How Many Megapixels Do We Need?

Are you having megapixel envy each time you walk by the camera section of your favorite electronics store? So do I. But, do we really need more and more pixels? The answer depends on what we intend to do with the images. First, a quick definition of megapixel:

Megapixel is a technical term for "million pixels", where a single pixel is the smallest unit of color that a camera's sensor is able to capture. The more pixels in the sensor, the sharper the image a camera can reproduce. Note that some camera specifications abbreviate megapixel as "MP".


Determine Image Use

Now then, how many of those pixels do we need? The first task in answering this question is to determine how we intend to use the images. We are mainly concerned about uses that require a high resolution digital photo. Putting a photo on the computer's screen requires a low resolution image, so any camera is sufficient, if this is our only intention. The most common need for high resolution photos is to print or develop pictures. Let us then focus on putting pictures on paper to answer our megapixel question.


Determine Largest Print Size

The second task is to determine the largest print size we would like of our photo. Sure, it would look cool to have poster-size images all over the house of our sweetheart, but are we really going to go through that expense? I assume for most of us, poster size prints fall into the "rarely or never" category. Having ruled out extreme sizes, we have the three most common photo sizes to consider. According to online photo labs, the following minimum resolutions are sufficient to produce high quality prints:

  • 4 x 6": 640 x 480 pixels (0.3 megapixels)
  • 5 x 7": 1024 x 768 pixels (0.8 megapixels)
  • 8 x 10": 1536 x 1024 pixels (1.6 megapixels)

I know from personal experience that my 3 megapixel camera is as low as I want to go for an 8 x 10" print; any less would start showing pixilation at close examination. Based on this experience, I suggest doubling the above megapixel recommendations when buying a camera. This exercise has taught us that if we only want 4 x 6" prints, then 0.6 megapixels are sufficient. Most digital cameras start at 2 megapixels, which is sufficient to produce quality prints up to 5 x 7".


Focus On Other Camera Features

Now that we know the minimum megapixel requirements for our needs, we are free to focus on other important features of the camera such as lens quality, color reproduction, optical zoom, body size, etc.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Kerekes is an amateur photographer and maintains the Flying Sam Digital Photo Guide (http://FlyingSamPhoto.com) web site to help others find fun and unique digital photo finishing products and services.

In The News:

