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Digital Camera Megapixels Explained for Beginners

Better quality photo enlargements can be made from photos taken with a high megapixel digital camera than from photos taken with a low megapixel digital camera. Find out why.

Have you ever uploaded a photo to a website, and then when you view the photo on that website you see that it's larger than you thought it would be? The website has automatically resized the photo to a set size. You also note that it doesn't look as good as it looked on your computer or on your digital camera? Or, you've printed a photo at a photography shop and have been disappointed with how the print looks? The printed photo or the photo on the website looks a bit blurry and sometimes even has some odd markings on it.

If your digital camera has only 2 or 3 megapixels, your photos will only look good if they stay fairly small. If you try to print a large photo, or a poster, your photo will no longer look as good as it did on your computer or on your camera.

The more megapixels a digital camera has, the more detail can be recorded at the time of taking a photo.

Megapixels are like little blocks, all forming a larger block. The more little blocks that are in the larger block, the better the quality of large photo prints.

Think of a rectangular piece of material, like a towel, with a pattern of equal size squares on it. If the material is strong and you grip it at either end and try to stretch it, nothing will happen. Or, if you are able to stretch it a bit, the threads won't separate too much and the piece of material will still look quite good.

Now think of a rectangular piece of material of the same size as the first one with the same pattern of equal size squares on it, but made differently. The threads are loosely woven, almost like the threads of a fishing net, and as you stretch the material, it does indeed stretch and increase in size, but the spaces between the threads are bigger and you can see through the material to whatever is in the background. The background becomes part of what you see when looking at your piece of material, and detracts from how the piece of material looks in its original size and form.

Although a background as described above does not become visible when a photo is enlarged, enlarging a photo can still be thought of as making little squares larger. If threads are closely woven, you have a stronger piece of material. It is the same with photos. If there are lots of little squares (megapixels) set closely together (as in a 10MP or 12MP digital camera,) they won't become too big if enlarging the photo, and you will still have a good quality photo. However, if the megapixels are already large to begin with (there are only a few of them as in a 2MP or 3MP digital camera,) enlarging your photo makes these little squares even bigger, and produces a poor quality photo.

If you plan to enlarge photos quite a bit, a digital camera with quite a few megapixels (10MP or higher) will help you print large photos of good quality.

 

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Comments (1)

Very informative write.

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