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Pogue on the 'Megapixel Myth'

updated 05:45 pm EST, Thu February 8, 2007

The 'Megapixel Myth'

Many people are buying cameras that claim to be better than they are, writes David Pogue in his latest column for the New York Times. Companies such as Canon, Nikon and Fujifilm often make their megapixel ratings the foremost advertising point, but Pogue notes that in reality, the resolution provided by high megapixels is useless if the light isn't captured properly. Lens quality can often be a much more important factor, as can sensor design and (naturally) the skill of the photographer. Ironically, high-megapixel sensors can sometimes harm image quality by introducing heat, which creates more noise at elevated ISO settings.

Most importantly, though, the quality of different megapixel ratings is often unnoticed at practical print sizes. Pogue observes that in two separate tests he conducted, the majority of people were unable to tell the difference between low- and high-megapixel versions of the same image, printed at an extremely large 16x24 inches. Amateur photographers are likely to be better off buying cheaper five-megapixel cameras than spending on the latest 10-megapixel model, as the only real advantage to them is the ability to crop and zoom in without losing as much detail.

by MacNN Staff




  1. Tins

    Joined: Dec 1969


    David, your a Pogue

    Hey Pogue,

    These people you tested, what category were they from Deaf, Dumb, Blind, or all of the above?

    Because, you absolutely would have to be all of the above to not notice the difference between 5 and 10 mega pixels. That is of course if you were educated to the differences and were PAYING ATTENTION.

    What I don't understand is why idiots like Pogue want to come out and shower us this utter c*** about more resolution not being worth it. Everyone else in the world is working their a$$ off trying to improve these products by designing and marketing better, higher quality, higher resolution chips and someone like Pogue comes along, wants to make name for himself and craps all over it.

    Here's the facts Pogue, it's not that they can't see the difference. It's that they haven't been educated to the differences. So, at a glance at arbitrary pictures that mean nothing to them they don't see it. Yet when they look through a photo album of people and situations dear to them where they become focused and PAY ATTENTION they notice the imperfections in the keep sakes of their loved ones and cherished memories. You did nothing more than play upon the ignorance of those consumers, which makes you no better than the retailer selling based upon pixel amount alone.

    Why not exercise a little responsibility, accountability and just some all around intelligence and stop and think about the situation for a moment. If you did you'd realize we don't need a moron like you shouting "don't buy higher mega pixels" which would stall the industry for another 7 to 10 years in a 5 to 7 mega pixel rut which is what your actions and comments will do.

    What we need is for some one to get up and say we need a standard by which the quality of a camera is judged that is more conducive to accurately describing the quality of a camera than just the mega pixel rating along. A standard which would take into account all factors such as chip quality, lens quality, the quality of the software the camera uses to process and record the image accurately.

    We have no interest in your personal agenda or career. We as a people are trying to move forward, not backward. So unless you have a real solution to the problem or at least something someone might be able to interpret as intelligent, then please, sit down and shut up.


    A Consumer That Doesn’t Like Being Patronized

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