Comparing the MP sizes of different cameras
If you are shopping for good deals on a Black Friday camera, you might find yourself comparing prices of point-n-shoot cameras. Besides comparing prices, you should also compare the camera features. I know that when it comes to megapixels and ISO and Image Stabilization and aperture, some of these features are confusing and you might not know what’s important and what’s not. One of the biggest considerations, in my opinion, is the number of megapixels a camera can shoot for each picture.
Let me start off by explaining: a digital picture is made up of individual pixels. The more pixels packed into an image, the more detail that will still be sharp if the picture is printed and/or blown up to a big wall size. When digital cameras first came out, the megapixel capacities were pretty small: 2 or 3 megapixels at most. Now, as you are shopping for Black Friday cameras, you will see simple point-n-shoot cameras from Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, and others that boast image size of 14, 18, even 20 megapixels or more.
THE GOOD: More megapixels mean an image will be very sharp if you blow it up really big.
THE BAD: More megapixels eat up space on your hard drive VERY FAST. And, consider this: why take one picture when you can take 5? And no more worry about wasting film – just snap a quick digital pic. But when you upload dozens or hundreds of photos to your hard drive, you will find your computer’s memory getting sucked up with 25 pictures of a parade you attended, or the 14 selfies that didn’t make the cut for Facebook, or whatever.
THE REALITY: More megapixels are really beneficial for larger images. And by larger images, I mean, 16×20 or bigger. And now you need to ask yourself this question: when is the last time I blew up an image – one I took with my point and shoot camera – to 16×20 or larger? If you are printing at just regular sizes – like 8×10, or 5×7, or 4×6, then a camera with fewer megapixels will be perfectly acceptable. When I say fewer, I mean, you could definitely shoot an old 5mp camera and print a beautiful 8×10 photo with no loss of quality.
THE SOLUTION: Most cameras come with a function to lower the number of megapixels captured. Usually you can set the camera’s image size lower. Do that. Buy the camera you want, but don’t exhaust your computer by uploading countless photos that are too big for their own good. Another good solution is to regularly go through your photos and delete duplicates. Ask yourself, “Am I going to print this?” and “Is this photo any different from the next one in line?” If you find yourself answering “no” then delete that photo! If you’re not sure, put it into a folder called “Photos to delete” and then when you find your computer getting low on memory, just go to that folder and start re-evaluating if you REALLY need to keep those photos. Photos can be like clothes in that way: if you haven’t looked at them in a whole year, then chances are you won’t look at them next year or the year after that either. Better to make space for new photos coming in. One last idea is to purchase an External Hard Drive (EHD) or purchase Cloud Storage. An EHD plugs into your computer and is a huge storage base for your extra files. Cloud Storage is online storage where your files can be kept without worry of your device breaking and being unable to retrieve your files.
Whatever camera you decide to purchase, I encourage you to get the images off your computer and onto a physical print. Years from now you won’t want to sit down and look through images on a thumb drive on your computer; you will want to see the images in print and relive that memory.
Gretchen Willis is a family photographer, wedding photographer, and event photographer, serving Portage Wisconsin and the surrounding area including Baraboo, Wisconsin Dells, Montello, Green Lake, Westfield, Poynette, DeForest, and Madison. Along with being a photographer, Gretchen also is a photography mentor and a photography author. She has written an eBook, Love Letters to Your Children, and is currently working on her second eBook. Please visit the Gretchen Willis Photography Facebook page and give us a like! Also, sign up for our newsletter below to receive all the latest news.