Megapixels, schmegapixels

New York Times writer David Pogue has field tested and debunked the myth that higher mexapixel cameras take better pictures.

Pogue had a professional photo lab print out one photo (16" x 24") at 13, 8, and 5-megapixels. He then posted the photos side-by-side in Times Square and asked people to pick the "best looking" photos. Dozens of people gave up, saying there was no difference. Only one woman – a photography professor – was able to pick the highest resolution photo. (Pogue contends she may have been a lucky guesser).

In theory, you should be able to tell the higher resolution, but the reality is that it is very hard for humans to discerne a substantial difference at 5-megapixels or above, regardless of the photo subject.

So… for those of you who are looking for digitial cameras this year, just keep Pogue's test in mind. Hold off on the super-pixel cameras and just buy the 5-ish megapixel camera that meets your needs.

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2 thoughts on “Megapixels, schmegapixels”

  1. Rubbish.

    This is good advice if you are a professional photographer who frames every photo correctly the first time. If you are not that person, buy as many megapixels as you can afford, because it will allow you to crop much, much more to get the perfect shot and STILL blow the picture up to 16" x 24".

    My DSLR is an 8mp and I find myself doing a lot of cropping for two reasons 1. some of the pictures are made better by several orders of magnitude and 2. because I can.

    You can also use the cropping as an artificial zoom lens… you take a picture with a 13mp camera and didn't get as close as you'd have wanted, so your subject is a little small and only takes up a small part of your frame… so crop the picture down to 5mp (or smaller, if you're not going to blow it up to 16×24) and pretend like you took a really awesome picture the first time.

    The average person can make good use of those extra pixels.

  2. If you have no idea what how to crop a photo or what a megapixel is, then ignore Pete's comment above & buy a good 5-ish megapixel camera.

    But, if you're an enthusiast or amateur photog, then Pete's right.

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