What is a megapixel camera?

A pixel is the term used for “picture element”; they are the tiny dots that go to make up the images that you see on modern LCD displays as well as the older CRT monitors. It is impossible to see a single pixel, a typical screen may be made of millions of pixels; the best digital camera certainly has many more than a million. A million pixels are called a megapixel and the more there are, the better the image. The megapixel is a finite measurement, regardless of who manufactured the camera. Although there are cameras with a resolution of less than one megapixel, these are considered as children’s toys and priced accordingly.

Because a pixel is impossible to see, how many of them, in terms of million pixels, or megapixels, does a person need? Modern cameras range to 10 MP and above, even smartphones have eight or nine megapixel cameras built in. Megapixels are synonymous with resolution, the higher the megapixel rating the clearer and sharper the resulting image.

Even the best digital camera is limited in the amount of information that it can record. Depending on the camera settings, even a reasonably high megapixel camera, say 12MP, may not give the desired results. If you are attempting to take a picture with fine detail and the highest resolution then the camera settings must be set correctly to accomplish this. If the pictures you are taking do not have to be in high resolution, then you will be able to store more photos in the camera or on an external memory card.

The least expensive camera is what is called the “point-and-shoot” camera. They are fully automated, there are few options available for the photographer; perhaps zoom may be all that is offered. These cameras can be purchased for as low as $100. The other type of camera is the DSLR, digital single lens reflex. These cameras can be operated under full manual control or they can also function as a fully automated machine. When used in manual, the photographer has full control over the resulting image. These cameras start at about $500.

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