Cameras forum


confused about camera resolution

by clearasmud / March 13, 2013 5:38 AM PDT

I have a 10 year old Konica-Minolta Dimage A2 with a stated resolution of 8 MP. It takes beautiful pictures. I wanted something easier to carry around and obtained a Samsung TL220 compact camera with a stated resolution of 12 MP. I was unsatisfied with enlargements, finding them pixillated. I purchased a Sony WX150 compact camera with a stated resolution of 18.2 MP to replace it. I am still not satisfied with the resolution. What is going on?

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All Answers

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by PistonCupChampion / March 13, 2013 6:44 AM PDT

Even though sensor technology has gotten better in 10 years, your old camera has two things your newer and cheaper cameras don't have: a bigger sensor and a brighter lens. So even though the new cameras have more resolution, they also require more noise suppression because of the less light those cameras capture. What you're seeing is the artifacts caused by the noise suppression. Bear in mind too that when introduced, the A2 was an $1100 camera. It likely had a much better optical quality lens than what is found in a current $250 camera.

So basically there is no free lunch. By moving to a more compact camera, you lost some performance. The only way to get it back is to use a camera with a bigger sensor and brighter and better quality lens. There are compact cameras that have those things, but they cost more.

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Sensor Sizes
by paul_saute / March 22, 2013 11:18 AM PDT

Hi clearasmud,

As PistonCupChampion mentions in his response, the number of pixels is only one part of the equiation. A bigger part of image quality is the sensor size. A larger sensor will give you a better quality image.

Here is some information from Wikipedia you may find useful:

Digital camera
Image sensor format

You may find that a bridge camera ('bridge' between DSLR and compact) would better ssuit your needs.


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by mjd420nova / March 22, 2013 12:45 PM PDT

Set the camera to the highest resolution you can select. This yeilds the sharpest images and stop the pixelation. For a 10 MP, the image file size should be around 10 MB. That's a big file but it has all you'll need to enlarge and crop.

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by Flatworm / March 22, 2013 10:59 PM PDT

The number of megapixels is only one of many factors entering into the clarity of photographs. The size of the sensor and the quality of the lens are at least as important, at least above a certain megapixel threshold. For most people's needs (like printing up to 8"x10"), eight megapixels is above that threshold.

The size of the sensor relates to the camera's ability to collect light. The larger the sensor, the more light it collects. The more light it collects, the less likely you will see more noise, perceived as "graininess," in the resulting photo. This may be what you are confusing with pixillation or a lack of resolution.

The tiny lenses in compact cameras may also be a factor. Better lenses make for better pictures. My old Nikon D50 six megapixel DSLR takes better, clearer pictures, even when printed in 8x10 format, than any of these newfangled high-megapixel compacts I have yet seen.

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The Megapixel Myth
by richteral / March 22, 2013 11:27 PM PDT

You can read about it:

Ken Rockwell also gives recommendations on a number of Nikon and Canon cameras. Equipment is extensively tested and reviewed at, another excellent site.

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Ken Rockwell info
by murrays / March 23, 2013 3:50 AM PDT
In reply to: The Megapixel Myth

Ken knows his stuff and writes a very useful commentary. My question to anyone who can answer is - how do you get a meaningful evaluation of the lens quality of a consumer grade digital camera? The magazine articles show comparison images of the different cameras at varying enlargements. That's somewhat useful, but only applies to the cameras being tested in that article. Some lenses are much better than others and a detailed discussion of the lens qualities in such articles would be more enlightening than pixel counts.

I had a Panasonic Lumix several years ago (which got dunked in the ocean) with 5 MP which gave better results than my current Canon A710 with 7.1 MP. I attribute the difference to the lens (perhaps the processor and imaging software are as much responsible). The images were brighter and sharper. I'd like to know how one can choose with confidence before making a purchase at a given price point.

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Tangential answer
by richteral / May 27, 2013 11:47 PM PDT
In reply to: Ken Rockwell info

re: lens performance comparison

Imaging-resource have their COMPAROMETER to compare pairs of cameras. With lenses, it is not as straightforward; quote from their recent newsletter (abridged):

"Most of our lab images are already shot with a very sharp prime lens: the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro, one of the sharpest lenses we've ever tested. In fact, we use the same lens (in different mounts) for our Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony SLR/CSC lab shots with, so they are directly comparable. Images shown on the Optics page and in the Gallery are shot with the kit lens.

We use a set of "hero" lenses for most of our test shooting: We want to make sure we're testing the camera, not the questionable-quality kit lens it's bundled with. The one missing element in the process is that we don't currently have any workable way of labeling all the test shots so you can see just what lens was used for which one.

We perhaps could add some more characters to the filenames as we're saving them (for instance, Sig70f28, Nik35f2, etc), but some of the filenames are already so long that they cause problems in layouts by pushing table cells wider. We might be able to build something automated, based around the EXIF Reader code we use to extract shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc, but some third-party lenses masquerade as a company-branded one, so the cameras will recognize them."

This is probably the best one could come up with.

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My best shot ever was with a terrible camera.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 23, 2013 4:29 AM PDT
In reply to: The Megapixel Myth

It was one of the early color digital cameras at a lowly 640x480 pixels and 256 colors but it remains my favorite.

-> Yes, I heard so much about this over the years and the camera does not make the shot.

We do that.

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Once again, Dan's Data has an article on this
by MightyDrakeC / March 24, 2013 4:52 PM PDT

This reminds me of the South Park episode, "Simpson's Did It."

Dan's Data "Enough already with the megapixels"

The short version is the same as others have posted here. The physics of a small lens cannot resolve to that level of detail. And, the physics of the small sensor with teeny light receptors inherently produces a snow storm of noise.

Drake Christensen

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