The pixel wars are back, and that's great!

SHAWN C. STEINER, EXPLORA:

When the megapixel counts started to stabilize at about 24MP, many of us thought the days of constant one-upmanship in camera resolution was just about over. Well, apparently, they were just on a break because, in the past few years, we have seen the release of multiple cameras starting to expand to more than 40 megapixels. Beyond this, a few manufacturers are using multi-shot modes to create images of even greater resolutions. While many may bemoan this with the potential for added noise in low light and sluggish computers, I’m excited to see what is going to happen next, and you should be, too.

The obvious reason to be happy about the latest high-megapixel sensors is simply that companies are still developing new sensors with higher resolution. With retina displays and 4K TVs now commonplace, our imaging tools are going to have to produce consistently higher-resolution content to match. We also know that down-sampling or cropping to native resolution is a better practice than up-scaling later or even shooting exactly to the proper size. Part of the reason that down-sampling is a successful practice is because of how modern image sensors work. They rely on arrays of red, green, and blue pixels, usually in a Bayer pattern, and then interpolate the color and luminance information to create a final image. In practice, this means that you are not leveraging the full resolution of the sensor, since some data is not captured—it is created.

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