Nice blog post - and the (non) differences between cameras.

http://www.martinirwinphotography.com/myblog/2014/2/8/prints


Nice post from Martin. A blog I would recommend by the way.

Got me thinking. Though I don't print very much myself, I do from time to time see my work published in print. Also when I was shooting weddings I did produce photobooks for the clients. And the point Martin makes in the post about it being very difficult (or indeed impossible) to see the differences between cameras and lenses that people obsess about, in print is well made.

This is one of the reasons I attempt with what I write to play down the differences between cameras and lenses because for the vast majority of photographic use those differences will not be apparent. I remember making an A3 print from my first 2MP digital camera and thinking, that's not bad at all. When I saw my first A4 page from a 4MP camera and my first glossy magazine cover and A3 spreads from a 6MP and 5MP camera respectively I realised that even in those early days digital was not only equalling film but bettering it and producing files that were capable of high degrees of enlargement. 

I've written before about producing a calendar I sent to clients when I was running a picture library. It was A3 and some of the pictures were from 6MP cameras and some from 12MP and above cameras. I upsized the smaller ones so that everything was the same file size. I really couldn't tell the difference in quality and all of the printed images looked really good indeed. With the wedding photobooks I was cropping high ISO shots and printing them very large and again they looked much better than they did on my monitor, surprisingly so.

So why do I use these large MP cameras? Well, my images do get seriously pixel-peeped, firstly by the libraries who sell my work to decide whether to accept them or not and secondly by clients. And occasionally they do get used for very high-end reproduction. But then an image that was used for a national ad campaign and literally printed the size of a wall was from a 35mm slide. I've also had 48 sheet billboards printed from 5MP digital camera files, so ultimately what on earth is the MP 'race' all about? To be honest I suspect 12MP was probably 'enough' and 16MP certainly is, for virtually any printing or electronic reproduction need we could possibly need. Now things may change and our method of viewing images may well require very high-resolution images, but I find it difficult to see any real need to go further than we have already. This is 'Art' and not forensic science after all.

Those 36MP images I'm shooting with my Sony A7r will in almost every case be reproduced much smaller. And yes they can be heavily cropped but I doubt that they will look any sharper or more attractive than images shot on smaller file sizes. And to a certain extent that is the issue with 4K video. I have a large flat screen TV, but I'm pretty sure I don't want anything bigger than that. I sit and watch it from some distance away anyway, so if it's bigger I'll just move further back. And HD is fine for me. I can't imagine I'll need anything larger and if I did I'd probably have to sit on top of the screen to see the difference. For cinema projection I can see the point, but for domestic use I'm not so sure.

So Martin is right when he makes us question just exactly what is the point of testing, comparing and assessing. As photographers we are probably likely to pixel-peep much more than most people, but that intense scrutiny on our monitors is probably the only place we will see a difference. And you think this is all a set of reasons for why I have no intention (or the funds) to buy a £4000 Zeiss Otus lens then you're damn right. It is!!


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