I took the plunge and printed the ice skating rink shot (see below) at
12 x 18 inches. The shot was done at 200 ISO, on a tripod with
mirror-lockup at f4.0. I printed it at 180 dpi (and at that it
was a tiny bit rezzed up with bicubic smoother).
Printing time: with bi-directional printing turned off (IMAGEPrint RIP
isn't happy otherwise and messes up the last few passes) - it took 15 minutes and 10 seconds. Perfectly fine with me.
At ISO 200, there is a tiny tiny bit of noise, but only in the middle
tones, and you have to hunt for it and look real hard. Definitely can't
be seen at a normal viewing distance. And much
less that what you would get with film grain of 400, and about
the same or less than 100 film (of course you can argue that to bits,
whether it is the same thing, which film / developer combo etc.).
The point is - you can easily do 12 x 18 inch prints from this sensor.
I have to admit, that I'm also curious to see what the shots done at
100 ISO look like printed. I suppose that the noise is there on
the screen, but honestly, I can't find it unless I print it.
So, in other words, 6 MegaPixels from a good-sized sensor, if carefully shot, is just fine for getting a 12 x 18 print. I actually found myself adding some film grain with the noise filter to feel at home.
The digital surface of the large print is almost too
smooth; too grainless. I didn't mind it in the smaller prints,
but the larger one - weird. It's like I want grain in the
thing. So I
am adding grain / noise with the gasussian monochromatic noise
filter. Go figure. Shoot noiseless - and add grain when you want