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Hi Megapixel Camera


At present, Nikon is leading the way in hi-resolution cameras. When is Canon stepping up it's pixel count to compete?



There's rumors that Canon will have a high-pixel camera next year. 


There are many arguments for why more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to pixels.  Plenty of discussion on this online if you’re interested.  I have no interest in a 40+ megapixel (35mm) camera, unless I was doing work specific for large print (e.g. posters and billboards).  I much prefer high-ISO capabilities.


I’m no Canon fanboy, I’d buy Nikon cameras without hesitation if my lenses worked on them.  But I’d take a Canon 5d3 over a Nikon D800 any day of the week. 

That has not been the case with the Pro's I know. They jumped off Canon for Nikon's. I have too much invested in the L-Lenses to change Manufacturers, but I would consider upgrading to a higher pixel Canon when it does arrive provided it is affordable and in the class of the Mark II and III.

More megapixels are not necessarily better (there are only certain circumstances when they are better) -- I consider the high-megapixel count to be a bit of a marketing game and Nikon knows it.


The "rumors" for Canon are that they're investigating high megapixel... but doing it via a medium format sensor and not a 35mm size sensor.  That would be the correct way to do it, but it would likely be an expensive camera.


The reason for this has to do with laws of physics and diffraction.  The "quality" of a product has nothing to do with it... there is no point at which good "quality" gets to violate the laws of physics.  They're called laws of physics for a reason.


If you'd like to learn more about diffraction limited photography, here's a good place to start:


A Canon 1D-X or 5D III starts to become diffraction limited at f/11.  At f/16 it is diffraction limited (meaning if you really zoom in on an image and inspect it, you'll see the details in the image are no longer technically clearly resolved.)


A Nikon D800 becomes diffraction limited at by f/8 and is generally not regarded as diffraction limited at f/5.6.


The lower the focal ratio, the more you can dodge the diffraction problem.  Also.. the physically large the sensor and photo-sites the more you can dodge the problem as well. 


The next problem is that you generally never use "all" your data.  An exceptionally high end display wont use 10 megapixels of the data.  Canon is over 20.  Nikon is over 30... and the display can't even use 10.  All you're doing with the data is taking up more hard drive space.


If you print, you use more data, but you usually don't use all the data unless you're makling REALLY big prints (e.g. 20" x 30" and larger) but those are rare.  Most people don't make such large prints.  And even then... I hope they aren't landscapes because if they are, they're going be soft -- suffering from diffraction.



Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Tim: Thanks for the post and the Cambridge site, it was enlightening to say the least. Not one of the Cambell's from this side of the pond are you?

I'd like a higher Mpixel camera too & although I've shot Canon since the mid 70's I bought a Nikon this summer based on the following reasoning after a discussion with a Nikon user. 

I shoot R/C flying events & do a lot of cropping so after some thinking about his 24 Mpixel 1.5  crop camera & my 16+ mpixel 1.3 crop body I decided he had more pixels on target at 300 MM than I did at 400 MM and that does prove to be true. Unfortunately that 50% increase in pixel count also creates a 50% larger smear to everything IF you don't get a perfect focus lock & pan. I also learned that although Nikon does have some Pro quality lenses (zooms) in the 24-70 & 70-200 range they don't have anything longer that's equal, or even close to the Canon 35-350 L, 28-300 L IS or 100-400 L IS which are the lenses I depend on. Their 70-300 VR & 28-300 VR aren't very good at what I shoot & were the most often recommended lenses when I polled the different forums I belong to. So far I've read that the new 80-400 VR is both much better than the 100-400 L IS & I've read it isn't so until more hit the store shelves I have no idea whether or not that lens could shoot R/C. 

My keeper rate with Canon is well over 80% and with Nikon it's been under 25% using identical settings. No way I can use a higher pixel count image if everything is a slight bit soft. 


"A skill is developed through constant practice with a passion to improve, not bought."

I mean no offense to your friends, they may be great photographers, but just because someone is a “Pro” doesn’t mean they know their pixels from their pentaprisms.  There’s an overwhelmingly large contingent in photography that buys whatever is new and has an impressive looking specifications sheet.   In my opinion there’s also an overwhelming large amount of photographers creating entirely underwhelming photography from a rather expensive kit.  Again, I’m not implying these are your friends, but just establishing that just because some Pro photographers jumped ship for the D800 doesn’t make for an objective argument.


The D800 looks like a fantastic product photography camera.  Controlled lighting situations of static objects where you want maximum resolution.   But the difference isn’t going to be very apparent until you blow it up large (or do crazy amount of cropping, which you’d never do with product photography).  So, some will really take advantage of the huge res, most will shoot with it and then compress all those pixels down to 8x10 or even down to computer monitor size.  Conversely, there’s hardly a wedding photographer on this planet that doesn’t look to minimize noise at high ISO.  Some photographers almost entirely shoot at high(ish) ISOs.  Providing that you don’t want to make giant enlargements of final product, the 5D3 is going to serve you better here than the D800.


I’d have no problem if Canon offered a high megapixel camera and a high ISO camera.  But given that they only produced one of those options this year, I’m glad they put their time into high ISO. 


And we didn’t even get into discussing the D800 severe AF issues.

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