Megapixels.....why you don't need lots of them

As the digital camera industry grew and cameras became more abundant, more affordable for more consumers, and storage technology expanded, camera manufacturers used (and still use) the number of megapixels as a huge selling point. Years ago a one megapixel camera was the top of the line model, and wowed the industry with it’s huge file size and the flexibility it gave the photographer for editing and printing. Back then, it did actually make a difference to the ability to edit and print.

In 2015 Canon released the 5Ds with a 50 megapixel file size which is still one of their models with a such a large file size. The Hasselblad H6D-100c boasts a whopping 100 megapixels. It’s worth noting that the number of megapixels is the maximum number per file, and not all photos taken will end up this size.

Why do camera manufacturers boast about megapixels when marketing a camera? Most likely because it’s a number that is easily compared from one model to another.

For consumers who are not professional photographers, a file size of 2-5Mb is more than big enough for capturing everyday family events and special occasions. 5Mb have enough data/information in them to be able to do basic editing, to share with family and friends, and for printing enlargements to hang on your walls. Changing your camera’s settings so that the file sizes are anything more that will just clog up your computer’s storage.

Why do professionals prefer large files? There are two main reasons why professional photographers capture photos using the largest file setting their camera can create. The first reason is so that they can significantly crop the photo if they need to. Most of the time the photo will be captured so that significant cropping isn’t needed, however having a large file gives the photographer flexibility IF they need to crop it.
The other main reason is so that an image can be made into a printed enlargement without losing detail in the photo. I’m not talking about enlargements you might put on your wall at home, I’m talking about enlargements such as a wall mural, or a billboard.

So, find the setting within your camera that allows you to change the file size, and select the setting that creates a 5Mb jpeg file, and you’ll avoid having to upgrade your computer’s storage as a result of storing 1000’s of extra megabites you’ll never need.