What is More Important Than Megapixel Count?

Unless you are buying an older digital camera, most of the ones on the market today are all over 10 megapixels which is large enough for the casual shooter. Even most cell phones come in at over 12 megapixels. Some people do get hung up on the number of megapixels the camera has to determine quality while having more available is great, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most important thing you should be looking for in a camera. What is more important than megapixels?

Manny Ortiz discusses what he thinks is more important than the megapixel count in his camera. You can jump to the 1:53 mark to skip the b-roll in this video and get right to the topic at hand. He doesn’t dismiss the fact that higher megapixel is beneficial, but decides to focus on another important aspect of a camera, the dynamic range. How is this more important, it's a great way to get back detail in the brights and darks of your photo. Having better dynamic range in the camera, the recovery of either the brights or darks in the post process is a lot better. I see this as being very helping in natural light photos or cases where everything in the frame can't be properly exposed evenly. What are your thoughts, is dynamic range more important than the megapixel count?

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10 Comments

"What is more important than megapixel count?"

Without first viewing the video, that's easy, actual resolution. Simply filling in a set number of pixels doesn't guarantee optimal resolution. Take for example the images that come out of my little Sigma DPM cameras. No better detail can be achieved with any other non-Sigma camera of similar megapixel count due to its unique sensor. It isn't even close. That is the kind of improvement to sensors the industry should be striving for, not simply larger megapixel counts.

I feel the same way about TV and 4K displays and content. The fact is, 1080 content was/is very rarely optimal, even on Blu-Ray disc. So instead of perfecting that, the industry moves onto high pixel counts. It's a ridiculous situation.

The other answer is predictable, learning to capture artistically desirable images.

Anthony dalesandro's picture

Bob, what is the difference? I thought megapixels and resolution were the same. My 4K TV has 4x more pixels in the same physical space as my previous HDTV. Isn’t that higher resolution?

Megapixels is simply the number of pixels. Resolution, the proper definition in this context, is the degree of detail visible. Think of it this way, using a blurry lens with a 50 megapixel camera will still yield an image of 50 megapixels as compared to the same camera with a sharp lens. The difference is that the later will capture and show more detail.

Your particular 4K TV with four times the number of pixels doesn't guarantee a more detailed image, it only makes it possible.

Sorry for delay in responding. Sometimes I overlook responses.

MJ Kreyzer's picture

Highlight rolloff.

Good AF is high up on my list. Without good focus, no amount of resolution or dynamic range will fix a blurry pic.

Ansel Spear's picture

WoW! For a moment I thought I was back at kindergarten. And one in which the teacher had a fixation on one of the females..

Chris Kennedy's picture

Dynamic range, signal-to-noise, and ergonomics are high up on my list

Jared Wolfe's picture

As always the answer depends on what type of photographer you are and what requirements of the job are. As a studio photographer I don't have a huge need for more dynamic range. I bring in lights to fill in shadows and create the image with the dynamic range / contrast I want. I can do this with 5-6 stops of DR that slide film offers. A sports or wildlife photog will tell you fast accurate AF and shooting rate are way more important than higher MP. Likewise there are photography areas that want and need more megapixels. in the end each photographer chooses the right camera for their needs.

Dynamic Range? Not trying to be funny, but a lot of Canon users will beg to differ.

Dynamic range and the associated low ISO and the associated tripod, and remote cable release, and pray for no wind, and, and,.....