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Olympus: 12 megapixels is enough

Cem_Usakligil

Active member
Sorry folks but besides the fact that this particular news has been discussed to death in various fora, I fully disagree. Yes, the 8MP may be enough for many purposes but the stance taken by Olympus here has nothing to do with philosophical thinking but entirely driven by their inability to produce a better functioning higher resolution sensor for their 4/3 format. So they use the marketingspeak to pretend that they care about such philosophical things. I have used digital cameras between 1-12.8 MP and recently I have the new 5D MkII with the 21MP. I really see a world of difference by having the "usable" extra MPs available, even when I am going to print small. I wouldn't go back to 12 MP willingly now.
 
Sorry folks but besides the fact that this particular news has been discussed to death in various fora, I fully disagree. Yes, the 8MP may be enough for many purposes but the stance taken by Olympus here has nothing to do with philosophical thinking but entirely driven by their inability to produce a better functioning higher resolution sensor for their 4/3 format. So they use the marketingspeak to pretend that they care about such philosophical things.
I agree with Cem. Unless Olympus starts showing things like true 14 or 16-bit dynamic range, this remains marketing speak to mask the limitations of a small sensor array. It reminds me of the Nikon claim that they would never require a full (24x36mm) frame sensor array (actual reason: because they couldn't make one for a reasonable price/performance ratio).

I'm not saying that for many people 8 MP isn't good enough, but let's not fall for marketing speak either.

It reminds me also of the everlasting debate about 300/360 versus 600/720 PPI, but that's something for another thread. Let it suffice to say that the proof is in the eating of the pudding.

This shouldn't detract from the fact that Olypmpus can produce some outstanding glass, which also helps in getting technically good images.

Bart
 
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Doug Kerr

Active member
I think what is very telling is Watanabe's statement, "Customers who want more than 20 megapixels should look to full-frame cameras".

In other words, 12 Mpx is enough unless you need 25 Mpx.

So his point is really that, assuming you want to use a Four-Thirds system camera, then 12 Mpx is all you should want.

A more candid statement might be that, based on today's technology, for cameras with a Four-Thirds system size sensor, many people will find the optimal balance between performance properties, for a range of photographic tasks, with a pixel count of about 12 Mpx.

But maybe that's what he said!
 

Daniel Buck

New member
I don't think there is really any doubt of the *reason* they have declared 12mp to be enough, no company would really do anything like that for a philosophical/ethical reason, no doubt the reason is just because they don't want to (or can't) make larger chips more inexpensively. So they make it sound like there is no *reason* to. Maybe I'm jaded by advertisements and company policies, but that's the first thing that pops into my mind.

However, I still do think that 8mp is plenty for *most* people, not everyone. Alot of people I know who have DSLR cameras never print anything, and never do anything with the pictures accept send out email-sized images to friends/family, and post photos online of their car/cat/kid/project/ebayitem or whatever. 8mp for those purposes is way over kill, and for alot of people, that's all they use it for. Most people who ask me about getting a DSLR, fall into that catagory, most of which assuming that more megapixels means better quality, at any size. Nothing wrong with using photos like that, but you could very easilly use an older/cheaper camera for those purposes, why spend money on a new camera that is way overkill? :)
 
Think two stories are getting mixed up .. one is the technical limit of the four-third sensor size and the other one is the remark that 12mp is enough for most users.

Regarding the technical limit of the four thirds sensor it was considered that the earlier 7.5 mpx sensor would be a technical limit and Olympus would be left behind. In the meantime Oly & Panasonic have released a 12mpx sensors with significant better performance on all fronts. It is not unlikely that Oly will, now at 12 mpx, need to diversify between either more mpx or remain at 12 but develop IQ, dynamic range and ISO performance.

(the figure of 12mpx is of course a choice as Canon seems to be able to cram 15mpx an a way smaller Powershot G10 sensor and remain quite good IQ according to Reichmann and other capable users ..)


