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Olympus: 12 Megapixels Are Enough

Even those without any intimate knowledge of digital imaging know that camera market is centered around megapixels.

Just a quick look at any advertising for digital cameras and it’s clear that the pixel resolution is the top (and often only) bullet point. The problem, of course, is that the consumers respond to that one metric, so marketers push product development to increase the resolution without improving other aspects of the camera at the same pace.

Olympus, however, isn’t going to be taking part in the mad megapixel dash any longer. Akira Watanabe, manager of Olympus Imaging's SLR planning department, said in a ZDNet story, "Twelve megapixels is, I think, enough for covering most applications most customers need."

According to the story, Watanabe then added that Olympus will focus on other characteristics such as dynamic range, color reproduction, and a better ISO range for low-light shooting.

Watanabe’s comments were made with mainstream photographers in mind, though professionals needing even more resolution will have the option of going with higher-end models. "We don't think 20 megapixels is necessary for everybody. If a customer wants more than 12 megapixels, he should go to the full-frame models," Watanabe said.

"I personally believed, before starting the E-System, that 12 was enough," Watanabe said, referring to the company’s line of mainstream DSLRs. "We interviewed many professional photographers, people in studios, about how many they needed in the future. Before we started, the system, we had a rough idea we'd be at a plateau at 12 megapixels. We gradually increased the pixel count."

We’ve always been of the opinion that picture resolution is just a small part of what goes into capturing a good image. A very large print of a grainy, dull picture can’t compare to a more modestly sized, but detailed and vibrant image.

We’d gladly trade some our megapixels in our cameras today if it meant we could get larger sensors. What do you think? Is this a case of Bill Gates saying that 640K ought to be enough for anyone (which Gates says he never said), or is megapixel practicality already at a plateau?