Not All Pixels Are The Same

May 6, 2010

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get confused by pixel counts.

The other day I was at our local camera shop and was looking at the new Canon 5D and noticed a neat little mirror they had in the display case. On top were a number of image sensors taken from several different camera models.

Once I could see them in real life I could understand one of the big differences between a 12 megapixel compact camera and a 12 megapixel digital single lens reflex camera. The size of the sensors were significantly different!

In other words, the image sensor in a small digital camera is, well, small! The image sensor in the DSLR camera was, well, big!

The sizes of image sensors

The sizes of image sensors

What this means is that when you get a great photograph and you want to enlarge it, the photograph taken with the DSLR camera will enlarge quite well. The bad news is that with the compact camera when you go to enlarge a photograph there is a limit before the image becomes fuzzy.

Another, and important, difference was that the photographs I take with the DSLR can be taken in the raw which allows me to manipulate them in PhotoShop while photos taken with a small digital camera either will not allow me to manipulate them, or I don’t have as much flexibility.

So, when you are considering a camera think about what you may eventually do with the photographs. If you are happy with 5X7s or 8X10s, then the compact camera may work just fine. If you want larger prints, though, a DSLR will work better.

The same is true if you want to be able to work with the photographs in PhotoShop.

A really good compact camera is the new Panasonic Lumix ZS5 that I wrote about yesterday.

Hope this helps.

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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