How Many Pixels Do You Need?

The number of megapixels a digital camera has may be of less importance than you think. Through clever marketing digital camera companies have created an impression that the higher the number of megapixels a digital camera has the better the picture quality the camera offers.

Looking back a number of years it was certainly true then that extra megapixels could make a big difference to the quality of the prints you made. For example a step up from a two megapixel digital camera to a three megapixel digital camera could make a significant difference to picture quality.

Did you know you really only need three or four megapixels to make a good quality 6 x 4 inch or 7 x 5 inch print?

When it comes to picture quality the size of the CCD or CMOS sensor is likely to be of greater importance than the number of pixels a digital camera has. The sensor is where the pixels are stored. The larger the sensor size the larger each pixel can be. This means that each pixel can hold more information. In most instances this can help to increase picture quality. This can be especially noticeable if you are taking pictures with high contrast.

I have noticed in a number of camera tests that too many megapixels can lead to a slight loss of picture quality. This is because of the number of pixels being crammed into a small space on the sensor.

Other advantages to fewer megapixels include being able to store more photos on a memory card. In addition the time taken to upload smaller images to a computer is reduced.

I have recently observed that the number of megapixels being offered appears to have levelled off a little. One or two of the latest models even have fewer pixels than their predecessors.

There are still some advantages to extra pixels. To start with if you like to crop photos a large number of pixels can mean that the picture you are left with is still large enough to make a print from.

A number of cameras also offer extra flexibility when it comes to using zoom. With these cameras more zoom becomes available when you reduce the resolution (number of megapixels) you are shooting at.

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