Will 2021 Be the Year of Super High Megapixel Cameras?

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Do we really need super high megapixel cameras? Truthfully, probably not. But the likes of Samsung and others try to do it with their phones. And it’s partially a selling point! Arguably, we’ve reached peak camera. In terms of tech, it seems like companies are probably running out of ideas. Inevitably, cameras will become luxury passion products. They’re already passion products for many. And some of those folks probably care a ton about megapixels.

There are reports online of very high megapixel sensors coming to the market. The current world of photographers is in a few camps. Some of us want more megapixels. Those photographers often do a ton of post-production. I’m personally trying to spend less time in front of a computer, but I sincerely appreciate all the color editing that and tweaks that can be done with Capture One. Further, I also like printing large. So for me, I’ve always liked high megapixel bodies because lots of my work demands it.

Other photographers like lower megapixels for better high ISO output. And indeed, the market has accommodated both types of users. But they both need to step up in megapixel counts. This year, the 24MP camp should move up to the 30 or 40 range.

So how will this translate for photographers? Well, the megapixel wars have always been a problem. Engineers obsess over it, but consumers are sort of sick of it. Engineers and designers need to find ways to make cameras better, and that means pumping other features into their cameras. More importantly, it also means that they shouldn’t be getting their sensors from the same company. Canon uses its own sensors. Leica typically uses Tower Jazz for sensors. But the rest of the industry relies on Sony. This means basically many of the cameras perform the same.

And for reviewers, that’s a problem. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to be saying the same thing about multiple cameras and lenses. Why aren’t these companies trying to be original? Is the problem with consumers? It could be, but with an incredibly diverse market, I doubt it. Let’s look at all the various markets for a moment:

  • Phone users
  • People who want to move up from a phone
  • Pro photographers
  • Amateur photographers
  • Passionate photographers
  • Landscape
  • Portrait
  • Photojournalism
  • Street
  • Black and White
  • Wildlife
  • Birding
  • Adventure
  • Travel
  • Weddings
  • Macro
  • Cinematic

There are tons of other photo markets out there. And there is lots that camera and lens companies can do to appeal to them. There needs to be a lot more diversification besides just in the megapixel count. Here are a few ways that’s done:

  • Canon: Superfast lenses and major lens innovations. Cool things like the Powershot zoom too.
  • Sony: AI and targeting content creators
  • Nikon: Creative Profiles that they treat like bastard children
  • Fujifilm: The X Trans sensor, though as the megapixel count gets higher, the need for it becomes lesser in a way. Plus, image stabilized and affordable medium format.
  • Pentax: Still sticking to DSLRs.
  • Panasonic: Live Composite on one of their cameras and Netflix certifications
  • Leica: Literally unlike anything on the market
  • Sigma: Literally doing the weirdest things
  • Olympus: Lightweight birding and wildlife with a smaller sensor
  • Zeiss: It’s fair to say they’ve given up on photography, and the ZX1 probably won’t be talked about much.

That’s about it. The camera and lens makers need to find ways to stay relevant besides playing into the high megapixel and high ISO wars. If they’re going to do that, they need to take a quantum leap forward.