Digital Resolution: Can Less Be More?

by Guy Lerner

Most people buying digital cameras for the first time are lured by the numbers game. For them, the more megapixels, the better the camera. But not all pixels are created equal.

Unlike most things digital, when you’re talking pixels, smaller is not necessarily better. Pixels used by imaging sensors (the light-recording components found in most digital cameras) vary in size from one manufacturer to another and from camera to camera. I’m no scientist, but it makes sense that pixels used to convert light information coming from a lens would perform better if they had a larger surface area to capture as much light as possible. Put another way, given the same number of pixels on an imaging sensor, the sensor with the larger individual pixels will record more light information – and be able to produce higher-quality digital images – than the one with the smaller pixels.

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