Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mega Megapixels - Another Thought

Last week I posted Mega Megapixels - Canon Announced A 120 Megapixel DSLR and then a couple of days later I had a conversation with a photographer friend of mine about it. He had an interesting observation that I thought was worth sharing.

He said that the biggest advantage of 120 megapixels is not the massive prints that you could make, or even the incredibly deep cropping that you could do, but that you could create multiple photographs from one exposure. For example, you could go to Tunnel View at Yosemite National Park and, with one exposure, make separate photographs of El Capitan, Cathedral Spires, Bridalveil Falls and Half Dome.
Tunnel View Monochrome - Yosemite National Park, California
If you cropped the images from the exposure so that each had 20 megapixels worth of resolution, you'd still have 40 megapixels that you're throwing away! 120 megapixels provide more than enough resolution to make five or six different images from one exposure, and you'd be able to print those fairly large without problems.

But why would someone want to do this?

Sometimes you might have a great scene with great light and great but quickly changes conditions, and there are multiple elements that you want to capture. Instead of picking one and hoping you'll be able to capture the others before things change, you'll now be assured that you've captured it all.

Another example might be with street photography. Maybe there's a parade or event and there are multiple things going on in a scene all at once. Instead of picking one and hoping that the other people will still be there doing whatever it is they're doing, one mega megapixel exposure and you're done!

Lazy people might see this as an opportunity to capture a scene and then decide later if there's anything interesting going on. They might see this as similar to the Lytro "light field" camera where they can decide after capturing an image where to focus, only instead of focus they're deciding on composition.

Some challenges are depth-of-field and focus. I imagine if you're using this method that you are likely using a wide-angle lens. You will want a depth-of-field that is large enough to ensure the whole scene is sharp, but you'll run into diffraction if you use too small of an aperture. You'll want to pick a spot in the "middle" of the scene to focus so that the foreground and background have a chance of being in-focus. It might be a bit tricky to get everything just right but I'm sure with some practice you'd figure out exactly how to best accomplish this.

We both agreed that this isn't the best way to capture great photographs. It seems that it could be a thoughtless way to capture images. Thoughtless is the opposite of creative, and creativity is an essential element of photographic vision.
McWay Falls View - Big Sur, California
However, it might be a good way to get a bunch of good images. If you are a stock photographer you might be more concerned with quantity over quality. If you are pressed for time (which is something I've experienced on several different occasions for several different reasons--like when my four-year-old son decided he had to go potty now when I was trying to capture McWay Falls in Big Sur) this could be a good way to capture the image that you were planning to capture, plus perhaps a couple of "bonus" photographs made from the same exposure.

It's interesting to think outside-the-box about this, but it seems as though making multiple photographs from one exposure isn't the best method available, at least not under normal circumstances. I can see how on a very rare occasion it might come in handy, but I don't see it being worth the headache of constantly dealing with massive file sizes and the extra cost (because I'm sure the camera won't be cheap) just for an occasional advantage that you can likely work around anyway with the gear that you already have.

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