Do Megapixels Matter?

Do megapixels matter? Yes and no. It all depends on the kind of photographer you are and the kind of work that you do. For most photographers, 20 megapixels is more than enough. Pye Jirsa from SLR Lounge explains:

What are megapixels?

Let’s start from the very beginning. Megapixels define how much detail your camera sensor can capture. The more megapixels, the higher the amount of detail. There are some downsides to more megapixels, but we’re not going into that here.

megapixels in photography

The usual notion among amateurs is that a camera with higher megapixels is the path to photographic nirvana. This can’t be further from the truth.

Unfortunately, camera manufacturers add fuel to that notion, too. Unless you fall in that tiny percentage of photographers who are professionally required to shoot gargantuan files or who have to print very large or crop very small, you’re probably be fine with a 20 megapixel sensor. Even then you won’t be using the bulk of that resolution.

A 20 megapixel file can easily make a 12″ x 18″ print without upscaling your image. Now, not many photographers can say that they need to print that large all the time. Most photographers only share their photos online. For sharing online even a 2 megapixel file will have enough resolution.

do megapixels matter

If you plan on displaying your photos on a 4K TV, all you need is an 8 megapixel file.

So, there is no need for too high a resolution.

how many megapixels do you need

Another thing that most consumer photographers aren’t aware of is that a 20 megapixel camera is only going to output 20 megapixels worth of resolution when it is operated by a professional who knows how to maximize detail and squeeze out every drop of resolution. This is a level of proficiency that is acquired only after years of practice.

What’s your opinion? Do you think more megapixels are necessary?

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One response to “Do Megapixels Matter?”

  1. Wendy says:

    The problem with saying that “you’re not going to print 12″ x 18″ that often” is that you can’t always be sure when that large-print-worthy image comes in front of your lens. Yeah, when I’m taking “log shots” of my fair exhibits for a visual record, or items to put on eBay, I know 2MP is plenty. But then I’m outside after that, and a brilliant scene comes to view, and–Darn it! I forgot to reset the image size!

    Not to mention how many shots would have been cool, but they were beyond the reach of the lens I had and didn’t have anything left when I cropped them down.

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