Do You NEED a Hi-Res Camera? How Many Megapixels are Enough? (VIDEO)

by John Stapel

The current trend in cameras is clearly moving in the direction of full-frame mirrorless models with super-high resolution, and the megapixel race shows no signs of abating. But is this based upon sound photographic principles, or does creative marketing and the “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” factor into the equation?

Before you answer this question, there are a few variables worth considering. Do you mostly shoot landscape, portrait, or wildlife photographs? Or is travel or action-sports your thing? It’s also important to ask yourself if you print in normal sizes and primarily share your photos online. Or do regularly make oversized prints?

Other criteria include whether or not your computer can handle giant files without bogging down, and if you’re willing to invest in high-capacity storage devices to handle the huge files.

Let’s face it: in the old days 12 megapixels were considered a lot, while today many photographers claim 20MP aren’t enough. And we’ll bet that if you go through your image library, some of your favorite photographs were shot in the past—with cameras of modest resolution.

In the interesting video below, Jan Wegener explores all this in great detail, and he’ll help you make an informed purchasing decision the next time you buy a new camera. Wegener quit his day job 15 years ago to pursue his passion for bird photography. He’s been perfecting a unique style, while keeping an eye on developing camera technology, ever since.

Wegener uses his outstanding bird images, shot with cameras from 8MP-45MP to answer the “how many pixels is enough?” question, but his views are worth noting regardless of the type of photographs you shoot. Granted, you’re looking at his photos online at 72dpi, but there’s more than a little truth to what he says.

So before you sneer at 20MP cameras in favor of those with eye-watering resolution, watch this video, carefully consider your needs, and determine your “megapixel sweet spot” before making a decision.

You can find more helpful and provocative videos on Wegener’s YouTube channel, so be sure and take a look. And for more tips on bird photography from another expert, check out our recent tutorial explaining how to shoot stunning photos using natural “setups” in the field.