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What Is The Pixel In Megapixel?

Pixel In Megapixel
Megapixels are probably one of the most confusing and misunderstood aspects of digital cameras. Many people believe that the more megapixels you have in a camera the better the camera’s images are. This misconception is commonly called the Megapixel Myth. If this myth holds true then a point and shoot camera with 20 megapixels should take better pictures than a DSLR with 16 megapixels. So is there any merit to this myth? Sort of, but there are three factors that determine the resolution of an image and mega pixels are only a single one.

I have covered the general idea of how image sensors and megapixels work in my article about image sensors, but what does megapixels actually mean in terms of image resolution? Megapixels literally means Millions of Pixels, so essentially to understand megapixels you need to understand what a pixel is. All raster images, such as photographs, scanned images, or any other non-vector image are all made up of tiny little dots or squares of color. These little bits of color are pixels. Whenever you see a pixelated image what you are actually seeing is an image’s pixels blown up so large that they no longer make a discernible image.


Close up of pixels. Image byhusin.sani

Megapixels usually refers to the number of pixels in a given image (figured by the number of pixels along the length of the image times the number along the width of the image). The higher number of pixels an image has the higher the overall resolution is. But if megapixels determine the image resolution does that not mean that the myth is true? Not quite. There is one more factor that determines this.

Actual LCD pixels. Image by alexik

Image Sensor Size

The size of your physical image sensor makes a huge difference in the fidelity of an image. In the example presented at the beginning of this (about the 20 megapixel point and shoot and the 16 megapixel DSLR) you probably said to yourself, something to the extent of the DSLR is better, and this is true. At this point in technology you can cram excessive amounts of megapixels on a single camera’s image sensor, but what really has an effect on the resolution of an image is the size of the sensor. What gets confusing about this idea is that it typically works in reverse of how most people believe it should. Many people tend to think that larger sensor means more megapixels, and that is possible, but the main difference is the size of each pixel in a larger sensor.

Image sensor in a camera. Image by Fox O’Rian

Many of the larger sensors actually have larger pixels, meaning that the number of megapixels they contain is actually smaller. The larger the pixels the better an image tends to be, but more on that later. As for the actual sensor size it is a fairly easy concept to understand. The larger your sensor is the more light it can capture. This is especially helpful if you are using a CMOS image sensor as they tend to be less sensitive to light. Larger sensors are usually found on more expensive cameras, because to create a larger sensor manufacturers have to reduce how many sensors they produce from a single wafer of photovoltaic cells. This is one of the reasons why some of the more expensive cameras have a smaller megapixel rating even though they produce higher resolution images.

Source : photographytips

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