Working in an Operating Room. How many pixels do I need?

Canon 5Dmk2, 24-105mm.

I spent two days at a hospital in San Antonio and shot a bunch of stuff. This is a set up shot in an operating room. I used a Canon camera and lens and shot with the lights in the room.  The biggest issue is the wide range of light from the hot spot on the "patient's" chest to the shadow areas on the anesthesiologist. The 5Dmk2 was a nice camera.  A bit clunky, but nice.  All the cameras I've played with in the last year are up to this kind of work.  Most of it will go in brochures and on the web.  Nothing will go up bigger than 9 by 12 inches.  Makes you wonder what we're chasing and why when we get into that megapixel fixation and slap the credit cards down.

I made an observation back in 2009 that more and more of our work would be going to web advertising (ignore this if you never sell your work and are making large prints for your own pleasure....).  At the time the big screens were almost 2000 pixels by something. I made the suggestion that all the cameras we were using at the time were capable of satisfying those needs, handily.

Now we've got Apple introducing Retina screens into everything and all of a sudden we're about to grapple with 2500 pixels wide by something.  But last time I checked that's still within the technical scope of a 12 megapixel camera.  Maybe our current cameras (especially the 24 megapixel ones) are relatively protected from obsolescence for while longer.  I guess we'll see.
Funny to hear all the gnashing of teeth and pounding of chests about the D800 given that all the examples we've seen so far are only a couple thousand pixels wide....

My favorite camera today?  Strange choice.  It's the Olympus EP-3 with the Panasonic 14-45mm lens on the front. VF-2 is always implied.  It's bright and sunny here.  ISO 200 is fine.  I'd use 50 if the camera had it....


  1. Having shot Nikon for so many years I wasn't in the position to switch to the 5Dmk2 when it came out. And I did so want the video features. Until recently I used a separate camera for video. When I acquired a Sony NEX-7 my first paid gig with it was shooting a back surgery and honestly I couldn't care less about how many megapixels it has, in fact I'd have to look it up. Anyway, being able to switch between stills and video was / is invaluable. And I look forward to the next time I get into the "bunny suit".

    Here are the proofs if you like.

  2. I suppose I should ignore this since I do not sell anything :)

    But 24 megapixels helps out when displaying pictures over on my big screen LCD when family comes over. And you can't ignore the possibilities of cropping more. I didn't upgrade from the a55 to the a77 for the megapixels though, especially not for the huge price increase. Along with it there were a large number of important upgrades for my specific camera use.

    I do remember a few years ago when people said the same thing while small-sensored cameras were starting to jump up into the double digit megapixels. I don't know where or if it will stop but I know I'll be happy with the a77 for my only camera for a long long time.

  3. But your big screen LCD is only HD. That's less than 2,000 pixels on the long side. Your a77 is 6,000 pixels on the long side. Of course I guess you could always crop away 2/3rds of you images and still see them in full HD.....

    I like my a77's a lot as well. I think they'll do the job for the rest of this year and probably the next as well....

    1. Good point, Kirk. A pixel is a pixel and I would assume that any downsizing to fit on a video display would look best if done first with a powerful image editor, rather than allowing the device to do it.

      Same is true on the web - adjust (and save) the image size first so the browser displays it at 100%.

  4. My shooting is primarily capturing family events mostly centered around my teenage children.

    My target display device is whatever they will be watching it on when they are in their sixties. I figure there will be a serious interest in the pictures as long as my kids are alive, and probably at least as long as their children and maybe grandchildren are around.

    So, how many pixels do I need to maximize their viewing experience in 2062?

    I have been burned before. In the mid 1990's I spent a lot of effort scanning thousands of old slides from my childhood. I did it at around 2 megapixels per slide. This was about the maximum the computers of the day could comfortably handle.

    Today I kind of feel like I should redo all that work because the scanning is not up to the capabilities of today's displays. Its okay as is, but if you ever want to crop or do anything else there is no margin for error. There was more in the slides than in my files.


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