How many is too many? I really don’t know. I refer to the number of pixels that can be squeezed onto the sensor for a digital camera and what is desirable or not. Over the years the camera manufacturers have steadily increased the number of pixels on their sensors and come up with ever greater resolutions as a result. This has been both beneficial and problematic. What I am not sure about is whether I am missing the point with all of this.
My first DSLR was a Canon EOS 10D. It was a 6.3Mp camera – something that would now be considered unacceptable on a cell phone. It was a great camera, even if it did have a number of limitations that would be considered unheard of today. However, for its day it was very good. I had full page images printed in magazines from it with absolutely no problem.
As the megapixel wars got going, I was adopting larger and larger file sizes by default. I would tell anyone who asked that megapixels were not the most important thing when buying a camera and there were plenty of other issues to consider. I certainly don’t mind having a more dense file when I need to crop in to a shot but the impact on memory cards, the need for ever larger hard drives and the upgrades to computers to process the larger files were downsides that I didn’t appreciate.
For a while it seemed like the pixel count had leveled off a bit and the focus was on gaining better noise performance at high ISO settings. This seemed like a very worthwhile approach for me. However, big sensors are now back in play with the Nikon D800 leading the way and Canon talking about some large sensor cameras to come. (I think it is worth noting that, since the pixel count is a function of the square of the linear resolution, these larger counts do not translate in to a huge improvement in linear resolution. Yes, you do get more detail but it isn’t quite as mind-blowing as some will suggest.)
Am I a dope for not welcoming this? Am I taking a Luddite approach in sounding happy with what I had and not appreciating the advances? Do I just accept that all of my gear has to be upgraded periodically to stay in line with the latest thing whether it is camera file sizes, the processing requirements of new generation software or the interface needs of the latest devices. I’m sure there are some benefits to having such dense files but I am not sure that they matter for what I do.
As for the uses for large file sizes, there is always much discussion about printing big or using for billboards. Only a photo nerd looks at a picture from six inches and billboard resolutions are actually quite poor. I wonder what a good resolution level really is. Anyone care to suggest the perfect compromise?