Tips on Winter Photography  FstoppersPhotographing during winter can give many different conditions. Some wet and foggy, some snowy and some even stormy and snowy. Here are some tips on ...
12 Things I Learned While Teaching Street Photography  PetaPixelFor a while now I have been working on establishing myself as a street photography educator by leading lessons and workshops throughout London, focusing ...
Are wedding photography competitions fixed?  DIYphotographyIn recent years I've been privileged to be on the jury for a whole range of photography competitions. These include single image competitions such as WPS ...
The Only Rule in Street Photography  PetaPixelI see a lot of articles across the Internet claiming to know the “rules to follow” or the “things to avoid” in street photography, easily one of the most hotly debated ...
6 Ways to Be a Better Photographer, According to Pros  OutsidePhotography is challenging, and then throw in ice, snow, wind, altitude, miles, and cultural barriers, and it's a different game altogether.
Cancer Photographer  Voice of America(PKG)) Breast Cancer Photography Project ((Banner: Photography of the Ill)) ((Reporter: Faiza Elmasry)) ((Camera: Mike Burke)) ((Adapted by: Zdenko Novacki)) ...
Four Photography Traps You Should Avoid  FstoppersThere are lots of mistakes (both subtle and obvious) that are easy to make in the course of pursuing photography as a hobby or as a career. This helpful video ...
How Paying Attention to Details Can Help Your Photography Business  FstoppersToday, I'll share a brief story about a brief moment with big consequences. It is precisely 2:22 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon. A Wednesday that just so ...
The One Ultimate Secret for Starting a Photography Business Is Not in This Video  FstoppersAre you looking for a video from a successful photographer willing to share their one secret to having a successful photography business? Then don't watch this ...
Photography site 500px resets 14.8 million passwords after data breach  Naked SecurityPhotography website 500px has become the latest site to admit suffering a serious data breach.
5 Simple Apps for Landscape Photography  PetaPixelAm I the only one that finds some of the most popular apps used for landscape photography a bit overwhelming? Don't get me wrong: these apps are ...
Don't fall into these four photography traps  DIYphotographyYour browser does not currently recognize any of the video formats available. Click here to visit our frequently asked questions about HTML5 video.
House of Photography opens in Baku [PHOTO]  AzerNewsBy Laman Ismayilova. House of Photography solemnly opened in Baku. The event took place in Zenjirli Bina in Icherisheher (Inner City) on February 14, Trend ...
Dispelling One of the Biggest Myths About Becoming a Professional Photographer  FstoppersA recent comment on one of my articles has become the straw that broke the camels back. Now, I feel the need to combat a common myth which dissuades ...
Photographer Lisa Saad stripped of professional photography award  Australian PhotographyAustralian photographer Lisa Saad is to be stripped of a major award following an investigation by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP).
BJP-online loves…  British Journal of PhotographyOur pick of the key stories from the past week, including a new book on London's Thamesmead estate, an exhibition of Diane Arbus' early work, and World Press ...
The stunning winning entries from the Mobile Photography Awards revealed  Daily MailThe eighth Mobile Photography Awards attracted over 7000 entries from more than 65 countries. The grand prize winner was Dominika Koszowska from Poland.
How 3D Printing Affects Clinical Photography  ForbesOne day soon, secure clinical photographs will be housed in 3D images, which will allow medical professionals to better analyze images. What does that mean ...
ASU Gammage features the photography of Jim Bochenek  Arizona State UniversityThe latest exhibit at ASU Gammage will feature the works from photographer Jim Bochenek. The exhibit will run from Feb. 19–March 27 on the walls of ASU ...
Gallery: Smartphone photography comes of age in the 8th Mobile Photography Awards  New AtlasIn its 8th year, the Mobile Photography Awards has finally become more than a novelty photography competition. Celebrating the artistry that can be created ...
Award-Winning Photographer Lisa Saad Accused of Stealing Photos  PetaPixelLisa Saad is considered one of Australia's top photographers and has won numerous prestigious photo contests both in her country and internationally.
The Business of Photography Conference Holds April  THISDAY NewspapersOver time photography has evolved from being just art to being a profession. Gone are the days when photography was a side hustle or a means to make ends ...
ER doc pulls double shift as nature photographer  Tacoma News TribuneJennelle Marcereau is a Tacoma emergency room physician as well as an accomplished nature photographer.
“Lacock Abbey: Birthplace of Photography on Paper” Opens March 2 - In The News  Fine Books & Collections MagazineNew York - Photography on paper was born in 1839 in England at Lacock Abbey. A new exhibition of photographs juxtaposes the work of its inventor William ...
Murray Bridge International Photography Club presents 2018 awards  The Murray Valley StandardThe Murray Bridge International Photography Club (MBIPC) is a group of local photography enthusiasts who enjoy using a variety of digital cameras: compacts, ...
Winners of Photography Competition Capture the Emotional and Powerful Moments of Childbirth  FstoppersThese intensely raw and intimate photos are documented by professional birth photographers around the world. I sat moved almost to tears sifting through these ...
