How Many Megapixels Is My Photo

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People oftentimes evaluate a camera’s quality by looking at how many megapixels it has, being nether the impression that a camera with more megapixels is automatically superior than one with less. This isn’t necessarily the case – and you may not need as many megapixels equally the photographer next to you. Join digiDirect as we outline how many megapixels yous need for your purposes, as well as why you lot tin can’t mensurate a camera’south quality by megapixels lonely.

Pixel Size vs. Megapixels

One megapixel (commonly abbreviated to MP) is ane 1000000 pixels. Megapixels are a way to measure quantity and have little to do with quality.  Basically, what this means is that yous need a sure number of megapixels in your photography depending on how you want to use or share your images. Your camera’s quality factors in many things like the paradigm sensor pattern, optics, applied science, firmware and pixels. The heart of your camera contains an prototype sensor, and this sensor has an array of pixels. The pixels act a little similar buckets that collect light.

The prototype sensor can come in different sizes, and the larger the paradigm sensor, the larger the pixels can be. Larger image sensors are also able to collect more light. The more light they collect, the cleaner and clearer the photograph, and the less dissonance it will have.

Y’all can get a crude idea of the camera’s prototype sensor’s size past looking at the lens’ diameter. For example, an eight-megapixel camera on a smartphone crams viii 1000000 pixels into a tiny sensor that is about as large as a infant aspirin. In contrast, a larger sensor camera with the same number of pixels would hateful that each pixel is physically larger. This would allow the pixels to catch and concur more calorie-free without letting it mistiness into other pixels and cause noise. At present, realistically a larger sensor camera these days would accept more than 8 megapixels, but information technology illustrates the point.

These days, many phone cameras are greatly increasing their megapixel count. For example, some phones these days feature a 100+ MP photographic camera, which is higher resolution than virtually full-sized cameras! Still, those 108 MP have to fit in a sensor size that is much smaller than a full-size camera, therefore the size of each pixel is significantly smaller.

Mirrorless cameras, advanced compacts and professional or semiprofessional DSLRs come up with much larger sensors than phones. The nearly common sensor sizes are APS-C (about 22mm x 15mm) and full frame (36mm 10 24mm). It’s safety to say that if everything else is the same except sensor size, an 8 MP DSLR volition give you a superior image than if you lot shot it with an 8 MP compact camera. Similarly, the compact camera will give y’all improve images than y’all’d be able to capture on a smartphone.

While smartphone epitome quality has been steadily improving, smartphone cameras nonetheless characteristic significantly smaller image sensors than dedicated cameras

Where Megapixels Matter

Megapixels are still of import, however, when we come to await at epitome size. How large do yous desire your final photo to be? Basically, you demand a camera or a smartphone with enough megapixels to support your desired final prototype size. This is specially important if you lot want to print out your photographs, as image size is much more important in print format than if purely being viewed digitally.

The overall quality of the printed moving-picture show depends directly on having enough data or pixels to create a clean, bright and defined motion-picture show. To help y’all sympathise this in a more in-depth way, we’ve covered how many megapixels you need for different photo mediums:


Most people understand that the format that requires the highest resolution is prints. If you’re not sure how many megapixels you lot need to get a sharp and clear print, at that place is a uncomplicated formula yous can use to get an exact number of requisite megapixels.

Megapixel count becomes much more important when making prints

The get-go thing to understand is that for a picture to be of sufficient quality in print grade, it mostly needs to have 300 pixels per inch (PPI). With that in mind, make up one’s mind how large your physical print volition be in inches. Let’s use 8×10 inches as an example (slightly smaller than A4). Because we know it is 8 inches by 10 inches, and nosotros know we demand 300 pixels per inch, how do we decide the length and height in pixels? Just by multiplying the length and width by 300 each! That gives us a effigy of 2400 pixels by 3000 pixels. So we know that the picture nosotros accept with our camera has to be 2400 pixels by 3000 pixels in guild to be of sufficient quality to print out at eight inch x 10 inch size.

