Photographer Know-how: Understanding Pixels


Welcome to part 2 of our Photographer Know-how guide. In last week’s blog, we took a look at some of the different cameras available to buy and how to pick the right camera for you. In today’s blog we’re going to talk about pixels and how they influence the quality of a picture.

What is a Pixel?

A pixel (a combination of the words; picture & element) is the unit used to measure a digital camera’s image resolution. Image resolution refers to a cameras ability to observe or measure small objects with distinct boundaries. In layman’s terms, this refers to how clear an object will appear in an image. A megapixel is around 1 million pixels.

Pixels work in a similar manner to how pointillist artists use a series of tiny paint blotches to create a painting; millions of pixels are combined to create a detailed image. The number of pixels in a digital image determines how much information is presented in the image, and the level of detail of the information. If you’re looking to take clear and highly detailed pictures then you should be on the lookout for a digital camera with a high pixel count.

However, a high number of pixels do not automatically guarantee high quality images and other factors like colour fidelity, contrast and noise level will impact quality, but a high number of pixels will result in better light sensitivity and improved image quality.

It’s not as simple as just picking the camera with the highest pixel count as a photograph’s quality is based not only on pixel count but also the camera’s image sensor, optics, design, engineering and the program you use to upload pictures to your computer. Remember to check back with us next week when we’ll discuss image sensors and their importance.

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Posts from the Harvey Norman blog team.

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