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Sammy Nov 19, 2003 8:10 AM

Is a 4 megapixel worth $100 more than a 3 mp?
Planning on buying a new camera (still not sure which one) tonight to replace our Fuji Finpix 1.3 megapixel. A 3 megapixel would be a very nice jump I'd assume. However Im tempted to go for a 4 megapixel. Is a 4 mp worth $100 more and do we really need one or is a 3mp good enough? Our 1.3mp was used for family photo's and the replacement will be used for the same reason.

I think my technogeek impulses may be clouding my judgement and a 3 mp is all we really need. Im the type who goes to Best Buy and drools all over the expensive merchandise I can't afford. :wink:

Anyone else fight a similar decision and how did it work out?

JohnC Nov 19, 2003 8:45 AM

The simple answer is no. MP count is not the major factor in camera quality.

I am one of the ones who found out the hard way that mega-pixels by themselves don't make a good camera. I had a camera had decent MP count for its time but would not focus on the things I wanted it to focus on, no optical zoom, no manual controls, etc. It is really frustrating to loose pics because the camera didn't want to focus on what you wanted to focus on or give you pics of floating heads when people wore white shirts outside.

The main things you are paying for in a camera are (in order):

1. Lenses -- The better the lenses, the more expensive the camera and the better the pictures -- no matter whether it is digital or not. Optical zoom, high quality lenses, and internal stabilization add to price, but make the camera *way* better.

2. Features and controls -- better flash, great autofocus, good macro, night assist focus lamp, some manual controls like white balance, scene selection, exposure controls help to give you a better shot at getting good pics -- like being able to turn down the flash up close so it doesn't blow out all the details in the pic.

3. Then comes mega-pixels. MP are nice when you want to print bigger pics.

Hope this helps a little.


JimC Nov 19, 2003 8:53 AM

You should never buy a camera based strictly on Megapixels. Look at other things about the model too.

For example:

Physical Size, Light Gathering Capability of the Lens (Aperture Rating), User Control of Features used more often, Startup Speed, Autofocus Speed, Low Light Focus Ability, Cycle Times (shot to shot times), Lens Focal Range (wide angle to longest zoom), Noise Levels at available ISO Speeds, Chromatic Aberrations (Purple Fringing), Flash Range, Macro (Closeup Capability), Manual Exposure Capability, ability to take longer exposures (and does it have noise reduction), ability to use add-on lenses and accessories, ability to use an external flash, color accuracy, and image quality (not just number of pixels).

Each user will have specific requirements for a camera model. For most users, 3 Megapixels is plenty. For others, 5 Megapixels may not be enough. Desired Print Sizes can impact choice, along with a users need/desire to crop some of their photos, but I always take the other things about a camera into consideration, too.

If given the choice between a new Gateway 5 Megapixel Camera (on sale for around $250.00 now), and a 2 Megapixel Nikon Coolpix 2500 (available refurbished at Ritz Camera for $119.99 now), I'd take the 2 Megapixel Nikon (because I know the image quality would probably be better from the 2MP Nikon, based on user reviews of the Gateway -- even though the Nikon would fall well short of what I would want in a camera). Even if the price were the same, if these were my only two choices, I'd still go with the lower resolution model, because I know it would simply work better.

Any choice is a compromise. None are perfect.

My latest camera is the Konica Revio KD-510z (a.k.a., Minolta DiMAGE G500). It's a 5 Megapixel Pocketable Camera, with a 3x Optical Zoom, good control of the features I use more often, decent flash range, good Macro Capability, good performance (startup times, cycle times), very good low light focus ability, and great image quality. It can be purchased for a little over $300.00 now discounted.

For me, it's great. For others it may not be. Some may want a "wider" wide angle. Others, may want a longer zoom for wildlife photography. Others may want a camera that takes add-on lenses and accessories (mine doesn't). Others may need the ability to add an external flash (mine doesn't have that capability).

Think about how you use a camera, when comparing models and features, and never base a decision on megapixels alone.

Buying a new camera, is liking buying a new car. You'll find many models in the same price range. No one vehicle is perfect for everyone's needs. The same applies to a new camera.

There are many good review sites. Here are some of my favorites:

I'd also "test drive" the cameras in the store, to see which model you are more comfortable with (menus, control layout, autofocus/shutter lag, LCD Display, Viewfinder, Camera Speed, etc.).

BTW, unlike a film camera, Digital Cameras tend to have much more autofocus/shutter lag (time between when you press the shutter button, and when the camera actually takes the photo).

Dave Etchells (owner/editor of measures a camera's performace in his reviews. See the "picky details" section of each cameras review for these tests. He also has flash range tests, resolution chart tests (to see how much detail a camera can resolve, etc).

He also includes a "comparometer", that lets you view images taken in similiar conditions from more than one camera model "side by side".

Phil Askey (owner/editor of also measures many characteristics about a camera, including performance (startup times, focus lag, cycle times, noise levels, resolution, low light focus ability, etc.).

Sammy Nov 19, 2003 9:06 AM

Great replies Johnc! Thanks for the info. My question is more geared toward the same brand of camera. My current subjects for the question is between the Canon A70 and the Canon A80. Being they are practically the same camera except one has a higher megapixel rating and the video screen can be adjusted (not very important to me.) Is the extra megapixel rating worth the extra $100 more it costs?

JohnC Nov 19, 2003 9:15 AM

my opinion....

I would not pay $100.00 more for only the mp count -- that same $100.00 could go for a case, spare batts, car charger (wonderful idea that could save a vacation), bigger memory cards, tripod, etc, that make the cam more fun and versatile.

If it had more useful features, better optics, etc, along with it -- then it may be worth it.

Best regards


gibsonpd3620 Nov 19, 2003 9:29 AM

I concur with what John has wrote. MP count is important to some extent but other qualities may out weight the MP count. The A70 would be a great upgrade to your current camera.

voxmagna Nov 19, 2003 9:51 AM

You can't always assume that a newer 4 Mp model will be 25% better than the previous model (e.g A70/A80). But as you have found, the price is not in the same ratio. A camera with fewer software functions, but with a consistently good lens/ccd and body features could be cheaper and give better pics.

I've seen some stunning large 2.2M pix pics from older Oly's with fast lenses, good optical zoom and a photographer who knows what he's doing, which makes me wonder about the Mpix hype. VOX

Sammy Nov 19, 2003 10:14 AM

Thanks for the response guys! I've taken them under consideration and moved on to a different question.

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