Considerations When Buying a New Digital Camera
By Meng Vang
Doing photography as a hobby for several years, I have seen many people make the same mistake over and over when it comes to purchasing a new camera, whether it is a simple point-and-shoot or a DSLR. The most common mistake a person can make when purchasing a camera is assuming that the higher the megapixel count is, the better the camera is. As a matter of fact, megapixels, also known as MP, are only used for marketing purposes to trick a consumer into thinking which camera is better. This is known as the Megapixel Myth. Consumers who are not familiar with camera technology would try to get a camera with a higher megapixel count. When looking at camera ads, manufacturers and sellers would always have bigger emphasis on the megapixel count instead of other features. To understand the most out of a camera, you really have to understand more than just how many megapixels a camera has.
But what exactly is a megapixel? A megapixel refers to image resolution. A lot of consumers nowadays use nothing more than a 1080p monitor. As a matter of fact, 1080p is only equivalent to 2.1MP. If uploading pictures onto Facebook and Twitter is all what you do, you are better off spending less money for a less expensive camera with fewer megapixels. More megapixels do not make you a better photographer, nor does it make your images prettier. More storage space is required to save an image as more megapixels generally mean larger image size. So if you plan to purchase a camera with a large megapixel count, it is a good idea to consider a large capacity storage device.
A 1080p resolution monitor is only equivalent to 2.1MP. This means if you view any image that has a higher resolution than that of your monitor, you would never be able to see every pixel in that image. Below is an example. These three images were taken with the Nikon D3100 with the Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 under different resolutions. They are taken at 14.2MP, 8.0MP, and 3.5MP. Can you tell the difference? All of these images look exactly the same until you view them under their full view.
Megapixel count is not the only thing to consider when looking for a new camera. For instance, if you are a casual person who only takes pictures here and there, you would not need anything more than a 12MP camera. 12MP is more than enough for casual shooting. However, if you are looking into printing large prints, say for billboard ads, you would benefit from more megapixels. To sum this part up, unless you are planning to print out huge billboard-like images, you could easily get away with a 12MP camera. There are many other things you should consider, but I will go over three of the most important, which are ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.