The New Resolution Revolution

Historic 25th Street Dragon – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – 16-megapixel

I think there’s a new resolution revolution about to be unleashed on the photography world.

Fujirumors is reporting that the X-H2S will have a 26-megapixel X-Trans V stacked sensor, which will be much like the X-Trans IV sensor but faster; however, the X-H2 will have a 40-megapixel X-Trans V sensor that’s not stacked, and the X-H2 will be less expensive than the X-H2S. My interpretation of this is that “regular” X-Trans V cameras will be 40mp. Wait, what? The upcoming Fujifilm cameras will be 40-megapixels?!

I saw today that Canon Rumors is reporting that an over-100-megapixel full-frame camera is in the works to be released next year—I also saw that Sony “may have” a 102mp camera coming later this year. Yesterday I saw that, according to 9to5Google, Motorola will release a cellphone with a 200-megapixel camera.

Morning Drive – Fort Stevens SP, OR – iPhone 11 – RitchieCam app – 12-megapixel

While many people will get very excited over this, and I do find it a bit fascinating, I’m not all thrilled about it. Why? I would prefer to see advancements in dynamic range (particularly highlights) and high-ISO performance over resolution. I haven’t encountered many situations where I found my cameras lacking the resolution required for what I needed. Honestly, 16-megapixels are more than enough for the average person, and 26-megapixels are more than enough for 99% of people. Very few people (although there are some) actually need 40mp, and even fewer (although there are some) actually need 100mp. Yeah, it’s fun to pixel-peep a 100mp picture, or even a 50mp picture, but in a practical sense, it’s not “better” than 26mp or even 16mp. And, of course, the bigger the file, the more storage is required, and the longer it takes to upload/download.

Instead of extra resolution, I’d actually prefer a new film simulation or two, and a couple new JPEG options, that allow me to achieve in-camera some things that I currently cannot. I’d get really excited for that! I bet a number of you would, too. I think there are a lot of improvements and advancements that could happen that don’t require any increase in resolution, but megapixels are easy to market—it’s the tried and true method to gain sales—so that’s what we get.

Ready or not, the next resolution revolution is here. I certainly won’t complain as I pixel-peep, but I might have to replace my SD cards, buy a larger external hard drive, and get more memory on my next iPhone….

17 comments

  1. justingould · May 27

    This is so true, Ritchie. Storage needs are getting ridiculous and at 40mp I can only imagine how fast things would fill up. I’d also prefer other innovations given the choice.

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · May 28

      I think a lot of photographers would agree, but a lot of “photographers” on forums, YouTube, etc., want great specs more than anything, and it’s easy to market megapixels, so that’s where innovation always goes, sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. randomguineapig · May 27

    I finally took the digital leap in 2005 with a 7.2 megapixel sony, because it would print a good 8×10. WhiIe I wait for my runway sized airport ad contracts to flood in (so I can swing that phase one axe), I will remain over detailed with my current aps-c. I agree with you on the megapixel count: by now sensitivity matters more than size.

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    • Ritchie Roesch · May 28

      I told myself that I need 50mp GFX so that I can print 4 foot by 6 foot prints. Then I realized that I will never print that large because I have no room for prints that large. I do occasionally print half that size, and 26mp is more than enough for that. Thank you for your comment!!

      Like

  3. randomguineapig · May 27

    I add Lake Lavon was always a nice place nice place to do nothing. Turn right at Plano. 50 years later I cannot agree more: take pictures all around you. It was different when you had to pay for film.

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    • Ritchie Roesch · May 28

      Lol! It is a nice place to do nothing. There’s not much here. But I have enjoyed photographing it. Thank you for your comment!

      Like

  4. Francis.R. · May 28

    I don’t care much for resolution, even my 4 megapixels Sigma DP2 has so detailed files that they are not that far away from the 16 megapixels of my Fujifilm X100S. I will tell you what it drives me nuts: when there were 10 megapixel cameras people used to commented it helped them to crop easier than 6 megapixel cameras, and now that there are 50 megapixel cameras people is still commenting those cameras allow them to crop more than just 24 or 36 megapixels, it seems there is a secret market of photocroppers along the usual photographers 🤷‍♀️
    As somebody that likes much sunsets I always liked a good response to highlights and pleasant colors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Khürt Williams · May 28

      … it seems there is a secret market of photocroppers along the usual photographers

      🤣

      It amazes me that some would rather have more megapixels for cropping than invest in a lens with more reach.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Ritchie Roesch · May 28

      I think there are photographers who make panoramic prints by cropping, and they “throw away” most of their resolution in the process. So it makes sense for them, but I think that’s a pretty small group overall. For most people, 10 megapixels are actually well more than enough (since 99.9% of pictures are only ever viewed on a small screen), even 6mp. Those Foveon pictures are great, but the cameras and process are a little wanting….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Khürt Williams · May 28

    I have 20”x30” prints on the wall. I can’t see any issues with 26 megapixels. More dynamic range would be helpful. I’d rather have the ability to save white balance settings with each preset. I want longer battery life.

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    • Ritchie Roesch · May 28

      I print 24” x 36” occasionally, and 26mp looks great. When I did the GFX 50S vs X-T30 comparison, I printed a crop that would have been 40” x 60” if it was the whole image, and 26mp did alright, would look just fine from a “normal” viewing distance. So definitely other improvements would make a much more practical difference for me. Thank you for your input!

