Saturday, June 27, 2020

All the Megapixels?

Only a dozen megapixels there.
Many years ago, when the talk of the town was the D810, I remember several of my Nikon-shooting friends at first excited to grab one, and then a few months later lamenting their choice. For example, a friend of mine works for Getty and is responsible for shooting celebrities and events in New York. At 36 megapixels in 2013, he found himself with way too many images that were far too large, which complicated his media storage and seriously slowed down his workflow.

These days, 36 megapixels is less of a burden thanks to evolving computer technology, and maybe someday the same can be said for 61 megapixels. But anyone trying to shoot burst images in 61 megapixels today—a touted feature of the a7R IV—will quickly find themselves inundated with a great number of images that are several times larger than their previous camera and require that much more horsepower when it comes to editing them in a program like Lightroom.

All for what? Posting on Instagram?

Don’t make that face, you know it’s true: nearly every image that is taken is posted to social media or put on a website, then tossed into a hard drive never to be seen again. If you’re telling me you are going to print all these images you’re shooting, pardon me, but you know that’s not true. Knowing that, why do you want 61 megapixels?

Given that I do my photo editing on an old 2014 Mac mini at home and a similarly-spec'ed MacBook Air on the road, I've noticed this with the files from the 50MP 5DS, where RAW images can exceed 70MB. ("Hey, Mr. Editor, can we open a shared Dropbox? These images are too big to attach to an email.")

Regarding printed images, I have only a handful of actual physical prints from the last several years' worth of photography, pretty much all 8x10s. Most were 16MP shots with the 1Ds MkII or the OM-D E-M5. They're fine. The linked article's absolutely right in that we normally view photographs on a screen these days, and most frequently on a screen in your hand. You'd need four current 10.2" iPad screens to display a full resolution image from even those old 16MP cameras.

I've used that aforementioned 16MP 1Ds2 for some full-page glossy shots in Concealment magazine, too, but actually my last several photos in there were with the old 12MP Nikon D700, which I intend to use until the shutter falls out. Given that the shutter on mine has less than 50k shutter activations, and there are D700s still chugging along with over a million, it might be a bit before entropy catches up with it. The electronics will likely get wonky first.