Understanding Megapixels

Photography - 101 Learning More About Your Camera
9 minutes
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Okay, so what's the deal with megapixels again? Don't laugh MP he doesn't like the way I say Mike i think is cute. It sounds like she says it like in a super like mega pixel. He would know what seriously what's the thing because photographers say doesn't matter manufacturers do of course that's the one thing they have on boxes. Yep. Right.

So yeah, we're kind of stuck in between these two things and really, we're kind of somewhere between manufacturers. You'd think that that's the only thing that matters is the megapixels and from photography things. From a photography sample, you think that it doesn't matter at all and that's not true either. Because a mega well the megapixel resolution, it determines the overall detail it's going to be captured by your camera. Now here we have a couple different cameras so we have a Nikon This is a 24 megapixel camera. We have the Sony A seven This is a 24 megapixel camera, the a seven R is like 36 something like I don't even know lights, it's less and then we also have the Canon This is an 18 megapixel camera megapixel megapixel like the way she says, Okay, so in reality megapixels do matter, they're a piece of the quality puzzle.

They're kind of, well, it defines how much potential detail a sensor could possibly capture. And I say potential detail. And why do I Why do you think I say potential? Because other things affected the amount of light if you didn't have enough light, or if you had too much light, then you probably lose detail anyway to Yes. What about other stuff? What about these guys?

Lenses very important. If you've got good fast lenses, you might pick up more detail sharpness, right? Yeah, and also, like we talked about how it's more important to upgrade your lenses before your bodies. And the reason why is because I could have, let's say, a 40 megapixel camera body that I spent all this money on, and I put $100 lens on it. And there's no way that that lens can resolve the detail so it wouldn't matter. You'd get kind of a credit quality image anyway because the lens can't pick up.

It's not high enough quality. Hey, but if you had a really good lens and then You didn't focus right? You'd still have a credit quality. Absolutely. Right. So that's exactly what we mean by potential detail that can be captured.

Okay. So it covers potential resolution. Now really, when it comes to megapixels, it really doesn't matter until we go to print. Like let's say, for example, we're just showing them on a screen or showing them on the web. Why do megapixels not really matter? Well, so it's all about the DPI or dots per inch, right?

So if I were to render an image for a screen, what do we need these days? 7272 would be like older resolution 96 would be like a newer resolution, or even like if we have say, these crazy retina displays and super high resolution displays. I do 120 right. But if we were printing, you're probably looking at 240 300 maybe on average, but what does that mean? Okay, explain. Okay.

All we're talking about is the amount of dots per inch now, for example, a camera like this, any one of these cameras, let's say 18 megapixels at a minimum, if we're displaying images by 800 pixels on screen, we could be capturing two megapixel images. And it wouldn't make a single difference because we shrink them down to display on the web, the resolution isn't there on your screen or on the web to be able to see and to, to really make it worthwhile. What matters is when it goes to print, right, so let's talk about printing. When you go to print, like you mentioned a second ago, Michelle just said, we can print sa 240 DPI at 300 dpi. There's even some like museum quality printing and labs that go up to say 404 50 DPI, it's a lot of dots. It's a lot of dots.

And these are these are the dots per inch when it's printing. So basically, let's say for example, that we want to print a 12 by 18 image we're gonna do a little bit later, a 12 by 18 image. Yes, go and I want 300 pixels or 300 dots per inch. Okay, on my print now, all I have to do is multiply 12 by 300. And what would that be? I really can't think that fast already.

600 Yes. 3600 pixels right now. Okay, so that's the height. So if we wanted 12 inches tall we would need 3600 pixels if we were printing 300 dots per inch, okay, let's go 18 inches wide 18 times 300 is holding 5400 5400. So 18 inches in length times 300 is 5400. Now 3600 times 5400 What is that?

It's a lot of zeros. A lot of zeros. It's 19,440,000. Okay. So 19,444,400 40,000 Okay, that is a megapixel is 1 million pixels. So what is that 19.44 megapixels.

So to print a 12 by 18 image directly from the camera without enlarging we would need at 19.4 megapixel camera but here's the thing. We have 18 megapixel in this one. So if we wanted to print it 12 by 18 what do we do? I can actually just take it into Photoshop and blow it up to cover my whole house if I wanted to. Yeah, well, that's a little bit ambitious. Okay, I'm ambitious, but her ambition is actually absolutely correct.

With a smaller megapixel camera, you can take it and you could blow it up and Photoshop can actually enhance and enlarge images so that you can well blow it up to really whatever size you want to and so long as you're viewing them at an appropriate viewing distance, it's not going to really make one bit of difference we could take a 10 megapixel image, blow it up to be 40 megapixels in size printed off as a 40 by 60. And as long as we're viewing it from a normal distance, it won't look any different from a 30 or 40 megapixel camera, but this is the thing is that if you did have a high resolution camera, well those megapixels do make a difference when you get larger in print size. So as you get larger, there is more detail there resolved. Okay, so like if I were to shoot a landscape, for example, and I wanted to see every little leaf on that tree, then megapixels could help you there because and there's actually some, you know, there's a lot of amazing super high end Fine Art landscape photographers out That use 40 6080 megapixel medium format cameras.

Because of that reason when you blow them up, they create amazing detail images you can zoom in and see like a bird. But then on the bird you see like the worm that's going to back and then on the back of the worm is a huge file. That's a huge files. They are huge files. And that brings up another great point. Let's say like as a wedding photographer or a portrait photographer, you take a 40 megapixel camera and you shoot 3000 images, what do you think happens?

You're gonna blow up your computer might be a bit of exaggeration, most of us don't have 10 year old computers. But yeah, if you take I mean, if we take 3000 images at 40 megapixels, you're talking like probably 100. Meg's per file, and you're talking serious computing power to be able to process those images. That's a lot of memory too is a lot of memory. It's a lot of storage. It's a lot of processing power, it creates a whole other issue when you're coming to workflow.

So obviously tons of megapixels can Definitely be overkill in a lot of situations. But if I were a fashion or commercial photographer and I wanted to take, let's say a full body shot and then I wanted to zoom in on the necklace, just crop it down to that, I would need the megapixel well that's what's awesome is that you can take a 40 megapixel camera take a full length shot, and if they're using it for say catalogs, they can zoom into the bag, the dress, the necklace, the face, and you'd have printable images with every single crop because you have so much resolution there to basically crop away. Okay, so yes, if you are a fashion commercial Fine Art landscape photographer, you might be able to come up with those uses for having that many megapixels, but I'm a regular person, and actually most of us are so we probably don't need that full range really, you know, again, we're back to understand what you need, how much you need, whether or not you really need it all and you know, make use of what you got.

Yes, absolutely. And do you need tons of megapixels to create great image here we go again, need versus want Do I have gas? Well, here's, here's my favorite thing. No, you don't. Okay, here's my favorite thing. Someone that gets a 40 megapixel camera takes 1000 images and then applies vintage filters to make it look like films.

Because what happens if you apply those vintage filters, it reduces all the detail anyway, it wouldn't make a single bit of difference. So really, for most situations, it's not going to make a huge difference. There are cases there are situations where you might want more maybe for cropping maybe for ultimate detail and resolution where that comes in handy. But bottom line is, is it comes down to understanding what kind of photography you do, just like you mentioned, what are your needs? And is it something that matters? Because if it's not well, going to that high and megapixel route can really just end up killing your workflow and make it really challenging, but does it really matter?

Love it? Yes and no? Yes. Okay, let's move on. I know there's other stuff. Well covered stuff and yes.

Okay, enough. Okay

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