Don't be fooled into chasing megapixels

There’s more to a good camera than the number of megapixels it boasts and how many do you need anyway?

Computer manufacturers say their latest model is an improvement on the last because it has a faster processor with faster memory. In many cases this fact alone does impact on the user experience making the purchase of a new computer worthwhile.

However, the same cannot be said of a camera just because it boasts more megapixels. But camera and smartphone manufacturers would like you to think it does because they need an easy way of making the consumer see their next model as an improvement on the previous one.

How many megapixels your camera needs should be determined by the end use of your pictures and how large they need to be printed.

Digital photographic prints and traditional glossy magazine printing use a standard 300 dots per inch to achieve high quality results. A camera with 12.1MP (4256 x 2832 pixels or dots) will therefore produce images straight off the camera that can be printed 36cm x 24cm (14in x 9.5in). Sufficient for most people’s requirements. And remember this is without using Photoshop to increase the dimensions.

What is equally important as the number of megapixels is the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor. Having a sensor that is capable of taking quality photographs in low light conditions means you can avoid having to use the built in (and often useless) flash. The sensitivity range of the sensor is rated by the ISO range and it is this figure that professional photographers will also seek out when purchasing a DSLR.

The quality of the lens is also equally important. There is no point in buying a phone or camera with a huge number of megapixels if the light has to travel through a small lens, more often than not covered in fingerprints anyway when built in to a smartphone.

Remember more megapixels results in larger files, so you’ll be paying for more memory to store them all in too.

The consumer camera market will continue in this race for more and more megapixels because the manufacturers want to you to think more is better. But now you know. So you for one cannot be fooled.