The NY Times (feb 14th) has an article which states (from their science writer) that megapixels mean nothing. Unless you are doing wall size prints you will get the same quality from a 6, 10 or 16 megapixel camera. Interesting article, what are you opinions?
Junk "science" of the worst kind.
I agree 100%, which is rare. Interesting these urban myths once they are born never want to die.
I want to say I think around 36 megapixels would be the so called equivelent to film.
Of coarse I heard this and haven't researched it yet.
Interesting, are these the same ones that say global warming has no effect either..
Just because one doesn't agree with something does not mean it is junk science. Also, his testing was aimed at the quality of the average home photographer, not professional level. His thesis bears validity in that the majority of people in his sample could not tell this difference in quantity level. This is the quintessential subjective method of study as opposed to objective which would onvolve the use of test equipment. Coming from a experimental scienc ebackground professionally, I can say that he did follow scientific methodology in the formation of his study.
You really have to be kidding if you are referring to the David Pogue NYT piece featuring a set of large prints put on display in NY. The subject of the prints of a very young child dressed in soft, fuzzy clothing, had nothing in the content of the image which would at all reveal any resolution differences. It was a deliberate hoax, and if not that it was based in extremely uncritical and unintelligently conceived "testing". The latter should not be imaginable from the tech guru of the New York Times. Just change the subject to a highly detailed landscape shot in daylight, and the differences in resolution would be extremely apparent in a set of 16x20 inch prints.
Junk science in my book is an effort to distort facts by using quasi "scientific" approaches, like the ones used in this article. This has nothing to do with whether or not I agree with the socalled "findings". Just because the average man in the street cannot see the difference, doesn't mean that there isn't a difference. It's acticles like these that mislead and dumb-down the uninitiated.
Reminds me of a study that concluded that the driver seat is the most dangerous seat in a car because most people that die in car accidents are in the driver seat. Another prime example of misleading the uninitiated.
Just today on the front page of the Oregonian Newpaper was a graph that purported to prove that cell-phone use increases the likelihood of traffic accidents; the graph showed a dramatic increase over the last 5 years or so of people injured/killed who were using a cell-phone at the time of the accident. They did not at all try to normalize this curve for the fact that cell-phone use has dramatically increased over the years. Even if cell-phone use would not have any impact on driving safety (something I am not claiming) the curve would go up steeply just because the percentage of drivers that do have and use their cell-phone while driving has gone up dramatically. So this curve proves absolutely NOTHING at all.
I agree completely with David and Frans on the lack of scientific validity. Looking at it from another aspect, the only thing the "test" has shown is that uncritical viewers will not see a difference in the prints. They are the ones who will buy 6MP cameras and be happy with them, just like the many people who were happy with Instamatics in the '70s. But you don't see their photos hanging in galleries or on the pages of magazines. David Pogue should try selling his theory to the editors of National Geographic or Arizona Highways, and see what kind of response he gets.
What keeps getting glossed over is that he aimed it towards what the regular person would be doing. Quite frankly, I don't see many in my area making prints above 8X10. More comman is a snapshot size printed off at Walmart or any other in store print center. Higher resolutions for them would not be as critical as it would be for someone taking pro quality photographs. His article was not even a new contention as I've come across other studies actually conducted in labs that would give credence to his hypothesis for the average snapshot user. It would seem then that professionals I know, incidentally who do get published in National Geographic since that seems to be the be all and end all, can't make high quality photos since they aren't using the highest pixel count cameras.
So what has been "proven" is that for snapshots you don't need more then a couple of megapixels. Wow.
You know, I kept my comments in a respectful tone. Snide remarks do nothing to further a person's contention or add to the veracity of their thoughts.
What was proven is that for the average person and user on the street, which I would say far outnumbers the pro level photographer, cameras outside the midrange do little to add or detract the quality of the photo. And that is the level of consumer Pogue addresses in his columns.
