Pixel Peeping or Why am I so Anal about How Many Pixels I Have?

Katya-Gaydukova-in-Fear-by-Benjamin-Kanarek
Katya Gaydukova in Fear © Benjamin Kanarek

You know, I’ve been observing my images and thinking about the stuff I have shot with my Canon 10D, Canon 20D, Canon 1Ds Mkll and my PentaxK10D’s and K20D’s. I have also shot with pretty much every Medium Format Camera and digital back available.

I JUST DON’T SEE ANY SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANY OF THEM WHEN PRINTED TO A LARGER THAN STANDARD MAGAZINE FORMAT!!! That being around A3. Perhaps color nuance and some photo grain differences when I shot at 400 or 800 iso.

I have been published with all of the above camera’s. All of the magazine’s I have been published in are very high grade Trendy Press book quality magazines. The output for printing in a high end glossy table top magazine of all of the above camera’s was more than adequate for my needs.

My point is this. In terms of resolving power and for most support that most of us would imagine being published in, pretty much all of the newer DSLR cameras out today could be used for professional application, if you know their limitations.

In fact my last shoot I did with the Pentax K20D was over kill considering the size of the support i.e. about 8×10 inches. In fact, I had to reduce the image size to get down to 300 dpi for Pre Press. I would have been quite comfortable with a 8-10 mega pixel DSLR. The only grain I see when published with a 10 mega pixel camera in double page landscape format is the screen grain of the printing press of around 133 dpi.

Why do I bring all of this up… Pixel Peeping is a total waste of time.

Go out and enjoy your toy and use it to express who and what you are.

That’s All Folks…

About Benjamin Kanarek
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Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…
  • Richard Tallent

    Excellent post. Three small counter-notes:

    – Better resolution offers better after-the-fact crop options without dropping below the desired output resolution.

    – If you happen to be shooting with lots of shadow detail, having more resolution allows 12-bit information to “dither” randomly to provide less banding in 16-bit. Of course, shooting to the right also helps here. Hopefully camera manufacturers will get off the megapixel-game and focus more on giving us 16-bit sensors for better latitude and tonal values.

    – If you later decide to publish the same photos as artwork, better publishers may print around 400lpi. Obviously dpi and lpi aren’t exactly the same, but my point is that what’s good for magazines may not be optimal for other future publication.