How Megapixels and Zoom Fool You

“Hey, got a new camera?”
“How much megapixels?”
“Umm.. 16.2MP.”
“Wow! That’s great! Cameras are improving so much these days. Just a month ago I got a 14.3MP one. Time to get a new one I guess.”

You, yes you, are under the hold of a marketing gimmick of the camera companies. Want more megapixels? Pay us more. Why should you want more megapixels? Because we advertised it to be better and fooled you.

Companies get people to talk about these buzz words to compete on something that is easy to increase but not really affecting the actual photo quality. Just like the megahertz, megabytes and gigabytes of the PC era.

Megapixels is just the number of dots your picture is capturing. At 16 megapixels, you get around 5000x3500 dots. And that is just plain useless, it is never ever going to be of use. When I take pictures, I’ll either see them on my computer: which has only around 1500x1000 dots on the screen or put them on Facebook which resizes photos to 1000x700. So it really doesn’t matter what the resolution is if it is above 5MP, really. And all camera’s today have 5MP, even a phone camera. But companies increase the price of camera’s by 2000 bucks for every 2MP increase. Because the sensor is costlier, to package more dots in the same size. This is just plain stupid to increase the cost for something that doesn’t improve the image quality. (This is even useless for taking postcard size prints. There are just too many dots.)

For zoom, anything above 3x and you are cropping the image so much that there are a few things that hurt the image: focusing and blur. The camera has to focus on an object so that it appears sharp. As the distance to the object increases it becomes more difficult. So if the object is far and you focus into it, the image is not sharp always for zooms above 7x or something. And because you are zooming in so much, slight vibrations in the camera as you are holding it produce a massive amount of blur in the photos. Effectively a large zoom number does not take good photos. And all camera’s have 3–4x zooms which is good for casual use.

You know what is the real deal? Image quality. And that is qualitative and not quantitative. So companies don’t advertise it! Next time you are out to buy a camera, do this. Just take a photo of the shop, and then one by one zoom into the image on the camera itself as much as possible and see tiny things like a table. If the camera is able to capture the details and textures then you have a good camera. This is actually affected by the size of the image sensor, but all compact camera use the same damn thing.

So buy a good camera next time!

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Software guy. When you try to tell computers what to do, you eventually learn about human nature as well. (

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