On print quality from smaller sensors

I was just reading The Imaging Resource’s review of the Olympus PEN-F and found their Print Quality Assessment very interesting.

They say that at ISO 80 you can get high-quality prints up to a whopping 30″ x 40″. 99% of people never print anything this big! This shows that really 20 Megapixels isn’t much of a limiting factor. However, noise performance at high ISO certainly limits how big you can print.

At ISO 400 they got excellent 20″ x 30″ with 24″ x 36″ still very usable.

At ISO 800 they got excellent 16″ x 20″ with 20″ x 30″ still very usable.

At ISO 1600 they got excellent 13″ x 19″ and 11″ x14″ at ISO 3200.

At ISO 6400 they could still get good 8″ x 10″ and 5″ x 7″ at ISO 12800.

And these tests were done with JPEGs straight out of the camera. By working with RAW files and more advanced noise processing, you would likely pull even more detail out. So while better high-ISO performance is always nice to have, the 20 Megapixel resolution is not a limiting factor at all. Not surprisingly really, because I remember when my 12 Megapixels Nikon D700 came out it was THE camera to beat. Still to this day, Nikon’s D5 flagship pro camera only has 20 Mpixels as most pros find High-ISO and shooting speed more important than high pixel count.  Yet today most pixel-peeping advanced amateurs poo-poo on 16 or 20 Megapixel cameras.

I’m looking forward to The Imaging Resource’s assessment of the Fuji X-Pro2. With it’s 24 Megapixels and better noise performance it should do really well on this test.