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Are more Megapixels Bad?

Are more Megapixels Bad?

A megapixel is a million pixels. But when do you have too many megapixels? When is more resolution a bad thing? Let’s check it out! 

For a while, cameras, and especially phone cameras, kept growing in the image resolution that they could produce. We went from 3 to 5 to 8 to 13 to 16, heck, Nokia even put a gosh darn 41-Megapixel camera on their Lumia 1020. 41! That is mad. And yet, nowadays, most flagship phones have 12-megapixel cameras. They actually decreased the resolution compared to previous models.

But why?
You see, a lot of times, having too high a higher pixel count is a bad thing.

Let me explain.

The part of the camera that is responsible for actually capturing the image is the sensor. Now, your sensor has a size, and the bigger the sensor the better. Sensor size is important in order to prevent noise, especially in un-ideal shooting conditions such as low light environments. It makes sense. If the sensor has a bigger surface area, more light will hit it, and if you are in a place where there isn’t a lot of light, you want to get as much of that limited amount of light as possible.

Here, however, is where resolution comes in. You see, if you have a 41-megapixel camera, that limited sensor surface has to be divided up among 41 million little pixels. That means that, if we were to oversimplify a bit, every pixel gets approximately 0.000,0024% of the light. However, if you have a 12-megapixel camera, each one gets around 0.000,0083% of the light.

Now, that might not seem like a big improvement, but if we consider that the size of the sensor is the same, that is almost a 4 times increase in the amount of light per pixel.

So what if the pixels get less light?

The image will just be a bit darker. Right? Wrong! When you don’t have sufficient light, you get noise. And when I say noise, I don’t mean annoying sounds. Noise is something that every sensor produces naturally. The amount of noise varies with each sensor and higher quality ones obviously tend to produce less of it, but it exists everywhere. However, when you have enough light in your scene, it overpowers the noise and you get a nice and crisp image.

On the other hand, if the pixels are receiving to little light, the natural errors of the sensor start showing up as tiny, tiny little dots of random colors in your video or image, making it look grainy or muddy. You have definitely seen this in videos and images all the time.

Should you stick with 3 Megapixel cameras, if you can even find those anymore?

No, please don’t. But know that, not only aren’t megapixels the ultimate measure of image quality, too many of them might actually be worse. Too few megapixels are just as bad as too many, because you want decent image resolution. There's lots of specs to a camera that most people don’t see, such as aperture, sensor size, and so on.

So, if you were to take anything away from this article, it’s that when it comes to cameras, the best way to figure out their quality is to do some research, go on the internet and look up a review of it and look at some image quality tests and figure out if it is what you’re going for. So, I really do hope you found this article helpful then give it a share and comment below.

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