When choosing cameras, a lot of people are looking for the model with the highest megapixels within their budget range but some of them might not even be sure what they actually mean.
Are megapixels really important? And what are they exactly?
What is a Megapixel?
Let’s start off with the basics, what is a pixel? Pixel actually stands for picture element and this is what you call the dots that make up an image. Resolution can refer to Image Resolution, Print Resolution, and Screen Resolution. Let’s break each of these down. Image Resolution is how many pixels there are horizontally or vertically. Print Resolution is the number of pixels per inch when an image is printed with most prints at a resolution of anywhere from 200 to 300 pixels per inch or PPI. You can also call it DPI which stands for dots per inch. Screen Resolution is similar to Print Resolution but it refers to your computer screen. Most computer screens display at around 100 DPI.
So what’s a megapixel? Megapixel literally means million pixels. It’s a unit of measurement that tells you how many million pixels per inch your camera can take. So a 3 megapixel camera means that your camera can capture more or less 3 million pixels per inch. Sounds like the higher the megapixel count, the better your image will be. Not necessarily.
How Important is it to Have a Camera with High Megapixels?
Having a high megapixel count is great when you plan on blowing up the image to gigantic sizes. The truth is, you don’t need an astonishingly high megapixel count to take clear images. If you’re purchasing a camera just to take photos of family events or other random moments, then you should be good with a 2 to 5 megapixel camera. At this rate, it is already possible to print a very clear photo as small as 4 by 6 inches and with a 5 megapixel camera, you can print photos at up to 10 8 by 10 megapixels. These calculations were done using standard printing resolution as the basis. If you plan on printing your photos at abnormally large sizes, then you should definitely get a camera with higher megapixels to ensure that the quality of the photo is preserved. If you aren’t even planning on printing your photos, you shouldn’t bother yourself with getting a camera with a very high megapixel count.
But since most cameras come at around 10 megapixels or higher, it wouldn’t really hurt you to get one of these cameras. But don’t burn a hole through your wallet by shelling out dough for the shiny camera with a higher megapixel count if there’s another camera that’s cheaper. Reserve the high megapixel cameras for professionals who might just have to blow up their photos to gigantic proportions. If it’s just going to be used to take photos of the kids running around your backyard, save your money and opt for something at 8 megapixels or lower.