I whipped up a Google spreadsheet of some resolution numbers for various sensor sizes…

You can take a look at the formulas if you click over to the doc itself.

Why the spreadsheet?

This is all prep for a video I’m in the process of making — and I want to include worksheets that detail the information along with how I’m getting to the numbers in question.

Step one is figuring what is the sensor resolution for both color and black & white. Based on the Bayer filter array on the sensor, the best-case scenario is half that of the pixel pitch since every four pixels makes one color pixel along with four luminescence pixels. It’s not really as simple and straightforward as that, but it does limit the resolving power of the system by at least that much.

So why go through all this? Because there are a lot of misconceptions about how all this works.

For instance, the question “what’s the resolution of a 24 megapixel sensor?” is actually a harder question that you might think.

Resolution, like I said, comes from the idea of “resolving power.” 24MP will have drastically different resolving power in terms of line-pairs/mm (which is how resolution is measured) depending on sensor size. So, the best case color 24MP is micro 4/3 (in the above spreadsheet) at 128 lp/mm (256/2). On medium format (the size of the Hasselblad X1D), it’s only 52 lp/mm.

I’ll let you think about that one for a moment.