EOS 5D mkII, is 21MP overkill for most photogs?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by enrique_bocanegra, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. How many photographers actually find themselves utilizing the full 21MP of the 5Dmkii? Now that I have recently been shooting my first few weddings with the 5D mkII and having experiencing the drawbacks(slower lightroom/PP process time, CF memory space) of huge RAW files, I kinda wonder if I really need the 21MP. When I shot 5D weddings, the biggest picture size I offered and actually sold only twice was 24x36 and the biggest customers request is 16x20. The 12MP did just fine for those size, so I wonder if I should just set smaller raw file. What do you pro's do with the full 21MP?
  2. It depends, I shoot mostly sports for web publishing and occasional newspaper, so a crop sensor xxD set to Medium jpg is fine. I'll still cut it down from 2-3 MB to 300-400KB so I don't choke the server during upload.
    If I were shooting weddings, the 21MP would be more realistic.
    Your milage may vary....
  3. I guess Enrique you don't frequent forums much. Most people buy these types of cameras to pixel peep and argue around noise artifacts on forms. The 21MP of the 5DII keep these photogeeks outta trouble for weeks at a time...
  4. Overkill? Apparently not. And if you consider digital backs, some of which are up to approx. 60MP, 21MP is child's play!
    I do appreciate that 21MP allows me the latitude to potentially crop more aggressively than I could with my 30D. I have not noticed a significantly slower transfer/processing time. More disk space used, absolutely! That's why I frequently cull the obvious duds.
  5. stp


    Demands vary, and I'd always rather have too much than too little if IQ is a primary consideration.
  6. I'd always rather have too much than too little if IQ is a primary consideration.​
    Do the number of mega pixels actually determine primary image quality in a printed photograph? I think not. But this could be an interesting debate.
  7. When I started taking photographs in the DSLR format, I began by purchasing my first canon 30D. Since before I actually moved on to FF I was of the believe that a "better camera" could improve my image quality, but to my dissapointment (when purchased 5d and 5DmkII now) it did not and I went to actually improve my pictures and image quality by taking creative ligting lessons with flash and the art of composition in my local community college. I have seen many great photographs shot with a digital rebel all the way up to those expensive digital MF. But I have also seen many, many crappy shots taken with an eos 1d's mkIII and eos 5d mkII.
  8. My thought and why I stick with the 5d 12m was, how many pixels it takes to print a standard wedding shot at 5x7. all those pix get shredded ? the option is there for smaller Raws to try. pixel peepin might omly tell the diff, doubt if std size prints will ;0)
  9. I for one would prefer lower resolution with larger photosites, even better low-light performance and less artifacts in video. But we have to take what Canon offers, so there's little point in waging lengthy discussions about what the Mark II should have been.
  10. "even better low-light performance "
    Not necessarily. The amount of light collected per unit area of sensor will be the same, so it's not clear that you actually lose anything by collecting that light in 4 or 8 pixels. If you shoot at, say, ISO 12,800 (according to an external meter, using the optimal in-camera ISO setting) and downsample both a 5D and a 5D2 image to 6MP, you'd see a lot less difference than if you compare the individual pixel performance. Similarly, you might like a noisier per-pixel 21MP image printed at 300 ppi (12 x 18) better than a less noisy per-pixel 12MP image printed at 240 ppi (12 x 18). That is, in making an actual print, there are pluses as well as minuses.
    But the 12MP 5D made a very nice 12x18 print, and it's not clear that there's any need for 21MP at 12x18.
  11. Having come over from film photography, I find the 5D Mark II's high resolution to be a blessing. To me, there'd be no point in getting a body with a certain level of maximum resolution, and then not utilize it. Why not just save money by buying a lower resolution body?
    By the way, David, I think it's pretty clear by now that full frame sensors deliver much less noisy images in low light than do crop frame sensors. Just compare either of the 5D's to the 50D, for example.
  12. [[ Why not just save money by buying a lower resolution body?]]
    Because there could certainly be features of the camera, not related to resolution, that are beneficial to the photographer.
  13. I find the resolution improves detail in 12 x 18 prints, the Mk II has shown me a signifcant improvement in detail, I do mostly landscape where it is needed more than in portrait work, but I tell you my 12 x 18's are much better than those produced by my 5D1 and also allow for very nice 17 x 25 prints.
  14. If you don't print quite large, use excellent lenses, shoot with good technique, print rather large and with sophisticated post-processing and printing skills...
    ... you probably won't see much benefit from the 21MP full frame sensor.
    (Who shoots a 5D II and a 5D)
  15. The nice thing with the 5D M II is that you scale down the RAW as well as the JPG files. If the 21mpx is overkill for the situation and want smaller files and quicker workflow just select the smaller sizes. But the day you want that high res image for a group shot or amazingly detailed subject that you need to print larger you know you have it available with a quick dial adjustment...
  16. "improves detail in 12 x 18 prints"
    It's good to hear that. I've not even tried printing 12x18 from the 5D2 yet (the two projects I've done so far this year only required A4, and still aren't done). And I've been too busy being irritated at how bad it makes my wide angle lenses look. Sigh. I still can't believe that the old 24TSE was one of my favorite lenses.
