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I read with quite a bit of interest the new idea from Ming Thein: the Ultraprint(1).

The idea (if I understand well) is to make a print that, independently from the viewing distance, is so dense that the human eye can't resolve the dots (given that we have a minimum focusing distance...); more or less a "Retina print", borrowing from Apple terminology.

This leads to a thing around 720 (real) PPI on print, which means that for this kind of prints you need 36Mpix for a 10x15" print.

The photos and crops on the page looks really nice (especially the red tree).

Would this kind of prints reopen the megapixel race (if it has ever stopped)? Do you think that the idea could be worthwhile?

(1) I am in no way affiliated with this site. Just a reader.

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You'd actually need something more like 80MP (77.76) for a 10x15" print at 720ppi. The Phase One IQ280 can't do 10x15" at that resolution in one exposure because of the aspect ratio difference. –  user2719 Feb 27 '14 at 18:33
    
Ah well, I don't see whats new about 'the ultraprint'. The folks at luminous landscape said for years that having 720ppi resolution will have a visual advantage to 360ppi, but only if you have the image data for this. –  Sam Nov 11 '14 at 8:11

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It has no impact on it what so ever. More resolution is almost always a good thing. The reason the megapixel race died down is because the amount of gain we got for cramming in more megapixels was superseded by other advances.

Short of physical optics constraints (diffraction limiting), DSLRs are now at a point of resolution that used to be reserved for medium format cameras and medium format digital cameras are beasts to behold, more resolution means more detailed images, but when you have the choice of having slightly better color, slightly better optics or slightly more pixels, it is now preferable to get something other than more pixels.

This won't always be the case and in certain specific use cases, more resolution may still be the preferred way to go, but this concept of a very high DPI photo is neither new or unique and has no particular bearing on anything as far as the megapixel race goes.

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Does anyone on here actually MAKE prints? I'm serious: people talk about resolution, ppi, etc. but the proof is in the print.

I was a full time professional photographer for 35 years, the last 9 of which were digital. I sent a .TIF file from my Fuji S2 to my printer at the time (now out of business, sadly) of a family. I requested a 30x40 print. The owner of the lab called and asked, "Was that a negative that you had scanned into a digital file, or was it an actual digital image?"

I told him, "You have the file...can't you tell?" His reply: NO! The print is sharp and gorgeous. Could I display this print for two weeks in the entry to the lab?" I said, sure, no problem. He set up a ballot box with a sign that said, "Please vote: is this FILM or DIGITAL?" 68% of his clientele, consisting of professional and advanced non-pros, voted FILM. Keep in mind the Fuji S2 was a 6.2 Mp camera...

Some months later, I ordered a 40x60 print from a Canon 20D camera. Same thing: can I display this? Yes, I told him. Same voting. Different results: 72% thought it was film. And as far as the billboard comment goes, I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but I had a full length bridal image that filled one third of a billboard...and it was made from the Canon 20D.

What people are missing is the fact that the software of the printing equipment does a very admirable job in up-sizing these images. Canon has announced a 50 Mp camera...but I won't be a buyer. Remember the largest print in the world at that time was displayed in the Photography Hall of Fame and Museum in Duratrans media. It was made from a 6x9cm film negative (probably equivalent to a 40 Mp file).

I don't know about all of you, but I have yet to have the need to make a print 12 feet tall and 40 feet long (or whatever the size of the thing). However, camera makers have done an excellent job in pushing the "More MP = More Quality!" mindset.

The moral of the story: stop chasing the Megapixel Monkey! Unless you are making fine art seps, that 18.2 MP Canon Rebel T4i (or whatever camera--just an example Nikon/Sony/Panasonic/Pentax fans!) is going to be more than enough for you. You will see very little...if any...appreciable difference from an 8x10 to a 24x30 at the equal appropriate viewing distances.

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With more MPs you have more data to work with to do image processing. Simply resizing an image from, 50 MP to, say, 20 MP will significantly reduce the noise. A picture shot in dark conditions with a good 50 MP camera will likely have some noise, the rescaled picture may have hardly any noise. Trying to shoot the same low noise picture directly with a 20 MP camera may well be impossible. You may try image stacking, but that option isn't always available. –  Count Iblis Apr 29 at 18:53
    
I make prints. –  SailorCire Apr 29 at 18:57

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