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01-01-2015, 04:50 PM   #1
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Does Size Matter? A question of Megapixels.

I absolutely love my new Pentax K-50. My only real gripe, or worry rather, is the 16 megapixels (jumping down from a whopping 24 with a Nikon d3300 I was trying out, but which ultimately did not have the features I needed to be happy with my first DSLR). I had, however, already enjoyed being able to crop the heck out of a hummingbird photo with great results.

Has anyone had any issues with the "smaller" 16 MP of the K-50? I tried to convince myself that it is a non-issue, because some of my favorite photos were from a 4 MP point-and-shoot camera back in the day. I do like to print, and would want the option to be able to make larger prints if I came across a good shot.

Obviously, not talking about wall-sized prints (I would need a FF and a ton of $$$ for that!), but at least larger than an 8"x12".

Has anyone had any issues with printing out larger photos? Success stories?

Thanks in advance!

01-01-2015, 04:57 PM - 3 Likes   #2
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Simple solution. Don't crop...compose.
01-01-2015, 05:01 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Eh it all depends on what you are doing and in what kind of lighting. More megapixels isn't always a good thing. If all you are doing is printing 8x12 then 16mp is more than enough.

Check out Heie's thread here about printing large using a K3. This should give you some idea about what you could realistically do with a few less megapixels.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/172-pentax-k-3/274741-holy-scheisse-k-3-print-quality.html

With a K3 (24mp) he did a 30x45 print with no issues. With a 16mp K-50/K5 series you could easily print 24x36 or bigger without a problem.

You might lose some cropability but I am of the school to try to not rely on that too much... but that's just me.
01-01-2015, 05:21 PM - 1 Like   #4
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No, you certainly cannot get good prints with such a small number of megapixels. The past, what, 10-15 years of DSLRs were just practice for the day when a 24 megapixel sensor would appear and finally allow us to print 8x10 photos that didn't look like graphics from 8 bit video games.

Sarcasm aside -- here's a calculator for real world use -- one does not typically look at a 6 foot wide photo from 8 inches away.

Print Resolution Calculator - Points in Focus Photography

A 24x36 photo viewed by someone with 20/20 vision from 4 feet away requires a 4.5 megapixel image. Opting to consider the pixel size inside the circle of confusion instead of surrounding it (not a poor assumption) indicates a 9 megapixel image is preferable.

You'll be fine.

01-01-2015, 05:23 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rimfiredude Quote
Simple solution. Don't crop...compose.
Rather depends on if you can get closer to the subject in the first place.
01-01-2015, 06:00 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I believe that you actually need fewer megapixels for large prints. You stand further away from them so you don't need the same density of pixels - you can spread them out more. One of my print instructors gave the example that a comfortable viewing distance for an 8x10 might require an image resolution of 360 ppi, while a 20x25 image might only require an image resolution of 140 ppi.

So your 16 MP sensor is going to give you enough pixels to print at a wide range of sizes, provided that you don't crop a lot. Feel free to crop a fair bit - just don't try to display an image that only took up 1/8 of your original image.
01-01-2015, 06:09 PM - 1 Like   #7
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16 is more than enough

We do 36" by 42" prints from our k-5 and they are great. The lens used is important but we've also printed about that size prints for my son and I think he was using the kit lens on his k-20d which I think is only 14 mp. I do significant cropping on both our k01 and k-5 for our 8 x 10 pictures. So I don't think you should have any issue with your k-50.
01-01-2015, 06:33 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I'd be more concerned about the quality of an image intended for large output rather than the quantity of pixels.

Small bits easily overlooked on a monitor can become divots on a large print. Beware sharpening halos too.

M

01-01-2015, 06:36 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I've printed several 11x14s from my Kx (only 12 megapixels) using the 18-55 kit len! They look great. Though I did no cropping on any I've printed that big so far.
01-01-2015, 09:18 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Well I find 16 MP enough with my K-5.
I did not notice much of a change in resolution coming from my 12 MP K-x which is was an increase of 33%. But then 24 MP is 50% more than 16 MP.

I guess it depends on what you want to do with it. For me features aside (and the likes of the K-3 does have quite a few improved features) I would have been happier if the K-3 had an improved 16 MP sensor (better high ISO etc) rather than 24 MP.
01-01-2015, 09:27 PM   #11
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The old rule of thumb was 2x pixels to really see a big improvement in images. Corrallary is 1/2 before they degrade too much. Just a rule of thumb...
01-01-2015, 09:29 PM - 1 Like   #12
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16 MP is plenty in my book too. I suppose if I was used to pixel peeping and resolving all sorts of details at 100% on my monitor I would notice the difference. At that point you're basically looking at a crop of a mural up close.

I try my best to compose my shots to use as much of my 16 MP sensor as I can. Sometimes I crop down to 10 or 12 MP and my 8"x12" prints come out just fine. Even my Q shots get cropped down to <10 MP and they look good at 8"x12" when viewed properly.

My Dad is a u4/3 fanatic and he prints massive 24"x36" (or something like that) all the time.

Nah, 16 MP is plenty. I'd be ok with my next camera having 16 MP too. Give me 16-bit RAW color channel data and better high ISO performance.
01-01-2015, 09:36 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by narual Quote
No, you certainly cannot get good prints with such a small number of megapixels. The past, what, 10-15 years of DSLRs were just practice for the day when a 24 megapixel sensor would appear and finally allow us to print 8x10 photos that didn't look like graphics from 8 bit video games.
Hahaha, well played. :-) I would post a picture from a friend's "Super Nintendo" themed backdrop (8-bit clouds! painted by my friend) but 1) I don't know how how, and 2) I don't have a decent picture of it. That was a drawing factor in getting a DSLR-- most "memories" from the past however many years are chronicled using poor quality cell phone images, haha.

Thank you for your help and encouragement. :-)

---------- Post added 01-01-15 at 09:42 PM ----------

Thank you all for your very helpful input and advice, it is much appreciated!

Alamo5000-- what an inspiring photo of that giant print! :-D

---------- Post added 01-01-15 at 09:44 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
The old rule of thumb was 2x pixels to really see a big improvement in images. Corrallary is 1/2 before they degrade too much. Just a rule of thumb...
I am not quite following what the numbers mean here.
01-01-2015, 09:54 PM - 1 Like   #14
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I mean a 16 mp camera will compare well against things less than 32 mps. A 24 mp camera will be reasonably similar to lower MP sensors until your down to about 12mp. But this is highly subjective and assumes physically similar size sensors.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 01-02-2015 at 01:40 PM.
01-02-2015, 07:20 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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It pretty much doesn't matter. I would prefer 16 megapixels over 24. The gain in resolution between the two will be visible only with perfect technique and perfect lenses, but files are bigger from 24mpix sensor.

With a sensor pitch of 4 microns, if you move the camera by 2 microns over exposure time you are back to square one - no difference between 16mp and 24 mp.

Moving 2 microns over 1/100s = 0.2mm movement per second... too little to control hand-held.

What about the lenses? If you shoot with a zoom, you won't see the difference. If you shoot with a very sharp prime (50mm F1.8, Tamron 90mm, Sigma 35mm F1.4) you will, but probably only on tripod.
Then there are focusing errors on top of that.

Higher frequency of sampling (higher resolution) might be useful for printing, because you will have more organic, less pixelated,, enlargements. But since you usually don't have the extra detail, you could up-res it in software and results would be similar.

Lastly, how good photos look depends on the perception of resolution, not the resolution. So proper sharpening, high local contrast at medium resolution (~5-10 lines per mm) and color saturation will, in my opinion, give a more pleasant look.
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