Something I need to keep in mind while continuing my search to replace my digital camera: 8 megapixels isn’t always better than 5.
With spring has come the release of several new 8 megapixel “prosumer” digital cameras. These new “digicams” sport the latest optics, metering, focusing systems and of course, sensor resolution. I would contend, however that in many cases the limitations imposed by capturing 8 million pixels on a 2/3″ size sensor negate the assumed advantages of increased pixel output. There just might be more to look for when selecting your next camera than the number of megapixels listed in the specifications.
Don’t get me wrong, I find that “8.0 megapixel” stamp on the front of the camera as enticing as any other high-tech craving camera connoisseur. The problem lies not in the number of pixels recorded, but in the quality of those pixels. Now, if I am to make any sort of logical argument that labels these new cameras as having “low-quality” pixels, I must provide a concrete example of “high-quality” pixels for direct comparison. Thus, I introduce into the argument the current crop of digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras.
The Slashdot discussion that I picked this up from has a lot of good discussion buried in it too, including this fun little tidbit: the cameras on the Mars rovers that have been sending back all those gorgeous, ultra-high-resolution digital photographs?
NASA’s Spirit Rover is providing a lesson to aspiring digital photographers: Spend your money on the lens, not the pixels.
Anyone who has ever agonized over whether to buy a 3-megapixel or 4-megapixel digital camera might be surprised to learn that Spirit’s stunningly detailed images of Mars are made with a 1-megapixel model, a palm-sized 9-ounce marvel that would be coveted in any geek’s shirt pocket.
Spirit’s images are IMAX quality, mission managers say.
Even more amazing, at the end of that article comes the little tidbit that the sensor in the Hubble telescope is a whopping .8 megapixels — only 800 by 800 pixels.
Of course, if I could get a portable camera with the Hubble’s optics attached to it, I probably wouldn’t need all those extra megapixels either….