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What is a Mega Pixel?

If you have not read: What is a Pixel? then do so before reading this topic.

You may have noticed that digital cameras are described as: Mega = 1 million

Using our example of a 6 x 6 pixel image:

Let's say you bought a camera that produced pictures that were 6 x 6 pixels. This camera would then be a 36 pixel camera, (6 x 6 = 36).

Let's say your camera produces pictures that are: 1280 x 960 pixels.

1280 x 960 = 1,228,800 pixels = 1.2288 MegaPixels
But the manufacturers round up and call it a 1.3 MegaPixel Camera.

All Cameras Were NOT Created Equally

Just because a camera says it is a 2.1 Mega Pixel camera does not mean it has the same quality as another camera reported to be a 2.1 Mega Pixel camera.

There are two things to consider:
  1. How many pixels does the camera produce?
  2. How many pixels is the CCD (Charged Coupled Device) inside the camera?
CCD = Charge Coupled Device - This is the little sensor that records the picture when you snap the shutter.

This sensor has X number of pixels. Some cheaper cameras use a cheaper CCD sensor that has a smaller number of pixels than the camera produces. These cameras then resize the picture, to produce a larger number of pixels - just so they can claim their camera is a 1.3 MegaPixel camera. But the CCD sensor is probably much less.

Before purchasing a camera, make sure you check the technical specifications of the camera's CCD Array size.

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