Canadian War Museum photography exhibit depicts price paid in war by soldiers  Global NewsThe Canadian War Museum officially launched their newest exhibit on Wednesday which illustrates, through photography, scars both physical and mental ...
iPhone photographer turns lengthy commutes into works of art  Cult of MacDina Alfasi doesn't find the long commute to work a grind. It's actually rich with characters she photographs with her iPhone.
The Best Thing You Can Do to Improve Your Landscape Photography  FstoppersWhen you schedule a couple weeks for landscape photography, do you revisit locations from prior trips? It's tempting to visit new places, but if you want to ...
A Beginner's Guide to Bouncing Light: An Important Photography Skill  FstoppersOne of the most fundamental lighting skills every photographer should possess is the ability to bounce light effectively. This helpful video will show you why ...
A global library photography project trains its lens on Israel's stacks  The Times of IsraelAmericans Robert Dawson and Ellen Manchester journey far and wide to explore the world's libraries, and are now discovering the shelves of the people of the ...
Mary Farrell: My passion — and patience — for portrait photography  Winona Daily NewsI have a couple of portraits that hang in my home, one of Georgia O'Keefe and the other of Paul Simon. Both of these portraits appeal to my sense of.
Photography And The American West  KUER 90.1How much can a photograph tell us about our past? Historian Martha Sandweiss says images like the one of the railroads meeting at Promontory Summit “can.
JJ Abrams Confirms That Photography on Star Wars: Episode IX Has Wrapped  Bleeding Cool NewsWell, that's it. Six and a half years after Lucasfilm was sold to Disney for a record amount of money the first chapter in this new age of Star Wars has officially ...
My First Shoot with a Fine Art Photography Collective  PetaPixelI'm always looking to find new ways to incorporate larger goals into my photography. I find it focuses my approach to the way I treat it as a career and a hobby.
West Pubnico native has heart for photography  The Digby CourierSimon d'Entremont shares valuable tips for digital captures of wildlife.
Creative Dog Photography Ideas Transform Pup into a Cast of Characters  My Modern MetPhotographer Ursula Aitchison snaps funny pictures of her dog Hugo. With her creative dog photography ideas, she transforms the pup into a cast of characters.
Nokia 9 PureView penta-lens configurations leak 64MP resolution photography prowess  gizmochinaThe Nokia 9 PureView that is expected to go official on Feb. 24 may come with many never before seen features like in-display fingerprint scanner and wireless ...
Incredible nature photos from the Sony World Photography Awards  QuartzThe Sony World Photography Awards, a massive competition that honors the best images from more than 300,000 submissions, has announced its shortlist.
Canon EOS RP first impressions leave filmmakers disappointed  DIYphotographyWith the new Canon EOS RP, Canon has added the second RF mount camera to its lineup. It's the lightest and least expensive Canon full frame camera ever, ...
Broads photo makes UK National Park photography shortlist | Environment  Eastern Daily PressThis stunning shot of dozens of birds breaking the serenity of waters over the Broads has been shortlisted in a national photography competition.
How AI is changing photography  The VergeBeyond the hype and bluster, AI has enabled staggering advances in photography over the past couple of years, and there's no reason to think that progress will ...
Three photography terms you didn't know (or care) you were saying wrong  DIYphotographyFrom the beginning of time, photographers have argued about the crucial stuff such as how to pronounce the word “bokeh.” And from what I've heard so far, most ...
How photography became the ‘dominant form of recording the world’  The Washington PostMost of us give up painting or sculpting when we leave the art classes of grade school, and aside from participation in church choirs or garage bands, most of us ...
Bride and Gloom: Wedding photography company vanishes after couples paid hundreds  WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale(WSVN) - Your wedding day should be magical, but some couples experienced heartache after the company they hired to take pictures and videos suddenly ...
YODER: Photography helps open up new worlds  Sioux City JournalIn my first career I was a photojournalist for a daily newspaper. It was an interesting choice since I had a degree in literature with an emphasis in poetry and.
A Photographer Who Makes You Ask, ‘What Has Happened Here?’  The New York TimesErwin Olaf's photos have the gloss of fashion shots and a haunting undercurrent that makes you long for more context. As he turns 60, three museums will ...
Nokia 9 PureView will reportedly feature 64MP photography mode  91mobilesThe Nokia 9 PureView is expected to feature five individual sensors, and come equipped with Light's firmware to add various functionalities.
How 7 Travel Photographers Get Their Perfect Shot  ThrillistThe top cameras, mobile apps, and everything in between to up your travel photography game.
Wildlife photographer of the year: Nuzzling lions take pride of place in international competition  The IndependentAn image of a tender moment between two lions is the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People's Choice Award 2018. David Lloyd's photo ...
Don't let social media ruin your photography  DIYphotographyI'm at a Starbucks in Hanoi, typically it's a peaceful location where I can write and think, but today it's overrun with young people smoking cigarettes, occasionally ...
