Pros Appetite for Megapixels Is Sated

Opinion: Greater sensitivity for low-light shooting would be a more meaningful advance than an increase in megapixels could be.

The megapixel race may have peaked. It seems to me that most pro photographers feel their cameras resolution is now high enough. Instead of more pixels, they would like new camera models to bring them better pixels.

Conventional wisdom has it that what pros and consumers want most from their cameras are more megapixels. But buyers may now be happy with the resolution they are getting. I have some evidence: the contrarian reaction to last weeks Phase One digital back announcements.

Digital backs are used by product, fashion and landscape photographers who want the really, really best image file quality.

These backs are interchangeable; they are used mounted on medium format or view cameras.

Backs are often used tethered, attached to a computer that allows images to be downloaded and previewed as they are shot. Backs are mostly built on chips designed by Kodak or Dalsa, so the Phase announcement also gives us a good idea where the market is heading.

As digital back users are quality fanatics, the spectacular resolutions—up to 39 megapixels—announced by Phase One for its next generation of digital backs, to be delivered at the start of next year, should have elicited applause, admiration and approval from digital photographers.

Not so: Commentary on the Rob Galbraith medium format discussion group has been, frankly, skeptical.

Most pros still appear overwhelmed by price levels that are remaining stable rather than descending—around $30K is just too much for a single piece of equipment—especially for an item that stays state-of-the-art for only two years.

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