    "less noisy images in low light than do crop frame sensors"
    Is there another David in this thread? I wasn't talking about cropped cameras. At least I _hope_ I wasn't, since it wouldn't make any sense if I had been...
  17. "Do the number of mega pixels actually determine primary image quality in a printed photograph? I think not. But this could be an interesting debate."
    Of course they do and not worth debating. The larger you print, the more the original MPs you have, the better. Always the case and this is pure, common sense.
    Many variables go into a fine print, especially the size of the image data file. How much is that worth? 50% or more? Probably. Glass and technique, "film" used, as well as post processing skills are the remainder of the equation. But the more MPs the better--you can't print what's not there.
    "But the 12MP 5D made a very nice 12x18 print, and it's not clear that there's any need for 21MP at 12x18."
    So does 6MP from a 10D with proper technique on such large prints, indeed. I'd still rather 'suffer' 21MP from a low noise FF sensor than 10 or 6 MP from an APS-C sensor. ANY DAY. ANY PLACE. ANY TIME.
  18. To me the big improvement of the 5DII is it's quality at high ISO. 21 mp is useful on occasions as you can crop or print very large but this is a camera where 1600 and even 3200 ISO are very good. If you really want to fill hard disks buy an MF or LF camera and scan. At the MF extreme a Fuji GX680 (6x8) scan at 4000dpi and with 16 bit colour gives a file between 550 and 650 MB. However while processing is an issue, storage is cheap (around $100 / TB these days). If you shoot video with the 5DII you will need a very fast machine if you want to play it. I had to upgrade as I guess the Digix 4 processor is more powerful than a dual core chip set with extra graphics card. When I played 5DII video on the old machine the audio and video could not keep in synch. Wait until the 5DIII shoots at 60fps HD! I think that real world performance gains on DSLRs are slowing as sensors and processors have reached the point where they are not the constraining factor. I was very impressed by the micro 4/3 G1 camera that I bought to use old FD lenses. With good glass at low ISO (100-400 max) and in good light this camera produces images as good as the old 5D. It is clearly not a better camera as it higher ISo or low light revel it's failings. For me it is about time for a breakthrough in AF - with all this processing power surely we can do better than the 1V performance of a few years ago - but even 1 series cameras have not really improved much in the last 7 years.
  19. I was recently thinking about this. I use two 40D bodies and a Pentax K20D for wedding work. When I think back to using an old 3mp Canon D30 and 6mp Canon 10D, I never had anyone have issues with the quality of images. Let's be honest....most wedding shots are reproduced at 8x10, 11x14, and maybe, 16x20. Even at the largest sizes, I've never had anyone mention low resolution, etc. In fact, it's quite the opposite. People are amazed at how good the prints look....even at 16x24. Most of the large group shots I produce from portaiture and weddings comes in at 12x18 or 14x21. The 10 and 15mp cameras are fine for that.
    Our clients don't seem to care about whether you're shooting with a 10, 15 or 21mp camera....they simple look at the results. If they can't tell the difference, then far too much time is spent arguing one way or another.
    In all honesty, the gear quality exceeds the capabilities of most photographers. There should be far more discussions going on about lighting technique, composition, processing, etc. They matter far more than 10, 15 or 21!
  20. Dave I couldn't agree more with that last statement!
  21. I just got my 5D Mark II and see a huge difference in image quality over my Canon 30D. I can't so much look a photo and point out specific artifacts to prove this It is more of an overall look that is different. Like comparing Digital to Film, both can look excellent but they do look different.
    As of now I prefer to shoot Large JPG rather than RAW as the quality difference too me is not worth the extra processing time required. When my shots are dead on I am able to create a DVD for my customers at the end of the event with no problems.
    And yes, I prefer usin all the available resolution avaiable to me unless I know I am going to shoot more photos than I have enough storage for then I will reduce size to get more photos on my CF.
  22. Dave, very well put. i shot a family portraits once, i shot my MF 22MP back for the group shot and my Canon 10MP SLR for kids at play shots. They ordered a 24x30 of the kids at play and a 4x5 of the group shot! That being said the kids shot enlarged very very well.
    I personally like the 5d2 for the video not the still images. I work with 5d files and dont really care for them, so the upgrade in noise/IQ is great dont need the res. I upgraded from the 1d2 to 1d3 last year, I didny care about the extra 2MP, slightly nice, but wanted the better IQ/noise which is really really nice, actually the deciding choice for the camera was weight and new battery life. Instead of buying $500 in new batteries for the 1d2 i bought a whole new camera for $1500.
    I personally dont expect much for SLRs anymore. As a long time Canon user, I really like them, I use them almost all the time. I expect them to produce good images not outstanding. Thats why I went to MF 2 years ago. Its not about MPs its about IQ, mainly not having an AA filter and having super incredible lenses for it.
