Even if you aren’t a camera expert or into developing digital photos, you have probably heard the term “megapixels”. But do you know what that really means? Well, in order to understand the megapixel, you first need to know what a pixel is.

A pixel is a single dot or point in an image; a megapixel is a million pixels. To put it in context, if you have a 10 megapixel camera, then you have a camera that produces images with an area of 10 million pixels. Given that area is determined by the horizontal resolution times the vertical resolution, each image would be about 3,872 pixels wide x 2,592 pixels high.

The role of megapixels is especially important in today’s world of cell phones. The quality of a cell phone camera, and other low-end cameras, is often expressed in the number of megapixels. However, it turns out that the number of megapixels of a camera is neither the only nor the best measure of the camera’s quality.

First, it is important to understand that as the number of megapixels increases, the effect of that change becomes increasingly less significant. If you have a 1-megapixel camera and you trade up for a 2-megapixel camera, you will see a drastic improvement in the quality of your photos because you have doubled the number of megapixels in the image. However, if you switch from an 8-megapixel camera to a 10-megapixel camera, the difference in the quality of your photos will not be as obvious because you have only increased the number of megapixels by 25%.

This is not to say that the megapixel doesn’t have any bearing on the quality of the camera, but there are other features to consider. When you consider a smartphone that has a relatively high number of megapixels, or a higher resolution, the exposure to light and lens quality begin to make more of a difference. This means that you need to pay attention to the following when choosing a camera, be it a smartphone camera or another type of camera:

  • Sensor quality: The higher the sensor quality, the better the color accuracy and low-light exposure.
  • Lens quality: The higher the lens quality, the less blurry the image is.

When you have a low-megapixel camera that also has low sensor and lens quality, image quality is lost if the image is enlarged. However, considering most people just want to post their smartphone photos to social media, the quality is generally adequate for their needs.

If purchasing a smartphone with a good camera is important to you, then it is best to compare photos from various smartphones to find the one that produces the best images. At the moment, Google Pixel, Galaxy S7, and iPhone 7 are at the top of the list in terms of camera quality. Chances are good that in the near future, the quality of smartphone cameras will be improved even more.

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