What is a Megapixel? – Image and Photo Resolution

You may have noticed megapixel verbiage on digital cameras or cellphones, such as, “12 megapixels”. Well, that is great and all, but what does that number really mean? What is a megapixel?

iphone-camera

When it comes to megapixels, bigger is better. A 16 megapixel camera is more preferable than an 8 megapixel camera. A megapixel is “a unit of graphic resolution” that is equivalent to roughly one million pixels. Pixels are the dots that make up an image or photo. A 10 megapixel camera means it can take photos with up to 10 million pixels.  Digital images are made up of millions of tiny, tile-like picture elements known as pixels. The more pixels or megapixels, the better or higher the image resolution will be.

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A factual description goes into much more detail about image sensor elements and complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor image sensors. We don’t need to know that to know that more pixels equal a larger image and higher photo quality. Industry standards for megapixels on mobile devices and consumer quality cameras continue to increase at a rapid rate.  This is great because it allows the average person to take high quality photographs that a designer can use to make an amazing trade show display or printed marketing collateral without all the costs of professional photo services.

resolution-compare-chart

That said, although you may have the best camera phone on the market, you still don’t want to use one of those photos for a tradeshows display or printed marketing collateral; it really does not do justice to any image.  For high-quality large format prints, and crisp images on marketing collateral, always go with images taken with an actual camera, with the highest megapixels available.

What Makes for Better Picture Quality?

  • Lighting
  • Focus and Exposure
  • Clarity (reduce blur by stabilizing camera to avoid shake and ensure shutter speed settings are modified depending on motion)
  • High Resolution Settings – Megapixels

Other important factors that affect image or picture quality include camera sensor and processor (varies by make and model), and the optical quality of a lens.  For improved quality go with an optical zoom option, rather than digital.

When you are taking pictures for use in marketing collateral, give honest thought to the ability of your camera. You may have to admit that though you have a nice digital camera for family outings and events it might not be the camera you want to use for nice marketing images! Consider a potential investment of a more professional camera that will assist in future tradeshow graphics, large format printing, and any marketing project your company may need to design.

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