How Many Megapixels Do I Need?

Whenever I discuss about digital cameras, and what cameras should one pick, I stumble upon this particular question – how many megapixels does one need. For one reason or another, there is a constant craving for higher numbers – many people use 10MP cameras, and have no use for about 50% of those megapixels.

Nevertheless, we all want more, yet we have no idea why. Now, within this article I will try to discuss the mystery behind the magical MP number, and see exactly how many one needs. There is no simple answer to this question – it is not as simple as saying 5MP because it all depends on the purpose of the photo. Researching the term megapixel will certainly shade more light on that subject.

Generally, when discussing about digital cameras we have three different types, or three camera levels (if you prefer this term more). More precisely we have consumer cameras (which are at the lower end level, for amateur photographers that do not care much about functions, or MP and just want to shoot some pictures), the semi-pro category (where we fit all those in-between cameras, that are not very high-tech but not entry level either) and finally the pro sector, where one uses the camera as a mean to develop in the artistic sense.

Now, let us take each category in particular, and discuss the number of MP required.

Consumer cameras

The typical scenario is a family in need of a camera for occasional events, for traveling and so on, without having too much regard for the photographic art. The current cameras will share somewhere between 4MP and 10MP and most of them will fit anyone’s needs especially if one does not plan to print very large prints.

Prosumer (or semi-pro) cameras

Frankly, the same number of megapixels is available on these cameras as well, nevertheless, the number of functions and features make them level up. In other words, imagine a gadget with a greater number of buttons but basically the same quality, and you have your pronsumer camera. I would say anything over 6MP is fine and dandy here.

Pro Cameras

Those big SLRs that all photo enthusiasts are into nowadays – frankly, I do not understand the hype of buying a SLR if you do not plan on becoming a professional photographer. SLRs come with a wide variety of issues – interchangeable lenses, numerous functions and features, expensive accessories.

Nevertheless, pro cameras give a different meaning to the word photography if one knows how to do his or her work. Megapixels in this area only start at 10MP and end at even higher numbers. Note that if you want to become a professional photographer, the number of MP is imperative since it will allow one to obtain high quality, large prints.

As you can see, there is no particular limit or category for megapixels – generally, if you do not expect much from your camera you can go for the cheaper ones with fewer megapixels. If you plan to print your pictures at higher resolutions, then you might as well just go for the higher numbers since you will seriously notice the difference.