What It's Like Attending a Best Buy Photography Workshop  PetaPixelAfter I saw an ad on Facebook about an upcoming Best Buy photography workshop, I got the idea to attend it, and I thought other photographers would be ...
The winners of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year competition revealed  Daily MailAdam Gibbs from Canada has been revealed as the 'photographer of the year' while American photographer Paul Marcellini took home the 'photograph of the ...
A visual history of 150 years of photography in India  QuartzMany of the very first photographs of India and Indians reflect their takers' othering gaze. Not long after the camera was invented in the 19th century, it was often ...
Israeli photographer revives archaic art form in border series  The HinduEdward Kaprov wants to create 'a dialogue between the past and future'
Through the lens of... Oskar Proctor  Wallpaper*Introducing Oskar Proctor, the latest emerging photographer and Wallpaper* contributor to be part of our monthly 'Through the lens' series.
Q&A: Photography, Hip Hop and Making Art in the Ohio Valley  West Virginia Public BroadcastingIn addition to musical artists, a recent Wheeling event — Hip Hop: A Black Tie Affair — featured visual artists such as photographer Rebecca Kiger. Kiger.
See the best pictures from NASA's official photographer  National GeographicIf you love space, odds are you've admired the work of Bill Ingalls. He has been NASA's senior contract photographer for 30 years, a job that has taken him ...
An Easy Three-Light Flash Photography Setup for On-Location Portraiture  FstoppersOn location lighting can be tricky. Here's one easy three-light flash setup that you can use just about anywhere. I struggled for years to find a good mobile lighting ...
Aberdeen cancer charity launches photography support group  Aberdeen Evening ExpressA photography support group for anyone affected by cancer in the north-east is due to begin this week. CLAN Cancer Support is offering the group, which is for ...
These are five free and simple mobile apps every landscape photographer should install  DIYphotographyA smartphone can be a great companion when you're shooting landscape photos, and it's not just because of its camera. There are some apps that can help you ...
Behind the lens of Roman Königshofer's outdoor photography  Euronews EnglishRight at the heart of the Austrian Alps, you'll find Roman Königshofer (@rawmeyn), an Austrian explorer-turned-photographer whose photographs suggest that ...
A Brilliant Resource That Can Improve Any Photographer  FstoppersLearning about photography was once confined to books, courses, and mentorship. Now, however, there are more resources at our disposal than we could ever ...
Photographers and the Danger of Comparison  FstoppersWhen talking with photographers about the photography industry, our conversation often turns to social media and the inevitable feeling of how comparison to ...
Canon EOS RP hands-on and sample image gallery  Popular Photography BlogLast night Canon announced the arrival of the Canon EOS RP, the second full-frame mirrorless camera in the new R line. It's ultra-lightweight (only 17.29 ...
Photographer shares joys and frustrations of camera trap photography ~ Our World  Naples Daily NewsPanthers, bobcats, black bear, deer and wild turkey and other wildlife have passed my sensor, which in turn makes my camera shutter release.
Picfair: The All-In-One Solution for Selling Your Photography  PetaPixelOnline options for selling your photography are complex, unfair, and disconnected. Marketplaces can give you exposure, but most of the larger names (if they let ...
Nyack People & Places: Kellie Walsh, Photographer  NyackNewsAndViewsby Mike Hays. Many days, you can find Kellie Walsh walking around Nyack with her labradoodle, Winston, a Canon SD camera on a strap around her neck, and ...
This is Why Light is Key to Landscape Photography  PetaPixelOnce and again, people ask me the question “what is the most important thing in landscape photography?” Of course, this question cannot be answered ...
Apollo-era moon photos were developed in space. Here's how.  National GeographicBefore Neil Armstrong could take his historic first step on the moon, NASA needed to know exactly where the Apollo 11 spacecraft could safely set down. In the ...
The earliest surviving photographs of Jerusalem live on in historic exhibit  The Times of IsraelImages by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey of sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, now at the Met Museum, show life in the Holy Land 175 years ...
Capturing cancer on the move – ICR photography competition showcases stunning images of tumour cells in action  The Institute of Cancer ResearchEach year, The Institute of Cancer Research runs a Science and Medical Imaging Competition – designed to cater for the moments in the lab or the clinic where ...
Limiting your gear makes your photography better  DIYphotographyI stumbled upon a wonderful quote about creativity when I was reading a book about waiting. “The enemy of art is the absence of limitation.” – Orson Welles.
The most incredible pictures of Earth: International Landscape Photographer of the Year  The IndependentBraving the harshest climates and most gruelling terrains, some photographers will go to the ends of the Earth for the perfect shot.
This $30 photography bundle can help you turn a profit on your photos  The Next WebPhotography is an art — and some shooters have an unparalleled eye for snapping the perfect image with perfect composition and technique. Unfortunately ...
Calling all photographers to enter Portrait of Britain 2019  British Journal of PhotographyFor the fourth edition of the UK-wide exhibition, we want to see portraits that capture our nation in a historic moment. “These magnificent photographs capture at ...
