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Thread: Pixels or Sensor ?

  1. #1

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    Pixels or Sensor ?

    what is more important ? the larger sensor or more pixels ?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Pixels or Sensor ?

    Depends what you want, there are no simple answers in Photography (as in life) Ahmed, just compromises.

    Many might say a (physically) larger sensor though, especially if greater dynamic range and lower noise are important to you.

    What is even more important is the person shooting and their knowledge + experience!

    Cheers,

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Pixels or Sensor ?

    The answer is not quite as simple as one choice or the other as there are a lot of factors that go into making that determination. To some extent it depends on the type of photography you do and how much money you want to spend on a camera and lenses. In many cases, especially in small sensor point & shoot cameras, more pixels buy absolutely nothing because the noise reduction algorithms "smear" the image, so you get larger files but no better resolution.

    To vastly oversimplify:

    larger sensor -> more expensive camera -> larger camera body -> more expensive lenses -> better for large prints -> better for ultra-wide angle shots -> 1-stop shallower DoF for full-frame vs APS-C.

    smaller sensor -> less expensive camera body -> smaller camera body -> lower cost lenses -> cannot enlarge to the same degree as larger sensor -> longer "effective focal length for long lenses" -> 1 stop greater DoF than full-frame sensor.

    I'd could state a few other points, but the assumptions behind them need a bit more explanation than I care to get into right now. I'm probably in trouble with the photographic purists in my explanations anyways...

    I personally would go for the largest sensor with the most pixels, if money were no object... But that happens to suit my shooting style and output (I make fairly large prints).

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    Re: Pixels or Sensor ?

    Well , I'm interested in the portraits and macros as you know .. so which is more important in these two kinds pixels or larger sensor .. And can you tell me how does the small number of pixels affect the picture i mean if there is a camera with small no. of pixels and a large sensor what is the good and the bad things that will be in the camera and the picture that it produces ?

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    Re: Pixels or Sensor ?

    It might be helpful to name the exact cameras that you are researching. To provide an example, let's say you are looking at the D700 with 12 mp on a full frame sensor and a D7100 with 24 mp on a crop sensor. One attribute of the large sensor/small mp body is that it is a few years older than the brand new D7100. Newer full frame bodies have more mp. So, you are dealing with older tech. I do not own a full frame camera, but they are reported to have more dynamic range, less noise, and a smaller relative depth of field. The more narrow dof of the D700 can be an advantage shooting portraits while less so with macro. Less noise is more decidedly an advantage if you do any of this in low light. Greater dynamic range is to one's advantage most of the time. Of course, a lot depends on your final product. If you are printing very large, more mp are good. That might lead you to the D800 which gives you the best of both worlds: a large sensor and a lot of mp. Expensive, to be sure. A lot of people like the 24mp D7100 for wildlife and its excellent crop-ability. The more mp, the more one can crop without losing iq too noticeably. That is probably not a concern with portraits and maybe not so much with macro, either. There is also the question of what you need to be happy. I use a D90 with 12 mp and find that satisfactory. Others quickly bought the D800. I would like to eventually get a full frame camera so I can return to the field of view I used for so long with film. Less noise is, for me, a great advantage of full frame and the larger sensor.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Pixels or Sensor ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ahmed View Post
    Well , I'm interested in the portraits and macros as you know .. so which is more important in these two kinds pixels or larger sensor ..
    The LARGER the sensor, the MORE Shallow the DoF you will be able to achieve, with any given lens.

    For the sub genres of Available Light Portraiture, or any Portraiture where one might need a Fast and Wide Lens – the larger sensor DSLR camera will offer a broader and superior choice of lenses (in Nikon and Canon range) - there are no really fast and wide lenses (e.g. equivalent 24mm~30mm) for APS-C, available.

    Pixels or Sensor ?
    EF 85/1.8 at F/1.8 used on a 5D.

    I don't care all that much about the number of pixels, all the latest release DSLRs have more than enough.

    ***

    A larger sensor camera (i.e. 135 Format compared to APS-C Format DSLR) allows for a range of typically more useable/useful Focal Lengths of Specialist Macro lenses.

    For example, using a 5D Series Canon Camera, the range of Focal Lengths of Canon Macro lenses available is: 50mm, 100mm and 180mm.

    With APS-C we have available: 50mm; 60mm; 100mm and 180mm, which is one more lens, but the range, (beginning at 50mm), may be somewhat limiting is certain circumstances: though usually a macro shooter will have a sub-genre of macro work they shoot and most will find a lens or lenses to suit - BUT - there is still the real possibility that an APS-C Photographer would like a Macro Lens which is wider than 50mm for the APS-C camera - on the other hand, I think it less likely that a 5D D Photographer would want a macro lens longer than 180mm.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 26th July 2013 at 02:34 AM.

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    Re: Pixels or Sensor ?

