What Is a Megapixel? How Many Do I Need?

Most users care about two things: the number of megapixels and the price when it comes to cameras.

But what do these terms mean? And how many megapixels do you need in a camera? 

In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about megapixels so you can make an informed purchase.

What Is a Megapixel? How Many Do I Need?

What Is a Megapixel?

Megapixels are the units of measurement for the sharpness of monitors, scanners, and cameras.

One megapixel translates to 1,000,000 pixels, which are little information squares that make up an image. 

Many users and content developers will need 12 megapixels. These megapixels provide enough resolution to print a 12′′ x 16′′ photograph, and you’ll never need more than 12MP for web sharing.

The number of megapixels determines the sharpness of a picture, and a digital image with more megapixels has better resolution.

In a digital photograph, a higher resolution is preferable since it signifies the camera used more pixels to make the photograph, resulting in more accuracy.

The Technical Aspects of Megapixels

How many megapixels do I need?

The image sensor of a digital camera captures the photo. An image sensor is a microchip that determines how much light passes through the lenses and reaches the chip. 

These image sensors consist of microscopic receptors known as pixels. Each of these sensors can detect and report the intensity of light that reaches the chip. 

The sensor has millions of these receptors, and the number of receptors (or pixels) defines the number of megapixels (also known as resolution) that the camera can record.

How Many Megapixels Do Prints Require?

How many megapixels do you need for printing pictures?

Many individuals will require the sharpest files when creating a tangible photo album with one of the finest photo book providers.

Here’s how to figure out how many megapixels you will require for a printed picture: 

  1. Decide on your print’s physical size, such as eight x ten inches or four x six inches. 
  2. Calculate the pixel count by multiplying the width by 300 and the height by 300. It is because, for high-quality prints, 300 pixels per inch is required. As a result, an 8 × 10-inch image would have a resolution of 2400 x 3000 pixels.
  3. Multiply the breadth by the height in pixels: 2400 x 3000 pixels is equivalent to slightly over 7 million pixels for that 8 × 10-inch poster. 
  4. Divide 1 million from the result of step 2 to get the amount of megapixels you will require for a perfect poster. You’ll need a camera with a minimum resolution of 7.2 megapixels in this situation.

Can You Have Too Many Megapixels?

Pros and Cons of Having Many Megapixels

Image quality might be harmed by having more pixels than you require.

This distortion is because your image will automatically shrink when you upload it online, or if you want to print it.

The upload procedure will destroy pixels randomly, with no way of knowing what’s important in the image.

Pros and Cons of Having Many Megapixels

While having more megapixels allows your camera to capture more light and produce higher-resolution photographs, there are some clear disadvantages to doing so.

Before selecting a megapixel count, consider how you’ll utilize your camera as a photographer.


The ability to produce larger photos is one of the benefits of having a high megapixel count.

With the world’s obsession with big-screen, high-definition televisions growing, it’s only natural that cameras with similar capabilities will be the next big thing. 

Cameras with a high megapixel count are advantageous in the following areas:

  • Printing photos that are huge, crisp, and not distorted.
  • Cropping photos without adding noise.
  • Allowing for excellent zooming to capture information.
  • Downsizing images to remove noise and generate a crisper image from the initial one.


While there are various benefits to employing high megapixel cameras to capture huge, clear, high-resolution photographs, there are some drawbacks to doing so:

  • Larger file sizes result from higher megapixels, which can quickly fill up your computer’s storage space and take longer to download the required files.
  • Some internet programs and services may not process exceptionally high-resolution photos, forcing you to downsize or use images from a different source.

Final Thoughts

Whereas the number of megapixels you require will vary depending on how you intend to use your camera, any camera with at least 12 megapixels should be appropriate for frequent usage, with print size being a significant consideration.

Professional photographers will certainly desire cameras with more than 20 megapixels, but a 12-megapixel camera will produce high-quality digital images and allow users to print every conventional print size.

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