An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

What Mega Pixel Camera Should I Get?


Mega pixels are playing less of a part in retail photography then several years ago. When digital cameras were in their infancy, there was a large increase in image quality from 2 mega pixels, to 4 mega pixels, and to 5 mega pixels.

Digital SLR cameras went from 8 mega pixels to 10 mega pixels and only increased in resolution by about 8%. The increase in resolution from 10 mega pixels to 12 mega pixels was about 5%. The image quality for most size prints is not really that noticeable with the slightly bigger mega pixel sensors.

The reason people pay close attention to the mega pixel size is because the big photography equipment manufacturers and retailers market the mega pixel number heavily. It sells cameras. There are a lot of other things to consider. Each generation of SLR digital cameras have faster and better focusing, faster and better image processing, and a little bigger mega pixel size. Faster focusing of 16% is a hard sell for a new camera model, so the retailers push the mega pixel size in order to sell cameras. Each generation of digital SLR cameras have improvement in a lot of areas besides just mega pixel.

A larger mega pixel doesn’t do much good if the lens can’t focus fast enough and the picture turns out blurry. A larger mega pixel camera won’t help if there is camera shake because a tripod wasn’t used. There are other techniques for improving image quality!

Lenses don’t improve as fast as digital cameras and don’t depreciate as much. A better investment might be in a better quality lens! Using just kit lenses will decrease the quality of your photographs!

If you already have a digital SLR, consider waiting every other camera generation to upgrade in order to get more for your money. Each camera generation lasts about 18 months so you won’t need to wait that long!