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The more megapixels, the worse the image (digital cameras)
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You are currently in Film, Photography, Digital Animation, Broadcasting / Production
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Wed Dec 26, 2007 7:02 pm Reply and quote this post
ou got a eight-megapixel compact digital camera for Christmas?That's great. Only one thing: the pixel size might be so small thatyou'll not get any extra benefit from it - instead, it could createmore noise, which will mean worse pictures.
That's the explanation from thethe staff of Image Engineering, an independent testing laboratory thattests digital camera for the German magazines Color Photo and c’t,besides others.
Quite a while ago we noticed that the image quality ofdigital cameras was getting worse instead of better. The reason is thattoday’s sensors are divided into more and therefore smaller pixels. Wewant to clarify the consequences on this website.

And they go on..
The 8 megapixels devices releasedin 2005 showed extreme picture errors (so-called noise) under low lightconditions and colour fringes in high contrast structures becamevisible. These problems have become even worse in today’s cameras with10 and 12 megapixels. Manufacturers have attempted to repair theseproblems with software for noise suppression and picture editing.Success is limited as can be seen by reviewing the sample images onthis site and that’s why today this is true:

The problem is that as the pixels themselves become smaller, you getdiffraction effects which don't just cancel out any advantage, theysubtract:
The result is a decrease in sensitivity ofthe camera and an increase in noise because the amount of lightcollected by a single pixel is smaller. At the same time, increasingthe number of pixels is supposed to lead to more details (resolution),but in order to achieve that better lenses with high resolution and alower lateral chromatic abberation are needed. However better lensesare bigger and don’t fulfill the requirements for ’small’ cameras anymore.

Their conclusion, though the site does give you lots of in-depth info that would be worth your while reading too:
Digitalsingle lens reflection cameras (SLRs) basically show the same behaviourbut the sensor of those cameras and the single pixel is much bigger.Therefore, the cameras have higher sensitivities and show less noise.The high quality lenses provide the necessary resolution and thecameras are designed for high pixel counts.
The best compromise for a compact camera is a sensor with 6 million pixels or better the size of a pixel with >3µm.

So it's all about the number of pixels. And their size. And whether you're using an SLR.
Although it has to be said that (1) compacts are a lot more convenient (2) what about mobile phones, eh?

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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