. (or Nokia 808)
I'd like the MS Nokia to offer in 16:9 format:
1MP 720p - even this is overkill for the web
2MP 1080p - nice to see on a Full HDTV
4MP 1440p - monitor size
8MP 2160p - UHD, the new standard = 4xHDTV
This way you could directly view the photo on a dedicated monitor/TV
ALSO with pixel pinning or super sampling one can have a slightly less inferior IQ when comparing to a FF/APS-C

1 upvote
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

the 808 although old and out of date, still has a pro over the 1020, which for me is crucial for landscape photography, and that is corner sharpness. The large sensor combined with smaller optics in the 1020 has proven itself in the new dp studio comparison that it has the softest corners, even when compared to the meager iPhone 5 and latest iphone 5s.

0 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (10 months ago)

CORRECT PLEASE
A3 print at 300ppi 4,960 x 3,5081 8MP
A2 print at 300ppi 7,016 x 4,9603 5MP
=>
A3 print at 300ppi 4,960 x 3,5081 18MP
A2 print at 300ppi 7,016 x 4,9603 35MP

2 upvotes
HubertChen
By HubertChen (10 months ago)

The downside for more MP must be considered also!

More MP means larger files. Larger files means slower shot to shot times when taking pictures. This might cause you to loose the great shot, because your cameras was not yet ready to take it as it was still writing on the unnecessary big file of the previous shot.

Large files mean also longer transfer times from mobile to your PC. It means more Disk space, more loading time in your image processor, more time for post processing. It means longer time to upload your images, more time for your readers to download them. And for your backup it means longer time to run them and more costs for your backup medium, as they are unnecessary large.

Considering that most people never use > 2 MP (viewing your picture full screen on a HD resolution display), they all suffer from the penalties of large files with no return of investment of their sufferings.

I think an Article is in order to show users that there is a choice.

1 upvote
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

Shot to shot times is important, , hence why most high end mobile cameras use buffers that allows for better shot to shot time.

0 upvotes
HubertChen
By HubertChen (10 months ago)

Great Article. This was long overdue and kudos to connect to do it whereas many other sites with similar responsibilities to their readers do chicken out.

Typo in the resolution table for paper sizes: Please fix the MP values for A3 and A2.

Also for reference, most Artists consider 240 ppi to be sufficient. In my experience A4=6MP, A3=12MP and A2=24MP works great. These numbers can be easily remembered and prints with these resolution will hold up most critical scrutiny in the real world, provided they are executed well.

I wish this understanding that 8MP is more than enough would also sink in with pocket camera manufacturers. I would always pick a 4 MP compact with a larger dynamic range (less burned out highlights) and lower noise and with a sharp and bright lens over today's compacts.

0 upvotes
Hulamike
By Hulamike (10 months ago)

Guess I'll ask the Hawaii State Art Museum (HISAM) to return my
large format (24"x36") LG flip phone inkjet print they purchased in 2007. Sounds like its supposed to be impossible to make a commercially viable product with it, let alone one of today's smart phones.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (10 months ago)

Why is Connect still trying to impinge on us the idea that smartphones are a viable alternative to a decent camera? Look at those 4 pictures of the girl: they're ridiculous! Their lack of quality is embarrassing. The Nokia fares a bit better, but that greenish hue is disgusting. Even the landscape above, which is quite acceptable, has clipped highlights. Besides, people who take snaps with smartphones can't be bothered with all that tech talk. They just want to make casual, unpretentious shots, that's all. And that's fine with me. Just don't pretend these things are competent cameras, because they aren't.

3 upvotes
Jacques Cornell
By Jacques Cornell (10 months ago)

Those are tiny crops out of a much larger frame.

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (10 months ago)

So what? They're still appalling. A half-decent camera would do a much better job.

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

you sound just like those people who call mirrorless cameras half-decent because they believe only APS-C or larger cameras are competent enough to retain highlights and do a much better job

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (10 months ago)

That's because I am! The fact that I have an Olympus E-P1 doesn't detract me from saying so.
Seriously, there's very little to tell APS-C and micro 4/3 apart. You need to go full frame to see significant differences. That's because Sony did a superb job with the latest 4/3 sensors they made for Olympus.
Still there's nothing to match full-frame in terms of dynamic range and depth of field - apart from medium and large formats. And don't get me started about the advantage of 35mm film in dynamic range over full frame sensors...

0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

True but as technology improves, there wil come a time when mobile phones with smaller sensors will match up with m43, apc-c or full frame. An example of tech progress. There was a time ISO 800 on aps-c was considered too noisy to descent prints. Todays APS-C and m43 can easily capture ISO 800 and even 1600 capturing detail with less noise.

0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (10 months ago)

Bigley Ling: small sensors performing like full frame would not be technical progress: that would be a miracle! That would be akin to trying to sit 40 people in a 2+2 convertible.

