Video: How many megapixels do you actually need?

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We love David Bergman and Adorama TV’s great videos, and this recent video is a doozy - especially so as it answers one of those big photography questions in a clear and informative way.

So, to the question itself: just how many megapixels is enough? Well, it'll depend what you're shooting of course, but more megapixels typically translate to more image detail.

One key consideration is the that most photos today are viewed on screens with much less megapixels than your camera has - and yes, that includes your smartphone. 

For example, Bergman notes that Instagram uses around 1920 pixels on the longest side. So, even a basic 2 MP camera (around 1600×1200 pixels/1080p) would comfortably meet this minimum requirement. The cover of AP mag for example, is about 3000px on the long edge, which can be met by a 3-4 MP camera.

When it comes to printing, a 4×6 print needs only 2 MP, and a larger 11×14 print would need roughly 13.8 megapixels at 300 PPI (pixels per inch).

So why do we need cameras with 40, 50 or even more megapixels then? Well, the benefit comes with cropping, as every time you crop into your image you lose valuable pixels. But for most photographers shooting most 'everyday' subjects, a camera in the 20 to 24-megapixel range offers more than enough pixels for most purposes. 

You can see more of the great AdoramaTV videos on YouTube. 

Cover image: Getty


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