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By: Danette Mckay
How many mega pixels do you really need in your new camera? When buying a new camera everybody struggles with that question. Should you spend an extra $200 to get that extra mega pixel? The race for more mega pixels has long begun but really is more mega pixels necessarily better?

The number of mega pixels is magical. Manufacturers love to use it – a single number that consumers perceive as meaning everything about how good a camera is. The more mega pixels the better my camera, or is it? Nowadays you can get an affordable camera with 10 mega pixels or more. If you really want to spend you can get 16 mega pixels and even higher. Marketing campaigns emphasized on this number as it is much easier to have consumer compare cameras by checking if one number is bigger than the other rather than having them compare complex optical characteristics.

But when really going deep into which camera produces better quality photos the answer is very complex and just comparing the number of mega pixels is actually pretty much useless. More mega pixels can sometimes actually mean less in terms of quality. Why? There are plenty of reasons. For example if you have a certain budget and you spend it all to get the camera with the highest number of mega pixels you might end up compromising on the quality of the lenses you get. A 5 mega pixels camera with high quality lenses produces much better photos than 10 mega pixels with bad lenses it is as simple as that. There are other considerations when it comes to budget how much money do you keep aside for memory cards? for extra batteries? for a comfortable carrying case?

The first thing to consider when deciding on the number of mega pixels is usage. How will you be viewing the digital photos taken? For example printing big enlargements requires more resolution while simply viewing digital photos on your computer screen really requires very small number of mega pixels. Actually a computer’s full screen resolution of 1024 X 768 is less than one mega pixel. If you have 10 mega pixels and you are viewing a digital photo on your computer you are basically using less than 10 percent of your camera’s mega pixels. Light sensitivity is another factor when considering the number of mega pixels. For optical reasons two important factors that determine when a scene is too dark for your camera are the sensor size and the number of mega pixels. Simply put the more mega pixels on the same sensor surface size the smaller each pixel is and the less light it can accumulate over the same shutter opening time.

Having said that don’t go out and buy a 2 mega pixels camera. Although manufacturers emphasize the number of mega pixels when they introduce cameras with more pixels they usually also improve many other features and optical element. The new digital cameras do produce better photos but not just because they have more mega pixels but mainly because they just got better and better over the years. Like many other consumer electronic devices there is a price sweet spot. The price of a good digital camera stays stable over the years but you just get more for the same amount of dollars.
Danette Mckay is a well known author. Read more here phalaenopsis maki watanabe 'carmela' am/aos x phal ma... about this and other subject.
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