Saturday, December 27, 2008

Megapixels is not everything.(Technical)

(Note before reading: This article is quite technical (according to my sis), so if you dont give a damn, just spend some time reading the conclusion at the bottom of the post (and probablly save some money the next time you get a camera).. that said, i still hope you spend the time reading thru this post, as i feel its a common misconception among people (including me at one point).. so, happy reading)

As the title says, im going to say it again. Megapixels is not everything.

Just having "graduated" to a DSLR camera from a PnS (point and shoot) camera, i still remember clearly that when i was choosing normal cameras (pns), megapixels seemed to be a big consideration for me, just like RAM was when i was new to the computer scene. It seemed that the more megapixels the camera had, the more detailed or higher quality my pictures would become, just like the misconception that the more RAM in your computer, the faster it goes.

Ehhhhh, Wrong. Dead wrong.

More RAM? The usual consumer version of Vista only supports 3GB of TOTAL RAM. That means if u have more than 3gb of ram, u are wasting your time and money as It Does Not make your computer faster.

Same "concept" goes to cameras. Yes, more megapixels means a higher quality photo. But, up to a point.

Whuha?? you say

Ok, to start off, ill give you an example:

Nowadays, you always hear this "Full HD TV at ......" Right? Full HD, what does it actually mean?

It means that the television has 1920 x 1080 pixels on it.

Then you feel like buying it, because the TVs on display have very sharp and vivid images. The shapes shown have a defined edge, not like your previous old junk at home. Sharp images, even at the common 42inch size of the television, where 1920 x 1080 are stretched to 42inches, it still looks gorgeous.

So to conclude, 1920 x 1080 pixels still looks sharp stretched to 42inches. ok?

So now we come to the cameras. Now that technology have advanced, anything below 8megapixels is considered old. The norm now is >10megapixels for small pocket cameras.

So what does 10 megapixels come out to? 3648 x 2736 pixels, FIVE times more than the full HD resolution. And how many megapixels does the "full HD" standard actually come to? 2.1mp.

Surprised? Well to give you more food for thought, my dslr (pro camera to normal ppl), only has 8mp, however it still gives me enough room to crop and photoshop pictures. In fact, a higher resolution would not really help me as i do not require such large photos.

If 2.1 mp is enough for the "Full HD" standard, why do you need more?
8mp is enough to produce a picture 21.8inch by 16.3inch large. essentially as big as a banner.
Do you need to print your friends faces the size of a banner? well maybe once or twice.. not ever likely.

So why do you need 10mp? why 14mp? No. you dont ever need this type of resolution, its just a marketing gimmick. Since the term is so widely used and so easy to "understand", manufactures just boost the number of pixels and sell it for a higher price.

Need more convincing so as to disregard megapixels?
-Manufacturers cram more megapixels into a small sensor, this causes more "noise" (the grainy effect)
-More megapixel means larger files to handle, which means your memory card would run out faster.
-More MP means cropping or resizing the photos to be able to fit it in image hosting sites, thus more post processing done, waste of time.

Plus some photos to convince you. These are taken from my camera at a block some 150m away. My camera is only 8MP.

Random Shot
Condo, taken on a nice december day at 8MP. Red Box Marks the crop, shown below. (Yes im sloppy)

Cropped photo of Random shot
Crop of Above Photo, Notice the Quality is still perfect, plus it can fit on your screen with no problems at all.

Now imagine this, if the cropped photo can fit your screen fully without any quality issues, tell me who has a screen big enough to see the whole picture, without downsizing it to his/her screen.

To conclude this post, (and to add more)
-Weigh your needs when choosing a compact camera
-megapixels higher than 8 are a waste of your time, you dont need it
-MP is mostly very standard now, ignore it (though not completely)
-Check the cameras sensor size (larger=less noise)(more mp on small sensor=lots of noise)
-Check the cameras focusing speed in dark (indoor lighting, dusk lighting)
-Check the cameras Shutter Lag (time where you press the button and time where it actually takes the picture)
-Check cameras Interface, less cluttered means faster deployment
-Check Cameras Startup time, so that you can just take out of pocket and immediately snap.
-Others (your own needs)
-Pardon the sales person trying to get you to believe in higher megapixels, I guess hes as bought into the concept of "more is good" also.

Well yea, thats all for this post. Hope you have understood what i tried to explain.
Oh yeah and on a side note, i've started to host my pictures on flickr, so no more need to preview the images!

And Yes, this post is somewhat like a random thought that came out of know where, just felt like writing it.. its what blogs are for what...


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