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12 Megapixels is enough for Olympus
#1
Interesting article - it seems that 12 megapixels is enough for Olympus - they've decided to stop at 12MP and not compete further in the megapixel wars for their E system.

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-276512.html

Quote:"Twelve megapixels is, I think, enough for covering most applications most customers need," said Akira Watanabe, manager of Olympus Imaging's SLR planning department, in an interview here at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA). "We have no intention to compete in the megapixel wars for E-System," Olympus' line of SLR cameras, he said.

Instead, Olympus will focus on other characteristics such as dynamic range, color reproduction, and a better ISO range for low-light shooting, he said.
What do you all think about this stance? For me, I think 12MP is more than enough. Logically, more megapixels = potentially more detail but for me the tradeoffs are the large file sizes, making the photos unwieldly to work with and also storage space which tends to add up after ten thousand images or two or three. Big Grin
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#2
I was very happy with 10mp on my XTi... I'm even happier with 15 on my 50D Big Grin

But I couldn't see needing more. Certainly not for my uses. Better low light and better dust prevention would win me over more MP.
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#3
I like lots of megapixels - but not for their own sake. A lot of my images are heavily cropped (or even composed of bits and pieces of pulled from much larger images). When you work in that mode, the more pixels in the original image the better. Having said that, I have found 10 MPx adequate for most of what I do. I'm with Craig - I would rather see more emphasis on low light performance.
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#4
I fully support Olympus's decision to not only set a limit but talk about it.

Someone finally had the guts to say "Enough!" and I'm not at all surprised it was Olympus.
They're a smart and brave company, and I admire how they approach things.

Sure--I wouldn't complain if someone gifted me with a 25mp Sony Alpha900.
But I've made dozens of amazing prints up to 11x14" using only 5 megapixels and think that most new cameras have more pixels than the vast majority of owners will ever need.

Stopping the specs-race and concentrating on the more important aspects of image quality makes a lot of sense right now.
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#5
I entirely agree with Olympus - 12MP is enough for most people, and those few who need 20+ are better served by full-frame models. Interestingly, C/ZDNet has posted some 'clarifications' to the original article, which includes changing one of the directly attributed quotations. The essence of the alterations is to add some stronger 'but some people may need more' qualifications. The new text is here, but it's not really worth a re-read.

The irony for me is that I came to this conclusion myself a few days before the story broke, and had already started looking at a second camera system for studio and 'fine art' use. I would really like to have more megapixels, and higher quality ones as well. While my personal photos are typically of undemanding subjects, I want to be able to make large-format prints that can display more subtlety in small details and tones. There are also some real business advantages to having a monster-camera. I am fairly demanding, and what I love to shoot - jewellery - can be challenging. Even if the quality is overkill for what my clients need, having a 25MP camera will give me a short and convincing answer when I'm told that Uncle Billy and his Rebel XT kit have offered to do the job for free.

For everything else, I do have to agree that my 10MP camera has had ample resolution for what I want, and the idea of having a better 12mp is certainly more attractive than having more megapixels at lower quality. (There's a reason why the 40D is still selling strongly when it's sitting next to the 50D.) I have no plans of getting rid of my Olympus system, and the more I look at full-frame cameras the more I appreciate just how spoiled I've become by small fast telephotos and good optics.

But I'm going to disagree with Keith even at the risk of being called a cynic: there's something disingenuous, if not irrelevant, in Olympus making this declaration. 4/3 cameras have always lagged the APS-C market in pixel counts, high-iso performance, and highlight range. Usually it hasn't been by much, and they have plenty of other advantages, but retiring from a competition that you're losing doesn't carry quite the moral weight as when the winner does it. And the signs that the megapixel race is ending aren't new, either. The Panasonic LX3 beats the Canon G10 in low-light, and Panny chose to keep the LX3's resolution the same as their previous LX2. The camera has sold well enough that its design decisions are bound to be copied. Nikon hasn't exactly ended the megapixel race with the D3x, but it seems more like a "look what we can do" camera (like the F6) than a serious attempt to sell millions. So with that one exception, all of Nikon's cameras are 10-12MP models.