The veracity of my thoughts are mine to know and mine alone. Mr. Pogue has proven exactly what I said he did.
Then here would be a question in the same family as the parent. If more megapixels in and of itself is such a defining determiner of photo quality, would you tell a someone who uses a 12 megapixel Nikon professional camera that their photos are inherently lower quality than a pro who uses a 16 megapixel Canon? By contention, that is the inferred counter hypothesis that is being put forth. I use this example since a photographer I sometimes run into during crane migration was the last in his organization to switch from film to all digital and he uses all Nikon. So one would take from all this that his photos wouldn't be of the same quality as another photographer using a Canon.
You're getting way out on a limb here, but that's your issue, not mine. My last words on this subject: all that Mr. Pogue has "proven" is that for snapshots you don't need more then a couple of megapixels; nothing more, nothing less.
Exactly, and that's why besides choosing a subject that would not reveal much image content difference at any resolution, David Pogue chose a picture of a cute baby that most viewers would not look at critically anyway. So if you are feeling a bit abused for supporting a manipulation of the inherently unsophisticated consumer public, maybe it is deserved.
I think we can probably agree that Pogue's "test" is meaningless for a variety of reasons. Interestingly, folks here are a little late to the game on this. It'd been discussed on other fora over a month ago.
What is also true is that pixels are not equal. 10MP on a compact digicam is not the same as 6MP on a DSLR. So it is true that the bare number of pixels is not the determining factor in image quality. The Canon D30, released 6 or 7 years ago, was a 3.1MP camera but it was, and still is, considered to have some of the best pixels in a digital camera. Files from the D30 could be rezzed up with minimal quality loss because of the lack of noise and the smoothness of the image quality.
That's the megapixel myth: That any camera with a greater number of pixels will produce better images than any camera with fewer pixels. That's the marketing myth that manufacturers use to sell the general public on the product.
Quitely frankly I'm not feeling abused as you put it. I'm merely pointing out that if you take one stance then you must hold with the other. It never fails to amaze me when someone offers up a different point of view here sometimes that the result is to take the low road and cast disparagements. It seemed to me there was an opportunity to hold an excellent debate but in retrospect I see that maybe this is not possible.
It's one of those "hot button" topics, sort of like film v. digital, Republican v. Democrat, etc., guaranteed to elicit very polarized responses. There was a pretty heavy debate on this subject on photo.net a month or so ago, when the article first appeared (I couldn't find it again, so I didn't reference it earlier). The consensus there was the same as it's been here......
>>It seemed to me there was an opportunity to hold an excellent debate but in retrospect I see that maybe this is not possible.<<
I think that assumption ignores the reality. There really is nothing to debate when one side is a mathematically determined science based technology and the other side is a perceptual illusion. The proposition itself that "megapixels means nothing" is a deliberate dishonesty intended to suck in anyone who is ignorant of the particulars of digital image technology, which is most of the public. The reality is there is no basis for the "debate" that has ensued. But no one likes to be embarrassed by admitting ignorance so they sound offended by the tone of the discussion.
They certainly do not mean nothing, but they are one of quite a number of factors that determine print quality. However, they are the easiest factor to compare and thus used as the primary tool for marketing. Start talking more important factors like MTFs, and most eyes glaze over. Norm Koren does his best on his web-site and it is well worth giving a read - or at least an attempt at a read.
Understanding Digital Quality
Norm's site is terrific. He's got a lot of really good information there.
For a little more jaded look at the issue Ken Rockwell has a take on it as well.
