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Digital Cameras - How Many Megapixels Do You Need?

Author : Tabitha W Mwendo

The more pixels used to represent an image, the closer the result can resemble the original. The number of pixels in an image is sometimes called the resolution, though resolution has a more specific definition. Pixel counts can be expressed as a single number, as in a "three-megapixel" digital camera, which has a nominal three million pixels, or as a pair of numbers, as in a "640 by 480 display", which has 640 pixels from side to side and 480 from top to bottom (as in a VGA display), and therefore has a total number of 640 × 480 = 307,200 pixels or 0.3 megapixels.

When looking at the sales blurb for digital cameras, you will see endless mention of megapixels - and this is indeed a critical feature of your camera. So here we'll explain what they are - and how many you'll need.

A digital camera contains a special device, know as a sensor (sometimes referred to as the CCD), to capture light. This replaces the photographic film used in a traditional camera. The sensor is comprised of numerous tiny 'photosites' that collect light, convert it into an electric form and feed it to the camera's on-board computer. Once the digital information is stored in your camera's memory, it can be reassembled on a computer monitor, on your camera's colour screen, or printer to make your photo. A pixel (from the term 'picture element') is a tiny, discreet location on the sensor that contains the photosite, a micro lens to focus light onto the photosite and other electronics. The number of megapixels refers to how many millions of pixels the sensor in your camera has. A megapixel is the common term for one million pixels, often abbreviated as 'IMP'. A two-million pixel camera will be referred to as 2MP, and so on.

The number of pixels is important because the more a camera has, the more detail it can capture - and the higher its resolution is said to be. Additionally, the more pixels there are, the larger you'll be able to print your pictures. But don't forget, the more megapixels a camera has, the more expensive it will be too.

So how many megapixels should you get when you buy a digital camera? The answer to this depends largely on your budget and what you want to do with your images. You need fewer pixels to post images. You need fewer pixels to post images on the internet and send them as emails, than to print standard 6x4 inch prints. But you'll need more pixels than that if you want to create enlargements. For example, you will get perfectly good 6x4 inch prints from a 2MP digital camera and still be able to enlarge the shot to a print size of around 8x10 inches. With 3MP cameras, you'll be able to enlarge your photos up to a full A4 sheet.

If you buy a digital camera with more than 4MP, then you'll be able to print at sizes up to A3 and even larger. So while a less expensive low-resolution camera might look like a bargain at first, if you want to create large prints then it's not the camera for you. Happily, all digital cameras can be set up to use less than their full complement of pixels, so you can tailor shots to their end use, such as the lesser number of pixels needed on an image to be emailed. This is even true with a very high-resolution model.

Another thing to remember is that the more pixels your camera has, the more memory the shots will use up - per photo - because each image will then be made up from more pixels and so contain more digital information.

Thank you for reviewing this article, I hope you found the content useful and of great help

Author's Resource Box

We hope youve found this article on digital camera megapixels educational and informative. Tabitha Mwendo: A website consultant, publisher, and marketer. She is at the moment focusing on Thin digital camera theme. click here for more digital photography tutorial and inspiration

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Tags:   megapixels, digital camera, photography, digital photography, digital, camera, megapixels digital camera

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Submitted : 2010-12-27    Word Count : 1    Times Viewed: 324