How Many Megapixels Do I Need?

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The number of megapixels required for a digital camera will depend on how the photographs will be used. For Internet photos, two to six megapixels will be enough, but for enlarged prints, six or more megapixels is recommended. Consider the quality of the camera in conjunction with megapixels using information from a professional photographer in this free video on digital cameras.

Part of the Video Series: Digital Camera Technology
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is James Flint. I'm a professional photographer. I'm going to talk today, today about mega pixels and determining how many you need. Mega pixels are important part of a digital camera but they do not tell you every single thing about it. Basically, you need a certain amount of mega pixels if you want to be able to do prints and enlargements. You need less mega pixels if you want to stuff just on the Internet. A general rule of thumb is that, two or less mega pixels is going to be something you'll find on a very inexpensive camera or something like a camera phone. These are going to take pictures that are only really going to be good to use on the Internet. They'll have a low resolution and a low mega pixel count ; but they'll be good for viewing on a monitor but they won't make good prints. Anything from 2 to 6 megas, mega pixels, you're going to be able to print pretty strong 4 X 6 and 5 X 7 images and sometimes when you're getting close to the 5 and 6 mega pixel number, you can print 8 X 10 images. A camera with 2 to 6 mega pixels, you're not really going to be able to do any strong enlargements. If you want to do things, you know, 8 X10, 8 X 12, 11 X 14, 11 X 17 enlargements to that size are going to require you to have at least 6 mega pixel camera. Now obviously when you're looking at cameras the more mega pixels is often going to lead to a higher price but it's also important to consider that you have a strong lens and good glass paired with your mega pixel count. Now a camera manufacturer like Nikon; they've been making cameras for a very long time; you can count on their lenses. Other major manufacturers like Canon, Panasonic, you know, trusted names generally have a good reputation with their lenses and again, you know, you can't think that just 'cause I'm getting a high mega pixel count I'm getting a really good camera. Sometimes a little bit lower mega pixels on a better camera that has a better lens, it's going to be better than a lesser known camera with less trusted lenses. So it's just, you know, you need to know; just 'cause you have a high mega pixel count doesn't mean you're getting the best camera. But if you want to do a prints enlargements, you need at least a 6 mega pixels. So those are some important basics about mega pixels.


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