Pixel wars has definitely become an ever-growing trend with many recent camera releases. The past couple of years have seen a flurry of sensors boasting 30-50MP. Historically, you would only really see these kind of numbers on a medium format camera but new technology has brought them onto the mass-market and you can find affordable, full-frame models boasting these staggering resolutions.
Super high-res DSLRs have probably come onto your radar recently if you’ve been reading up on how to shoot the solar eclipse – you’ll probably see some of them popping up when it comes to advice on what gear would be best to capture the phenomenon – and for good reason. If you’re planning on shooting the eclipse later this month, getting your hands on a super high-res camera really would be the dream scenario. (You’ll be able to see the total eclipse in North America and a partial eclipse in parts of Europe and the UK.)
So what makes these the ideal piece of kit?
In short – more pixels means more information in the image and therefore more detail. You’ll see these megapixel monsters deliver super high-res, extraordinarily sharp images. Sure – full-frame is fantastic, and the quality offered is certainly enough for many photographers. However, images with a camera such as the Pentax K-1 or Canon 5DSR will mean that you can go for more extreme crops than with a regular full-frame DSLR, as they will contain fair more detail in the images. Even though your normal full-frame will give you good results, to really get up-close and personal, a sensor that boasts a mind-boggling 30-50 megapixels is just the ticket and will hold far more information as you crop in. In ‘real life’ terms, this is an advantage for landscape images, studio shots where you need to see a lot of detail, and for images that you want to blow up big. However, these cameras really shine when you’re doing astrophotography, as the extra information retained allows for you to crop much closer in and still have a sharp, detailed image.
Despite this number of megapixels stepping into the territory of medium format here, these models have been marketed at the ‘affordable alternative’ to taking the medium format plunge. Many of the ‘super high-res’ DSLR options kick around at about the £2,000 mark for a body, depending on model, which looks extremely appealing if you compare it to the absolute, absolute minimum benchmark of around £5,000 for a medium format digital camera. For a long time, medium format was your only option to produce images with a staggering resolution, but with more of these cameras on the market, there is an alternative.
What are your options?
There are a lot of manufacturers getting in on the action so if you have a preferred brand, there’s a high-res option for nearly everyone in this market.
One name you often hear mentioned in this category is Canon, with the 5DS and 5DSR. The 5 series has been an incredibly influential line of DSLRs, so it’s only natural that they’d make one super high-res. If you’re used to shooting on one of the 5 series, you’ll feel right at home with either of these models, as it’s the typical style and feel, plus you won’t be disappointed with the jaw-dropping 50.6MP sensor. The only difference between the two is the 5DS has a optical low-pass filter and the 5DS R doesn’t. With both of these cameras you could crop right in without any concerns about your image losing any quality.
Another key player is Sony, the A7R II packs 42.4MP with no optical low-pass filter to optimise sharpness. Not only that but it boasts 399 – yes 399 – AF points, which cover 45% of the frame. The Nikon D810 also can’t go unmentioned in this category either. It’s a slightly lower resolution at 36.3MP but will offer you a chance to shoot with slightly smaller files, yet still boast great results.
Also at the party are Pentax. The K-1 is a very solid model – it’s one of the more affordable high-res cameras, but with a good weather sealing, 36.4MP, no optical low-pass filter, 4.4fps shooting for 70 JPEGs, it holds its own in this category for sure.
That’s just to name a few – this genre of cameras is ever-expanding and is very much in demand. It’s an exciting time to see what will hit the market next and what manufacturers do with the interest in more mega-pixel giants.