Megapixels

Megapixels how many is enough?

When it comes to megapixels there still seems to be some confusion over how many is enough. It is generally thought more is better. To a certain extent there is  some truth in this. But (ah.. the dreaded but) it all depends on what you intend doing with the end product. No the image on your monitor is not necessarily the end product.

What is the end product then?

Glad you asked. It could be a :

Canvas print for the wall

Large framed print

Mug

Place mat or mouse mat

T-shirt etc etc,

OK so the biggest demand on the megapixel count of the above is the canvas print and the large print. Even then you have certain conditions.

Don’t get technical – what’s the easy answer?

If your lucky enough to have a image appear in a magazine they will want something from an 10 megapixel camera or above to be on the safe side although this can depend on reproduction size. I have 18 x 24″ canvas prints on my wall from my good old Nikon D200.  For those of you not familiar with that model it has an APS-C sized sensor and massive……..10 megapixels output. I also have a canvas from a 24 megapixel Nikon. You can’t tell the difference. In fact I think the D200 images look better.

You need a sharp shot to start with. If you’ve got that from a decent 10 megapixel camera (aps-c sensor and above) your good. That should cover most DSLRs from 2005 onwards. I haven’t actually done the same thing with m43 cameras. Although I can’t imagine there that far behind to be noticeable. In any case if your looking at one of the canvas print websites they will usually tell you if you have enough quality for the size you select when you upload an image.

Leave the smartphone cameras for all your social media requirements. It’s easier to share with a smartphone anyway 🙂

Why are megapixels promoted as the thing to have?

Good question – quick answer – Marketing. The same marketeers that try to convince us upgrading our bodies every iteration will give us better photos. It won’t. For most people the marketing message has succeeded and they believe megapixels is the only measure of quality. It isn’t. In a strange twist of marketing fate however, some manufacturers are now trying to convince us that a lower megapixel count can be advantageous.

 

There you have it. An easy(ish) answer to the megapixel question. For demanding professionals and certain hobbyists there may well be a requirement for a high megapixel camera.

But this post isn’t for them. They know what the end product will be before they take the shot and have developed their skills and camera bag contents to take that into account.

For most of us, me included, megapixels are just one of the things we should be looking at when buying a camera. There is also the system as a whole, lenses, flash, size, weight, cost, ergonomics and other things to consider.

The Nikon D200 was released in 2006. It’s built like a tank. It’s big and heavy. But I still like it and I know what it can produce. For most of what I do it can still perform.

If I can’t get a decent shot with the D200 it’s my fault not the camera. In fact I’ve captured some of my favourite images on it. When I leave it at home its not because of its 10 megapixels. Its because of the weight (830g body only, no battery etc) and size.

As you get older your tolerance for things that weigh you down, cameras included, seems to diminish exponentially….