Too many megapixels? Six is enough for an 8x10.

Started Apr 26, 2009 | Discussions thread
Anastigmat Forum Pro • Posts: 12,664
Re: Too many megapixels? Six is enough for an 8x10.

That is well known and much discussed, but it is not easy to find good cameras with a sensible number of pixels.

Often manufacturers put more pixels on a more desirable camera, making it a difficult choice between 2 models that are similar. The more expensive model may have a longer range zoom but more pixels, while a similar model may have fewer pixels, the same sized sensor and a shorter zoom range. It is the same way in DSLR cameras. Often the cameras with the least pixels (but ironically better high ISO performance) are put in bottom of the line cameras, where you get a pentamirror, a low frame rate and a lousy autofocus module. Want a pentaprism, a decent frame rate and a superb AF unit? Then you have to take the noisier sensor along with the rest of the camera body. Look no further than the Nikon D40 and D90. The D40 has a 6mp CCD sensor with low noise at high ISO settings, but it lacks many of the niceties of a Nikon D90. So which camera should you choose? The D40 for better image quality or the D90 for better AF and better viewfinder?

It would be nice if we can buy cameras the way we buy bicycles. Then we can custom built our cameras with the exact sensor, AF, viewfinder, and shutter units that we want instead of taking bundled deals that may not be ideal for our individual needs.

PhotoGo wrote:

From ABC News.

Why More Megapixels Don't Make Better Pix
Have a Pocket-Sized Camera? Watch Out for Too Many Megapixels

April 25, 2009 —

When it comes to electronics, more is better. Consumers want more
features, more hard-drive space, more cellphone minutes and more
battery life.

But with digital cameras, it's not that simple. Many stores will tell
you that the worth of a camera is measured in megapixels. The more
manufacturers can pack in, the better, right?

Not necessarily, says Amit Gupta, founder of, an online
newsletter for camera tips and projects.

A high-megapixel count doesn't always equate to better image quality.
Actually, if camera designers try to cram too many megapixels into a
small camera, it can have the opposite effect.

Such a counterintuitive snag mostly affects tiny digital cameras, the
ones compact enough to fit in your pocket.

To keep sizes down, manufacturers place itty-bitty image sensors
inside their point-and-shoot models. These small parts perform well
within a certain range. But when companies try to raise the megapixel
count without increasing the dimensions of the camera, the same size
sensor now has to do more work.

The result are larger but less accurate images, Gupta says. The
overburdened sensor can lose sharpness, struggle in low-light
situations and add "noise" (small blotches or odd colors).

Digital SLR cameras are bulkier than sleek point-and-shoots, but the
extra room allows for much bigger sensors and often better image
quality per megapixel.

Cameras are rarely advertised on their sensor sizes, which makes the
warning difficult to act on. But the problem usually pops up when
companies release two very similar models, one with more megapixels
and, most likely, a higher price. In those situations, the extra few
hundred dollars doesn't necessarily buy you a better camera.

Sensor technology improves all the time, making the issue of cramped
megapixels less important each year. Improved lenses and anti-shake
features also dampen the effect.

But even if companies could make a flawless 18-megapixel camera the
size of a deck of cards, few people will ever need that much, Gupta

Start With 8 Megapixels

He suggests that shoppers start looking at eight megapixels, consider
10, but think hard before shelling out for a 12-megapixel camera or

"Six megapixels is great for 8-by-10 prints," he says. "We use a six-
megapixel camera for everything on the site. ... In fact, we're making
a Photojojo book and shooting with the same camera for all of those

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