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By: Danette Mckay
If you are on the market for a new digital camera then there is a good chance that you are asking yourself that exact question. Maybe the number of megapixels that you are considering is different. Do you really need a 16MP digital camera? 8MP? 6MP? This article tries to help you answering this question.

New digital camera models that are put on the market support more and more megapixels. This race for more megapixels is in part driven by manufacturers who want you to buy their newest and greatest digital camera and the easiest way for them to make you compare cameras is by using one simple number – megapixels – the higher the better or at least this is what they want you to think.

But reality is different. When it comes to megapixels more is not necessarily better. Since most of us have a limited budget that we are willing to spend on a digital camera spending more money to get more megapixels means spending less on other features or accessories – such as storage and lenses. The overall quality of your photography experience is dependent on such extra features.

When deciding on the number of megapixels that you need you should first consider what your expected usage is. You need more megapixels if you plan to print photos (especially big enlargements) or if you need to zoom in and grab fine details out of big digital photos. On the other hand – you do not need much if you plan to watch your digital photos on your computer screen and occasionally print a few 4X6 prints. In fact 2 megapixels are more than enough for such usage. Consider your computer screen resolution which is in most cases 1024X768 - even when viewing your digital photos in full screen mode you are only really watching 1024X768 < 1 megapixels. A 2 megapixels 4X6 photo print has a DPI higher than 300 which is more than enough for a good quality print. If you plan to print enlargements consider the following table for the recommended number of megapixels for different print sizes (based on print quality of about 300 DPI):

page 4X6 2MP

page 5X7 3MP

page 8X10 7MP

page 11X14 14MP

page 16X20 28MP

page 20X30 54MP

When considering spending more of your digital camera budget on getting more megapixels you should ask yourself questions like: should I instead get better lenses? Should I instead get an external flash unit? Should I instead get extra storage media?

Don’t be a victim of the megapixels race. In many ways the race for more megapixels is similar to the race for more megahertz on personal computers. In early days when computers speeds were slow – more megahertz was important. Today though – having a 4Ghz or 5Ghz computer does not make a difference and you are better off spending more money on more memory than more megahertz. The same is true with megapixels – in early digital cameras days the number of megapixels was low and it was important to get more. Today with most cameras having a high number of megapixels it is probably wiser to get better lenses or more storage than upgrading from 8MP to 10MP.
Danette Mckay explains more about many subjects on digital photo printing prices reading reviews compare
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