Decidedly mundane…

Do We Really Need 13 Megapixels?

Apparently not, according to David Pogue’s experiment. The NY Post blogger and Discovery Channel host took pictures with a 5, 8, and 13 megapixels digital camera, did some image processing (a questionable step as it is indicated by the comments on his blog post), printed them to the same size, and did a quick survey on the streets of New York. He asked passersby to tell which picture belong to which camera. And, you’ve guessed it, the majority of them couldn’t spot the difference. Several attempted to guess and failed.

Dozens of people stopped to take the test; a little crowd gathered. About 95 percent of the volunteers gave up, announcing that there was no possible way to tell the difference, even when mashing their faces right up against the prints. A handful of them attempted guesses–but were wrong. Only one person correctly ranked the prints in megapixel order, although (a) she was a photography professor, and (b) I believe she just got lucky.

Excerpted from Pogue’s Posts via Lifehacker

So, what is the moral of the story? Regarding megapixels, size doesn’t matter. Especially if you’re a casual photographer, like myself. I think after around 6 or 8 MPs, the quality curve just flatlined. If you’re planning to buy a new digital camera, do yourself a favor: pick one of the middle-ends, save quite some bucks and go splurge on larger memory cards or even one of those photo printers.

For me, I’m already settling for my lowly-but-lovable Canon Ixus 50.

5 Responses to “Do We Really Need 13 Megapixels?”

  1. Yup, unfortunately the consumer has been misled with this stupid megapixels race (same thing with GHz race in computer world). Lots of articles out there explaining the relationship between print-size and megapixels, so I won’t bore you to death :D . What they need to do is LESS NOISE (those annoying Red-Green-Blue random dots that come out from your photos, especially high-ISO!!)

  2. @ Rusdy:

    Hmm. What about those multiple CCDs on some newer models? Do they help lessen the noise?

    Anyway, Flickr recently updated its list of popular cameras used by its members to take the pictures uploaded. Did your camera make it to the list?

  3. Multiple CCDs? Do you mean Foveon sensor? Or Fuji super CCD? If it’s Fuji’s super CCD, then yes, they’ve been famous for their lower noise on the compact camera class (don’t know how they’ve done it, but it works!). BUT, the general rule is, the bigger the sensor, the lesser the noise (NOT megapixel size, but the individual pixel physical size). To cut long story cut short:


    In conclusion: NO. no matter how new your (compact) camera is, noise at the moment IS a problem! (What they’ve done is implementing a smarter noise reduction algorithm)

    Answering your last question: I’m using 350D (marketed as rebel XT in US) at the moment. Noise is not so much a problem as the sensor size is bigger:


    Sorry for such a nerdy comment everyone, there’s just so much more about camera system than megapixels (like there’s more to computer than just GHz), so summarising them in one comment is way TOO hard!! :P

  4. @ Rusdy :

    Whew. That’s quite a comment you have there. Kudos for the tech-proficiency! :)

    Technical speak aside, is it safe to assume that multiple CCDs (I’ve seen them touted as “3CCD”) or larger chip size means better quality?

  5. Hmmm… unfortunately another marketing plot to confuse consumers :P, usually 3CCD are in video cameras (haven’t seen them in cameras yet, or did Panasonic had one?), and they’re even smaller than a camera’s CCD. They usually have less megapixels than a camera. so they’re NOT necessarily better than your typical digital cameras.

    Keep things simple, just remember one rule: bigger CCD, less noise (which is better quality).

    For non-techies, ALL (yes, that’s ‘all’!) compact cameras uses small CCD, only D-SLR uses big sensor at the moment

    BUT, it always DEPENDS on what you need, for most people, a pocket camera and a flash, is more than enough!

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