I'd like to thank you for proving my point by calling me ignorant. I did no such thing in respect to you yet you apparently feel the need to do so. I understand perfectly the different apsects of each side as I've been involved in optics and photo research in the past. I simply thought an interesting discussion could be launched for those that come here not knowing about all the particulars as you just stated. Much of the general public thinks they have to engage in the megapixel race when that is not necessarily true. I'll take all this as meaning that isn't possible even though I have always enjoyed comments with Bill. Also, correct me if I'm wrong but last time I took some art classes, visual art is all about the perceptual appreciation. I could of course be wrong. So feel free to call me things again if you'd like, does nothing to me and only makes the accuser look smaller. With that, I'll abandon this subject since certain attitudes seem to be the only possibility and I have a serious lung illness I am fighting and even though I'd hoped this would be something to distract me from that I see that also is not possible. So congratulations for besting a currently bedridden person. Bill, certainly hope to have more positive exchanges like we did about Joel Sartore.
I re-read my post and I don't think I referred to you personally and specifically in my remarks. I am truly sorry however, I have spoiled your fun. But I do feel a certain responsibility to those who have been persuaded there is any reality in the idea "megapixels mean nothing", and who would then make serious buying decisions on that basis and be needlessly disappointed by reality.
I get e-mails almost every day and many of them from photographers just getting into digital who are very confused by some of the myths and legends that abound about digital photography. Although everyone has a right to their own opinions, that should not extend to either perpetrating or repeating a hoax that is misleading and not supported by fact. That just does needless harm. Technology has changed photography rapidly and made it hard enough for most to keep up and sufficiently informed, it just makes that challenge worse when a hoax is put out (by someone who should know the consequences) that makes the challenge even more difficult.
Sorry I also got a little bristly David. Haven't exactly had the best of weeks here lately especially when I'd hoped to be getting out and doing some early migration season photography. I was trying to come at the issue from the what I took as Pogue's take in that the typical person on the street believe's they have to go out and get the highest resolution camera they can similar to ones like many of us on this forum use. I've had to deal with several that think they have to go out and get one of the Eos' like mine to be able to take photos of junior playing in the backyard. That at least was my perspective from Pogue's article since I thought I remembered him mentioning that his contention would not apply in the pro level realm. I might be in error there with the 8 different meds the dang dr has me on right now. In case anyone else would like the advice, don't go out in 10-20 below zero weather to do some winter photography when you already know you are trying to fight off an illness. Although I must say I do enjoy being waited on like I have been.
I won't make you feel any the worse by describing today's weather here on the coast of California. I agree there is a lot of advertising hype and store selling pressure that tries to convince digital camera buyers need to get the latest, highest megapixel brand X digicam. But has that ever been different, not in the 50 some years I've made my living in photography? And I have to admit I wasted an awful lot of money in my early years because I had allowed myself to succumb and believe I really did need to have the latest and greatest model of this or that bit of equipment.
Now at 73 and some health issues too, I just look forward to feeling strong enough and getting out and shooting a few pictures. But mostly I find much of my time is spent in front of one or another of my computers, which I am thankful I can still do even if I can't get out with a camera like I used to.
Rather than be on one side of this or the other, I find the reality today is very few digital camera enthusiasts have the ability to print larger than letter size, and don't really want a print larger, so the 6 to 8 megapixel cameras are really quite enough to reproduce fine quality print images. And, that can be confirmed by a very simple formula and guidance from the range of image resolutions printer makers agree upon which is from a minimum of about 180dpi to not more than 300dpi.
Since I started this, I will get my 2 cents in. I think the NYTimes article did a diservice to photography. If he just wanted to say that 6megs works fine for the average Joe, he should have simply stated that. I am like many amateurs who knew the film world well thru many years of trial and error. I see the many advantages of the digital photographic process. I would hope that the NYTimes science writer would be more honest in his articles. To date, I have come to the conclusion that the Pentax 10k would best fit my needs; however, a very good knowledge of photoshop may be more important to my photography.
I would agree with your perspective, which is reasonable and practical. A 6 to 8 megapixel digital camera file will reproduce a good quality image on letter-size paper, which is as large as most people are interested in making according to consumer sales demand statistics. the main reason for going to a higher megapixel digital camera is to be able to make larger prints of equally good quality.