One of the problems of living in a technology-driven society is that we are addicted to the idea that more is better. Hard drives with more memory, cell phones with more functions, web sites with more videos, all of it breaks down to the idea that advancing technology is better than older tech because it gives us more.

But, brace yourself, that s not always true. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To. 

That last statement probably sounded like heresy to many people, but the simple fact is that some technologies don t necessarily follow the rule of  more is better.  The Megapixel Myth is a perfect example of this.

As digital cameras, even professional DSLR cameras, have grown smaller and more powerful, manufacturers have touted the number of megapixels that cameras have. A megapixel is a measure of how many colored dots of information are in a picture; it s related to resolution. A megapixel is one million pixels, so a 5 megapixel camera can pack 5 million pixels into a picture. Conceivably, the more megapixels you have, the better the resolution and the sharper the picture will look. This is the logic that digital camera manufacturers use to sell new cameras, but surprisingly it isn t necessarily true.

While the math says that more megapixels are better, the actual results tell a different story. Pictures taken with 3 and 5 megapixel digital cameras are usually indistinguishable from pictures taken with 8 or even 13 megapixel cameras. The New York Times published an article in February 2007 about this very concept. People were unable to distinguish between photos taken at these resolutions, even when the pictures were blown up to 16 by 24 inches. An article in the November 2002 Consumer Reports issue reported that several digital cameras actually took higher quality pictures than cameras with more megapixels.

So what does this mean for you? It means you shouldn t feel pressured to buy another camera every time a higher megapixel model comes out. Even if you are in the market for a new camera, you don t necessarily need to buy the latest model. For the average user, 5 megapixels is enough, but seven megapixels is the most popular. Most people would never be able to tell if you had more than that. Seven is a good number because it enables you to enlarge your images to almost any size and it allows the camera to take excellent pictures in several settings like when it is cloudy or under florescent lighting. Additionally, seven megapixels works fairly well on higher ISO settings like 1000 or 1200. ISO settings are equivalent to film speed on a standard 35mm camera. These settings can be changed depending on your situation. Faster ISO should be used for activities like little league games or tennis matches; slower ISOs should be used for poses photos or general everyday use.

Since it s easy to find reasonably priced, 5 to 7 megapixel cameras, you should choose a camera based on the features you want, the size and weight that will be appropriate for you and any other considerations you may have. Don t let the Megapixel Myth force you to buy what you don t need.

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