Are More Megapixel better?

21.1 Megapixel from canon sensor

Are more Megapixels better? Short answer is Yes... But there is more to it. When I was working as an electronics sale rep at Myer 7 years ago, every time a person comes to ask about a camera, the first thing they ask is how many Megapixels does the camera have?

 45.7 Megapixels available on the Nikon D850

45.7 Megapixels available on the Nikon D850

To answer that question is relatively easy and I always explain it this way:

"An A4 sized print requires 5mp and a 10mp will give you a pretty good quality 76x114cm print."

Most people nowadays don't even print anymore, although I think prints beat digital media any day! But the fact is that almost every image either gets stored and lost in your storage or shared on social media at a rather low and compressed resolution.

Oh how I miss the days when grandma sits next to you and your mates, flicking through pages and pages of happy, sad and embarrassing images.

 High megapixels are great for close up viewing

High megapixels are great for close up viewing

So the answer is Yes! more Megapixel is better if you want to print BIG prints which people will look at really close up or the ability to crop the image in post process (getting it right in camera is a hard and good skill to learn), otherwise 10-12 Megapixels is more than enough for most people.

Instagram is limited to 1.2mp and Linkedin takes a max of 0.20mp, so most social media platforms don't even go over 2mp. Still not convinced? Here's a great post to read on digital sizes for social media by Buffer.

Oh and by the way, billboards only require ~2 Megapixels.

 billboards only require ~2 Megapixels

billboards only require ~2 Megapixels

To finish up, I've added a Pros and Cons list:

For having more Megapixels (12.5mp+) Pros:

  • Print very large images for close viewing
  • More resolution to crop into in post production
  • More delicate details shown in images
  • Sometimes more dynamic range

Cons:

  • Larger files to store
  • Sometimes more moiré will be present
  • There may be a reduction in low light performance
  • Camera shake will be made more prominent in images

For having fewer Megapixels (5-12mp) Pro:

  • Easier storage
  • Faster upload time to social media and cloud storage
  • Less expensive memory cards needed
  • Camera shakes are less prominent compared to equivalent lenses used on the same higher megapixel counter part
  • Sometimes leads to better low light performance

Cons:

  • Fairly large print images may not be high in quality
  • Less delicate details are captured
  • May have slightly less dynamic range
  • Less resolution to crop into