TWiP #164 – Megapixels: A Bridge Too Far

On this episode of TWiP, Canon develops a 120 Megapixel sensor, Sony releases a trio of new cameras, and the US Government wants you to push more paper.

Hosts: Frederick Van Johnson, Alex Lindsay, Joseph Linaschke, and Ray Maxwell.


The winner of our “Tweet to Win an ENTIRE Photo Book Library” contest was Kwame Johnson. Kwame has won the entire Craft & Vision eBook collection!

A huge thank-you to all who entered!

Craft & Vision has graciously provided a discount to the TWiP listeners. Just purchase 3 or more books (they're only $5 each!) and you'll get 20% off. Just use the coupon code “VAN20“.

Do it NOW because the code will expire Saturday September 4th at Midnight Pacific time.


Canon Develops a 120 Megapixel Sensor
Canon announced that they have developed an APS-H sized sensor that is capable of recording 120 Million pixels making it the largest sensor in existence. The panel discusses the pros and cons of such a large sensor. Ray feels that the laws of physics and the properties of light make the pixel size on this chip a bridge too far. Go to Cambridge in Color and visit the tutorials to learn more about diffraction photography which talks about the limits of light.

Sony Launches 3 New DSLRs with Increased Autofocus Speeds
Sony released three new cameras this week.  Two of them feature translucent mirror technology which is designed to increase auto focus speeds by doing away with the traditional mirror technology. These two cameras do not have an optical view finder but use an electronic view finder only. Sony also announced the A560, which is a traditional DSLR with a mirror box and an optical viewfinder and features Multi-frame Noise Reduction, Sweep Panorama mode, 3D Sweep Panorama and Full HD 1920×1080 60i video capture.

Government Pushing for New 1099 Requirements
New government legislation will require any businesses purchasing more than $600 in goods and services from a person or corporation in a year to report that amount to the IRS and the person you paid it to. Currently credit card purchases are exempt from this requirement. The ASMP is encouraging photographers to send a letter to indicating their disapproval of this requirement and noting the burden it will place on small businesses to complete this paperwork.


QUESTION #1: From CelloMaestro: I'm looking at traveling to Antarctica in November and would love to take some shots while I'm there but I'm worried about the effect the extreme cold might have on my camera. How do you go about shooting in cold environments like this, do you need special gear? Is it dangerous to change lenses etc.? And what other problems can I expect like exposure for snow or focusing problems? I'm using a Panasonic GF1 with various lenses.

Joseph: This particular camera may not be the best for the extreme temperatures. Even pro level cameras aren't rated to the extreme temperatures but they are at least weather-sealed. A few things to bear in mind: Batteries will die fast in the cold – have extras and keep them warm. Place in ziploc bag when bringing indoors so condensation forms on the bag, not the camera. I found this online: grease used to lubricate the shutter will be much thicker, so exposure time may not be as reliable. It will most likely be bright, so consider an ND filter. A polarizing filter might be good for the blue skies. In the extreme cold your LCD may fail so it's best to just turn it off which conserve battery anyway. Focusing problems: none except  you can't focus where there's no texture, so you can't focus on a wall of snow. Changing lenses shouldn't be a problem but just keep the snow out. If all the gear is to temp, nothing will fog up but if you remove your lens and your gear isn't at temp, it will fog on the sensor.

QUESTION #2: Adam Bindslev asks: I am a member of the This Week in Photo-flickr group … but I am having a hard time figuring out what to use it for? What is the general idea behind that group? What discussions belong on Flickr rather than here in the forum? Is it generally for posting the photos that we also link to here for critique? Is it for the competitions?

Frederick: The Flickr group now has over 10,000 members. Initially it was the place for competitions but we've now moved that over to the This Week in Photo Forums so the Flickr group is a place for you to post your images, get critiques, and start discussions. The forums are more of a discussion area.

QUESTION #3:  Bradley Thomas asks: I've heard that there are some older rechargeable battery packs for a Canon 550ex out there that I can get used that still work great. Can't seem to find the model I am looking for. Any suggestions?

Joseph: Canon makes an external battery pack called the CP-E4 for around $185 which you can load up with AA batteries and connect to your flash for faster recycling. I also found one by Opteka that holds 6 batteries and is a lot cheaper, only $40.



