why detail?

I have to begin by admitting that the importance of detail in pictures is horribly overrated for two reasons. The important reason being the fact that good images don't need detail to impress the viewer. This is easily verified by thinking of an image you admire and considering whether any of that admiration stems from the picture's level of detail (only images that come to mind spontaneously count; those are the interesting ones). The second, and less important reason for not worring about detail is that today's digital cameras offer so much of it that until you go bejond 20x30 inches (about 50x75 cm) or so, you'll never see a significant difference anyway.

here is why:

If however, you 1) want to print really big and 2) allow for close-up inspection of those huge prints at the same time, then you might be interested in detail. The reason for doing this, at least for me, is that I want to give the viewer that opportunity to explore the image, to take in the landscape (which it usually is in these cases), that is to say, to make seeing the image feel a little like standing where it was taken. My way of working towards this goal is through panoramic stitching. It allows me to create 100-800 Mpix images for typical scenes, which can then be printed at huge sizes and still stand up to close scrutiny.

to give an example:

The following images show the main ridge of the Alps in Tyrol, Austria, a 450 Mpix composite image, as well as ever closer crops thereof, with the last one being at 100%. I have it hanging on my wall, 3x1 meters (~ 120x40 inches) large, and that's just enough to show all the detail there is to see. If the 100% crop looks slightly unsharp/ weird on a pixel level it's because it hasn't been additionally sharpend and because the stitching software adds a slight degree of weirdness at the pixel level, especially with unusual (ie not planar) projections, but it doesn't matter because at 300 dpi and with the slight smearing of the printing process, the weirdness is gone. When seen hanging on the wall, it looks positively stunning.