Digital Camera Pixels

If you are a photographer and plan to print 8×10 or larger pictures you should get at the very least a 3.0 mp camera. Other wise the article below is a great guide to how many digital camera pixels you may need.

Digital Camera Pixels How Many Do I Need?


With the bewildering number of digital cameras on the market, it’s increasing difficult to know where to start for your first purchase. One of the major determining factors of the price of a digital camera is the number of pixels. Nowadays, even 5.0 mega pixel cameras are affordable, even for casual snapshots. But is bigger always better?

Higher mega pixel cameras do have some drawback. The first, and most obvious, is price. A basic 5.0 mega pixel camera currently runs between $200 and $300. A 1.2 mega pixel camera can be had for less than $50. Storage for those large pictures will also cost you more. A 32 MBytes memory card will hold around a hundred 1.2 mega pixel pictures. This drops right down to around 60 pictures for 2.0 mega pixels and to around 40 pictures for a 3.0 mega pixel model. One other consideration, not often mentioned, is that a higher mega pixel camera has to do more work to compress and store images, leading to longer waits between picture shots and viewing.

Before you rush off and spend $300 for a camera, consider what you will be doing with the pictures. Are you viewing them just on your computer? Sending them as email attachments? Printing them on an existing inkjet printer? Having them professionally printed?

The larger number of pixels you use, the larger the file size. An important consideration if you are emailing them as attachments. The following chart shows sample file sizes, typical resolution and maximum print size for different pixel counts stored as high-quality JPEG files:

Pixels – – – File Size – – – Resolution – – – Print Size 1.2 – – – – – 480k – – – – – 1152 x 864 – – – – – 4 x 6 inches 2.0 – – – – – 980k – – – – – 1600 x 1200 – – – – 5 x 7 inches 3.0 – – – – – 1.2M – – – – – 2048 x 1536 – – – – 10 x 8 inches 5.0 – – – – – 2.3M – – – – – 2592 x 1944 – – – – 11 x 14 inches

Most computers will only display the 2.0 mega pixel image (at most) without scrolling, so you may find yourself resizing all your pictures – or not using the maximum resolution of your camera – if you have a 5.0 mega pixel camera.

Only print pictures at 5 x 7, or only view them on a computer? Then a 2 mega pixel may be enough for now. The prices will be lower next year if you want to upgrade later. Obviously, the higher pixel cameras do have some advantages, especially when it comes to cropping and editing – and you know the salesman will want to sell you the best camera in the store – but I hope this information will help in making an informed decision.

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