Sony has released a phone with a 23MP camera (a year ago…when I first started writing this blog post. HA whooops). “Oh wow!” you say. “That camera must be amazing! I mean, 23 megapixels!” Well you might be right – the camera could be amazing, but it wouldn’t have anything to do with the megapixels. In fact, the phone you’d be viewing the pictures on doesn’t even know what to do with 98% of those pixels.
Here’s the truth – tons of megapixels are *not really all that useful for most people*. And now you go, “ixi, you dunderheaded ninny! How could that be? You’re CRAZY!” I know, I know, collecting as many megapixels as possible is a practice that has been instilled within us so deeply that it’s hard to imagine that more megapixels doesn’t always equal a better camera. That’s what all the marketing is about for every camera ever (and now phones), but it’s just hype. Unless you want to print on a billboard or you’re a 4k cinematographer, you really don’t need sooo many mega-ixils!
First, what does “mega” even mean in this case? It means MILLION. Bam. 1MP = 1 million pixels. Regular computer screens generally have a few megapixels. Phones are not anywhere near that. That giant 27″ Mac with Retina display does have 14MP, because it’s insane. And that’s only useful to professional photographers and videographers that need it. So how many do YOU need? Here’s what ixi thinks:
‘Sup. I’m a person who has a camera phone and likes to take snap shots of my friends, dog, food, and myself.
You need, like, 1/2 MP (if that)
Hi! I’m a person who has a camera phone and I use it for food pics and cat pics and all that jazz too, but also for travel and sometimes I like to print out my pictures when I get to the top of a mountain. But probably not much bigger than an 8×10.
You probably need 2-3MP
Howdy! I have a DSLR and/or a camera phone, and I like to print my pictures big on occasion, like 16×20 or 20×30.
You probably need: 10-12MP
HULLO! I’m an amateur or professional photographer and I like to print my photos big, like 24×36 or 30×40, AND/OR I like to crop a lot of the image out when I’m editing to zoom in on a specific part.
You probably need: 10-16MP.
Greetings! I worry about things like whether or not I will be able to zoom in on my photos on my implanted virtual reality camera in 30 years.
Ok, you could probably use those 23MP. Knock yourself out. As technology evolves, the screens are going to get more and more pixel-dense, and our devices WILL require more and more megapixels so that the pictures look good when we view them on our pixel-crazy screens.
But right now, we have more megapixels than the average person can “use” on their camera/phone. Something else to consider is that more pixels means more data, which means bigger pictures, and that can slow performance and image transfers down considerably.
SO. What *should* I be looking for to determine if a camera is good?
Well there’s a lot to say about that. The short answer is the sensor and the lens(es). But NOT the megapixels. Wanna guess how many I’ve got in my professional camera bodies?
Consider yourself a little more edjumacated!