hungry boy celebrates the food of new york in frozen photography series  Designboomunder the guise of 'hungry boy', aaron bernstein has created a series of images to celebrate the culture of manhattan. the new york city-based photographer has ...
The Town of Tomorrow: 50 Years of Thamesmead  British Journal of PhotographyIn the mid-1960s, vast blocks of concrete began to rise out of London's Erith marshes on the south bank of the River Thames. 50 years on, a new book ...
South African photographer scoops international award | The Mercury  Independent OnlineDurban - South African underwater photographer Allen Walker of Warner Beach, took the number one spot for the shark photography category at the World ...
‘Once photography gets a grip, you're captive’: Don McCullin and Giles Duley in conversation  The GuardianOn the eve of a major retrospective of Don McCullin's work, the veteran photojournalist and the acclaimed photographer talk about growing up dyslexic, ...
Quit saying ‘say cheese’: 7 portrait photography tips for beginners  Digital TrendsThe phrase "say cheese" is more cringe-worthy than smile-worthy. Learn how to get genuine smiles, along with six other portrait photography tips in this guide.
The 20 best TV shows about photography  Digital Camera WorldGreat television programs to watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and online that are about photography and photographers.
amazing phenomena captured by sony world photography awards entrants  Designboomthe world photography organisation has shared the shortlisted photographers in the open and youth categories of the 2019 sony world photography awards.
Why enter the Association of Photographers' Open Awards?  British Journal of PhotographyUnlike many other international photography awards, the Open Awards welcome entries from all levels, allowing the image reign supreme. The Association of ...
Apple promotes photography with 'Shot on iPhone' contest, but is ripping off photographers  AppleInsiderHuge numbers of professional photographers use Apple gear, but even when they don't, why would they let Apple or any company use their images for free?
A Photographer Re-Creates the Snapshots in Old Family Albums  WIREDRie Yamada collects vintage photo albums and re-stages the images—with herself as all the subjects.
The Beauty of Flat Light in Landscape Photography  FstoppersWe often talk about finding dramatic light in landscape photography that showers the scene in contrast and creates an interplay of light and shadows that ...
Bird Lovers: 12 Stunning Shortlisted Images Of Bird Photographer Of The Year 2019  ForbesGreat White Pelican - Pelecanus onocrotalus: Food Chain Photo: Pedro Jarque Krebs/Bird Photographer of the Year. Like the pelicans above feasting on their ...
The Art of Building photography contest celebrates construction from all angles  New AtlasEach year, the Chartered Institute of Building calls on photographers, professional and amateur alike, to submit images of the built environment for its annual Art ...
The Tool Most Photographers Aren't Using Enough  FstoppersAs photographers we're in a fortunate era where we have more tools at our disposal than ever before. That said, there's one well known one I have used ...
Chinese photographer Lu Guang disappeared months ago. Where is he?  National GeographicChinese photographer Lu Guang spent nearly 40 years documenting the effects of environmental destruction in rural and industrial regions of China. Then, in ...
We're not allowed to say much about this Mossad photographer, but her images speak for themselves  HaaretzThe headstone of Sarah Ayal, in Jerusalem's Har Hamenuhot cemetery, describes her as “woman with a noble soul, modest in her ways.” It also says she ...
80000 Watercolor Portraits (and Counting) Paint a Pre-Photography Picture of the Planet  Smithsonian.comBefore photography was around to detail the natural world, there were watercolor paintings. A recently launched database has digitized 80,000 (and counting) ...
These Are the Best Practices for Underwater Photographers Hoping to Protect Marine Life  Smithsonian.comUnderwater photography opens a portal into the little-seen antics of deep sea marine life, but as a new study published in Scientific Reports explains, the ...
Outdoor Photography Canada Closing: How It Made Me a Better Pro Photog  PetaPixelIt was mid-2011, and I was looking for a way to capitalize on my newfound love of photographing snowflakes. I had thrown the idea to numerous magazine, ...
Fast-meowtion: Photographer spends months creating time-lapse images of kitten growing into adult cat  Yahoo SportsThis dedicated animal photographer spent months snapping a young feline as she evolved from a kitten into a full-size cat, resulting in a stunning time-lapse ...
Photographer who allegedly assaulted underage models called 'serial sexual predator' by FBI  NBC NewsThe FBI is encouraging anyone with information about victims to come forward, after a photographer allegedly took photos of underage models and sexually ...
The Photography Show launches new campaign to support female photographers and filmmakers  Creative BoomThe Photography Show and co-located The Video Show (16-19 March 2019 at the NEC) has announced the launch of the Women Who Photo campaign, which ...
Two simple ways to use any lens for macro photography  DIYphotographyIf you want to shoot macro photography, sure, you can buy dedicated macro lenses. But, there are two simpler and cheaper ways to go macro and use the lenses ...
This photographer just captured images of rare black leopards at night in Africa. See the photos  Deseret NewsA wildlife photographer captured an image of a black leopard late at night, something that's fairly uncommon among wildlife enthusiasts.

