For a long time, pretty much any advanced amateur/pro photographer carrying a dslr would eventually and inevitably be confronted with the question “Wow, how many megapixels is that?”  You can’t fault them for asking though – we had all gotten used to the marketers pushing the megapixel count as a measure of a camera’s quality.  You can’t really fault the marketers either – pixel count was an easy way of answering “why should I buy camera X over Y” to the consumer (certainly a lot easier than trying to explain the nuances of dynamic range, chromatic abberation & flare control, lens aperture etc…)  Of course, most folks “in the know” realized that there was *far* more to image quality than pixel count.   Nevertheless to the chagrin of most pros and enthusiasts the pixel count (and density) kept getting higher and higher…   Until now?

In the rapidly shifting world of camera technology, maybe consumer sentiment is coming around – when a blog as big as gizmondo explains why “more megapixels aren’t better” you gotta figure that people are noticing.  This combined with a number of recent compact camera launches trimming back their pixel count in favor of better low light performance… and then Olympus declares their complete withdrawl from the megapixel race altogether, setting the max for their SLRs at 12mp!

Could this be a renniasance in camera design?  With innovative camera designs like the G1, and sensors like the new Fuji EXR sensor (eschewing pixel count for improved dynamic range using pixel binning) it may just be that a whole new world is opening up in the digital camera arena.  Personally I’m looking forward to every bit of it!

One Response to “Is the megapixel war over?”

  1. I’ve often felt that we can do more to tweak our sensors. I’ve always like Fuji for that, and that’s why one of my cameras is a FUJI. That being said. I don’t think the limit is 12MP. I personally think on an FX sensor it’s going to 24MP. The D3x is an good example of good dynamic range and low light performance with an increase in the pixel count.

    I personally believe that at 24MP you capture enough information that you can do most everything you need. However, I can think of only a handful of times when I need that kind of detail. Anyway, I would like to see movement into experimental sensors like Fuji did. Though they seem to be mainstreaming their sensors a little bit. Maybe the Foveon stuff would be good, but who knows.

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