How to buy a Digital Camera and Why Megapixel doesn’t matter

For the last few years, I have been continuously listening to the same thing all over again. A universal concept what the general public has in their mind is “My 10 Megapixel Camera can take a better picture than your 3 Megapixel Camera”. Well For these days at least the said sentence is purely a Myth. I am going to bust this Myth after a while. This Digital Camera Buying Guide will help you make a choice to buy the right camera and what megapixel camera you need to choose.

People are always looking for some magnitude to separate the superior from the rest. While Buying Camera these days “Megapixel” is such a term. I feel worse watching that the Manufacturers even promote this as well. They know that it doesn’t matter, but hey, they got a business to run, right?

Canon CameraThese days, Point and Shoot  Cameras have limitations known as the MTF (Modulation Transfer Function). It means that the Optics used in such Compact Cameras tend to blur up the resulting image in many parts, and the distortion differs from one Maker to another. So there is no guarantee that a Higher MP Count camera will take a better picture than a lower MP Count Cam.

So What is this “Megapixel” you say?

Well, Mega Pixel in simpler terms is “One Million Pixels.” That is each Pixel are just a tiny dot of color which makes up a picture. So how we Calculate how many Megapixels a Camera got? Simple Multiply the Horizontal Pixels with Vertical Pixels.

So an Image with 1632 Width and 1224 Height ( 1632 x 1224 ) will be 1,997,568, roughly equal to 2 Million Pixels, get It? That’s how the Megapixels are measured. As the size of the pixel will stay the same anyhow, this is why Megapixel doesn’t measure the quality of Image. They instead measure the size of the Image(a.k.a The Resolution NOT the Quality). There you go Myth Busted !!

So Megapixel Count Doesn’t matter at all?

Well, there was a time when it did matter. A few years back, when we were getting started with Digital Camera (Compacts), the sensors were relatively smaller. Most were designed to capture an image max up to the Horizontal Pixel count of 1152 Pixels. Now that was low, but after that time, there was a noticeable upgrade to the sensor which brought an MP count boast also. At these times, MP counts increase did matter.

But not these days. We are observing Manufacturers claiming to put in more Mega Pixels into their existing Sensors of the same size. Below is a chart which shows the size of the Image sensors, which are standard these days.

Camera Sensor Chart for MegaPixel

(Image Credit MegaPixel.Net )

So basically the sensor isn’t increasing, but manufacturers are boasting up their image dimension, which has no relation to quality at all. After the sensor for such cams stopped growing, the change was hardly noticeable for most of the cases, until you make a giant print out of it, which we usually don’t or even do rarely.

How to buy a Digital Camera?

Good Question! First of all take the “Megapixel” myth out of your mind, as I said above it doesn’t matter these days, but the following things do matter and make a huge difference, these are :

  • Sensor
  • Lens
  • Image Processor
  • Other Components

And what matters most is Your Creativity!!

Things to look into a Camera Before you buy

KGPIf you were earlier dependent on the Megapixel stuff more previously then you might get confused regarding where to start from while buying the camera, here are my two cents :

Feel

Many Fan Boys will tell you to buy a Canon/Nikon/Sony or whatever they feel is right. I am a Canon and Nikon lover myself, but I got my reasons. I would measure in these terms:

  • First of all like you to get a feel of the Camera
  • Ask the dealer to show it to you, hold it, click some pictures
  • See your comfortableness level
  • How fast you can get yourself ready to click pics with it
  • and easily navigate between menus.

Sensor

The Baap,” Yes It’s the most Important Component in a Camera, Second to Lens (although it’s a bit controversial). It’s the essential thing in a Camera. Similar to how a “Film” or “Negative” was used to record images. Sensors do the same for their Digital counterparts. But Sensors are what differentiates between high-end DSLRs and Compact Camera (See the Sensor Chart given above).

See the smaller the Camera is, the smaller the sensor is going to be. Also, its ability to record light and details are low. Smaller sensors on a compact camera are made more sensitive to make them able to capture light. It adds up general noise. So larger sensor is better with the ability to capture light, and the quality of pictures gets improved.

(Smallest Sensor) Webcams  < OR =  Mobile < Compact Digital Cameras < Prosumer / Bridge < Entry Level DSLR / Semi-Pro (Cropped Sensor) < Pro-Level DSLR (Full Frame) < Medium Format (Largest sensor for general use), so a single image if clicked by all of them, then the difference will be significant, due to the same difference in Sensor Size .

Lens and Optics

As I said above, it’s the second most important thing after the sensor. Both are important. A Good Sensor with a Bad Optics will produce bad results as a Smaller Sensor coupled with an excellent Optics. So both should be good or even balancing each other to get good results out of them. While buying a Compact camera, look for Lens made by either Carl Zeiss, Leica or Leupold.

Image Stabilization ( IS/VR/VC)

It might go by many names like Image Stabilization, Vibration Reduction, Vibration Compensation, or even more, but overall, you can understand what its made to do.

Many Cameras these days comes with Image stabilization, as simple as it gets. The feature stabilizes your image even if your hands were shaking (most cases they do like in Low Light Conditions) while taking a picture, so do look for such feature in the camera you buy. Different manufacturers may use different terms, but overall, they have the same job.

Also, note a point in your mind. If you sincerely love photography, you will notice that these things are just mere tools. Just like a Brush for a Painter, these are tools to help you; ultimately it’s you who makes a difference. It depends on the Photographer, mostly. He can use a cam to make a Pic look “WOW” or “Worse.” So Explore, and I wish you ‘Happy Clicking.’ 🙂

This Guest Post was Written by Kuntal Gupta, a Technology Blogger and newly in love with Photography, If you also love Photography, then Join him at his Facebook Fan Page where he shares his Visions, and Explore 🙂


About Kuntal Gupta

4 comments

  1. i have heard about it from someone but the reason was not clear thanks to you and your wonderful explanation i know exactly what to look for before buying a digicam

    mrinal

  2. Hello Aashish you have such a wonderful blog….can you please tell me the best company for digi cam so that I can buy a best camera…

  3. L. Kenneth Hortin

    After reading this, I am going to crank up my Samsung Pro 815 and treat it with respect! Thank you.

  4. Thanks for this article. I love to take pictures, keep the focus. the article is very useful for me

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