What to Look For in a New Camera Instead of Megapixels

Browse the display cases of any big-box electronics retailer and you’re bound to see one statistic prominently displayed on each camera model, right beneath the name: megapixels. Consumers have come to understand this as the be-all, end-all fact of a camera’s worth. But does it really matter?

The short answer is no, megapixels do not matter.

The longer answer is that they sort of matter, but only if you’re scaling your image—that is, blowing it up to a larger size for printing. For computer uses, 5 megapixels are more than enough; after all, the average modern computer monitor is only 2 megapixels large.

how do megapixels work

More important than megapixels, according to the above video presented by Tech Quickie, are lesser understood photographic concepts:

  • Dynamic range (measured in f-stops, this tells you how balanced your light is going to be)
  • CPU speed (the store employee may not even know this)
  • Optical zoom length (ignore digital zoom; it’s garbage)
  • Sensor size (35 is the highest, and it goes down in quality and price from there)

So if you’re looking to buy a new camera, go with a more nuanced understanding of how they work—you’re bound to find a better match than if you just bought the one with a superfluous amount of pixels.

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2 responses to “What to Look For in a New Camera Instead of Megapixels”

  1. Dwight Schofield says:

    Funny, but megapixels is really the only criteria for me. Shooting real estate makes the pixel king for resolution and creating those two page folds. The things I find superfluous include burst speed rates, floppy and touch lcd screens along with WiFi and GPS.

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