Are you considering buying a new camera? Maybe it’s your first, maybe you’re upgrading or adding an extra camera to your kit bag. What do you look for when choosing? Many look at the the number of megapixels – the more the better right? WRONG!!
Don’t confuse a higher pixel count for better quality. We’re talking about the number of dots that make up the image, one million dots or thereabouts = 1 megapixel. So a 10 megapixel camera has around 10 million dots or pixels in the images it captures.
But what does that mean in reality – well if you print your images, typically a high quality printed image has 300 dots per inch or 300 x 300, 90,000 dots per square inch. So let’s say you want to print a photo at 10 inch by 8 inch (just slightly smaller than a sheet of A4 paper). That’s 10×300 = 3000 dots along one edge, and 8×300 = 2400 dots on the other edge. Multiply the two to get the overall number of dots in the picture, i.e. 3000×2400 = 7,200,000 or around 7.2 megapixels. A typical 6 inch x 4 inch print needs just 2.2 megapixels at 300 dots per inch!
So if you’re tempted by the latest 12, 14, 18 or even higher megapixel camera, you could print some seriously large high quality prints! But don’t dive in to quickly.
If you’re only looking at images on your computer screen, with say a typical resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels, that’s just 1.3 megapixels. Even a full HD screen at 1920 x 1080 only equates to around 2 megapixels.
There’s a lot more to it than that though. If you’ve got a limited budget – haven’t we all – the quality of your photographs can be improved dramatically with better quality lenses – you don’t need an expensive camera to take great photos, but a high quality lens will certainly make a difference. Many mobile phones have 5 or even 8 megapixel cameras today – so why are the images of a lower quality? The lens is one major factor as is the quality of the sensor inside the phone.
So don’t blow your budget on the camera body itself, save some of your hard earned money for the lens or lenses. And we haven’t even mentioned the variance in quality between manufacturers and even different cameras from the same manufacturer. It pays to do your research and not be lured by the relentless megapixel march of the manufacturers marketing departments.