Megapixel Cameras: How Many Megapixels Do You Need?

Knowing which megapixel camera to buy can be intimidating. There... Read More

Using Film Speed Effectively (Black & White Film Thoughts)

It's hard to find sometimes but it's making a resurgence,... Read More

Where to Find Cheap Disposable Cameras

There are many kinds of disposable cameras. All disposable cameras... Read More

Choosing the Right Digital Camera

Choosing the right digital camera for general use can be... Read More

How to Make Your Production Look a Lot Slicker for £40 More

Tight BudgetsTight budgets are common these days. But the demand... Read More

Use A Tripod!

Using a tripod is essential when taking photos - and... Read More

How To Reduce Red Eye The Easy Way With Any Pro Or Point & Shot Camera

There is one simple technique any body can do to... Read More

The Truth About Pixels, Part 2-1: Printing 4x3 Inch Photos

Why is a 3 megapixel camera better than a 1... Read More

Selecting Good Stock Photography in the Age of Digital

The business of stock photography has drastically changed over the... Read More

Seven Ways for Saving Your Digital Images Forever!

So, you have taken lots of pictures with your new... Read More

The Truth About Pixels - Part I: Digital Cameras

Most digital cameras today boast of greater resolution and picture... Read More

Your Mobile Digital Darkroom ? Five Tools of the Trade

While digital photography offers you the ability to review photograph... Read More

Elephants in the Sky and Four Poems

Elephants in the Sky[1980s, Lee Evens in Mali, Timbuktu/Africa]Advance: Lee... Read More

Why 1.5 Megapixels is Enough

Dots Per Inch is a useful measure of relative resolution.... Read More

Diffusion & Softening of Digital Photography Images

Like many people who've made the switch from film cameras... Read More

Getting the Most From Your Digital Camera Memory Card

Imagine taking your new digital camera on a vacation and... Read More

9 Tips For Taking Great Digital Photos

IntroductionModern cameras are highly automatic in operation. They have auto... Read More

Freelance Photography: How to Begin Your Career

Photography is a vast world. There are many different types... Read More

How To Make A Time-Lapse Video With Your Digital Video Camera

Getting the most out of your digital video camera can... Read More

Review of the Photek Product Shooting Tent

Here's the challenge. You have to photograph small items for... Read More

How Can I Preserve My Lifetime of Memories in Photographs?

Like most folks you have probably have organized and sorted... Read More

Digital Camera Macro Mode

The digital camera is a wonderful device that allows a... Read More

Birthday Party Photo Tips ? How to Make Yours Truly Stand Out

How many of the birthday party pictures you've seen are... Read More

Fuji Digital Cameras

Fuji digital cameras entered the market in the late 90's.... Read More

Removing a Textured Pattern from a Scanned Photo ? 5 Minute Digital Fix

One of the most common problems when dealing with scanned... Read More