February 3, 2010
I was just skimming a press release for a brand new (and silly) Nikon superzoom model, when I came across this tidbit:
Additional features of the Nikon COOLPIX P100 digital camera include:
10.3-megapixels and Backside Illumination CMOS Sensor for stunning prints as large as 16x 20 inches, while retaining fine detail
Ignoring the odd syntax, lets think about that for a second.
The Coolpix P100 creates files of 3648 x 2736 pixels, at its highest resolution.
Traditional print formats are in a 4:5 ratio; so what matters is the short dimension of the frame. That is, it’s the 2736 pixels getting enlarged to 16 inches wide.
So, Nikon feels that 171 pixels per inch are sufficient to make a print “while retaining fine detail.”
Okay, let’s take Nikon’s word on that.
In that case, let’s say we have some worthless old 6 megapixel camera. It produces 2848 x 2136 pixel images.
According to Nikon, it would be fine to print up to 12″ x 15″—with pixels to spare. (And how frequently do you make a print that large?)
Or take some 3 Mp model, from the Paleozoic era (a.k.a. seven years ago). Its images are 2048 x 1536 pixels.
Still good for 8″ x 10″ prints—with wiggle room to crop.
Is Nikon really convincing us to buy a new camera here?