Monday, September 29, 2008

The Megapixel Myth
by Ken Rockwell


For normal 4x6" (10x15cm) prints, even VGA (640 x 480 or 0.3MP) resolution is just fine. Digital cameras did this back in 1991!

In 1999 when digital cameras were only 1.2 or 2 MP, each megapixel mattered if you were making bigger prints.

Today, even the cheapest cameras have at least 5 or 6 MP, which enough for any size print. How? Simple: when you print three-feet (1m) wide, you stand further back. Print a billboard, and you stand 100 feet back. 6MP is plenty.

Sharpness depends more on your photographic skill than the number of megapixels, because most people's sloppy technique or subject motion blurs the image more than the width of a microscopic pixel.

Even when megapixels mattered, there was little visible difference between cameras with seemingly different ratings. For instance, a 3 MP camera pretty much looks the same as a 6 MP camera, even when blown up to 12 x 18" (30x50cm)! I know because I've done this. Have you? NY Times tech writer David Pogue did this here and here and saw the same thing — nothing!


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