Here's A Good Reason Why The Camera Megapixel Wars Needs To Stop

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who understands cameras and megapixels and storage space, but it could be a good excuse to not get suckered by the megapixel wars in buying a camera. The more pixels, the more space it takes. A thousand images taken on the 36-megapixel Nikon D800 takes up 47GB. A thousand images on the reasonable 12MP Nikon D3s? Only 15GB.

Duh. Three times the megapixels, three times the storage space. But do we really need all those pixels? If you're taking holiday pictures that just get stored on your laptop? Probably not. If you bought a DSLR because you have a kid now and that's what people with kids do? Probably not. If you thought buying an expensive camera because you want better Instagram pictures? Probably not. You're paying needless money on something that takes up needless space!

So be wary the next time you get suckered into the peenwhipping measurement of megapixels, you're gonna have to pay for it in storage.

[Scott Kelby via PetaPixel]



    So what is a 36mp camera used for? Mostly for large advertisement like giant billboards and such?

      Landscape photography is one area where more megapixels are useful

      Billboards can be printed at a fairly low DPI due to viewing distance. For 99% of applications, 10MP is more than enough when you take into account that. Admittedly there is a small need for high megapixel images however. The advantage of the D800 is you can heavily crop and still maintain a high resolution file. And along with that, if you're upgrading from an APS-C sized sensor, you can use your old lenses and have decent resolution also.

      A 36mp camera has many uses for professionals. I use both a D3 and a D800 but for different things. If I have to shoot a sport event I use the D3 for the 11fps shooting rate. If I am taking landscape shots or images for large format display work I use the D800. Often an image will be cropped heavily by the graphic designer so having a high res image to start with is very important. Standard resolution for press printing is 300dpi at actual size so an image of at least 5000px wide is required for a portrait double page A4 spread and 7000px for a landscape double page A4 spread. A 36mp image is exactly on spec for this. Also, memory is cheap.

    HDD Prices were much higher back in 2008 when the D700 was released
    2008 - 1TB = $99
    2012 - 3TB - $150 - If it weren't for the floods it'll probably be $99

    From the tone of the article, the audience you're aiming at are the type who probably don't ever take their DSLR off Jpeg and Auto mode anyway. In which case, what you're really saying "don't buy an expensive DSLR if you have no idea what you're doing and no intention to learn either." The megapixels subject is really just a component of the topic.

    Also, landscape photographers specifically really desire extra megapixels. Besides which, 64gb and even 128gb SD cards are reasonably affordable these days

    this article makes perfect sense for camera phones where 5 megapixel should be a maximum. people read feature comparisons between phones and megapixels seems to be the currency for quality and 5 megapixel is somehow inferior.
    a d800 is a professional camera. with pro-cameras, you get different bodies to meet your requirement. it's not purely a sliding scale of good-better-pro-elite that has a corresponding price.
    also memory is cheap. in 2007 when the d3 came out, 1TB was the biggest hard drive out. USB2.0 was the fastest external interface. Processors were core2's. Camera memory was slower. There is literally no difference to the photographer other than much more information in a raw file at their disposal - for no extra cost.

    I'd happily take as many pixels as you can throw at me, as long as the high ISO noise performance is still just as good.

    More Pixels = More ability to crop and retain detail.

    Very few people need the 36MP, but it's viable, why not? I personally think 22MP works for me, but I do occasionally envy my D800 touting counterparts for their extra pixely goodness.

      Sounds like you have a 5D III like me. I do a lot of birding and even with a 500mm lens and a 1.4x TC you need to crop quite a bit. I'd love to have the D800's 36MP for wildlife. But if your aren't cropping much, unless you print big, you won't see a lot of difference,, but D800 does clearly resolve more detail.

    I have no doubt that there is a breed of camera users that rate IQ based purely on megapixel count alone, regardless of the lens, sensor or photographer.

    Logic vs a primal "my stick is bigger than yours" instinct.

    What's wrong with just using sRAW if you're only going on a holiday? Then you've got the option to go back up to full RAW if you're taking landscapes or something.

    But I have 12tb storage at home, what's it to you? Next your going to tell me not to buy a Ferrari because the speed limit is 110km/h but in fact I have my own private race track which was revealed this week in major news outlets which I am not happy about...

    Article should read: if you're poor and can't afford at least a 4 bay NAS to back up your solid purchase of a D800 then you're a fool in more ways than one!

    Last edited 14/12/12 8:56 am

    A design client of mine, to whom I regularly provide copies of original RAW+JPEG files from sessions, has actually expressed mild annoyance over the size of recent D800 files when handling them in InDesign. I'm probably going to stop providing original files to clients and just give then 10-12MP JPEG exports - which kinda defeats the whole purpose of getting the D800...

    Really! Is you typical happy snapper stupid enough to get suckered into buying a large, expensive heavy DSLR when all they want is a camera phone? I think not.

    Hell No. I want a camera with enough pixels to cover size of a laptop screen. I want NASA level Astronomy capability from my terapixel camera. I want to be able to zoom in on Mars with my hand held camera device and watch NASA astronauts dying from a leaky space suit.

    Just bought a 650d over a d3200 for that reason, 18MP is plenty, no need for me to have 24MP of the Nikon, especially when the rest of the camera probably isn't up to being able to utilize that amount of detail (light noise, depth etc)

    Also the problem with Megapixels is pixel density. The more they fit on a sensor the smaller they have to make them. Is DSLR you will not see this. But compare a mobile Phone, a Compact Camera, and a DLSR is a dark room. All with the same megapixels and see which one is better

    Has anybody notice that?....The only people complaining about MP count are the Canon fan boys?... Dont worry we (Nikonians) will wait until Canon catches up to the nikon level.... Then, and only then MP will be relevant again.....LOL

      Wow, lame. Wahh, my camera doesn't have as many MP as yours. Big deal, it isn't about MP, it is picture quality. Canon has you beat there.

      Nikon are interested in piling in more MP to make their products sound more impressive.

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