Sensor size and its effect on print sizes?

Gromit

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I've recently had a friend (he's a partner in a large local property letting agency) ask me to do some photographic work for him. Primarily, I'm pinching myself that he should think highly enough of my pictures to actually pay me to do stuff for his company.

However, I am slightly concerned over a couple of things. Most importantly is that amongst the other bits'n'bobs he needs, he's asked for pictures of local architecture, done in B&W and blown up to A2 size to go up on the walls of his offices. Question is, will crop sensor size have a large bearing on the quality of the final printed result? Does resolution (number of MP's) or sensor size make the difference here? The prints will be done by a professional printing company I should add.

As a result I'm looking at getting a used 5D Mk1 to use as a second body for just this sort of thing. My recent, short flirtation with the 6D made me all too aware of the fabulous IQ potential of using FF, but I just didn't get on with the camera for the sort of stuff I often do. For more staged photos (ie taking time rather than 'chance' photos) it would've been absolutely fine.

Thanks, as always, for any advice. :)

As an aside I've just enrolled on a NVQ Level 4 photographic course - I'm not working at present so thought I might as well just go for it. Who knows, it may lead to something. :)

 

tkimages

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I've done lots of A1 size prints from a Canon 1D2, that's 1.3 'crop' and only 8mp, and the results were great. Not as good as I can get from my 5D2, but a lot, lot better than you would expect them to be - even the ones that were shot at ISO 800!

I would have no hesitation in making A2 prints from a Canon 7D, especially if printed on a lustre or pearl finish paper.

 

f1eng

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I did a lot of experiments back in the day to satisfy myself when there was a lot of antagonistic disagreement over film v digital and necessary resolution.

On prints my conclusion, FWIW was that the 3.3 megapixel Canon D30 was at least as good as film up to A4 (I preferred it to film at A4), and was as good as the printer's capability. I haven't done any more tests since, not least since my darkroom is stripped down and stored in the cellar :-(

A2 is 4 times the area of A4 and printers and smoothing algorithms are much better now. Anything more than 14 megapixels should be fine based on that.

Sure, the bigger more modern sensors have wider dynamic range and less noise, so in low light, high contrast situations it is more than just pixels but with normal light levels everything should be fine IME.

 

Vinyl Art

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Also worth remembering that the larger the print the further a viewer will stand away from it, further reducing the effects of pixels and printing. As photographers we tend to look at everything under a microscope, joe public dont.

 

Gromit

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Thanks guys - really appreciate the input. :^

So we're basically saying that resolution (MP) has a greater effect on print quality than the size of the sensor (I think I've grasped it?). :oops: if not.

 

tkimages

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Also worth remembering that the larger the print the further a viewer will stand away from it, further reducing the effects of pixels and printing. As photographers we tend to look at everything under a microscope, joe public dont.
Important point.

 

tkimages

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Thanks guys - really appreciate the input. :^ So we're basically saying that resolution (MP) has a greater effect on print quality than the size of the sensor (I think I've grasped it?). :oops: if not.
Not quite as simple as that, but all else being equal, then that's a fair comment. Individual pixel size and pixel quality are very important, hence the ability to print up to A1 with only 8mp - 8 million very good pixels.

Don't panic, your equipment will cope easily.

 

f1eng

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Thanks guys - really appreciate the input. :^ So we're basically saying that resolution (MP) has a greater effect on print quality than the size of the sensor (I think I've grasped it?). :oops: if not.
For a given overall number of pixels each individual pixel is bigger on a bigger sensor, which always means it collects more light. It should also have a wider dynamic range, from white to black.

I remember Luminous Landscape showed 2 pictures one with a top of the line (at the time) Canon G10 and the contemporary digital back for a Hassy. The difference was minimal in good light. In more difficult light it was no contest at all!

 

Gromit

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Not quite as simple as that, but all else being equal, then that's a fair comment. Individual pixel size and pixel quality are very important, hence the ability to print up to A1 with only 8mp - 8 million very good pixels.Don't panic, your equipment will cope easily.
Thanks - looking back at my previous post I should have qualified things by saying 'all other things being equal'. I'll stop worrying now, it was largely me being concerned that I'd look at the final results and think 'darn...wish I'd done these on full-frame' :D

 

rockmeister

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You never will...crop is fine for much bigger than that. I printed up to 2meters high with fine results...the viewing distance comment is key. If you want some hints as to file type however (printers are a damned funny lot:)) then you should certainly find out who will be doing the printing and contact them first, asking about their preferred file type and pixel count for the size of image you plan.

 

Gromit

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Thanks John - most encouraging. *It does mean I have less excuses to buy a nice old 5D as a second body though.

I've got a couple of mates who work in aerial photography/graphics at RAF Cranwell (3 miles from us) so I'm going to have a chat with them about the printing side of things.

*Damn this photography thing...it's well and truly taken over the hifi-spending urges now. :D

 

Fatmarley

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Someone over at Talkphotgraphy left this link for me.

I like doing portrait shots, so found this section interesting:

Quote -

"Photographic perspective depends only on the distance of where the camera stands. Simply changing lens focal length while standing in same location does not change perspective, but moving the camera does. Perspective is only about where we stand, and not about which lens we use. But we can use shorter lenses for portraits with DX, because FX 105mm and DX 70mm equivalents force us to stand at the same distance for head and shoulders shots, to prevent making a close nose look larger. The rule is, for proper perspective, we should always stand back (about six feet or more), for portraits with any lens (zoom in as desired, but stay back)."

 

macvisual

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I agree.....

My days of changing and upgrading hi-fi bits are well over, I'm very happy with my current system and have been for ages, so for me my photography is a real passion at the mo....!!

I hardly ever look at the hi-fi classifieds here anymore, no need, times they are a changing eh.

 

stickman

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I probably shoot, and post more architecture/building shots than anyone else on this forum, so IMO, using a modern crop-sensor won't be a problem for image quality, but it may be for width. You need to have an understanding of the type of images he's expecting. You may find that with a 1.3 (Canon weirdos) or 1.5 crop, you need to be looking at a lens in the 10-20mm range. You also need to consider what the best usable ISO is on a lens of that width with your chosen body; unless you're intending to use a tripod.

My widest is 18mm on a 1.5 crop, and sometimes, indoors, it isn't wide enough.

 

rockmeister

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and then a whole conversation about distortion from wide angle lenses, post process lens correction, tilt and shift lenses etc!!!!

I guess if the guy likes Rich's pics already, then not too much will need doing.

 
G

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Richard, you just want somebody, anybody to tell you to go FF.

SO GO FF FFS!!!

There you go, thank me later :D

While you're at it, shoot RAW.

 

alfie2902

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Richard, you just want somebody, anybody to tell you to go FF.SO GO FF FFS!!!

There you go, thank me later :D

While you're at it, shoot RAW.
Not sure it's the right answer here, Steve. FF should be superior, but in this instance the original 5D is 12-13 MP & the 7D is 18 MP! I'm not so sure the bigger, brighter perhaps better pixels in the FF will add much when enlarged over the extra amount of pixels in the 7D.

 

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