05
Apr
08

It’s Not About the MegaPixels! (Kanon Article 2)

As promised, I will post an English copy of the Photography Article I am writing in the magazine Kanon (kanonseattle.com).  Here is the April’s edition:

The first question I am always asked about my camera is “How many mega-pixels does it have?”. This question (along with an occasional “How far does it zoom?”) seems to be the only thing most people are concerned about. Practically everyone thinks that the mega-pixel count is the most important aspect of a camera, and therefore serves as a practical “rating” for that camera.


The truth is, however, that mega-pixels are not all that important! Roughly speaking, the mega-pixel count indicates the size of the image, not the quality. One can have a really large image but of really low quality, which is exactly the case with many point-and-shoot cameras. Furthermore, even if the camera produces high quality images, most people do not use their full mega-pixel capacity. For example, almost every printed image is 4 by 6 inches in size, which is actually only 2.2 mega-pixels!!! Full screen computer image is only about 1 mega-pixel, and a typical myspace picture is just 0.3 mega-pixels!!! So it turns out that most people never use more than 2 mega pixels anyways. What’s also funny, is that most of those that own the 7, 8, or 10 mega-pixel cameras, set their quality to “medium” because, as they say, “This way more pictures fit into the memory card”. They don’t realize that all they are doing is sizing down their images to 5, 4 or even 3 mega-pixels, which allows them to store more information on their flash card. When they were buying their camera, however, I am sure they paid the extra buck for those extra mega-pixels, which they never use!


Of course, many of you still cannot believe me; you have been brainwashed by the media to think that you need lots of mega-pixels. Well, to prove my point further, I have decided to create an interesting challenge. If you go to my website (www.danielusenko.com) and enter my blog, you will find eight different images taken with different cameras, ranging from 1.3 to 39 mega-pixels. The first person to match up the given cameras to the appropriate images will win a free photo session! Think you can tell the difference easily? You’ll be surprised that you cannot!

Are mega-pixels good for anything then? Well, of course, they do serve their purpose. If there is a need to print a large image, the more mega-pixels the file is, the better. However, I strongly believe that an average person does not need any more than a 5 mega-pixel camera, which is good enough to print quality images up to 6 by 9 inches in size.


You might be asking then, “If mega-pixels do not account for the quality of the image, then what does?” Well, there are three major variables that constitute for the image’s quality.


The photographer

There is much that a camera cannot do; understanding of light, taste, talent, and technical skill cannot be replaced. Even the most expensive camera will produce awful images if it is in the wrong hands. We will go over what it means to be a good photographer in the upcoming months.


The Lens

The reason many cameras shoot such low quality images is because the lens is of very poor quality. Since the lens is alone responsible for sending light information to the camera sensor, the best camera will have horrible looking images if a bad lens is used.*


The Sensor

The camera sensor is responsible for receiving light from the lens. Cheap cameras have very small, low quality sensors, which constitutes for poor images.*

*Thanks to Vitaly Druchinin for clearing up information on these issues.

The obvious question now is—Which cameras have the best Lens-Sensor combination AND don’t cost an arm and a leg? To find out the answer to this and many other questions, please read next month’s article!

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