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View Full Version : The Mystifying and Murky World of Mega Pixels



ruggedtoast
07-29-2004, 10:36 AM
As my old film loading point and shoot got broken, killed in fact by the Malaysian rain forest I am in the market for a new camera, so I am looking at digitals.

HOWEVER I am a bit bemused by the importance of mega pixels, cheaper cameras have less more expensive ones have more EXCEPT it seems when it comes to the entry level 10x high zoom models.

I would be interested in purchasing one of these as they look like theyd be more rewarding in the long run as more things can be operated manually and the larger lense and bigger zoom should indicate a better photo. Having a tiny camera isnt too important for me.

BUT these lovely looking machines like the Canon Power shot S1 IS or the Olympus Camedia ifor example, all seem to be worrying low on mega - pixels which I had taken to understand means lower quality photos then their smaller brethren. The Canon doesnt even muster 4 MPs.

Are mega pixels important?

I apologise if this is a really dumb question but Im buying this in Tokyo so I cant even ask the store assistant cos they dont speak english.

Many thanks

D70FAN
07-29-2004, 12:02 PM
As my old film loading point and shoot got broken, killed in fact by the Malaysian rain forest I am in the market for a new camera, so I am looking at digitals.

HOWEVER I am a bit bemused by the importance of mega pixels, cheaper cameras have less more expensive ones have more EXCEPT it seems when it comes to the entry level 10x high zoom models.

I would be interested in purchasing one of these as they look like theyd be more rewarding in the long run as more things can be operated manually and the larger lense and bigger zoom should indicate a better photo. Having a tiny camera isnt too important for me.

BUT these lovely looking machines like the Canon Power shot S1 IS or the Olympus Camedia ifor example, all seem to be worrying low on mega - pixels which I had taken to understand means lower quality photos then their smaller brethren. The Canon doesnt even muster 4 MPs.

Are mega pixels important?

I apologise if this is a really dumb question but Im buying this in Tokyo so I cant even ask the store assistant cos they dont speak english.

Many thanks

It all depends on what you want to do. If you are planning to print large format prints (say 13 x 17) or you plan to crop 25% or more on your typical shots. Then you will probably want as much resolution as possible.

3MP to 4MP will easily be enough resolution for very nice prints up-to and including 13 x 17, but 13 x 17 and above should probably be in the 5+MP catagory.

The caveat to this is that consumer digital cameras tend to cram more pixels into the same area. This means the sensor pixels are smaller and canoot gather as much light, requiring additional amplification of the signal and generally more noise (like film grain at ISO400 vs. ISO100). Currently the 8MP cameras are experiencing this problem to some degree.

Professional cameras have a high pixel count, but in a larger area sensor, so noise is less of a problem, although this typically makes them more expensive as well.

The main difference in quality comes not from the sensor, but from lens design and attention to detail when designing firmware and peripheral electronics into the controller. A good 12 or 14bit A/D can make a lot of difference in things like shadow detail.

You can buy a 3.2 Megapixel point-n-shoot for $88, or the same 3.2MP sensor in a higher end camera for $399. The difference is in what the camera can do, and the quality/complexity of the lens and processor.

There are a lot of choices out there, and most of them are good. The ones you are looking at are good choices, and the S1 IS even has image stabilization for those 10X shots on a cloudy day.

Again, quality and pixel count do not necessarily go hand-in-hand, so judge the overall camera, not just the pixel count.

ruggedtoast
07-29-2004, 08:37 PM
That was more than helpful thanks very much!