Only how do we catechumen that to megapixels? We simply demand to determine the full number of pixels in the image – i.e. nosotros need to know the
in pixels. Remembering back to high school, we can calculate the area by multiplying the length by the height. So nosotros multiply 2400 pixels x 3000 pixels, giving the states a full of seven.two one thousand thousand pixels. Finally, one megapixel is i one thousand thousand pixels, so if nosotros divide that number by one million, we’ll become the required number of megapixels. In this case, that results in 7.ii megapixels. Then this means that every bit long equally the photo is taken on a photographic camera with 7.2 megapixels or more, information technology volition exist of sufficient quality to print at 8 x 10 inch size.

That sounds complicated when written out, simply it’s actually quite elementary. To epitomize:

1) Determine how large yous want the print to be in inches

2) Multiply the length and height (in inches) each by 300 to catechumen the distances to pixels

iii) Multiply length 10 elevation, and and then split up the resulting number past 1 one thousand thousand

That’s how many megapixels you demand!

Desired Print Size

(in inches)
Megapixels Required

(for 300 PPI print)
6×4 2.2 MP
5×7 3.2 MP
8×10 7.2 MP
11×14 13.9 MP
16×20 28.8 MP

Digital Photographs

If you never plan to print out your pictures and you want to use them exclusively online (like on social media), yous’ll need fewer megapixels. This is because online viewing requires less resolution than physical press. The magic number for online viewing is 72 pixels per inch, equally opposed to 300 PPI for printing. So the resolution for online photos is less than a third of that required for print, which ways that almost whatever modern-day camera volition accept images of sufficient quality for online viewing.

As an example, i of the largest photo sizes you’ll find on social media is the Facebook cover photo. Facebook recommends your image exist 1640 pixels by 720 pixels. Using our formula, that means we only need a camera that has 1.2 MP in order to be of sufficient quality (1670 ten 720 = i 202 400 pixels. ane 202 400/1 000 000 = i.2 MP). This makes a smartphone perfectly capable of producing photos to utilise online.

Photos that will primarily be used only in digital mediums accept a lower megapixel requirement

Using Backlog Megapixels in Society to Crop

As you’ve gathered by now, you don’t really need a huge amount of megapixels in order to post online or brand small prints. Notwithstanding, a higher megapixel count tin can become much moreuseful when you outset to crop into your photos. Perhaps the pic you took includes actress space around the field of study that is not required, and you’d rather ingather in tighter on the subject. If you started with a twenty MP image merely cropped in l%, you would be left with a x MP paradigm. While a 50% crop might be considered a chip astringent by some, generally speaking yous want to have the flexibility to do some amount of cropping on your images if required without
destroying the image quality. For this reason, you’ll desire to have a significantly more megapixels at your disposal than the bare minimum.

Having excess megapixels provides more flexibility to crop your images while still retaining loftier picture quality

Having Too Many Megapixels

On the other hand, having
too many
megapixels can take some detrimental effects every bit well. One of the most common examples is in low calorie-free performance. At the beginning of this commodity nosotros discussed the size of the pixels on your image sensor. Recall nosotros said that the larger the pixel, the better it can capture light. This means that, on 2 sensors of the same size, the sensor with less megapixels will by necessity accept physically larger pixels than the sensor with more than megapixels, and therefore will theoretically have meliorate low light performance. An example of this is the Sony A7S II and A7R 4. Both are full frame cameras, but the A7S II has but 12 MP, while the A7R IV has 61 MP. Every bit a result, the A7S II’s much larger pixels provides that camera with superior depression-calorie-free performance, at the expense of resolution.

