Thursday, January 3, 2008

Digital Camera Megapixels - How Many?

More megapixels equals better pictures. Is it true? The New York Times say it’s a big fat lie. Other disagree, so what is it? Should we buy a digital camera with the most megapixels possible? Or should we not be concerned and just get the cheapest digital camera? The Canon S5 IS has 8 megapixels, is that good?

Of course there are other factors besides the number of megapixels that affect picture quality. Let’s rule out photographic skill and try to talk only of camera hardware. The most important is the camera’s lens. Compact digital cameras have tiny lenses. Tiny lenses make for worse pictures in general. Don’t expect your pocket sized camera to take pictures as good as an SLR just because your megapixel count is higher. It doesn’t work that way.

Pixel Overload
Years ago when 1 and 2 megapixel digital cameras were the norm, an increase made a difference. Now, that’s not the case. Now we are at the point where some experts say that the increase in megapixels is degrading picture quality. Too many pixels mean smaller pixels. Smaller pixels on a camera’s sensor, which converts light to electrical signal, means less light sensitivity. That could lead to noise in the image. Noise is anything from poor edge definition to off-color specks.

8 is Enough
When do we need more megapixels? We need more to make large prints or to zoom in and crop prints. If you want to make 12x16 prints you should have at least 6 megapixel. 8 is plenty – like the S5. If you want huge professional quality posters you may want more resolution and probably a more expensive SLR. Anything more than 8 on a powershot or other point and shoot is probably not helping your image quality. And most certainly it’s not helping your hard drive which will need to be a lot bigger to accommodate the larger file size of your images. So don’t get hung up on megapixels. Now is a good time to buy a camera because you can get an older model with less rez for cheaper. So the cheapest digital camera might be the best one! Soon there won’t be any more smaller megapixel cameras as the marketing frenzy over larger megapixels continues to escalate. I wonder if digital camera binoculars will go through the same pixel frenzy?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Powershot S5 over the Holidays

I've been rambilng on and on about the features of the Canon Powershot s5, but are all these features useful? Yes they are! Over the holidays, i utilized some of the nifty camera features to my delight.

One particular case of feature exploitation was when i was recording video of my two girls dancing around xmas morning with their new matching umbrellas. I thought wow this is a perfect shot, and bang I snapped off a picture without having to switch modes and stop shooting video. The Photo in Video feature is useful! And that picture was a great one.

I also discovered that the S5 12x zoom is great for someone lazy. My mom and daughter were walking around looking at holiday decorations at a neightboor's house and lazy me didn't even have to walk over to them to get a closer shot. Thanks S5IS! i also made good use of the zoom while shooting video as well, something not many digital cameras in this price range have.

Another neat feature of the s5 is night scene which is pretty cool when you're out looking at christmas lights.

One disadvantage of my Powershot S5 i'm discovering more and more is the poor battery life, especially when I shoot video. Shooting video with the S5 suck the life out of the AA batteries super quickly. I really am beginning to wish the Powershot s5 IS came with a better digital camera battery. I still haven't gotten around to buying a rechargable set of AA batteries.

I'll try to post a few pictures soon, until then check out the Canon S5 at a camera store near you!