Can we all agree that 100Mp is enough for anyone? And that larger pixels are better pixels?
Have you ever compared modern, high-resolution files at 100% to older, lower-resolution, photos at 100%? The comparison is not always flattering for the more recent offerings.
You might question the purpose of looking at a file at 100%, but my reply would question the goal of high-resolution cameras if all that resolution isn’t really used.
Because, that’s a real issue. It’s extremely rare that the theoretical resolution on offer is actually fully exploited by the lens/technique combo producing the file. Particularly with the higher density sensors in recent hi res cameras.
Let’s look at the advantage of lower-resolution files for a minute :
All of these are time/money savers and significantly better for the environment. Plus lower res is kinder to older lenses, which tend to have more charm than newer ones, and less stringent on AF precision, data throughput in the camera.
Now, what are the benefits of higher resolution?
Some users of 24Mp FF cameras swear it is the ideal compromise. Not ever having owned such a camera, I cannot comment on this. But the mesmerizing quality of *some* Leica SL2-S photographs, in the hands of excellent photographers, do lend this theory some credibility. Those files look more film-like than anything else I’ve seen produced by a CMOS machine. And the recent trend of offering lower res files in the latest high-res machines is noteworthy as well (although it seems those lower resolution modes fail to deliver the promise of higher quality, presumably because assembling tiny pixels ain’t the same as shooting large pixels from the start).
Yet, for the rest of us, nursed on high-count megapixel digital files, the 24Mp turkey might be too cold to handle. Withdrawal symptoms could rob us of the joy of shooting, at least initially.
Here’s where upsampling comes in.
No, upsampling 24 to 48 is not the same as capturing 48 in the first place. Lost information cannot be invented in PP. But this brings us back to the initial question: have you compared 24Mp and 48Mp files at 100%? Upsampling from a tack sharp image might not be far behind the slightly mushy high-res image. Just sayin’ …
Besides, a whole wagon of new upsampling apps, powered by AI, is now available to us. This article alone lists 7 beyond those included in software such as Lightroom.
Here’s the kicker: each of these has its own look. Meaning you can incorporate upsampling in your creative process. It won’t have as big an impact as choosing a different lens design, but it’s not to be sniffed at.
Just for fun, here’s what the neutral enhancer in Lightroom does on one of my X1D images. The first image is the whole frame. The second is a 200% crop of the enhanced (equivalent to 200 Mp) image. Is that significantly worse than what your standard files look like at 100%? A 24Mp file upsampled to 100Mp would look as good.
There’s been this downsizing trend in architecture, and other areas of our lives, recognizing – finally – the difference between quantity and quality. More is not always better.
Now that the megapixel race seems over, how about a race back to the future, offering cameras with all modern trimmings, all the bells and whistles (IBIS, AF, ISO …) but not the nefarious resolution?
I’m looking at you, Hasselblad. How about an X3D with the fantastic IBIS of the X2D, all the cool modes, the improved colour science and … 40Mp, if you can find such a sensor in someone’s parts bin? Higher DR, better AF, smaller files, smaller buffer, the best tech combined to larger, much laaaarger pixels! Sony ain’t the only sensor maker out there …
Here’s hoping for quality to finally get its revenge on quantity. I’m not saying all cameras should be lower res. Only that not all of them should be hi res. Give us a choice.
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