I think a lot of Olympus users will be quite happy with 12 mpx and improved IQ. Better out of camera JPG's further improved WB etc has been reasons why people (and also some who earn their living) have chosen Olympus. These guy's will be looking at Olympus to increase dynamic range, improve IQ at high ISO's and to keep developing great lenses (the real reason to chose the FT-system, either Oly or Panasonic/leica).

I can imagine that Mr. Watanabe is testing the waters with this remark.

I agree that more users will be better served with increased sensor performance versus more pixels (ideally both, of course). Some not, and there are other offers in the market that will serve them well.

And last, there is the lust factor. Or the emotional side of buying gear. And I am certainly not referring to Cem or anyone here. However Footbalstar David Beckhem owning a Leica M8 could maybe serve as nice example ..

So will it be a smart marketing choice to stick to 12 mpx ? Oly has proven in the past to follow it's own path and sometimes taking a different approach. Sometimes successful. Sometimes not. Wonder how this will develop.

Regards, Martin
 

Mike Shimwell

New member
On 4/3 12Mp probably is enough. Diffraction is going to start being a major issue at fairly low apertures I would imagine - after all it's equivalent to just under 48Mp on 36 by 24 (with deference to Doug) - quite apart from noise. If you've worked with a 12Mp 5D and a 1Ds3 or 5D2 like Cem then the additional resolution is very welcome, and whose to say that 48Mp wouldn't be even better:)

Mike
 

John Sheehy

New member
On 4/3 12Mp probably is enough. Diffraction is going to start being a major issue at fairly low apertures I would imagine
That's pretty much what you would have to do. :)

Increasing pixel density does not cause a camera to run into diffraction problems, unless you believe that higher-MP cameras are meant to be used for larger prints, or 100% zooms on the monitor. Increasing the density only increases resolution, from an infinitesimal amount (such as when the lens is by far the limiting factor, like a wide-open $200 28-105mm at 28mm), to much more (like going from low-res with a strong AA filter to higher res with a weaker AA filter, both with a very sharp lens).

While it is important to look at things like Bart's animation, showing at which f-stops diffraction starts to become significant, this should never be misconstrued to suggest that you'd be better off with a lower pixel density to avoid the point of diminishing returns; that is a logical fallacy that is easy to fall into.

Ideally, we'd be capturing images at pixel densities where, without an anti-alias filter, it took a few pixels to transition from white to black. That would allow sharp lines at all angles to look the same, no demosaicing artifacts of any type, easy identification of optically impossible pixel values for noise reduction, no losses from rotation or perspective correction, or CA adjustment, etc. It is hard to do, though, since the files would be tremendous, they would be slow to edit, etc. Images with low resolution and high neighboring-pixel contrast are efficient-but-inferior substitutes for ideal imaging; not the ideal of imaging.
 
hi, first time to participate in this forum...

how can they create better low-light enhancement in a 4/3 system?
I'm an olympus user and IMHO, 4/3 system is a boundary that limits olympus to go full blast with Mega pixels. (unless some einstein would bend laws of physics.)

but i do like my camera. i don't shoot for billboards and large format so small sensor doesn't hurt me much.

but they do adhere to their philosophy. they've been creating compact cameras since the OM days. (and even the pen series).
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
hi, first time to participate in this forum...
Welcome Benjamin!


How can they create better low-light enhancement in a 4/3 system?
I'm an olympus user and IMHO, 4/3 system is a boundary that limits olympus to go full blast with Mega pixels. (unless some einstein would bend laws of physics.)
No need to bend the laws of physics. There are other sensors being built. The sensels will be the tiniest ever do not collect charge! They are either charged or not. Designs that are either on or off. With layers of silicon filters, each addressing a further step in DR, massive dynamic range can be built and the noise will be very low. In the meanwhile, things will get gradually better. For a start, if Fuji would license their novel silicon technology that gives 14 stops of Dynamic Range, Olympus would have a sensor to gloat about!

There's still a long way to go in improving sensors without requiring Einstein to have a headache!

