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What's too many MPs for a pocketable P&S?


Hi I'm trying to find the best P&S (as pocketable as possible) that would produce reasonable quality photos for printing in a magazine (45# stock, not Vogue-level). I need size 8.25" x 11" at 266dpi. At that size and resolution, an 8MP camera would give me very little cropping room (would require better framing). A 10MP camera would give me more cropping room at that dpi. And obviously, a 12MP camera would give me tons..

That is important only to the extent that I will be taking some photos from horseback, so meticulous framing could be a challenge..

I don't know much, but have been reading a LOT on this website and elsewhereenough to have a question about the "sweet spot" of MPs, which I read was somewhere around 6MP to 8MP, given the size sensors that come with any reasonably-pocketable P&S. (And that range could, or could not, be dated information)..

So here is my question. I've read that "cramming" 12mp into a sensor the size that you will get in even a higher end P&S is really pushing it. Now, would that apply if you had a 12mp camera (e.g., Canon SD950 IS or an A650 IS) but shot the photo at 8MP? In other words, does the mere existence of higher MP capability in a 12MP camera produce a noisier 8MP photo than a photo taken with an 8MP camera? (Assume all else is equal)..

I've read enough to start having questions that are beyond my ability to evaluate...

Comments (12)

It's a curly question because you intend to print big. In this instance I would ignore the MP altogether and just buy the camera that suits you best. The difference between 8, 10, 12 is SFA.***********************************************Please visit my gallery at http://www.pbase.com/alfisti.

Pentax Lens examples at http://www.pbase.com/alfisti/images_by_lens.

Updated May '08..

Comment #1

Alfisti wrote:.

It's a curly question because you intend to print big. In thisinstance I would ignore the MP altogether and just buy the camerathat suits you best. The difference between 8, 10, 12 is SFA.***********************************************Please visit my gallery at http://www.pbase.com/alfisti.

Pentax Lens examples at http://www.pbase.com/alfisti/images_by_lens.

Updated May '08.

What's SFA?..

Comment #2

Janjo wrote:.

What's SFA?.

Crude expression meaning "nothing at all"Richard..

Comment #3

The first word is sweet and the last "all" ... from there you can figure out the middle one..

Janjo wrote:.

Alfisti wrote:.

It's a curly question because you intend to print big. In thisinstance I would ignore the MP altogether and just buy the camerathat suits you best. The difference between 8, 10, 12 is SFA.***********************************************Please visit my gallery at http://www.pbase.com/alfisti.

Pentax Lens examples at http://www.pbase.com/alfisti/images_by_lens.

Updated May '08.

What's SFA?.

***********************************************Please visit my gallery at http://www.pbase.com/alfisti.

Pentax Lens examples at http://www.pbase.com/alfisti/images_by_lens.

Updated May '08..

Comment #4

Ah, okay. Somehow I don't think that's what it meant, but I get the idea.  .

Meanwhile, the 8, 10 or 12 actually does have relevance. At 266dpi with finished size 8.25 x 11, I get very little cropping room with an 8mp, some with a 10 and a lot with a 12..

So my question remains... if I got a 12mp camera (which, if shooting at full kick, would have lots of crammed in pixels), but then shot an 8mp photo with it, would there be any difference in resultant IQ from what I'd get with an 8mp camera, assuming all else is equal?.

To be specific, I read that the pixels themselves are necessarily smaller on a 12MP camera than they are on an 8MP camera. So I'm wondering if the pixel size of a 12MP camera STAYS smaller when shooting an 8MP photo; OR if the 12MP camera makes it's fewer (8M) pixels larger. If pixel SIZE matters (over and above the NUMBER of pixels) to the point where it was mentioned in the article, then that could be rather relevant in overall IQ differences between an 8MP photo shot with an 8MP camera, or an 8MP photo shot with an 8MP camera..

Thanks in advance should anyone else have any input, I'd much appreciate!Janjo..

Comment #5

Janjo wrote:.

