Sweet spot for number of MPixels for home user?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Jax, May 13, 2006.

  1. Jax

    Jax Guest

    I read that more pixels is not necessarily good because noise can be
    introduced and the image takes longer to save to memory.

    I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
    photographer. But I don't want poor quality pictures. Biggest ever
    will be 10x8 but the usual pictures will be 7x5 snapshots.

    Is 5 MP the sweet spot for someone like me?

    Maybe 6 MP?

    Is 7 MP too much?
    Jax, May 13, 2006
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  2. Jax

    grruffbowwow Guest

    It depends....

    What do you want the camera to do? For some, a point and shoot with a
    bit of noise is quite acceptable, they want small, or fast, or long
    zoom, or cheap, or wide, and they'll accept a bit of noise. Others want
    no noise at all; they don't care as much about size or cost or
    whatever. A better reason to pay attention to megapixels is if you
    think you'll be cropping a lot of shots - in which case the more the

    Remember too, there's more to the camera than the sensor - there's the
    lens, the viewfinder, controls, internal processor and software - all
    of which affect the photographic "experience" as much or more than the
    sensor. The way the camera processes the information coming from the
    sensor has a lot to do with noise and resolution.

    Each sensor is different too - although *in general* the smaller the
    "pixels" the more noise, there are also good and bad sensors. A 6 MP
    sensor from, say, Kodak won't be the same at all for noise, color and
    resolution as a same-sized 6 MP sensor from Sony or Fuji.

    I can tell you that 8X10 prints are "do-able" with as little as 2-3 MP,
    not sharp "noseprint close" but at 2 feet they're fine. 4+ MP is quite
    acceptable. Noise tends to disappear in smaller prints; with an old 5
    MP Oly C-5060 it started to show at 8X10 but didn't become really
    objectionable until about 12X16 or 15X20, by which point resolution was
    more of a problem.

    Your best resource for this kind of info is reviews, at DP Review,
    Steve's Digicams, Imaging Resource, Megapixel.net and others. Decide
    what you want the camera to do, read the reviews, and pick a few
    cameras that fit your requirements as well as possible. Go to a store
    and pick them up, fondle, shoot a few pics, see if it feels right. Buy
    the one that feels best.

    Good Luck.
    grruffbowwow, May 13, 2006
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  3. Jax

    Bruce Lewis Guest

    Not enough information. Do you always frame your shots well? If so,
    2MP is your sweet spot. If you often crop photos down to a third their
    original size, 6MP is your sweet spot.

    (I'm trying to err on the high side here. I thought the 5x7s from my
    old 1.3MP Olympus were fine. My wife didn't. She has no problem with
    5MP, even when cropped down to probably about 2MP.)
    Bruce Lewis, May 13, 2006
  4. Jax

    m Ransley Guest

    The price difference is so minimal between 5-7 now that the extra mp
    allows more cropping potential. I have a 5mp Sony W5 soon after I got it
    I saw the use of a 7, often I crop into a better photo then I originaly
    took, I would find use for even more. Many shots I use 1 or 3 mp but you
    will know when 7+ would be worthwhile. For 8x10, 5 mp is correct. For
    noise sonys W7 has no more than their W5, the W7 sensor is larger.
    m Ransley, May 13, 2006
  5. Jax

    Mark² Guest

    If you're talking about point-and-shoot digitals (and the small sensors that
    go with them), and only printing to sizes you mention, then there is very
    little reason to go above about 5MPs. The 8 and 10MP mini cameras offer
    little to no benefit because their resolution is betrayed by both the lenses
    feeding them, and the noise that taints the image.
    Mark², May 13, 2006
  6. Jax

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Much depends on your budget, and what you will do with the images. For
    me, 4-5 seems to be the best. Going over 6mp is getting into the high
    expense range (if you want a good sensor). As the size of each sensor
    element gets smaller, the noise level increases, as the physical size of
    the sensor decreases, as does the amount of light that can fall on that
    sensor element. Sometimes the laws of physics limit the design of the
    Ron Hunter, May 13, 2006
  7. Jax

    philo Guest

    For 8 x 10 photos a 5 MP camera will be just fine...
    you could even get by with 3-4 MP however I would not shy away from a camera
    with 6 - 8 MP
    either. You can always shoot at less resolution if you wish and get more
    images on your memory card.
    philo, May 13, 2006
  8. Jax

    Paul Furman Guest

    In theory fewer MP means larger pixels that hold more photons & are more
    sensitive but in practice, the newer sensors are better designed and
    nobody really makes great low MP cameras. One way to work this angle
    might be get an old used pro DSLR but that may not be really practical
    for a casual user.

    My old 3.3MP P&S Olympus digital made nice 8x10's but these days if you
    look at anything less than 5MP that (more or less) automatically puts it
    in the cheap consumer garbage category. So, I don't know, your needs are
    not difficult, whatever gets good reviews in your budget will probably
    be plenty satisfying.

    If you really want low noise, look at an entry level or used DSLR but
    that's going to give you a much bigger camera with less zoom range than
    a common P&S digital. But that's how you'd get the ability to shoot
    stuff like fast moving babies in ordinary home lighting or party shots
    at night, combined with a separate $100 fast normal lens & you'd have a
    significant advantage over a pocket P&S.
    Paul Furman, May 13, 2006
  9. Jax

    Steve Wolfe Guest

    I am a "home user" which is to say that I'm not even a keen
    I would first look for cameras in your price range that have the features
    you want, and then look at the noise characteristics. Choosing a camera
    doesn't have to be a terribly hard task. =)

    Steve Wolfe, May 13, 2006
  10. Jax

    Stacey Guest

    5 good clean pixels is plenty, even for a nice 11X14.
    Stacey, May 14, 2006
  11. Jax

    SteveB Guest

    5 Pixels, what's that 2 at the top and 3 at the bottom? :)
    SteveB, May 14, 2006
  12. Jax

    bener Guest

    bener, May 16, 2006
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