What Are Megapixels
Are More Megapixels Better?
So, what are megapixels?
A megapixel is actually one million pixels
. If you were to look at a pixel, it looks like a tiny square. When discussing cameras and photos themselves, a pixel contains the detailed information that makes up the picture. Therefore, the more pixels you have, the better the resolution will be. Well, this is almost true.
The pixels in cameras are specified as megapixels. The reason to have a camera with high megapixel capabilities is so that you can print large size digital images. If you are only going to view your photos on a computer screen, you do not need a camera with high megapixels. Even a 2 megapixel camera (probably rare these days) will display your image just fine.
Megapixels and Print Size
However, when learning about what are megapixels, printing is different than online viewing. A 3 megapixel camera will print photos
that are 4 x 6, 5 x 7, and 8 x 10 with good resolution. I used this type of digital camera for many years and printed 8 x 10 photos for my landscape design portfolio and they were beautiful.
I was also careful to use the right digital printing paper and a good printer (which was not expensive!)
If you want to print digital photos that are 11 x 14, you should have a digital camera that is at least 5 megapixels. The larger print size needs more pixels to print the photo successfully.
Are More Megapixels Better?
Yet when you go to purchase a camera, you will see cameras that offer even more megapixels than I've mentioned.
Each year, camera companies seem to come out with cameras that have more and more pixels. Now you have an idea of what are megapixels and how they will effect your photo printing results. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of a digital camera with lots of megapixels?
Advantages of a High Megapixel Camera
is where extra megapixels come in handy. Having a high amount of megapixels allows you to crop and adjust your picture. Let's assume you want to only print photos that are 8 x 10. A 3 or 4 MP camera would be just fine.
However, if you take a picture from an 8MP camera, this means your picture has twice as many pixels than you need. It also means that you can crop your photo to about 1/2 of its original size, discarding 1/2 of those 8 megapixels. Although your image seems smaller, you can still print it at the 8 x 10 size while while keeping the detail, since it still has 4 megapixels.
If you took a photo with a 12MP camera, you could do the same and discard two thirds of your image. Again, your 8 x 10 print will have the same detail with 4 megapixels.
Disadvantages of High Megapixels
Cameras with higher amounts of megapixels take up more storage on your memory card. The same memory card with a certain amount of storage will store fewer and fewer pictures as the megapixels increase. This is because of the greater amount of memory needed to store larger amounts of information.
In addition, picture taking time will be slower. Your camera needs to record more information when you take a picture, which slows it down comparatively.
Sometimes I want to use the highest amount of megapixels with my camera. If I am taking a professional photo, I want it to be the best it can be. However, if I am taking some rough "before" pictures of a landscape project, I can use a lower resolution. There is definitely a difference in camera response time between the two methods.
Higher megapixel cameras are more expensive. You can get a similar quality camera with less megapixels for less money.
Knowing what are megapixels, their pros and cons, and thinking about what your needs are, will help you decide what size pixel camera you really need.