Megapixels: Higher Number Doesn’t Equal Better Digital Photos

There is a false belief that a digital camera or other photo taking gadget like a smartphone will take a better photo if it has a high Megapixel (MP) number. For example that a 12MP camera phone will take better photos than a 10MP compact camera.

This belief is wrong. For the purposes of 6×4″ photo prints a 5 or 6 megapixel photo is more than enough. Yes it’s nice to have a higher megapixel number on a mid/high end digital SLR camera so you can crop out parts of the photo you don’t need. However for smartphone and compact cameras raising the MP number can actually result in worse photos because the individual pixels in the imaging sensor get too small and generate noise.

All the following photos were taken by me several years ago with 6 or 8 megapixel non-professional level cameras and the results were great. 99 times out of a 100 the difference between those cameras taking good photos or bad were the limitations of the human factor – whether I was prepared for the moment, had chosen the right camera settings, held the camera steadily etc.

8 seconds slow exposure to get shadowy effect of people walking/standing next to the Cadmans Cottage colour wall for Smart Light Sydney. I like the ghostly effect of the little kid thats fallen over and her parents are leaning over her
Colour, Light and Shadow (Cadmans Cottage, Sydney)

Panorama – “Luminous” lightshow projected onto Sydney Opera House
Panorama - "Luminous" light projected onto Sydney Opera House

Lake Tekapo. New Zealand South Island – Aerial Flight Scenic Safaris
Lake Tekapo - Aerial Flight Scenic Safaris

Iceberg floating on Lake Tasman (terminal lake of Tasman Glacier), South Isand, New Zealand
Iceberg on Lake Tasman (Tasman Glacier)

Chambers Pillar – Northern Territory, Australian Outback
Chambers Pillar - Northern Territory, Australian Outback

Abandoned Farina Township – Adelaide to Alice Springs by Road & Bush Track
Farina Township - Adelaide to Alice Springs by Road & Bush Track

Sunrise on Mount Kosciusko January 1st 2007 4:59AM
Sunrise on Mount Kosciusko January 1st 2007 4:59AM

Footprints – Stockton Sand Dunes
Footprints - Stockton Sand Dunes

Gazania flower close-up
Gazania flower

5 thoughts on “Megapixels: Higher Number Doesn’t Equal Better Digital Photos”

  1. I will take my camera over my phone any single day, hands down. Even the fancy shmancy iPhone pictures can come out grainy.

  2. I couldn’t agree more to this post! I think as technologies upgrade, having a higher megapixel is better. A perfect example is a DSLR. Some DSLR doesn’t have a higher megapixel but takes pictures better than a digicam that has a higher megapixel.

  3. This is the first that I’ve heard of it. I really thought that the higher the pixel, the more suitable would it be for taking pictures. But I guess I was wrong. Thanks for the post!

  4. ALSO! the higher the megapixel the Less amount of photos you can store on a SD card! and the more memory it takes up on your computer! when i was traveling europe (taking thousands of photos) i reduced my camera to 8mp (from 14mp) so i was able to get the most amount of photos available! i almost doubled the amount of photos i could take!

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