Breaking the Myth of Megapixels - from New York Times

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by atlanticza, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. atlanticza macrumors 6502a

    atlanticza

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    #1
    For those who may have missed it...

    Breaking the Myth of Megapixels

    "... But one myth is so deeply ingrained, millions of people waste money on it every year. I’m referring, of course, to the Megapixel Myth. It goes like this: “The more megapixels a camera has, the better the pictures.” It’s a big fat lie. The camera companies and camera stores all know it, but they continue to exploit our misunderstanding. Advertisements declare a camera’s megapixel rating as though it’s a letter grade, implying that a 7-megapixel model is necessarily better than a 5-megapixel model..."

    Complete article here

    Print friendly version here
     
  2. KJmoon117 macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Yess finally!! (Although I did not read the article) I'm glad that the consumer being informed of this myth that the industry puts out.

    -I'll start reading the article now haha-
    Wait damn, NYTimes wants me to register to view the article. Does any one know how to get around this other than registering?
     
  3. jimothyGator macrumors regular

    jimothyGator

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    #3
    NY Times Registration

    Easiest way is to clear your NYT cookies. In Safari, go to Preferences, Security, Show Cookies. In the search box, enter "nytimes". Select all the rows (click on any row, then hit command-A), and click Remove (not Remove All!). This'll remove all the NYT cookies but leave your others.

    Apparently, NYT will let you read a number of articles before requiring you to register. Clearing your cookies makes it "forget" that you've read any articles yet.

    Another option is bugmenot.com, but the accounts posted there frequently go dead, so clearing cookies is easier.
     
  4. ftaok macrumors 603

    ftaok

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    #4
    Very good article.

    As for a quick and easy, single spec (or combination of specs) to compare cameras, I would suggest using either of the following. Maybe the camera manufacturers will start making this information more easily found.

    1. Sensor size - I think most will agree that generally, the larger the sensor, the better.

    2. For zoom P&S cameras, the focal length (normalized to 35mm equiv) is much more informative than a straight "number X" zoom. I'd rather have a 28-280, 20x zoom than a 35-350 10x zoom. To me, the wide angle is more useful. For others, maybe the 350mm end would be more useful. As it is now, most consumers see 10x and think they're equal.
     
  5. sanPietro98 macrumors 6502a

    sanPietro98

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    #5
    Thanks for recommending this article. I've been in the market for a new camera and this helped me overcome one of my stumbling blocks.
     
  6. Chappers macrumors 68020

    Chappers

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    #6
    I'm glad someone is trying to get the message out - but I think the manufactures are beginning to slow the race for mega-pixels. People are beginning to notice you don't get better pictures.

    They've started adding features instead - like face recognition.

    I wanted to upgrade my 6X zoom Fuji S304 (3mp) - I saw a 6mp 3X zoom Fuji point and shot and was told it would produce about the same quality picture as it had double the mega-pixels. It lasted 16 hours before I took it back convinced there was a fault with the camera.

    Having researched further I discovered the mega-pixel myth and decided to buy a dSLR (6mp) and a £50 Samsung (6mp) point and shoot.
     
  7. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #7
    Finally? Seriously, this has not only been a topic that is discussed to great extent in every photography forum, photography magazine, digital photography class, and so forth, but it is nothing new.

    Fact: No matter what you tell someone about megapixels, they're going to go for the numbers.

    There is some math and probably some science involved in megapixels, censor size, how they correlate and so forth. How a 12 MP small sensor camera (point and shoot) will undoubtedly created more noise than a larger censor DSLR. It's all about how many pixels are being crammed on the sensor.

    Must be a slow day at NYT. ;)
     
  8. Le Big Mac macrumors 68020

    Le Big Mac

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    #8
    Another solution is for the poster (any poster) to link to the "print friendly" version of the article, which is not password protected.
     
  9. goodmorning macrumors member

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    Minneapolis
    #9
    Agreed! Though this was published on Feb 8, 2007...

    DPReview has started posting "Pixel Density" as a spec on their reviews.
     
  10. wightstraker macrumors regular

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    Dec 18, 2007
  11. goinskiing macrumors 6502a

    goinskiing

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    #11
    Oy, I can't stand these little CCD sensors that are packing in 12+ MP, it is ridiculous. The quality on those are shoddy at best and the sensitivity and DR are completely terrible. I like a good ratio of sensor size and MP count on CMOS (for now anyway). You get quick response, good DR, excellent noise control for all sensitivities. I could go on, but it's nice to point out that its not all about MP. Now getting your run-of-the-mill-lets-buy-a-digital-camera-at-wal-mart consumer to believe this may never happen.
     
