What Are Megapixels ? Trusted & Unbiased reviews

Well, come to my post, “What Are Megapixels ?”. One megapixel (often abbreviated to MP) is equal to 1 million pixels. The greater the number of megapixels in a digital photo, the higher the resolution.

High resolution is especially important when printing photos. Especially for large format prints, it is significant that the resolution is high enough to avoid individual pixels becoming visible.

But too high a resolution also has disadvantages. Many sellers typically use the camera’s maximum resolution as the ultimate selling point.

But they forget to mention that the image quality deteriorates considerably in certain circumstances. Especially when a camera with a small sensor has too many megapixels in proportion.


Are more megapixels always better?

At first glance, it seems like a camera with 30 megapixels should provide better image quality compared to a camera that only has 20 megapixels. But that is not always the case. The size of the image sensor also plays a significant role in the final image quality.

Now suppose that a 20-megapixel and a 30-megapixel camera both have the same size sensor. Then the light receptors (individual pixels) with the 30 megapixel camera will be smaller because they are physically closer together on the sensor.

The larger light receptors of the 20 megapixel camera will be able to more accurately measure the light entering the lens. This creates less ‘noise’ in the photo, these are pixels that do not seem to have the right color.


Not every camera has an equally large image sensor. For example, an SLR camera has a full-frame sensor of 36 x 24 mm, or a slightly smaller APS-C sensor of approximately 24 x 16 mm.

While many compact cameras have less space for a sensor, so a smaller one has to be built in. That can be a four-thirds sensor measuring 17.3 x 13 mm, a 1-inch image sensor measuring 13.2 x 8.8 mm, or an even smaller plate of about 5 x 4 mm.

The smaller the sensor, the closer the pixels come together and the greater the chance of ‘noise’ in your photos.


How many megapixels you need depends on how large you want to print photos. In principle, a higher resolution gives better results. But a camera with many megapixels also costs significantly more.

And you rarely use them all. Because for a standard print of 10 x 15 centimeters, you only require 2.1 megapixels. 3.3 megapixels are sufficient for a print of 13 x 18 centimeters.

You can already make a sharp A4 print with 8.4 megapixels and an A3 print with 18.9 megapixels. If we assume a print with 300 pixels per inch.

If you set the resolution of your printer lower, it is even possible to achieve at least an A1 with 18 to 24 megapixels. And with Photoshop you increase the quality even more, to a small job poster.

It is therefore not always useful to purchase an expensive digital camera with many megapixels. The size of the sensor and the quality of the processor that processes the image information is more important in determining the image quality.

Light Receptors

A negative image forms on the image sensor in the camera because the pixels on the back of the sensor act as light receptors. They capture the light reflected from the subject and other elements in the location and enter the camera through the lens.

That light is enriched with colors by the processor, creating a clear photo. If your sensor has a resolution of roughly 20 megapixels, there are 20 million pixels on the back of the light-sensitive image surface.

They are much better distributed over a large full-frame sensor than over a small image sensor in a compact camera.Because the large amount of pixels on that smaller area are packed more closely together.

The light receptors shrink to fit this plate. Not all pixels are therefore the same size. Small pixels on an image sensor ultimately provide sharper photos, with significantly more details. What is good.

But larger pixels give less noise when magnified. Which is also important. It then comes down to finding the ideal balance.

Most good digital cameras have a resolution between 16 and 24 megapixels. But there are also system cameras that have more than 64 megapixels.

Benefits of More Megapixels

Many megapixels are especially useful when you buy a camera with a large image sensor and a good processor, which can process the information from the various light receptors quickly and efficiently. And if you also plan to print your photos large.

Because then those prints remain of excellent quality. Even if you took the photos in low light and with a high ISO values, The big advantage of a full frame sensor is that more light receptors fit on it, which makes the contrast and details more visible.

While the pixels remain sufficiently large to counteract any noise in the photo. You can also do down sampling. Which means that you can reduce files that you can normally print on A1 due to their high resolution to, for example, A3.

As a result, noise, small irregularities and even slight blurring are less or no longer visible at all. All of which is almost impossible with much smaller image sensors.

Photo editing

Large, detailed photos are easier to edit. That is why professional photographers who work with RAW files buy expensive full-frame SLRs or system cameras. Even if they print their photos in a small format.

The development of the RAW files is always done at the maximum resolution in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, making it easier for them to adjust the light and color of their photos, clone elements or trim objects, then set the canvas size. Without wasting much time.

The question then is whether you also plan to edit all your holiday photos and family snapshots. And whether you need that high resolution, because you want to hang the photos in poster format on your living room wall.

If that is not the case, it is better to take a camera with a slightly smaller image sensor and fewer megapixels for your prints and photo albums.

Digital zoom

Unless you often go on safari to spot wildlife, photograph birds as they forage for food in the middle of a lake, and capture your kids’ sporting efforts. Because in that case, it is handy that you can crop the photo later to show the action better.

This digital zooming in on your subject, because you don’t have an immensely large telephoto lens when shooting and then have to continue zooming, can only be done with original files that are sufficiently large and detailed.

Because otherwise you will end up with a photo that is much too small, which you can no longer enlarge, without loss of quality. That is why we recommend a large image sensor of roughly 24 megapixels for this. It does tolerate cutting off a few megapixels where necessary. Because even if you shrink the file by half,

Disadvantages of more megapixels

A larger full frame sensor always produces better results. The photos are nicer than those from a smaller sensor with the same or more megapixels. Because the light receptors have more space on that large sensor. As a result, they do not crowd each other in too small an area.

In addition, these pixels are larger and capture more light. A lot of megapixels on a smaller sensor automatically means they decrease in size, because they won’t fit on it otherwise, but also that they absorb less light.

And when light receptors do not capture the necessary information to form a clear photo, a distorted image is created with less contrast and fainter details, more noise in the dark areas and duller colors with fewer nuances.

Color noise

Many megapixels also produce more color noise at high ISO values, when shooting in poor lighting conditions. Some cameras have noise reduction to counteract that. But if you use that setting, it often comes at the expense of sharpness.

And when details in the photo are lost, they typically look less beautiful. You can only compensate for this by mounting a bright lens on your camera. Because a lens with an aperture of f/2.8 will allow more light into the camera than a lens with f/4 as the largest opening.

Which of course has an influence on the pixels on the sensor. A good lens will also make shutter speeds shorter, reducing the risk of motion blur, which along with loss of detail can result in even blurrier photos.

File size

Small lens errors in cheap lenses are also amplified when your sensor has many megapixels. But the biggest downside to many megapixels is the file size of every photo you take with your camera.

So you don’t just need expensive memory cards, with significantly more storage capacity. But you also need a fast computer to be able to store, move and edit the files smoothly.


Many megapixels only make sense if you buy an expensive camera with a full-frame sensor, shoot in RAW, develop your files on a good, fast computer and provide plenty of storage space to keep all your beautiful photos forever.

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