  23. "improves detail in 12 x 18 prints"
    It's good to hear that....​
    This was one of the pleasant and somewhat unexpected surprises for me when I went to the 5DII from a 5D.
  24. stp


    Dave, I'm another who strongly agrees with your last statement. I like to comment on photographs, and the number of pixels in the camera has no bearing on the image. Things might be different if I were in a gallery looking at large prints, but I think most of us would benefit by concentrating on lighting, composition, and (depending on the subject) aperture and corresponding shutter speed.
  25. Well said Stephen and Dave. There's so much geeking. And not nearly as much thought going into photograph making.
  26. True Stephen. I can't begin to count how many times I've looked at gorgeous photos in Lenswork, to see they were shot with a Sony point and shoot, or an old Canon 20D or Nikon D100. I realize the pics in Lenswork are small....but if people would just use that humble 10 or 15mp to its fullest, they'd be amazed at what these cameras can produce when they stop worrying about MTF curves, shadow noise in the 11th stop, and what interpolation out of the 70 they have at their disposal will work the best....and simply concern themselves with capturing some emotion in their images.
  27. I like to crop occasionally, so having the detail in the cropped image is nice.

    That being said, I recently printed some cropped (so less than full resolution) images from my old Rebel XT (8MP) to 18x24 and they look fantastic.
  28. I shoot landscape and have an Epson 24" wide printer. 'nuff said?
  29. Give me 65+mps! Serriously though, the physical limit for 35mm format though will be somewhere around 40mp of output. But, I would suspect that in the future that the native resolution would be much higher so that things like aa filters and such become a thing of the past.
    Once digital MF comes down in price I suspect I'll leave 35mm format again. I'd love gigapixel, but that would be the rare subjet.
  30. I'd love to have a 5D2. I have a birthday coming up, but I can hear the family saying "but you have too many cameras ALREADY!"
  31. As a soon-to-be-5D2 owner, what I can say is this: If the file sizes are a limiting factor, reduce the file size accordingly. If your pre-capture technique is up to par and you manage your post-capture workflow, you'll print large just fine. I currently use a humble XTi (400D) and have made great prints at 20x30inch. I spent far more time setting up the shot than post-processing, which is telling, methinks.
    <p>Will I shoot my weddings at full-size RAW? Highly unlikely. In fact, it's a straight no. Will I use 21MP? Certainly, but only when I need the latitude to crop (occasionally), or for large format prints which I do periodically. But those rarely come from my wedding clients, mostly from commercial shoots for ads, etc.
  32. I think people are worrying too much about the file size. If you have a reasonably recent Mac/PC, 5D2 files are no slower to deal with than 5D files were with a reasonably recent Mac/PC three years ago, and not all that much slower than working with 5D files on the same MacPC. (Lightroom uses multiple cores quite effectively, and presumably other programs do as well.) If you take a shot in a reduced resolution mode and decide you want to print it big, it's too late.
    Also, there are a lot of advantages to always using the same work flow. The simplest one being that it's one less setting to forget to change back. And you will forget to change it back.
  33. I'm with David on the file size issue. With1TB drives going for less than US$100 and CF cards going for very low prices now, it hardly seems like something to worry about. And given that the primary advantage from the 5D2 (though not the only advantage) is the 21MP sensor it makes sense to take advantage of that in most cases.
    I virtually always shoot RAW. (The only exception would be a very rare situation in which I want a deeper buffer in burst mode.) As David points out, there are virtually no real disadvantages to going with RAW and potentially advantages in some situations where you might not expect it.
  34. go BIG or stay home!
  35. I'm gonna pass on the MKII and wait for it's successor and Canon's response to the D700.
  36. 21 MP for me, is useful in post processing. See if you shoot in 21MP and pixel peep, you'll notice that your picture is softer compared to a smaller size, say for example a small jpeg. But during post processing I usually process the large file with large resolution. Then re-size it to a smaller size.
    As an exercise try to shoot an image at 21 MP and a small JPEG. Shoot same image, then upload it to your computer. Now open each image in photoshop and go to filter, sharpen. Try to sharpen both images for around 2x to 3x sharpening. Then resize the 21MP image to the size of the small JPEG. You'll see that the sharpening done in the 21MP image, in terms of image quality, is better than the small JPEG sharpened. You can see obvious sharpening on the jpeg image and the 21MP image seems to be so naturally sharp. Yes 21MP is an overkill when you are shooting and you don't have any plans of processing it.
  37. "See if you shoot in 21MP and pixel peep, you'll notice that your picture is softer compared to a smaller size, say for example a small jpeg."
    That's not the experience here. Here's the 5D2 at 100%. It's as good as pixles get. This image, for example, is amazing on a 12x18" print. You can put your nose on it and it still looks gorgeous.
    (OK, truth in advertizing: I retired my 17-40 and shoot with the Zeiss 21/2.8 and Voightlander 40/2.0. So you have to work to get those pixels. But it is so worth it.)
    And, wow. This is an old thread. It's almost time for Canon to come out with a 5DIII, whence we can start all over again.

Share This Page