If you’re a photographer, the internet has been polluted with people eager to spend money on either the new D800 or 5D. Both are reasonable upgrades but for the most part, Nikon and Canon has a similar fan base to Apple in which everyone complains what’s missing, but they’ll still line up to buy it. But that’s beside the point.
The D800 comes with a resolution of 38 million pixels and while there are for sure people that can use and need every bit of that, those people are not the average user. I don’t even think Canon makes an slr under 18 MP now. Marketing tells us bigger is better.
I’ll go on record by saying that I want as much resolution as I can possibly get. You never know when an agency will call and in the stock world, pricing is determined by use and size. But regardless of what the market desires, how much is actually necessary for most use cases?
Today’s Image – Covehead Lighthouse
Here is an image that I’ve shared before on my old blog as well as in my portfolio. It’s special for a couple reasons. For starters, it was made at 3:30am in the National Park during a meteor shower. It was a great all night marathon that I remember well. To top that off, Parks Canada eventually requested a license to use this image for their 100th anniversary campaign featuring a different National Park across Canada for each hour of the day. Shockingly, the 2am to 5am slot was hard to fill. :-)
The point about resolution is that this photo was created with the original Canon 5D. It has a total of 12 MP of resolution but I lost some of that due to cropping and horizon straightening. The final print still measured 5 feet wide and found it’s home in both Ottawa and Toronto with a very close viewing distance.
Here are a few photos from that exhibit.
Above: Photos provided to me from Parks Canada Staff of the setup. This was on display for the better part of 2011 on the Plaza Bridge near Parliament. The exhibit was 24 large displays representing each hour of the day covering each province from coast to coast to celebrate 100 years of Parks Canada.
Below: The same 24 images were also on display in the skywalk connecting the CN Tower to the Rogers Center. This very cool wide shot was sent to me from Melina Stathopoulos. (Thank you to all the others that sent me photos or tagged photos of the two displays on Facebook).
Pushing the Limits to the Extreme
Fast forward to this year and the city of Summerside has really been shinning with the events being attracted to The CUP. A friend and event photographer, Kevin Molyneaux shoots with a Canon 1D sporting a sensor size of “only” 10 MP. This giant print on the side of the arena must be 2-3 stories tall but not only did that come from 10 MP – it was created from a heavily cropped image. In fact, the final resolution that was sent to the printer measured in at only 1 MP. Shocked? Yes. Would it pass for fine art? No. Does it still look great from a distance? Absolutely.
Above: The 11×27 foot poster as it appears on the side of the arena.
Below: The source file to demonstrate the crop. The actual number of final pixels used was 940,000. Or approximately 1400×660 pixels. If we do the PPI math on that, the print resolution is 22 total pixels per square inch. A measurement of 5 DPI!
Ok, now back to the fictitious megapixel war.