36 Megapixels
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36 Megapixels and what it means to artists
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36 megapixels and what does that mean to artists who photograph their own artwork
This page was updated on April 2
On March 22, Nikon came out with the 36 megapixel D800 for a reasonable price of only $3000. I say reasonable because that was what the D700 cost when it was released almost four years ago. And Canon came out with the second update to their popular 5D, the 5D3. 22 megapixels for $3500. Both full frame (35mm size) sensor cameras. Don't be fooled into thinking that 36 megapixels is better then 22 megapixels or that for $3,500, the Canon will be better than the Nikon for $3,000. At anything over 10 or 12 megapixels, it's based on what the photographer needs the camera for. In fact, when Canon came out with the 21 megapixel 5D2 a few years ago, I was contacted by an artist who was thinking of spending $3000 to upgrade their current camera, incorrectly thinking the higher megapixel count would improve the images of their artwork.
What can you do with 36 megapixels
It's an advantage if you need to pull a detail section out of an image without having to take any additional pictures. It's also an advantage if you can't get close enough to fill the frame with small items because it allows severe cropping and still having enough pixels for jurying. But on the other hand, it magnifies any imperfections in the lenses you use. And a sturdy tripod will (with any camera) help maintain quality in your images. So if you're thinking of using 36 megapixels because your lens can't focus close enough, a new lens, preferably a dedicated macro lens, would be a much better and less expensive investment.
How many pixels is 36 megapixels
The pixel size captured by the D800 is 7360 x 4912. If shooting maximum quality JPEG, the file size is approximately 16 megabytes and too large for most email servers. RAW files range from 41 to 74 megabytes, depending on compression, and a TIF is 108 megabytes. These are enormous files to work with and store on your computer. Shooting 36 megapixels will require computer upgrade planning.
Not a reason to hire a photographer
It's NOT a reason to hire a photographer. I have a D800 on order. It's a decision I made two years ago, only because I've needed a second camera body and have been waiting for the rumored replacement for the D700 I've been using.
I'm actually getting the D800E, the version without an anti aliasing filter. With the expectation of slightly improved image quality, more to the lack of the anti aliasing filter than the number of megapixels, I've also upgraded my lenses. I recently purchased the Zeiss 50mm f2 ZF.2 and the Zeiss 100mm f2 ZF.2 macro lenses since 99% of what I shoot is artwork using macro lenses.
About the Anti Aliasing (AA) Filter
Most DSLR cameras have an anti aliasing filter in front of the sensor to slightly blur the image to prevent a moire pattern in the image. Most images containing a moire pattern are of man made things containing repeatable patterns, like clothing and architecture. From DPReview: If a scene contains areas with repetitive detail which exceeds the resolution of the camera, a wavy moiré pattern can appear, Anti-alias filters reduce or eliminate moiré but also reduce image sharpness. Nikon also has a good explanation on their web site.

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