We’re frequently told megapixels don’t matter, but what if they do? Photographer and industry analyst Thom Hogan makes the argument that there is a minimum baseline that camera companies are inching toward, and there’s a few that aren't meeting that bar that could be in trouble.
Hogan takes a look at the lineups of eight major camera companies and posits that the minimum entry point that camera manufacturers seem to be setting is a 24 megapixel, full-frame camera for around the $2,000 price point, with the budget option being 24-megapixel APS-C cameras at about $1,000.
Indeed, looking at the three biggest manufacturers, that watermark can get you a Canon EOS 6D Mark II, a Nikon D750, or a Sony a7 III. In many cases, you’ll often find the first two of those cameras well under that $2,000 price point during very frequent sales.
It’s strange to think about 24 megapixels as an entry point. In 2008, I was shooting with an old 3-megapixel Canon D30 and a 10-megapixel Rebel XTi just fine, but now, I often find myself not being able to enlarge much (or at all) on a 27-inch Retina display looking at files from those cameras. Even my workhorse Nikon D700 is starting to feel the pinch at 12 megapixels. For reference, if you wanted to use a still photo in a 4K video, you’d need at least 8 megapixels, or 33 megapixels for 8K. Ouch. It means that in the future even these current 24-megapixel cameras will feel constrained when it comes to cropping or viewing on large monitors.
Hogan takes a look at every manufacturer and where they sit on the scale. He points out that Micro Four Thirds are at the most serious disadvantage with this metric, although others such as Fujifilm and Pentax face some challenges as well. When you really think about it, this would even rule out cameras like a 1D X Mark II or a Nikon D5, if going strictly by the numbers. I've personally found 30-ish megapixels to be the sweet spot for me, where the files are large enough for cropping and most other applications, while not slowing down my computers for editing.
Check out his article to read about which cameras meet the bar and which don’t and read some more thoughts on the situation. Do you think he’s right about where the entry level starts? Where do you think it starts?