Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/07/17

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Subject: [Leica] What will 3 megapixels do for me?
From: Peter Klein <>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 12:24:27 -0700 (PDT)

Thanks to Kyle, B.D., and Phong for their appraisals of megapixels to
print size.

As for my Coolpix 990 (3.2 mp) is that 8x10 is about the limit. It has as
much to do with noise and posterization after any appreciable curve
adjustments as it does with megapixels.  Bigger sensors, better
processing, and greater bit depth in the A/D converter and such on a pro
DSLR gives you more to work with.

I took some digi-shots of colleagues at a baseball game recently, and
semi-shaded faces looked marginal at 8x10.  They were fine at 5x7 or

On the other hand, I turned the KewlPix on myself and took a
head-and-shoulders shot with flash at ISO 100.  That made a very nice 8x10
with good texture and that beautiful, liquid, no-noise quality in the
background. But 8x10 appeared to be at the limit--if I made it any bigger
than that on the screen, I could see that my five-o'clock shadow was
*square!* This could partially be caused by using JPEGs, which turns
individual dots into 2x2 blocks.  But who's going to wait 40 seconds for
each shot to write a TIFF?

It looks like a pro DSLR is the ticket for the quality I'd like, and for
much less noisy work at low-light levels.  Hmm, used D30 bodies are
getting relatively cheap, and Phong's pictures show that a D30 is quite
usable despite megapixel envy.  But as Jim Laurel and others have
lamented, going to a DSLR means losing the small, light, unobtrusive

As my wife keeps telling me, there is no pefect camera.  And as the
Capitol One credit card ads say, "What's in *your* wallet?"  :-)

- --Peter

Kyle wrote:
> I invited the LUG to my show last month and a few came out. I've made
> 30x40 enlargements from 2.1 mp, & 6mp digital cameras as well as leica
> shots on film. None of the luggers who came out were able to
> accurately identify any of the originating cameras.

B.D. wrote:
> Peter - Just FYI - I have produced b&w piezo prints with an image area
> of apx. 12 x 17 using an a color image from a 5 mgp camera - converted
> to grayscale...and at a normal viewing distance, they look terrific.

Phong wrote:

> In the LUG tradition, the answer is it depends :-) It depends on the
> quality of the original file, in terms of focus, exposure, quality of
> light, use of tripod, subjects, etc. In practice, prints of 8x10 (and
> 8x12) inches are common, 11x14 once in a while.  With my D10 (6 Mega
> pixel Canon DSLR), I can often get to 13x19 (largest size on my
> current printer).

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