Last week's photo mission was “Annoying” and the winner was Dazza17 for his photo ‘Your Annoying and Weird Dad

Visit the forums to find out what the next photo mission will be.

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Alex Lindsay – or

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Ray Maxwell –


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Show notes by Bruce Clarke at or

Producer: Suzanne Llewellyn

Bandwidth provided by Cachefly. Intro Music by Scott Cannizzaro

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  1. Hey Guys!

    I love the show! I have a favor to ask: Please don’t interrupt Ray and ask him to “dumb down” what he is saying. There is a subset of your audience that are also engineers and can follow what Ray is saying. Please let him finish and then “dumb it down” for the rest.

    Thanks guys!

  2. I am not an engineer and I found Ray’s Explanation less confusing than the reframe that was suppose to be dumbed down. I enjoy it when Ray tackles a complex problem as he is one of the few people that can get it across to us none engineers.

  3. Great show guys, but Fredrick please back off, Ray was doing a great job when you cut him off. I’m not sure why you try to dumb things down, I’ve seen you do this in many episodes and don’t understand why.

    Maybe I am just part of a small minority of your listeners that enjoys the more technical and geeky aspects.

    Just thought I would make my opinion known.

    Thanks for the show.

  4. To play a bit of devils advocate here, we recently did a feature in our magazine where we sent a complete newbie on a beginners course. When she went to go buy her first camera she was totally overwhelmed by the terms the sales person was using. I think one needs to try appeal to all so don’t cut short but dumb down too.

  5. I would have liked to hear less about the gigantic Canon sensor and more about the new Sony mirrorless, 10 fps cameras. I think the sweep panorama mode is interesting, but it’s definitely not the most interesting thing about those Sony cameras. How about a discussion of the pros and cons of mirrorless cameras or the possible advantages of Sony’s autofocus system for video?

    I wasn’t very interested in all the technical details of Canon’s sensor, but if you are going to have Ray on the show and promote him as being an intelligent guy, I think you have to let him do his thing.

  6. In this podcast, it was implied that you cannot replace a photo once it’s on Flickr. Just wanted to chime in that I believe you can do so with a Pro account. Thank you.

  7. Thanks for a great show!

    But how about getting a “non-Canon/Nikon” person onboard also? I think the new, very interesting cameras from Sony deserve a bit more discussion than just a cursory mention about the least interesting feature (panoramic sweeps). No mention of continous auto-focus with HD-video, mirrorless slr, etc etc.

    Isn’t this show for serious enthusisasts? Then what’s the point of having Ray Maxwell on the show only to interrupt him just when he is getting to the interesting parts? A bit rude to ask him to relate a discussion about a 120 MP sensor “to the average guy”. The average guy is never going to use a 120 MP sensor…

    The motor drive sound in your theme tune is so quaint… Ah, the times…

  8. I listened to last two weeks and was a little surprised to see the discussion so narrow. No one seemed to explore the real opportunities of this advancement.

    1. Use this technology and develop smaller sensors – Does a D4 or Mark V have to weigh 5-6 pounds?

    2. What if a tiny % of this chip makes the current 4/3 cameras have higher performance than current generation DSLR?

    3. This chip allows for full HDR video on any 1/60th of the chip! Imagine a camera, again only using a portion of this chip, that can record HD Video and high quality photos?

    4. HDR? Who knows what the camera of the future will look like – I can imagine a camera with multiple lenses – one to capture different light spectrums (RGB) or different sensitivities.

    Could there be a time the lens of the future might not be glass in a black metal tube?

    I thought the discussion, while interesting, was very narrow in thought. People generally laughing at the idea or simply saying I don’t need that many megapixels.

    Reminds me of Ken Olsen – Founder and CEO of Digital Equipment who said “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”. I think we need to look at this technological advancement and think “wow, what could we do with this”.

  9. VERY disappointing how your interrupted a very good explanation of why smaller pixels are not better, and dumbed down the show for no reason whatsoever. Ray was doing a great job, and just about to get to the point which would have made the point much better than some of your poor attempts.

    This continued dumbing down of the show is why I am at the point of unsubscribing! I know that some of your listeners are beginners, but to interrupt a coherent, well thought-out explanation and replace it with uninformed drivel (sorry, that’s how it came across in comparison), is really bad form on your part!

    Major disappointment!

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