There are quite a lot of complaints like: “Canon won’t release a 4K video camera.” At the end of the day, most photographers and filmmakers publish visuals online, and most viewers watch them on sub-2K mobile devices. Here’s how much resolution you truly need.
What’s the whole fuss about resolution? From my point of view, most people don’t even know. The higher the number, the better, most buyers think. Yes, there are benefits from a higher resolution, but nowadays, a very small fraction of content producers really use it and even a smaller number of viewers can appreciate it.
Benefits Versus Reality
Here are some of the most common uses of bigger numbers of pixels:
Larger High-Quality Prints
You’ve heard that high-quality prints are those from 300 PPI files. That is true, but your eye could hardly see the difference between a 150 and a 300 ppi file at a normal viewing distance. Nowadays, printers are capable of interpolating lower resolution files and you can still have a very high-quality prints. You can have an A2 print out of a 10-megapixel file and it will look gorgeous.
Ability to Crop More
Sometimes, cutting out an unwanted region from an image or a video can save the shot, but if you’re relying on cropping for your career, you are probably having a problem with framing or setting up your compositions. You don’t always have to be afraid of scaling up images or video. It’s better to have a great shot or great footage scaled up a little than throwing it away only because it’s not up to the desired resolution.
Increasing the Sharpness of Out-of-Focus Shots
You have been surely fooled by sharp shots on your camera screen, while on a computer display, they were not in focus. Having a higher-resolution file can save you a few shots when you scale them down and thus hide the imperfect focus. But again, if your workflow is based on saving out-of-focus shots by scaling them down, you might want to work on your focusing capabilities or revise your focusing gear, rather than getting a higher-resolution camera.
Better Looking on Larger Screens
That’s a no-brainer. Larger resolution footage and images look great on bigger screens. How much is the resolution of your screen? Do you know that most of the traffic on websites is from mobile devices with their sub-2K screens? Why do you boast a 4K video or a 40-megapixel file when almost no one will ever see it in its full glory?
What’s More Important Than Resolution?
If you have the resolution, take advantage of it. If you don’t have it, don’t chase devices that are capable of producing it unless you really need it. Focus on dynamic range and color instead. If you have a device that produces files with great dynamic range, even with low resolution, those files will have a great impact on the viewer. Have you looked closely at paintings? Most of them are of very low resolution, but from a distance, they are incredible. We appreciate them because of the vibrance of colors and the ability of the painter to represent a great range of nuances (high dynamic range). The same holds with cameras that have a wide dynamic range regardless of their resolution. People may never see your images or videos in their optimal size, but all of them can appreciate the dynamic range of the visuals your cameras produce.
How many of you paid attention to the scaled-up and not-in-focus leading image? I leave the conclusion to you.
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