A lot of digital camera manufacturers boast about the model’s megapixel capabilities. But when it comes to digital photography more megapixels doesn’t always equal better quality photos.

Actually, it’s somewhat a myth. You don’t necessarily need a camera with a huge amount of megapixels to capture good images.

Most point-and-shoot digital cameras these days range from about 10 to 14 megapixels and the SLR versions are usually higher.

But it’s not really the megapixels that are creating good, sharp images, it usually comes down to the quality of the sensor inside the camera as well as the lens you’re using.

How Many Megapixels Are Enough?

What is a megapixel?

If you’re not sure exactly what a megapixel is, it represents a million pixels. A pixel is actually a very small square on the camera’s sensor.  You can see a pixel if you zoom in on a photo on a computer until the image is broken down into small squares. If you have more megapixels it means they are smaller and you can enlarge the photo more until the pixels are visible. The theory is that more pixels means the photo is clearer and better quality.

However, the camera’s sensor only has so much space on it and more megapixels means more information is jammed onto the sensor and this results in bigger image files. This means they take up more space when they’re stored.

Relevance of megapixel while printing

You can print a quality 8×10 inch photo with a three to four megapixel camera if the dots per inch (dpi) and pixels per inch (ppi) are high enough. A printer creates small dots that are made up of the colors blue, red, black, and yellow and these produce the final image. But each printer can only handle a specific number of dots per inch. If the image has more pixels than the printer is capable of handling, then they become irrelevant.

Benefits of megapixel

However, there are some advantages of high megapixel cameras as they enable you to crop images while keeping the quality. Most digital cameras have plenty of megapixels for the needs of an average consumer. Make sure you have a good lens with an optical zoom rather than a digital zoom for better quality photos, since digital zoom tends to impact the image quality to a larger extent.

So, how many megapixels?

Basically, you don’t really need more than 8 megapixels unless you plan on printing off very large images.


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