    Since photography is one continuous compromise one of the advantage of the small[er] sensor, which might have more pixels is the overall shortness of len[s] it uses which is the useful feature in big close-up photography. This is the opposite of what many will tell you is required for portraits where people tell you a fast lens is essential for limited depth of field, completely ignoring that they probably shot at f/5.6 or smaller for convience and want to have a sharp result .. the clients also probably want all of them to be sharp too.

    If you are going to buy an older camera I would suggest that the larger sensor is best ... but buying an up-to-date camera it would less important. You have a relatively new model so I wouldn't bother about it.

    There is another aspect that camera processors are improving so the modern camera is more likely to be better whatever size its sensor is. I seem to remember that awhile back you were considering an 8yo design which is really ancient in digital terms.

    I fear that you are going through the newbie stage where you want to flit from camera to camera as each appears to be better for your needs when really the best approach is to learn how to use what you have..... it will save you a lot of money ... I know becuase while it was decades ago I remember my foolish early days of hopping from camera to camera

    Edit. You already have a better range of focal lengths for BCU work than likely you could afford [ unless you have connection to some people across the Red Sea ] for the DSLR All you have to do is overcome the problems of focusing reasonably close which you will find in earlier postings.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 26th July 2013 at 08:56 AM.

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    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Pixels or Sensor ?

    Ahmed,

    You have some good information already. I'll second a few of the points already made. First, you can't answer the question well unless you tell us specific cameras. Second, the answer depends on what you want to do, as Dave said. Unfortunately, I don't think portraits and macro point to the same answer.

    I shoot more macro than anything else. (You can out some of my macros at the link below.) I shoot macro with a crop sensor camera. I am likely to upgrade that camera next year, and after a lot of thought (too much, probably), I've decided that I will almost certainly buy another crop.

    On balance, I think a crop is superior for macro. This assumes that you are comparing cameras with similarly new sensor designs. Here is why:

    -- at minimum working distance, a 1:1 macro lens will give you an image that is life-size. That means that an image that fills the frame on a crop sensor will fill about 40% of the frame on a "full frame" camera. You can crop the FF image, but then you are left with a lot fewer pixels in the image because of the lower pixel density of the FF. And in macro work, that matters, because one often ends up cropping the image to the point where the number of pixels matters (for example, when chasing bugs).

    --The greater reach of crops is useful for macro. If you want to fill the frame at a given distance, you can do it with a shorter lens on a crop. This matters for field work, because it is very hard to hold the camera still enough for macro, even with the help of a monopod, and a longer lens is heavier (and more expensive).

    --As William said, minimum depth of field is narrower with FF. This is something many portrait photographers find valuable, but it is useless in macro work. In macro work, more often than not, you are struggling to INCREASE depth of field. That is why many of us use focus stacking. Even people who like to stack narrow-DOF macro shots don't need the narrower DOF of a FF camera.

    --Crop sensor cameras are cheaper, and the difference in price can fund other stuff one needs in macro work, like a diffused flash, a tripod, a monopod, and stacking software.

    Nonetheless, it's a compromise, and you lose something. In particular, I would love to have the lower noise at moderate and high ISOs that FF cameras provide. In addition, as noted above, if you print very large, a FF can do better, but at the size I print, I don't think I would notice the difference.

    Dan

  9. #9
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Pixels or Sensor ?

    If you were looking to set up to be a professional portrait photographer, I would suggest that you pick up a Canon 5D MkIII or a Nikon D800; and get the f/2.8 24-70mm and f/2.8 70-200mm lenses from the respective camera manufacturer. That will set you back in the order of at least $US7500 as a base, plus of course you will need some some lighting equipment, etc.

    Anything else, stick to a crop frame. You will never see the difference in the full-frame, unless you are out the creating some large commercial prints. Anything you will be posting on the internet, you'll never be able to tell the difference.

    One of these was done with a crop-frame D90 and the other with a full frame D800. I used the f/2 105mm Nikkor for both shots. Both are studio shots with controlled lighting. Can you tell which camera was used for which shot?

    Pixels or Sensor ?



    Pixels or Sensor ?


    You are honestly going through unneccessary gyrations here. A good lens and a reasonably modern modern camera will serve you well, for both portraiture and macro work. By the way, I can see the difference, but I am looking at two high quality, large format prints.
    Last edited by GrumpyDiver; 26th July 2013 at 12:20 PM.

  10. #10
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Pixels or Sensor ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    . . .minimum depth of field is narrower with FF. This is something many portrait photographers find valuable, but it is useless in macro work. In macro work . . .you are struggling to INCREASE depth of field. That is why many of us use focus stacking. Even people who like to stack narrow-DOF macro shots don't need the narrower DOF of a FF camera.
    Indeed.

    And I anticipated that an expert in this genre would continue the conversation - and you did.

    Thank you.

    WW

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