Why High Resolution Does Not Mean More Camera Shake

by ajamess on 4.Mar.12

in Lens Handholdability,Photo Gear,Photography Techniques

I've seen people expressing concerns about camera shake while using some of today's high resolution SLRs (at 36 megapixels, the D800 is a prime example).  I've even seen folks use such high resolution as a "negative feature" when comparing to lower resolution cameras, their justification being that somehow higher resolution bodies produce lower quality images when handheld, due to camera shake.

Quite honestly, this is a load of malarkey.  What people are failing to realize is that high resolution cameras are only resolving imperfections in technique which were already there.  There is nothing inherent about a high resolution sensor which means one won't be able to shoot handheld as easily as one would with a lower resolution sensor, it just means that your bad handholding skills will be more apparent because each imperfection will be magnified that much more on a high resolution sensor than on a low resolution sensor.

Of course, since today everyone pixel peeps at 100%, these imperfections are going to stand out, but they do NOT indicate any specific issue with higher resolution cameras that we need to be worried about.  In fact, when downsizing a high resolution file, a photographer will see exactly the same sharpness as if that image were taken with a lower resolution camera in the first place.

Think of it this way: until recently, cameras could not resolve the imperfections that were already there in our technique.  Now that we have such cameras, we have to hold ourselves to higher standards when attempting to make images which will appear tack sharp at 100% resolution.  This means your 1/focal length rule is probably out the window (as it has been for the current breed of 16-20mp bodies for some time now), and you will probably have to adjust your shooting style as a result.

More tripods, more fun.

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