Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The War of Mega Pixel

Be it camera manufacturing giants like Nikon, Canon, or smart phone manufacturers from all over the globe, are in tremendous war of mega pixels in their camera. The once Nikon flagship of “professional” series, D1x offered 5.3 mega pixels, i.e. 5.3 X 1000000 pixels. Later on it came up with D2 which along with some other significant enhancements offered 12.4 mega pixels. Similarly, Canon made their first cut of professional EOS series for 4 mega pixels in their EOS 1D in 2001, couple of years after Nikons’ flagship launch of D1x. 

Anyhow, by this time I believe its already clear how the two camera manufacturers got obsessed with mega pixel and hence their patriotic photographers too. Patriotic because, to most of the photographers, camera brands are what a religion to a saint.

<<- Nikon or Canon guy?

Not only professional photographers, but recreational or spare-time photographers also grew obsessed about the mega pixels. I remember my old days, when I used to use my Nokia cell phone with VGA (smaller than 1 mega pixel) camera and had an upgrade to 1 mega pixel to know no boundaries to my happiness with photography. However, now they are fairy tales, and one won’t even call it a decent camera unless its 15-20 mega pixel in an entry level camera, and 5-10 mega pixel for smart phones. 

Let’s get back to a very basic question that why exactly we need so much of mega pixel in our photograph?

 Before getting into much of detail, let me tell you that my laptops’ screen resolution is set to the highest i.e. 1366X768 pixels which surprisingly converts into 1.05 mega pixels. Yes, any image which is 1.05 megapixel large, would be able to accommodate every pixel of the monitor of my laptop and hence I may call it a decent image. In fact, not every image which I view either on internet or from portable devices on my screen, is of full size. They are usually 400Xsomethig or 600Xsomething. Same goes not only for me, but most of them who view the photograph digitally.

Example of image for commercial purpose (need highest possible resolution)

Example of image for editorial purpose (need max 1024px on long side, but editorial print may require 2000px)

So, if you are a photographer (professional or spare-time) and use your photographs digitally, to mark your existence in photography industry, you should stick to the web size best practice which is either 400-600 pixel in the log side (no matter even if its 300 DPI), or 72DPI image (no matter how much pixel is it) or both in combination. Any of the said export should be done on basis of requirement and platform. 

Apart from publishing your images on web, if you want to do some editorial stuffs as well, you don’t need an image large than 1024X768 pixels (or as asked by the creative director/ editor). Even to produce this very effective resolution, it would need just 786 kilo pixels i.e. even less than 1 mega pixel.

Said that, unless your images are not in a commercial use, and you use your images either for editorial purpose, or web publishing, you don’t require a 5kg body with 50 effective mega pixels. So, please do not get obsessed with the rising war of megapixels. Just pursue your  photography with best of your inputs and a decent (at least 5 mega pixel) camera body, and spare the amount of money you were to invest into a 50 mega pixel, to purchase an excellent lens and other accessories which would aid you in elevating the quality of your photography. 


  1. Nice....It's true ver are so much obsessed with the mega pixel and belive that a camera is more better if it has more mega pixel. Thanks for the detail information :)

    1. Thanks Altaf for your inputs. Yes, we are actually programmed to get obsessed with the mega pixel figures. We need to understand our requirement first, and then invest into expensive gears.