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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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04.07.13         michael's insights  

Is the Consumer DSLR Mega Pixel War Over?


When digital cameras first launched, the number of megapixels was everything. I remember using my uncles sony that took a fraction of a MP image onto a 3.5 floppy disk and that was amazing at the time. A year or two later it was ground breaking when Nikon came out with a 2 MP camera. Then the DSLRs started showing up, 4MP, then 6MP, the 8 MP and soon it became a race between camera manufacturers to get more MP in the sensor and thereby out differentiate the competition.

Question I received recently was in regards to sensor sizes & "is the consumer DSLR mega pixel war over"? The short answer is that all indicators are saying yes. I also must stress that sensors will obviously continue to improve, it just seems that the number of pixels manufacturers are cramming into them have leveled off now for about 2-3 years. Canon has stayed in the 18-22 MP range on most of their cameras for about 3 years. Even their next 3 cameras, the Canon T5i,Canon SL1 & 70D are 18MP. The rumored 7Dii may go into 24MP.

Nikon really likes 24MP if you look at their last 3-4 DSLRs ( Nikon D3200 , Nikon D5200 , Nikon D7100 , Nikon D600 ) with the D800 being the exception (36 MP)

Will there be future consumer grade cameras coming out with 40 or 50 megapixels? You can count on it… but the truth of the matter is, once you get over 14-16 megapixels, you would have to be printing wall sized images to see a significant difference than say over something like an 8x10.

Another issue is the number and size of the actual pixels effects image quality. It seems the smaller and more there are, the more noisy the resulting image is.

If the Mega Pixel war is in fact over, what comes next?

We are already seeing it with introducing a number of innovations in just the last 1-2 years:

- Articulating Monitors, with better resolution
- Processor speeds and improvements
- Number of focus points, cross type and sensitivity
- Video recording improvements including STM lenses
- Dynamic Range (Nikon especially does well here)
- Built in HDR features (I believe this will also improve greatly)
- Wifi & GPS features
- Touch Screen Monitor (Canon)
- Smaller Sized Bodies
- More FPS in burst modes

What I am hoping for in video:

- 4K resolution for video footage. (Rumors are that the 1Dx has a firmware upgrade coming that will allow for this)
- Frame rate improvements - heck even the GoPro can do 1080p with 60FPS, why not Canon DSLRs???
- RAW video? (A man can dream).

Sure all these things are great, but I think what is happening now is that once all these "accessory features" are really fleshed out, camera manufacturers will be forced to rethink the sensor and how it can be improved. I would be willing to bet we are going to see a number of exciting sensor technologies coming to improve the actual quality of the image, and when I say this, Im not talking about MP, Im talking about things like sharpness, dynamic range, color, etc.

If they need any inspiration, they really need to take a look at the quality of images coming out of the Fuji-X100s

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