Why you actually need more megapixels

(This is not a serious post. Just for fun.)

The other day I read on the internet that megapixels don’t matter. Really? As an experienced photographer, I know this is dead wrong. Resolution and megapixels are quintessential to sophisticated image-taking. In other words, having more resolution means better art and more fun.

Does this shot have enough pixels? No.

For those that are new to photography, a megapixel is one million pixels. The resolution of a camera is just the number of pixels it has, and since modern cameras have so many, we measure them in megapixels. For example, the Nikon Z9, one of the best cameras of all time, has about 45MP.

Other cameras like the Nikon Z6 only have 24MP. The Canon 1DX II, a full-frame monster, only has 20MP. However, most of these cameras are inadequate. If you bought them, hopefully you can return them because most of your pictures will be just plain boring.

In fact, I have looked at thousands of shots from different cameras and I have realized that you need at least 45MP to do good photography. Theoretically, 100MP would be better as with the medium-format Fuji GFX100 beast, but most people can’t afford that camera so for normal people, 45MP is a minimum.

You might be asking, how does having only 24MP limit you as a photographer? I’m glad you asked. The first is that with only 24MP, you’ll have to carry more lenses. With a 45MP camera, there are so many pixels that you can just crop more and achieve more perspectives with plenty of resolution left over. In fact, when I am shooting with a 45MP camera, I typically just carry a single 24mm f/1.8 prime. I can crop this lens all the way up to a 300mm field of view and still print big. After getting a 45MP camera, I went from five lenses to just one.

Because you can’t see this shot at 100%, you will never know whether it’s good

Lower resolution cameras typically also have AA filters. For those that don’t know, an AA filter is a dirty piece of glass on your camera’s sensor to make your images blurry. Higher-resolution sensors don’t have an AA filter, and thus produce noticeably better art. Without an AA filter, you will get more likes on social media and sleep better too. Why would anyone put stuff in front of their sensor? I don’t get it.

But the best thing about high-resolution sensors of at least 45MP is the pixel-peeping. Ansel Adams often said, “the most important part about photography is what your shot looks like at 100%”, and he’s 100% right. In fact, I have Adobe Lightroom configured so that it opens every single shot at 100% by default when I start editing.

The good thing about this technique is that if you see any imperfections, you’ll notice them right away. I’m embarrassed to admit it but I used to spend hours editing shots that I thought looked amazing, only to find out that the pixel-level detail sucked. Don’t worry though, I deleted them.

This is another shot I decided to delete due to it’s poor 100%-level quality (for illustration purposes only).

Like every half-decent photographer, I still get disappointed with 45MP. I sometimes think that if I had 100MP, I could zoom in even more just to make sure that everything is good. I still get nervous about it, but I guess if my shot is good at 100% with 45MP, it should be okay for the unwashed masses.

One more thing. A high-resolutions sensor is really good for testing lenses. If a lens is a little weak at 45MP, it’s best to throw it in the trash. You can also sell it but I would avoid spreading low-quality gear to others because it’s not really ethical. Frankly, even the trash is too good for weak lenses.

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