Hopefully Canon will throttle back a bit with the 60D, and not feel the need to go higher than the current 15MP in the 50D - but I have a feeling that their next generation 1Ds might be over the current 21MP.
matthewpiers.com • @matthewpiers | robertsonphoto.blogspot.com | @thewsreviews • thewsreviews.com
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#6
I agree with everything Matt has said here. I actually purchased an LX3 recently for the very reason that they focused on a fast lens coupled with a true 16x9 field of view and reasonable low light performance - MP never came into the decision.

That said - I have 21MP camera and find it very useful for my wedding work where I am often cropping or producing double page spreads that are 25+ inches across.

Horses for courses.
Canon stuff.
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#7
Interesting point Chris - perhaps Olympus have done their target market analysis and realised that wedding shooters and the link tend to stick towards Nikon or Canon - and the majority of their users don't need more than 12MP...
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#8
In theory I believe this could be a great approach for a company like Olympus. While I genuinely appreciate the resolution of 21mp over 12mp, I would also appreciate more dynamic range and better high-iso performance and would be happy to trade some of one for the others. Some people need resolution, other people need dynamic range or low-light performance.

But as Matthew says, retiring from a race that you're losing smacks of admitting that you can't keep up. I wonder who made the decision to not go beyond 12mp - the engineers or the marketing department?
I'll wait and see just how much dynamic range and low noise they can squeeze out of those pixels before I make my mind up about it.

I also believe Sigma were on the right track with the Foveon sensor, but it's a technology that needs to be in its 2nd or 3rd generation before it can truly compete with the regular bayer pattern sensors. I think Sigma's choice to market their 4.7mp foveon camera as a 14mp camera was a grave marketing mistake because it sent people's BS alarm bells ringing (and rightfully so). As far as I can tell, there has been no update on that sensor yet - not a good sign for a technology that needs to play catch-up from the day it was introduced. But imagine if Canon put their resources behind that technology - we'd have a 10mp foveon sensor available in no time which really would be something to reckon with.

In an ideal world, I'd love to see cameras such as Canon's 1-series offer interchangable sensor cartridges. It would enable Canon to go back to having a single 1-series body and then offer a choice of specialty sensors that the customer can buy and interchange as they might a focusing screen. To me, this makes as much sense as having interchangable lenses or the ability to use different film in film cameras.
Imagine a choice between 21mp (current 1DsIII/5D2 sensor), 10mp high-speed (current 1DIII sensor - low-res but 10fps), 10mp foveon (low-res but 48-bit HDR), 16mp b/w (no bayer filter so monochrome only, medium-high-res and medium-high DR).
Adrian Broughton
My Website: www.BroughtonPhoto.com.au
My Blog: blog.BroughtonPhoto.com.au
You can also visit me on Facebook!
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Einstein.
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#9
Yes - interchangeable sensors makes sense. You would need a pretty serious body redesign to make it happen. Have you ever tried to get at the sensor in a camera? Not an easy task currently, but certainly do-able if the manufacturer has the will to make it so...
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#10
Kombisaurus Wrote:In an ideal world, I'd love to see cameras such as Canon's 1-series offer interchangable sensor cartridges. It would enable Canon to go back to having a single 1-series body and then offer a choice of specialty sensors that the customer can buy and interchange as they might a focusing screen. To me, this makes as much sense as having interchangable lenses or the ability to use different film in film cameras.
Imagine a choice between 21mp (current 1DsIII/5D2 sensor), 10mp high-speed (current 1DIII sensor - low-res but 10fps), 10mp foveon (low-res but 48-bit HDR), 16mp b/w (no bayer filter so monochrome only, medium-high-res and medium-high DR).
Interesting concept... you should probably rush out and patent this - I could see this happening in a couple of years' time. FWIW I think the manufacturers would probably lean towards sensor "options" rather than user-interchangeable ones but that's just me...
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