The Megapixels Reality

megapixels-realityDigital camera manufacturers are fighting to have a lineup of digital cameras with the highest number of megapixels. Every few months a new model with more megapixels is introduced and the manufacturers would love you to drop your old digital camera for the newest and greatest one. Before you do it you should read this article.

The number of megapixels is just one parameter in determining the quality of a digital camera. More megapixels is not necessarily better. Before checking out the number of megapixels or any other digital camera feature you should take a moment to determine the digital camera projected usage. If you intend to print enlargements you will need more megapixels. If you need to take high zoom photos and crop pieces of the photo you will need more megapixels too. If you intend to just watch your photos on your computer screen and print some 4X6 prints than 2 mega pixels is more than enough. A full screen photo on a computer screen with a common resolution of 1024X768 is less than 1 megapixels. A good 4X6 photo print should have a DPI of about 300 which translates to just about 2 megapixels.

For digital photo prints enlargements you should calculate megapixels that would result in a print of about 300 DPI. The following is a table for different print sizes and the needed mega pixels for such print quality:

  • page 4X6 = 2 Megapixels
  • page 5X7 = 3 Megapixels
  • page 8X10 = 7 Megapixels
  • page 11X14 = 14 Megapixels
  • page 16X20 = 28 Megapixels
  • page 20X30 = 54 Megapixels

Usually more megapixels digital cameras are more expensive. Since you probably do not have an infinite budget for your digital camera when buying it you make a compromise between megapixels and other features. As a result more megapixels could mean not having some other features which might be more important. For example is it better to spend money on more megapixels or on better lenses? Is it better to spend money on more megapixels or on an external flash for low light photography? When buying a camera try to predict what and how you will use it. A lower megapixels digital camera with better a lens can result in much better digital photos. Shop around and make sure that you get the best package in terms of both megapixels and other features.

Light sensitivity is also influenced by the number of megapixels. Since in most cases the sensor size is fixed more megapixels is achieved by having smaller pixels. Smaller pixels are less sensitive to light. For most purposes this light sensitivity difference is not noticeable. You should consider the number of megapixels and light sensitivity if you intend to take many digital photos in marginal light conditions or want to be able to take digital photos without flash light in darker scenes.

In conclusion do not be the victim of the number of megapixels. Although it is a good thing to have a high number of pixels there are other considerations that determine the quality of the digital photos. You should consider the complete digital camera features: megapixels, lenses, battery life, light sensitivity, sensor technology, external flash and many other features. Make sure that you consider the whole package and not use the number of mega pixels as a “quality” indicator for your buy.

About the Author
Ziv Haparnas is a technology veteran and writes about practical technology and science issues. You can find more information about photo album printing and photography in general on – a site dedicated to photo printing.

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