The true size of megapixels

What is the true size of the megapixels?

Some of you may remember one of my past articles called "Will a resolution increase ..." where I expressed my dilemma about buying a new better camera.

Well, I looked into the problem a little bit further and I came up with a bit of a conspiracy theory regarding the megapixels race which I think it's a myth in some aspects.

This gimmick is used by manufacturers to make you feel as if your current camera is inadequate and needs to be replaced even if the new cameras coming into the market each year are only slightly better.

Small differences in pixel count, between say 5 MP and 8MP, are unimportant because pixel counts are a square function. It's exactly like calculating the area. It only takes a 40% increase in linear dimensions to double the pixel count! Doubling pixel the count only increases the real, linear resolution by 40%, which is pretty much invisible.

One needs at least a doubling of linear resolution to make an obvious improvement. This is the same as quadrupling the megapixels. A simple doubling of megapixels, even if all else remained the same, is very subtle. The factors that matter, like color and sharpening algorithms, are far more significant.

The megapixel myth is also prevalent because humans always want a single number by which something's goodness can be judged.

Unfortunately, it's all a myth because the number of megapixels (MP) a camera has, has very little to do with how the image looks. Even worse, plenty of lower MP cameras can make better images than poorer cameras with more MP.

Photo credits: Andra Mohorea.

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February 06, 2010


that's what they said me when I went to buy my new camera,so they even adviced me to buy a nice entry level ones and then maybe look for a better lens (at the end what makes the difference)

February 05, 2010


Heywoody, so right.
many times we forget that the high cost of the latest howdydoodies is for the spiffy bazooka sized zoom lens with motorized image stabilizers,etc..
and very little investment goes into sensor size and quality.
we would have gotten a better deal putting that wasted money into a top notch prime lens and an older series with better sensor.
but in humans, size counts, lol.. so more will pay for bigger everything .it's a status symbol, isn't it?

February 05, 2010


Essentially this is the bit that replaced film - significant difference in quality between Kodachrome 25 and Kodacolor 400 for example, Need to have decent lenses to make decent pictures or all the extra MPs do is highlight deficiencies.

February 05, 2010


My G9 has 12 MP but some experts told me that caused my pics not very clear and noise because of the small sensor and big MP, then Canon launched G10 ang G11 with less mp

February 04, 2010


in digital photography, isn't sensor the most important?
and in making the image, lens quality.
you can get a large MP p&S with plastic lens and cheap sensor
or you can get an equal MP camera with excellent lens and sensor to boot,
and you can actually see the difference.

i agree too, MP hype is just that. but for most average users who never see anything larger than an 5by7 print, i don't think the customer buying the camera cares. or even if you do explain about MP etc... it all goes pass their heads anyway.
all in all, i do think there is a difference between a 7MP consumer DSLR vs a pro or prosumer 14MP, 17MP DSLR with a more superior sensor.

February 04, 2010


Olympus has already announced they won't go any further in this pixelrace

February 03, 2010


Very true! MP really don't say much about the camera. Recently, however, they have become a mass-marketing tactic. "Oh, that camera has 12 MP, and this one only has 8, so that one must be better. Let's get it!" It is important to understand something like this. Great blog article.

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