  12. KJmoon117 macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Nah it's just that now I have a credible source to give to my friends to tell them the real truth. They keep correlating higher the mpx the better the image quality, what I try telling them is that the sensor size is different such.

    Sure, I learned about this a while ago but the fact that I have a source like NYT and an article that simplifies it makes it a "finally", in my case. ;)
     
  13. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    #13
    High MP rating is important for those that like to crop/compose their shots later in Photoshop.
    ie: within every 10MP photo, there are several perfectly composed 5MP compositions.
    5MP is more than sufficient for normal printing requirements.
    I frequently find myself doing this with vacation photos.

    The MP rating, by itself, says virtually nothing about the actual quality of the Image, though.

    BTW, the "MP myth" with digital cameras correlates nicely with the "wattage myth" associated with audio amplifiers.
    The visual/audio perceptions are on similar logarithmic scales.
    ie: Most people believe that if they double the amplifier wattage, the maximum available SPL will also double.
    Not true.

    for example:
    1db = smallest unit of SPL perceptable by the human ear.
    3db = smallest easily percieved change in SPL.
    6db = perception of significant change in SPL.
    10db = doubling of apparent SPL.

    3db = doubling of wattage. ie: (50watts(17dbw) vs 100watts(20dbw) audibly "slightly louder".
    6db = quadrupling of wattage. ie: (50watts(17dbw) vs 200watts(23dbw) audibly "much louder".
    10db = 10x wattage. ie: (50watts(17dbw) vs 500watts(27dbw) audibly "twice as loud".

    Applying this to MP:
    12MP camera = +3db relative to a 6MP camera.
    Which correlates fairly well (and dovetails nicely with the wattage analog) with the visual difference in detail between a 12MP image and a 6MP image; noticeable, but hardly significant.
     
  14. Lunaprk macrumors newbie

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    Orlando, Florida
    #14
    Megapixel Myth

    Thanks for posting that article. I'm bookmarking it so hopefully it stays up for awhile.

    I have "traded up" this year from a 5MP P&S (Sony Cybershot) to 10.1MP (Panasonic Lumix FX35) and while I see better detail in photos from my new camera, some images are sure enough, "noiseier."

    I have several 16x20" prints made from 5-6MP cameras that look just fine. I recently had this image printed at 16x20" and the colors are vibrant and the detail is fine to my eyes:

    http://att.macrumors.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=131256&stc=1&d=1219430475

    Whilst we have reached the limit of MPs vs overall image quality, I always would like more detail. So I guess the next step in digital photography is not megapixels, but larger or more efficient sensors. How will we comparison shop for such things?

    Mac Pro Dual Dual Core Xeon 2.66G
    PowerBook G4
    Ipod Touch 32GB
    Sony HDR-HC1
    Nikon D80/ 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
    Panasonic Lumix FX35/ DMW-MCFX35 Marine Case
     

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  15. snickelfritz macrumors 65816

    snickelfritz

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    #15
    dpreview usually posts the sensor size as well as the megapixel rating in their reviews.
    Notice that many camera MP "upgrades" are actually just using the same sensor with smaller (often noisier) photosites.
    For example, the Nikon D40x (10MP) uses the same sensor as the Nikon D40 (6MP).
    The D40 will *theoretically* take higher quality, although somewhat smaller, pictures than the D40x.
     
  16. Lunaprk macrumors newbie

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    Orlando, Florida
    #16
    Megapixel Myth

    Snickerfritz wrote:

    "dpreview usually posts the sensor size as well as the megapixel rating in their reviews"

    I just went over there are compared CCD sizes between my Nikon D80 and the D70.

    • 10.2 million effective pixels
    • 23.6 x 15.8 mm CCD (DX format)

    VS

    • 6.1 million effective pixel
    • 23.7 x 15.6 mm CCD (DX format)

    Sure enough, more MPs crammed in a similar sized CCD!

    Well, it will be some time before I shop for new P&S & DLSR bodies. I'm happy with what I have and will concentrate on taking better images and getting better glass.

    Mac Pro Dual Dual Core Xeon 2.66G
    PowerBook G4
    Ipod Touch 32GB
    Sony HDR-HC1
    Nikon D80/ 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
    Panasonic Lumix FX35/ DMW-MCFX35 Marine Case
     
  17. Lunaprk macrumors newbie

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    Orlando, Florida
    #17
    My apologies

    That's "snickelfritz"

    Excuse my newbie posts- even though I've been a lurker for years! At least I cleaned up my signature!
     

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