Thursday, January 25, 2007
Myths, Misinformation & Misunderstandings
Well-meaning reporters and marketing hype all contribute to problems in communicating digital information
Labels: Learning Center
Those Lying, Cheating Megapixels
I've overheard salespeople at retailers comment on how much better a
certain camera is because of the megapixels. Round-up articles about digital cameras in newspapers tend to overemphasize megapixel numbers. Over the years, manufacturers and retailers have hyped megapixels as a critical factor in buying a digital camera. No wonder this is so confusing!
A few years ago, megapixels were a defining characteristic of a digital camera, especially when the first 1-megapixel cameras came out. Finally, true photo quality appeared possible. Then 2- and 3-megapixel sensors upped the quality so that excellent 4x6, 5x7 and 8x10 prints could be made. Advertising the benefits of more megapixels made sense.
Now with 4, 6 and 8 megapixels common, you no longer can compare cameras strictly on megapixels. Each of those sizes is capable of superb, highest-quality prints at 11x14 inches and larger. The more megapixels, the bigger you can make a print, but unless you're a pro, there's more difference in many other camera features than megapixels for the average photographer. But like Tim Allen and "Tool Time," big sometimes overpowers reason.
All megapixels aren't created equal, either. Tiny photosites on a 5-megapixel cell phone camera have no hope of matching the color, tone, low noise and other characteristics of a 4-megapixel pro camera, for example (let alone getting a high-quality lens into a small cell phone). For true digital cameras, once you have enough megapixels, other features-from lens type and quality to lag time to exposure systems to ISO settings and noise-become more important.
Space Invaders Plunder Computers
You'll read a lot of books that say to never use sRGB and always use Adobe RGB (1998) as color spaces for digital cameras and other digital files. These two color spaces are different-sRGB is smaller than Adobe RGB, to be sure, but size isn't everything. Does this mean that you should always buy and use a big car because it has more cargo space? It all depends on what you need.
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