      Like

  6. Albert Smith · May 28

    I bought my Nikon D700 when Nikon announced the D800 with triple the pixels, 36mp versus the D700’s 12. I still use that D700 without feeling slighted by the low resolution.

    With Fujifilm, I have both 16mp and 24/26mp bodies. Again, I have not felt that my photography suffers from any lack of memory jamming, slow-to-process resolution deficit.

    When Fujifilm started releasing the new lenses with the ability to resolve 40mp, I saw the writing on the wall. So I bought two extra X-T3 bodies and feel that I have all the cameras that I will be using for the rest of my days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · May 28

      Most of the time I don’t print my pictures (I’d go broke and run out of walls rather quickly), but occasionally I do. I find that the 16mp sensor can print 16” x 24” no problem, but 24” x 36” is definitely a bit of a stretch (but still ok at a “normal viewing distance”). So knowing that limitation, I don’t print larger than 16” x 24” with X-Trans I & II. For X-Trans III & IV, I will print as large as 24” x 36” but I have only done that a handful of times. I made a nice 12” x 18” print from an iPhone picture earlier this year. Most people don’t print, and most pictures aren’t printed, and knowing the limitations allow you to choose the appropriate size to print when you do. But for most people and purposes, 12mp is well more than enough, and 40mp is so far beyond what most will ever need.

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  7. Barnabas · May 29

    I am totally with you, Ritchie. I actually think (or hope?) that this “revolution” will not be that extremely successful, for one simple reason: the price. It is nice to see how higher the number of pixels get year by year, but I can’t help but wonder who on earth will spend another 3000 eur on a new thing after having just spent 3000 eur on a barely “old” thing. Camera producers wouldn’t mind if we spent all our savings on new gear, that is clear. But there’s so much good gear out there already and we can get lost in the plentitude of information so easily that we seldom notice how much stuff and gear we have at home that we barely touch!
    Instead of jumping at new gear, perhaps we, hobby photographers (obviously I’m talking about myself here) should focus on taking better photos. Perhaps it’s the fake promise that keeps us at bay and forces us to go the easier way: “buy new gear to improve your photos”. And perhaps we can afford it. But deep inside we all know it’s not the gear that takes the picture, it’s the person standing a few inches behind the viewfinder. (Apologies, I forgot who said that… wasn’t me, but I totally agree with it).
    But this is a completely different debate… I just wanted to share the thought with you and agree with your comments on the “development” in the pixel world.
    As always, I’m thankful for your contribution to the photographic world! A big THANK YOU!

    Sincerely,
    Barnabas

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · May 29

      You hit on an important point: worry more about your pictures and less about your gear. It’s easy to get excited for the “latest and greatest” and not be content with the great tools one already has. I appreciate your kindness and thoughtful comment!

      Like

  8. theBitterFig · 30 Days Ago

    As resolution ticks up, something I’d love to see is more options with RAW files. I don’t dislike JPEG, but they’s a lot closer to locked-in once created. They aren’t as pushable if you need to tweak the highlights and shadows, and RAW preserves color information if you want to change between BW or other film sims and color palates. I like having those options, but at 40MP, RAW+JPEG becomes a daunting thing. A lot of newer cameras have lossless compressed RAW files, to take the edge off of storage issues on the memory card, but it’ll still be the same 40mp RAW in any editing software later on…

    So an option to have a downscaled RAW file could be really handy. Saving a smaller downscaled 26/24mp or even an option for 8mp would be pretty handy. A 40mp RAW shrunk to 24mp probably looks a bit nicer when pixel peeping than a RAW file from a 24mp sensor–it just cleans up a lot of oddness from the filter array on the sensor. In some ways it’s silly to shoot 40mp to downscale to 24, but that’s how a lot of newer cameras work for video. There’s disadvantages in terms of processing requirements, but that’s probably a bigger issue in video (hence the Canon R5 overheating issues when it downscales 8k video to 4k) than on stills. Meanwhile, the result is just nicer looking 4k video than 4k from cameras with lower resolution. If a 40mp X-H2 could deliver better-looking than the prior generations of X-Trans sensors at the same MP count, that’s nice, I guess.

    There’s also the concept of a B&W RAW. Pixii is pretty cagy about how they do it, but I bet a lot of folks would love to have B&W only files, but still have the pushable shadows and highlights of a RAW file rather than a flattened JPEG that’s harder to work with. Meanwhile, if you know you’re discarding color information, that too could result in a smaller file, and allow alternative algorithms with how to interpret the information from pixels under different color filters.

    JPEGS are just very committal, and it’d be great if there were a few middle-ground options between a fixed JPEG and a 40mp RAW.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 28 Days Ago

      I think TIFF would be an excellent third option. Some Fujifilm cameras have the option to save RAW as TIFF in-camera, but it would be nice to have RAW, TIFF, JPEG, RAW+TIFF, RAW+JPEG, RAW+TIFF+JPEG, & TIFF+JPEG as options, so that whatever works best for a photography is available. Shouldn’t be too difficult to implement. I appreciate the input!

      Like

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