The Sony A7 lineup contains a range of cameras that all have the aforementioned sensor size (full frame) but take quite different sensor resolutions (megapixel count)

But don’t throw out all your loftier resolution cameras just yet. In that location are many other factors that tin can influence low light performance, such every bit image processor, type of sensor, and then on. As such, it’due south non a guarantee that a lower resolution sensor will outperform a same-sized college resolution sensor in low light, and in fact there are a peachy many exceptions to this rule. Only it is something to go on in mind.

Another common outcome with a high megapixel sensor is that more megapixels means that more data is stored, meaning the resulting pictures take larger file sizes. This ways you’ll accept to plan for larger memory card capacities and hard drive space to store the same amount of photos. While this may not be disquisitional as the price of storage continues to decrease, but suffice to say a happy snapper probably doesn’t demand every photo to be 50 MB in size!

How Many Megapixels Exercise You lot Demand

After all these calculations and considerations, nosotros however oasis’t answered how many megapixels y’all actually need. Generally speaking, each person will fall into i of three wide categories based on photographic skill and/or interest; casual, enthusiast and professional. While these are rough guidelines and will vary from person to person, below we’ve outlined the megapixel requirements typically seen past each level of photographer.

Coincidental Lensman

For the casual lensman or someone who’due south just starting out, bigger isn’t always better in terms of megapixels. You’re most likely going to take your photos and upload them to your computer or device so you tin share them. For prints, you’re probable to print off standard 6×4 inch prints. If this is the case, you really don’t need to be too concerned nearly the megapixel resolution of your camera. Most modern cameras fall somewhere between 16 MP and 60 MP, all of which are more than sufficient to meet your needs. You lot should base your camera buying decisions on other features across sensor resolution.

Entusiast Photographer

The enthusiast lensman goes beyond but happy snaps and tends to make efforts to continually acquire more about photography and improve their skills. As such, they are more than probable to display their shots around their domicile, part or studio. This ways they will want sufficient resolution in order to allow them to make larger prints. While in a pinch they also tin likely become away with any current camera on the market place, they may want to brand a point to look at a camera with at least 20 – 25 MP of resolution in order to adjust for the potential to ingather their photos while yet retaining enough data for larger prints.

Professional person Photographer

Professional photographers don’t but take pictures for personal use, they are also frequently delivering images to clients. The needs of these clients can vary wildly and they are more likely to require high resolution images in lodge to print in a multifariousness of situations. These may include wedding albums, fine art prints, or even magazine or billboard advertisements. The professional photographer needs to always be able to provide their clients with images of sufficient resolution to fill their needs, so they will want to err on the side of a higher resolution photographic camera in order to ensure that. Full frame cameras with higher resolutions, like the 30 MP Catechism 5D Mark IV, 45 MP Nikon Z7, or even the 61 MP Sony A7R IV may be desired. This volition require the professional photographer to work with larger memory cards and take more storage space for their files.

Photographers of unlike skill levels volition have differing megapixel requirements

Other Factors

That’southward the bulk of what you need to know most megapixel requirements, but there are a few terminal grab-handbag points.

  • Frames Per Second –

    If shooting sports or activity photography, you lot’ll typically utilise fast flare-up shooting sequences in club capture the action. Because a college resolution camera will capture more than information with each image, higher resolution cameras more often than not have slower outburst shooting capabilities. However, this is not always true – for example the 61 MP Sony A7R IV can shoot at x fps at full resolution.

  • Lens Quality
    – Your photographic camera is only every bit good as its lens. You can capture all the resolution y’all want, just if the image is coming through a depression quality lens, that resolution won’t translate into higher detail. When shooting with a loftier resolution photographic camera you’ll want to ensure you are using high quality lenses that can resolve at a sufficient quality to friction match the quality of your sensor.

Contact digiDirect Today!

Do y’all know how many megapixels you need to render loftier-quality photographs? If you are not sure or y’all however have questions or concerns, accomplish out and get in touch with us! Our staff are on-hand and ready to answer whatsoever questions yous may have and help you lot cull the all-time camera to adapt your needs.