Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mythbuster–1 "Megapixel is THE deciding factor for a digital camera"

Thanks to my earlier stint with India’s best consumer technology magazine and my personal interest in gadgets, I get lot of queries from friends and acquaintances for their tech needs. Most irritating and most frequent statement they make is, “I like camera X because it has higher megapixel (MP) than camera Y”. Agreed that they don’t know a lot about such stuff, but then why can’t refrain from making such statements at all. My standard response to this statement is long, but educating. And that is what I’ll deliver here for benefit of my audience.

A good camera has more to it than just megapixels. Agreed that resolution of a camera – measured in MP – is a deciding factor but it is not THE deciding factor. First let me delve into what exactly MP means and how it affects your photos. If you keep zooming in on a digital photo of gorgeous Katrina Kaif, you’ll notice that her picture is made up of ugly little dots known as pixels. These pixels are building blocks of any picture. Just like we measure bytes of data and for convenience count it in terms of Megabytes (MB) and Gigabytes (GB), even pixels are counted in terms of Megapixel (meaning a million pixels). MP is counted by taking an image size into account. Say if size of an image is 2048 pixel x 1536 pixel; image resolution translates to roughly 3.1 MP. Simply put, image resolution is product of length and breadth of any given image. Hence an image with a higher resolution means that it is a larger image and it can be printed in larger size.

My personal experience tells me that I have always turned down my camera resolution to around 3 MP. There are some reasons for this preference of mine. First and foremost is that a 3 MP image uses less memory compared to a 7 MP image. This way I can store more number of images on my camera than I would be able to with highest resolution setting. A smaller image size also allows faster uploading over internet. Since most of the time we end up sharing our photos online rather than printing them out, it is very convenient especially to those of us with sad broadband connections. For those pictures that I have got printed I usually get them printed in 5” x 7” size. Although once in a while I have got them blown up to larger sizes, I have never noticed any loss of quality. A higher resolution would simply mean that you can get your images printed in larger sizes without loss of quality.

Point of all the gyaan I just delivered is; don’t just keep MP in mind while buying a camera. You don’t need those fancy 10-12 MP cameras unless you are going to use them for shooting portrait sized photographs. “Higher resolutions makes a better camera”, this half-truth and marketing gimmick has been circulated by camera companies who want to sell their wares and create a craving for the same among customers. In fact, there is a more to a camera than just resolution. If you are an outdoorsy person like me, make sure that you get highest optical zoom on your camera. A higher optical zoom will allow you to click pictures of far off objects as if they were close to you. While looking for zoom, stay clear of another gimmick called Digital Zoom. In addition to optical zoom, there are factors like shutter speed, low light performance, swappable lenses and lot more. Other factors will be discussed in later posts as this post was meant to burst the myth surrounding mysterious Megapixel.


  1. vishal,

    ur kaka is looking for XXX MP camera. why dont up send this link to him.

  2. It's always better to buy more optical zoom than more MP unless u're a professional photographer. For personal use better to stick with up to 3, 4 MP and endless zoom facility. I've bought 3 mp and 6x optical zoom 6yrs. ago so many times I've thought to buy more mp. but.....there is a limitations of zoom as with more zoom camera size become big to carry all the time. Glad that I've canceled that thought.

  3. waiting eagerly for more details.... specially on other features of a digital camera which you talked about in the last part of your mail. please also explain the meaning of each of it..... for example, swappable lens.... now what the heck is that!!!

  4. You are so correct and precise...my first digital is 3.2MP and it has given me best results than my new 10 MP SONY!!