Ah, okay. Somehow I don't think that's what it meant, but I get theidea.  .

Meanwhile, the 8, 10 or 12 actually does have relevance. At 266dpiwith finished size 8.25 x 11, I get very little cropping room with an8mp, some with a 10 and a lot with a 12..

So my question remains... if I got a 12mp camera (which, if shootingat full kick, would have lots of crammed in pixels), but then shot an8mp photo with it, would there be any difference in resultant IQ fromwhat I'd get with an 8mp camera, assuming all else is equal?.

To be specific, I read that the pixels themselves are necessarilysmaller on a 12MP camera than they are on an 8MP camera. So I'mwondering if the pixel size of a 12MP camera STAYS smaller whenshooting an 8MP photo; OR if the 12MP camera makes it's fewer (8M)pixels larger. If pixel SIZE matters (over and above the NUMBER ofpixels) to the point where it was mentioned in the article, then thatcould be rather relevant in overall IQ differences between an 8MPphoto shot with an 8MP camera, or an 8MP photo shot with an 8MPcamera..

Thanks in advance should anyone else have any input, I'd muchappreciate!Janjo.

Janjo in my experience it's quite hard to see much difference in quality above about 260 dpi, so from that point of view an 8mp camera would do you fine - unless you need to crop, in which case more MP gives you more leeway. The ranting against high-MP P&S cameras is based on the fact that cramming more pixels in usually means more 'noise' at a given ISO setting. This is offset to a degree by the fact that at a given print or reproduction size, the pixels (and the noise) in a high-MP image will be 'reduced' in size relative to the final image and therefore less visible. My understanding is when you shoot 8MP with a 12MP camera (say) the camera is simply remapping the image internally in software, doing rather crudely what Photoshop (or whatever) would probably do better..

In reality I would imagine anything from 8mp upwards would do you fine, and you are better off making your decision on the basis of lens quality, speed of performance and other considerations..

If your magazine needs 266 dpi and you end up with only 240 or something, after cropping, just resample the image up a bit in your image editing programme. People often seem to have a thing about dpi figures (300 dpi has a sacred quality to some people), but it's usually not based on an actual assessment of the image they are looking it..

I'm not sure that helps, but good luck.tim..

Comment #6

Janjo wrote:.

In other words,does the mere existence of higher MP capability in a 12MP cameraproduce a noisier 8MP photo than a photo taken with an 8MP camera?(Assume all else is equal)..

I think the answer is yes, but ....

One 'but' is that technology is always improving, so that the pics coming out of my 10MP Pentax Optio A30 P&S are much better at a given print size than those from my 4MP (and much bulkier) Canon S45. Plus, don't fall all into the trap of comparing noise at 100% pixel size on your screen - you should compare it at the same image size (see my other post).tim..

Comment #7



Hi Tim Thanks for both your posts. I've used files that are lower DPI than 266, and things start going downhill. As for re-sampling upward in Photoshop, I've done it and have not been wow'd with the results. I didn't do it a lot... I mean I didn't try to take a 10MP file and turn it into a 30, lol. But I'm nervous about relying on that too much..

My question about the size pixels was somewhat an academic one (translated to mean "just very curious,") but since the article made a definite point out of pixel size, it became a question that I not only wanted to know for curiosity, but also because I'm looking for a camera that has as little noise as possible if I get stuck shooting at 200 or higher ISO. Unfortunately, anything above 200ISO in the reviews I've read on the cameras I'm hoping to choose from (and I've read likely 50+ in the last week!) all of them start mentioning noise beyond that ISO. In sample gallery photos, I've seen it also..

On an optimistic note, I also did read that you will see more noise on computer monitor than you will in print. (I don't know if they're talking about a print you'd get at Costco or a print you'd end up with after it's gone through digital prepress and/or whatever other magic they inflict on things.).

You mentioned to look more at lens and performance, and I'd LOVE to do that, except I don't know one lens from the other. As for performance, much shutter lag (where I hit "Fire" and a long delay later, it shoots a photo of my knee) would be crazymaking. I can't count on horse to hold still for a lot of shutter lag..