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (10 months ago)

it's very easy to put a large sensor in a large body just as it would be easy to design a bus to carry 40 people. but it remains that a convertible is a competent transportation for certain people, just as cameras in phones are decent enough for some people. if all you want to drive around in is a bus then the problem is with you, not the car.

1 upvote
GraemeF
By GraemeF (10 months ago)

This may be slightly controversial, but in good light mobile phone cameras can produce reasonable images. As soon as the light levels drop and the ISO increases, those minuscule pixels produce noise in abundance. Who uses a phone camera for serious photography anyway? I only use mine for quick snapshots when it's not convenient or appropriate to carry a DSLR.....

5 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

It is getting better though, with the likes of the 1020, you can shoot usable images at iSO800, and know the detail to noise ratio is still relatively good.

1 upvote
mikesco
By mikesco (10 months ago)

For typical photos 300 dpi is overkill. Many photo labs only have equipment that prints at either 240 or 256 dpi. It is rare for 210 dpi not to give great results and with larger prints you can often get away with 180 - 150 dpi.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
bartjeej
By bartjeej (10 months ago)

Agreed. This 300ppi myth really ought not be spread even further. It only makes sense at close viewing distances - say the distance you'd read a book at - since human vision simply isn't sharp enough to discern 300ppi at longer distances. And the larger the print, the longer the viewing distance. 10 sharp megapixels is enough for prints of just about any size, provided you're interested in the overall image and don't press your nose against the paper for maximum detail in one specific part of a large print.

0 upvotes
grfs
By grfs (10 months ago)

Diffraction being the biggest problem with small pixel wells, why don't you mention it?

1 upvote
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

I think that is why there is no variable aperture or drop in aperture rings for these high megapixel smartphones

1 upvote
SergioMO
By SergioMO (10 months ago)

I think this article is more to justify the lack of capacity of the iphone to upgrade to a better camera.If you consider that most photographers use iphone. Nokia shines in 808 and 1020 , as the S4 and LG G2 and so on with 13Mpx. Better sensor etc with more mpx counts ! See phase One iQ180 80mpx and others.

4 upvotes
Jacques Cornell
By Jacques Cornell (10 months ago)

How big are you printing? In an 8"x12" print, you'd be hard-pressed to see any difference over 8MP, and it's possible to make highly detailed 16"x24" prints from a clean 10MP file. For my purposes, 8MP is all I want from a phone camera, and I'd be happier with 5MP if it gave me less noise in low light.

1 upvote
SergioMO
By SergioMO (10 months ago)

"By K_Photo_Teach (22 hours ago)
People don`t just look at photos anymore like a static printed object. They are viewed on computers and zoomed in and out on a computer. " - That´s it !

2 upvotes
Mister J
By Mister J (10 months ago)

I have no trouble in producing saleable prints at A3+ from my iPhone 4S, that's at 150dpi, at which my Epson R3000 produces excellent images.

I guess it would be nice to run up to A2 without interpolation, but most buyers are happy with the present size, bearing in mind a frame takes the hanging object to around the 40 x 50cm mark.

As for the megapixel race, it's little different to horsepower in cars or computer chip speeds - people like numbers.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS
By JEROME NOLAS (10 months ago)

5 Mpx is enough for everyone...

0 upvotes
viking79
By viking79 (10 months ago)

For iPhone 5, diffraction limit is 7MP for its f/2.4 lens and 4.54 x 3.42mm sensor, any more than that is absolutely meaningless. Lumia 1020 is diffraction limited to 31MP. The S4 is about 8.6 MP.

Honestly, people shouldn't shop MP on cameras, the manufacturer should choose a MP just above the diffraction limit of the lens (assuming lens can actually resolve well enough). I would rather see manufacturers focusing on better large aperture lenses or larger sensors, either will give more resolving power than more MP alone.

3 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

f/2.2 limited resolution is about 1.8 MPix per square mm, 1.4 to 1.5 times more for Bayer sensors. sensor area of iPhone 5s is about 18mm2 (if 1.5um pitch) then we get 1.8 x 1.4 x 18 = 45 MPix.

but pixel count is not for resolution only. it may go way beyond diffraction limit for better image quality in SNR, dynamic range, etc.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 14 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
christylewis
By christylewis (10 months ago)

as many pixels as possible with acceptable noise performance
they surely need to upgrade the sensor technology

2 upvotes
Bjorn_L
By Bjorn_L (10 months ago)

type-o
It is:
A3 print at 300ppi 4,960 x 3,5081 8MP
A2 print at 300ppi 7,016 x 4,9603 5MP

It should be:
A3 print at 300ppi 4,960 x 3,508 18MP
A2 print at 300ppi 7,016 x 4,960 35MP

5 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

print is no more than a form of presentation using available technology thus is not relevant to the nature of the issue.

one thing related to print maybe "retina resolution" or about 0.07mm at close distance of 10 inch. we cannot see smaller because we cannot focus nearer. otherwise we won't have to talk about dpi or per cm, per mm at all.

we better talk angle of view (like 50mm equiv. or 46 degrees diagonal), angle of presentation (like 110 degrees for a wide screen), and angular resolution (like 1 arcminute standard vision).

