If you remember the beginnings of digital photography, then you probably remember that it was all about the megapixel count. Today, the market still offers us cameras with 10 MP, but there are those with 50 – 100MP, too. And how much does it really matter? In this video from B&H, David Flores discusses how important the megapixel count really is, and why there can be some advantages even to lower-resolution cameras.
Why you need more megapixels
Professional-quality photos are generally printed at 300 dpi, and higher resolution camera enables you to make larger prints. On the other hand, billboards and other large prints are printed at 100 or even 50 dpi, because you will not be looking at them from up close. If you want to read more about printing, you can do it here.
Another advantage of a high megapixel count is that you have more flexibility in post-production. So it can come in handy when you’re cropping, retouching and compositing images.
Generally speaking, the high megapixel count is important for fine art, landscape, and commercial product photographers. Designers also appreciate the higher flexibility they get from high-resolution photos.
Downsides to working with ultra-high resolutions
Probably the most obvious downside to high-resolution cameras is the need for higher capacity memory cards and disk storage solutions, considering that the images take up a lot of space.
Another disadvantage of high-resolution cameras is that more megapixels mean more “heavy lifting” during image acquisition. This means slower continuous shooting and slower AF performance. Also, low light performance is better with lower resolution cameras. Still, all this doesn’t mean that some manufacturers haven’t found the way to bring together the best of all worlds. For example, Sony A7RII offers great low light performance and speed in a pretty high-resolution camera.
If you’re shooting video, a lower resolution camera can provide you with faster image processing. And when it comes to low light video, you’ll have the same advantages as in low light photography.
So, do megapixels really matter?
Well, the answer to this question isn’t straightforward. Basically, it all depends what you use your camera for. If you do a lot of printing, shoot in a studio or want landscapes with exceptional detail, a high-resolution camera is an obvious choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking for good low light performance and improved video performance, then the lower resolution camera could be a better choice for you.
So tell me, how much is the megapixel count important to you? I use a 16.2 MP Nikon D7000 and since I’m a hobbyist, it’s quite enough for me. Does it make a difference in your work? Or you find some other features more important?