I'm guessing you know lenses and performance so any recommendations?.

My limitations:.

Ideally as pocketable as possible (doesn't have to be teensy)Image Stabilization a must, and red-eye correction close second.Has to be able to be shot with one hand (I gotta hold reins with the other)Less than perfect light with as little noise as possible a big, big plus.Manual focus override could be Mecca.I hate blown out highlights.Emergency view-finder really nice, even if typically substandard..

Video - really nice of them to include it, and I have no doubt I would LOVE it, but here's where I can give..

Price - I'm willing to spend more to get more. If a camera is half again what it's peers cost, but it comes with a superior lens and performance, it's has my attention..

You are very nice to explain in such articulate terms, taking into account that I only know enough to be dangerous to myself.Thanks,Janjo..

Comment #8

Janjo wrote:.

Hi Tim Thanks for both your posts. I've used files that are lowerDPI than 266, and things start going downhill..

That's about where it does start going downhill!.

As for re-samplingupward in Photoshop, I've done it and have not been wow'd with theresults. I didn't do it a lot... I mean I didn't try to take a 10MPfile and turn it into a 30, lol. But I'm nervous about relying onthat too much..

Of course it has it's limitations..

...

Unfortunately, anything above 200ISO in thereviews I've read on the cameras I'm hoping to choose from (and I'veread likely 50+ in the last week!) all of them start mentioningnoise beyond that ISO..

I don't think any of the compact cameras are all that great above 200 ISO - where noise is reduced, a great price is paid in terms of detail..

You mentioned to look more at lens and performance, and I'd LOVE todo that, except I don't know one lens from the other. As forperformance, much shutter lag (where I hit "Fire" and a long delaylater, it shoots a photo of my knee) would be crazymaking. I can'tcount on horse to hold still for a lot of shutter lag..

I'm guessing you know lenses and performance so any recommendations?.

No - candidly I don't know any more than you'd get from a careful reading of the reviews on this site..

Ideally as pocketable as possible (doesn't have to be teensy)Image Stabilization a must, and red-eye correction close second.Has to be able to be shot with one hand (I gotta hold reins with theother)Less than perfect light with as little noise as possible a big,big plus..

Can you consider something like a Pentax K100D with a DA21 or DA40 pancake lens on the front? This would give you a pretty compact camera with a performance that would massively exceed any P&S compact in all the areas that are important to you. As to pocketable, maybe not quite, but nearly, and it would easily slip into some kind of pouch..

You are very nice to explain in such articulate terms, taking intoaccount that I only know enough to be dangerous to myself.Thanks,Janjo.

Janjo I have learned only by trial and error - mostly error.tim..

Comment #9

Alfisti wrote:.

The first word is sweet and the last "all" ... from there you canfigure out the middle one..

Only more recently, it once had an honest, decent meaning all of it's own and was perfectly OK to use in ordinary company..

There's a fascinating explanation here - amazing that it's not been made into a movie (yet)!.

Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_Adams.

Peter.

Peter - on the green island of Ischiahttp://www.pbase.com/isolaverde..

Comment #10

Tim.

I'm going to look up the Pentax K100SD and as for DA21 or DA40 "pancake lens" I have zero idea what that is, lol. I assume something like one of those travel glasses that crushes down into itself to make a flat thing, but then pull it out and it's tall enough to drink out of (and doesn't leak). LOL..

As for littler P&Ss, however, any particular one stand out to you? I'm open to all suggestions. But will look up the one you mentioned..

Peter.

Okay, I have a feeling you're not in USA, yes? (I'd never heard of Sweet Fanny Adams.) Is it considered a swear word phrase? Nothing in it otherwise would seem to trip of a forum's auto-delete, lol.Janjo..

Comment #11

Near the end of that Wiki article it tells you the modern version - in language DPR won't let you use!.

Peter.

Peter - on the green island of Ischiahttp://www.pbase.com/isolaverde..

Comment #12

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