Comment edited 53 seconds after posting
1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

8K was chosen as a result of study of our eyes in angles that a person with 20/20 normal vision will barely see pixels of a 8K display viewed at 110 degrees wide.

then 8K may be similar to A2 if one insists thinking in paper size but 8K or 16K displays we are going to have may be 2-8 times larger in area than A0.

1 upvote
HubertChen
By HubertChen (10 months ago)

Prints for Display and Displays for watching movies shall be considered to have different resolution. On a Movie Display you will take in the scene at once, thus the method described above is appropriate. On a large print on display the view may choose to spend more time with the picture. To come close and examine it for more details. If the picture is of significant higher resolution, it will hold up such detailed examination and that will impress the viewer. Thus more pixel for print is OK. Keep in mind it requires excellent equipment and very skillful craftsmanship to really make use of more than 8 MP.

0 upvotes
gerard boulanger
By gerard boulanger (10 months ago)

So... considering the existing devices, going further than 3 M pixels makes no sense.
I strongly believe manufacturers should stop the pixels race (we can't even display/share) and work on the IQ, especially in low light conditions
A slightly larger sensor and better optics on a 5-6 Mpixels could provide much better IQ, but... most "smart phone" consumers are still in the pixels race unfortunately.

0 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (10 months ago)

HTC did that, it is comparable in low light to cameras with 3 times more pixels on the same surface. In good light, it lags behind.

2 upvotes
wansai
By wansai (10 months ago)

yeahp HTC tried that already. It works well for low light. The only problem was, it tended to lose out on detail and the pixel binning of the 41 mp Nokias seem like the most novel approach to solving this problem. There's really only so much you can do at those camera sizes you have to look at really off-the cuff ideas to overcome certain limitations.

1 upvote
mckracken88
By mckracken88 (10 months ago)

those 38 mb from the nokia look really bad compared to the D800. Even at iso100.

I would never use a phone camera.

1 upvote
hesbehindyou
By hesbehindyou (10 months ago)

And you'd never fit a DSLR in your pocket either.

6 upvotes
Ken Rocket
By Ken Rocket (10 months ago)

steepy article, poor readers

3 upvotes
Frank_BR
By Frank_BR (10 months ago)

"debates about pixel density will surely go on forever"
-----------------------------------------

People count pixels because they can. In the film age, nobody counted how many grains there were in a frame because it was clearly an impossible task.

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

we can still "count" in a statistical manner.

0 upvotes
PHolveck
By PHolveck (10 months ago)

Diffraction drastically limits the image quality for small sensors. Because of diffraction any picture point creates on the sensors instead of one single point, one circle of confusion. The diameter of this circle may be much larger than the sensor pixel size in the case of small sensors. This is the reason why increasing the number of pixel beyond some MP, thus reducing their size, is useless (except for marketing purpose).

0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (10 months ago)

Since the effects of diffraction are quantifiable and can be expressed by a formula, It should be possible to make software to reduce or counteract these effects.
If diffraction is a major problem, I'd be surprised if the image processing in smart phones doesn't already do this.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (10 months ago)

You cannot "counteract" softening. If you could, we would all be shooting with UWAs on 2mp bodies, from vibrating platforms.

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (10 months ago)

The effects of gravity are also quantifiable and can be expressed by a formula. So where's my anti-gravity car?

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (10 months ago)

I don't really see this as a useful question. Why not ask "How much quality do you want?" or even better, "How much quality will you sacrifice for convenience?"

As for why megapixel count has become wrapped up in controversy, that's simple--numbers. Is twelve twice as good as six? It must be, because twelve costs more.

0 upvotes
Bill T.
By Bill T. (10 months ago)

In photographic circles we sort of got over the megapixel obsession. Now it looks like phones have taken over that disease. I guess there is still a good supply of bumpkins who fall for the magapixel thing.

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
xmeda
By xmeda (10 months ago)

6mpix is way enough for that tiny sensor and plastic optics

2 upvotes
pdcm
By pdcm (10 months ago)

Taking a risk that I may upset just about everybody here (including the article's writer and dpreview itself) I must comment that there are many on here who don't appear to have a clue on what they are talking about. And, dare I suggest that the article's writer has not made things as clear as he should either. What really surprises me is that I would have expected most of the site's readers to be more aware than what they have shown here. Some posters appear to be complicating rather simple truths in order to make themselves appear to be more knowledgeable than they are. The article's writer does not at least do this and gets most of it right and has just left out some stuff that would have clarified things.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 221
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