Does more megapixels really equal better image quality? -
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Old Feb 9th, 2016, 08:16 AM   #1
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Question Does more megapixels really equal better image quality?

Hello ladies and gentlemen! As always, my name is Canada.

I'm on a tight budget, and I can't make a choice between the iPad mini 3 and the iPad mini 4; which have different cameras, 5 megapixels and 8 megapixels.

But what's the difference? Does 8 megapixel really offer better and crisper image quality? They are both 1080p cameras, so I think they should be about the same. However, I don't know if I'm right, so please tell me the difference between these two!
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Old Feb 9th, 2016, 09:01 AM   #2
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1080p is for video, it's irrelevant as far a still image quality is concerned.

There are a few things to consider. The 8MP camera has higher resolution. But if it is noisier than the 5MP camera it isn't much of an advantage. If you're simply posting to social media, the point is really moot; the images are going to be compressed and re-sized anyway when you upload them, and you may not be able to distinguish the difference between either camera at that point.

I wouldn't base the purchase on the camera though, the Mini 4 is far more powerful.

* EDIT: Note that the facetime camera on teh Mini 3 is only .2MP. If you plan on using that camera, the 4 is the clear winner.
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Old Feb 9th, 2016, 11:30 AM   #3
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An excellent question. Both are using the equivalent of a point and shoot camera. With most P & S cameras maximum resolution is at least somewhat interpolated. As an example my 12MP camera gets its best results at 8MP. I can interpolate that to 12MP using PhotoShop Elements and the result is as good or better than shooting the same image at 12MP to begin with.

I would look at the focal length of the lens. If it is the same for both devices, and the 35mm equivalent lens is the same length; then I would expect similar results from either regardless of the megapixels.

OTOH if the focal length on the 8MP device is about 1.25 times longer than the 5MP but the image area coverage identical, then this device has a larger sensor and will probably produce marginally better images.
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Old Feb 9th, 2016, 07:52 PM   #4
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Thanks for replying polywog & ehMacMan!

However, how do these two tablets stack up in terms of video recording? Does the number of megapixels play the same role in video as well?
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Old Jan 21st, 2017, 09:53 PM   #5
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Number of megapixels isn't a big problem these days. Almost any camera with a decent lens (not plastic or cheap glass) will take a great photo, keeping in mind that most photos are now viewed no larger than 8" X 10" either in print or on a monitor! Only if you are creating larger prints should you worry about MP. I took a great 8" X 10" in Montreal using an old iPhone 3Gs
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Old Jan 23rd, 2017, 02:03 PM   #6
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On all iOS devices (up to and including my iPhone 6 and iPad Pro), digital zooming is terrible. Not a big deal for photos (you can crop later) but an issue for Video. Which is why I continue using proper lenses when it's not for just snaps.
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Old Mar 10th, 2017, 09:21 AM   #7
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No matter what the product, manufacturers (or more correctly, the marketing people working for the manufacturer) want simple specifications to market to consumers to distinguish products from each other, and in particular to enable upselling in the product line. In the digital camera world (and now the smartphone world), it's megapixels.

Like all such specs, the number of pixels tell part of the story, but not all. A sensor with better low light performance and therefore less noise will outperform a similar model with a higher pixel count sensor if image quality is the criteria. But those kinds of nuances don't translate well when you want to sell product.

If you are interested in how large a print you can make from an image, then pixel count might be a significant specification, but almost no-one prints at the sizes where more than about eight megapixels matter.

For example 8 MP provides for an excellent print of 8x10 and a good print of 11x14, good enough for the majority of home photo printers. Paying for a higher pixel count won't give you a better 8x10 print.

So if that is your normal print practice, you should at that point start looking at other image quality factors (such as the physical size of the sensor, which affects noise and low light performance) rather than chasing a higher megapixel sensor.

But no-one ever sold more devices by complicating the buying decision; in fact it's exactly the opposite.

So we are sold Megapixels, the sales staff gives you a choice of three cameras after they decide what they are going to sell you ( or smartphones, or Home Theatre receivers, or cars on the lot, etc but never four or more; you will probably walk and buy somewhere else because too much choice causes anxiety and kills the buy impulse) and so on.

And even though they show you three cameras, it's really just two cameras, the third one is there to be quickly rejected, giving you the impression you are in charge of the decision. That leaves a choice of two items, which has the highest ratio of completing a purchase decision.

It's all basic Consumer Psychology and Sales Techniques and has been well known for 50+ years.

Now, if you are shopping for groceries, they give you massive choice because it slows you down, and the longer you linger in the store the more food you buy. Same Class at Marketing School.

Last edited by gordguide; Mar 10th, 2017 at 10:09 AM.
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Old Mar 10th, 2017, 02:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by gordguide View Post
If you are interested in how large a print you can make from an image, then pixel count might be a significant specification, but almost no-one prints at the sizes where more than about eight megapixels matter.
True, but where they come in handy is cropping.
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Old Nov 15th, 2017, 05:51 AM   #9
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Great information, very comprehensive and easy to understand.

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