Asher
 

Dawid Loubser

New member
Just a very belated addition to this thread. The Four Thirds system has taught me the virtue of better lenses over more megapixels. Now, I'm not saying I wouldn't like a 20MP, low-noise sensor from the next professional camera from olympus - becuase I have demonstrated in the past that even at f/2.0 at any focal length, the Olympus Super High Grade lenses completely outclass the sensor over the entire frame.

However, I'd take a perfectly sharp 12MP over a fuzzy 36MP any day.
I just received a 1.1m-wide (A0) print I had made of this image today:


The Claw by dawid.loubser, on Flickr

Though only 12MP, the evenly-rendered fine detail right into the corners is something to behold - I am absolutely thrilled with the quality of the output, and believe it's of the highest standard that any critical viewer looking at the framed image could reasonably expect. Nobody will be able to tell it apart from a full-frame print (unless that full-frame was a Canon, because they don't have a 14mm lens that performs nearly at this level :)

It's also interesting to compare to my darkroom prints from 4x5in film. Surprisingly, it's not easy to make large prints that properly reflect the (usually superior) detail captured on the piece of film, though I've never tried a 1m optical print :) Certainly, the microcontrast of the digital image is much better, but the film images have a smoothness and "solidity" sbout them that is different.

I would love if Olympus kept the replacement of the E-5 at 12MP, or even 16MP, with a sensor with fabulous dynamic range and low noise. That's all that us die-hard users of the system ask for :)

My lenses balance terribly on the tiny OM-D E-M5 camera, and the autofocusing with the four thirds lenses is poor - so I'll skip that one methinks. Most of the small (but beautiful) matched micro four thirds lenses do not perform anywhere near the level required to make huge prints like these, whereas the SHG four thirds lenses let you suck every last pixel of detail out of the raw files, with no corrections necessary that smear it (such as correcting distortion). Until I get a darkroom again, I am such a happy camper with my 12MP :)
 

Michael Nagel

Active member
Well, the replacement could be the sensor used in the E-M5 or the next generation of sensors.
Currently there is no WA-lens on µFT that compares to the FT 7-14 from Olympus.
There is hope - better lenses become available - the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 60mm f/2.8 ED Macro is amazing and the 75/1.8 seems to be at least equal or even better.

Let's see what will become available in the future...

Best regards,
Michael
 

Dawid Loubser

New member
Currently there is no WA-lens on µFT that compares to the FT 7-14 from Olympus.
I agree with you, and to the point of relaxing the system consraint... There is almost no equivalent to this lens on any system whatsoever. The closest match is the Nikkor 14-24, but it's much larger, and has more substantial barrel distortion than the (more rectilinear) 7-14. Nikon's other ultrawide zoom (the 16-35mm f/4.0) was clearly designed by a summer intern by comparison - a very weak attempt.

I certainly think the Micro Four Thirds lenses are "good enough" for great images, but it will probably never see native lenses with imaging abilities like the four thirds SHG lenses, simply because of the size constraints / trend to digitally correct distortion etc.

The exception will be short telephoto or macro fixed-focal-length lenses, which are the least-challenging lenses to design well and make very compact, if history is anything to go by.

Thanks for the link(s) to the work with the 60/2.8 Macro... Very nice.
 

Michael Nagel

Active member
Dawid,

this is the reason why I still stick with my DA 12-24/4. It is not as wide as the Olympus but delivers a pretty good image quality. I started with this lens on a 6MP camera and now I am at 16MP and the lens did not disappoint me. The distortion is not that bad on the wide end, almost inexistant on the long end, only the lateral CAs when wide open bother me sometimes. The µFT 7-14 is no match in resolution and sharpness.

If I need WA, I will still have the other camera, but using two bodies is good anyway when you want to be fast...

Still - the E-M5 can deliver excellent results. The best (from my point of view) µFT lenses I have seen and tested myself so far are the Lumix (Summilux) 25/1.4, the Olympus 45/1.8 and the Olympus Macro 60/2.8 (thanks for the nice words).
Even inexpensive zoom lenses like the Olympus 40-150/4-5.6 can deliver astonishing results when used in their sweet spot.

Best regards,
Michael
 
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