What is megapixel? Do we need high megapixel smartphone cameras?

Since 2018, smartphone cameras have started a new “digital war” of megapixels. The cameras have become one of the biggest selling points of smartphones and a lot of emphasis has been placed on the number of megapixels a smartphone packs in its camera. The majority of people believe more megapixels means better picture quality. This arises the question- Do we need high megapixel smartphone cameras for clicking better pictures and recording videos?

Camera megapixels do determine the camera quality but it is not the only factor and the truth is that more megapixels don’t necessarily mean better image quality. In fact, some of the best smartphone manufacturers in the industry still use a 12 MP camera, particularly Apple which has the lowest megapixel count of any smartphone camera out there.

The concept of cameras and megapixels is a bit more complicated than it seems, let’s dive deeper into it to understand what is the importance of megapixels and do we need high megapixel smartphone cameras?

What is a megapixel and how does it affect camera quality?

First and foremost let’s understand what is a megapixel. Basically, a Megapixel refers to one million pixels and is often used to denote the resolution of digital cameras. A pixel is a tiny square on a computer monitor, it’s small and comes in the form of dots. A picture is a solid grid of these squares or dots.

The more pixels or dots that make up the display, the sharper the resolution or image. The higher the number of dots or pixels, the more refined the image is, allowing for higher and more realistic image reproduction. The image quality function is measured in megapixels. For example, a 3.1-megapixel camera can take pictures at a resolution of 2048 x 1536 (which equals 3,145,728 pixels). That is, the final image will consist of 3.1 megapixels or over 3 million dots.

Sensors in digital cameras vary in size. The sensor inside a smartphone is smaller than the sensor inside a crop sensor camera, which again is smaller than the sensor inside a full-frame DSLR. However, all three cameras could have 12MP sensors. What changes is the size of the light spot on the sensor. On a smartphone camera, they’re small, and on a full-frame camera, they’re bigger. This affects the overall image quality.

Although it is important to note that megapixels are not the only factor that influences the image quality. The truth is that more megapixels do not mean more quality. The quality of the camera is equally determined by the sensor quality, moreover, the quality of the lenses also plays an essential role. Basically, if you use a smartphone camera having poor sensors and poor lenses with more Megapixels, you will have poor quality pixels.

Do we need high megapixel smartphone cameras?

A 12-megapixel camera featured on the back of a Google Pixel or an Apple iPhone will take amazing photos, you only have to look at the photos captured by the OnePlus 10 Pro, the Samsung S22, and the Xiaomi 12 Pro to see what fantastic results these cameras can generate too.

No, a high megapixel camera isn’t essential, Megapixels do have an important role but they are definitely not the main reason why a camera quality is good or bad. There are numerous factors that make a camera great, and the megapixel count is just one of them, so before you look at the number of megapixels of a smartphone camera, just be sure you have checked out other factors as well. Don’t get blinded by megapixel numbers and remember that the software is also a really important part of the photographic equation.

Some of the big shots of the camera industry believe that high pixel smartphone is a waste. Michael Kaschke, CEO of the famous German optical lens brand Carl Zeiss (now called Zeiss) has acknowledged it in the Past. People familiar with the smartphone field may know that Zeiss is now supplying lens components/photography technology for both Nokia (HMD), Sony, and Vivo. Therefore, strictly speaking, this gentleman is actually a vested interest in the imaging of smartphones today – so why did he criticize the current ultra-high pixel mobile phones?

He clearly opposes the practice of “brainless piles of pixels”. In his opinion, not to mention the small sensor of a smartphone, even if it is the outsole of a flagship full-frame SLR, since the size of the sensor itself is fixed, increasing the number of pixels will inevitably mean reducing the photosensitive area of ​​each pixel, and this It will inevitably lead to a decrease in the sensitivity of the light, resulting in more noise in the picture.

As a result, ordinary mobile phone (camera) users, will feel that more pixels do not actually bring better picture quality; and for those users with professional needs, this means more investment in equipment. a waste.

Some of you may want to counter it by saying “don’t you see that the XX brand is not customized with a special high-sensitivity CMOS? Isn’t that the XXXX brand mobile phone that claims to be able to use AI processing to make the picture quality clearer?” In response to this, Kaschke pointed out that even today’s latest mobile phone main control chips (SoC), the fastest mobile phone memory and flash memory do not actually have the ability to instantly process photos with 40 million or higher pixels levels.

Because of this, those smartphones with ultra-high pixel design, without exception, will not actually turn on the ultra-high pixel mode by default but will image in the so-called “four-in-one” method. In this way, it not only reduces the probability of noise through pixel synthesis but also reduces the computational pressure of the processor, allowing it to perform real-time noise reduction, HDR, beautification, etc. real-time processing. Even on flagship mobile phones, the “performance” of taking pictures is not enough

Do you feel a little frustrated seeing this? To be honest, I was also a little surprised when I first learned about the fact that the current flagship mobile phones are not capable of taking pictures with 40 megapixels.

Final words

So do we need high megapixel smartphone cameras? Well, the answer is No, the recipe for a perfect smartphone camera lies in its software, processing power, and many other factors. High megapixels do allow convenient cropping without decreasing the resolution, capture highly detailed images, and Increase picture quality and sharpness but only if the overall photographic equation is balanced.

Not sure how to choose a perfect camera smartphone? Don’t worry we got you covered, Read our article on How to choose a good camera phone when buying a phone?

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