The Truth About Megapixels – How Many Do You Need?

How many megapixels do you needs? The short answer is it depends. The longer answer is it depends on that type of photography you are doing.

Despite the marketing department’s claim, more megapixels does not necessarily translate to a better photo. I will take a photo from a 12.2MP Canon EOS Rebel T3 over 14.1MP photo from a Canon Powershot A2200 anytime. Everything else being equal the T3 will always take a better photo than the A2200.    The main reason for this is the sensor size.  The Canon T3 has a sensor that Canon calls their APS-C size sensor. This sensor is physically 22.2 x 14.8mm. The Canon A2200 has a sensor size of 6.17 x 4.55 mm. So the A2200 sensor is much smaller, but they have added almost 2 million more pixels.  More megapixles also translates to more noise on the same size sensor.  However on a larger sensor that may not hold true.  There is a lot more to the quality equation than just megapixels.


There are  advantages to more megapixels.  If you have more megapixels you also have more digital data.  This helps when you want to print very large photos or you want to crop out a small section of the photo.

Less it not better either.  It’s true that an 8MP camera will be better than a 1MP camera.  1MP is simply too low for any size sensor.  So what is the right amount of megapixels.?  Again, it depends, but in general try to purchase a camera that is 10MP or higher. To print a photo at 8×10-inch at normal viewing distance you will need only 6MP so 10MP will be plenty. Also keep in mind most people don’t print at 8×10. 95% of the photos printed are at 5×7 or smaller.  Some landscape photographer that are looking to print high quality, very large photos, that will be viewed up close will benefit from more megapixels, but you probably won’t.

So my advice is to ignore megapixels all together.  All of today’s cameras have enough megapixels for the anyone from the beginner to most of the pros.  If you are a pro that needs more megapixels then you are probably not reading this page anyway because you know what you need.