How Many Megapixels are enough?
How many megapixels do you really need with a digital camera? Not as many as the camera manufacturers think you do, and not as many as you may think you need, either.
Product marketers have always tried to make the point that “more” is always better, and with digital cameras, it’s no different. Every camera out there prominently features the quality – in megapixels – of the images it takes. But does a camera that shoots 5 megapixels images (one megapixels is a million dots) really take photos that are lower quality than one that shoots 7 or 8 megapixels images?
Not really, because quality also comes down to the human eye, and our eyes are far less sensitive than we think.
David Pogue, technology writer for The New York Times, ran some tests with passersby on the street, and no one could really tell the difference between enlarged 5 and 7 megapixels images. Read his article at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/08/technology/08pogue.html
Pogue says that 5 to 7 megapixels will give you lots of room to crop a photo and enlarge to a reasonable size, such as 16-by-24 inches. And that’s all the size most people need.
If you need billboard-size images, then yes, the more megapixels the better, but that’s not all that comes into play. It’s just as important to be concerned with the size of the digital sensor and the quality of the glass lens. The problem is that the sensor size is rarely advertised, and the quality of the glass of the lens can sometimes be difficult to figure out.
If you need a camera to document artwork, shoot photos of artwork that will be sold, or take images for anything professional, do some research and get a camera with a good lens and sensor and don’t worry so much about the megapixels. And if you’re getting a camera for the sake of being a photographer, it’s even more important to do your research, too.
Check out photography review websites and search for the brand and model of the camera you’re looking for. Compare megapixels and sensor quality, and think about going with a well-known camera brand, too, rather than a newcomer to the market.
If you buy a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera, you’re going to get good glass, due to the interchangeable lenses, and a large sensor, because those cameras are made for the professional part of the camera market.
If you buy a smaller camera that fits in your pocket and is used primarily for snapshots, chances are the lens will be just OK and the sensor will be small. Even if the camera advertises 10 megapixels images, the number of pixels can’t overcome the smaller sensor and lens quality and give a good quality image that can be greatly enlarged. But the quality of images from a pocket camera will be fine if you simply want to email photos, post them on Facebook and keep an album of family photos.