The futility of the megapixel race

I was going to write a lengthy post about the physics of why point-and-shoot cameras with tiny 10MP sensors take terrible pictures but there are probably better writeups elsewhere online.  (For example, see here.)  So, instead I will just complain that camera companies have chosen to continually increase the pixel count in their cameras knowing full well that it’s making the image quality worse.  Someone needs to educate the public on the fact that more pixels doesn’t give you a better image.  Rather, it just gives you a noisy image with lots of noise reduction artifacts occupying a very large file.  I have a 3MP point-and-shoot from 2004 and it takes better looking pictures than most of the sample shots I’ve seen that were taken with 9 or 10MP cameras on the market right now.  Give me a 3-4MP camera with a better movie mode, a longer zoom, and a wider wide-angle focal length and I would be happy.

2 Responses to “The futility of the megapixel race”

  1. May 2, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Does noisy just mean fuzzy? And what are “noise reduction artifacts”? Maybe that’s in th article you suggested reading. I’ll check it out.

  2. 2 Colin
    May 2, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    That depends on what you mean by “fuzzy”. If you mean blurry, then no.

    This image is not noisy.

    This image is noisy.

    Does that make it clear? I guess it refers to non-uniformity of color or splotchiness. So, to reduce noise, an algorithm is used to reduce the non-uniformity. This has the drawback that if you have fine detail that is legitimate but looks splotchy, the noise reduction algorithm will blur it out or remove it in some way. So tree foliage can look blurred out or our bumpy walls could look smoothed out – those are noise reduction artifacts.

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May 2008

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