May 11, 2009

How Many Megapixels Do I Really Need ?

Now that digital cameras have been around for a while, most people either already own one or have at least used one. For the most part, they work exactly the same as the cameras you were used to shooting with before, but in a different format. They capture your images on digital media (a memory card) instead of film.
With so many different cameras to choose from and only so many different features, what are the manufacturers going to do in order to sell you new models? What they do is try to push megapixels on you as a way to purchase their particular brand of camera. The average consumer has been trained to think that they need super-megapixel cameras to take great shots and that is just not entirely true.
Here is what megapixels really mean: how large can you print your final photographs. The truth is that most consumers go to a local kiosk in a nearby mall or camera shop and only print regular 4 x 6 photo’s or maybe an occasional 8 x 10 in. print, and with a 5 megapixel camera you can actually print up to 11 x 14 inches.
Actually the 10 – 12 megapixel cameras are great, but just a few years ago they were usually just for pros or semi-pros who needed to print larger prints like a 16 x 20 in. or maybe a 24 x 36 inch.

If you’d like to do some after the shot editing in your favorite photo software program, the extra megapixels allow you to zoom in really close to edit small sections of your photos with more detail and also allow you to crop to another size and still keep a printable image.
Just remember, unless you are specifically using your images only on the web, try to always shoot at the maximum resolution. Why have a 10 megapixel camera if you’re only going to shoot at 3 megapixels? You are actually throwing away valuable digital information. You can always make a smaller print, but it doesn’t work the other way around without manipulating pixels or special software!
I hope this information has helped you. Remember, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography