What is a Megapixel?
So, exactly what is a megapixel?
1 megapixel = 1 million pixels
That's the answer to the question put simply.
However, it's my aim on the pages of this site to give you more to think about and, on the topic of megapixels, there is a whole lot more to consider!
"Megapixel", A Bit Of A Misnomer?
When considering the question, "What is a megapixel?", I think we should first consider that the term megapixel
can be a bit of a misnomer in itself when discussing camera specifications.
If you have taken a look at my page covering
Digital Photography Terminology
you may have noticed that a pixel is the smallest unit in a digital file.
It's worth reading that last sentence again, particularly the words digital file.
Let's pause for a moment and think about the mechanics of digital photography...
The camera shutter is released and light passes through the lens onto the activated chip.
Only at that point is the captured data written to the memory card as a digital file; a digital file where the pixel is the smallest unit and becomes the first moment in the process where pixels actually exist.
What am I driving at here?
In the components of a digital camera, there are technically speaking no pixels!
The chip is constructed not of pixels, but instead of image sensor elements or receptors.
The light that falls onto the chip's receptors is then translated into pixels by the camera's on-board computer.
The trouble is, the terms megaimagesensorelements and megareceptors don't really roll off the tongue as easily as megapixels.
So, in fact, when discussing cameras, one megapixel really means:
one million image sensor elements
In answering the question, "What is a megapixel?", we actually learn that pixels don't exist in the components of a camera.
One megapixel certainly refers to one million pixels but bear in mind that, in the camera, the chip is not constructed of pixels but, instead, image sensor elements or receptors.
On reflection, I think megareceptors has got a bit of a ring to it.
I think I'll start using it and, remember, you heard it here first!
Imagine a 50 Megareceptor Camera! Everyone would want to buy that, wouldn't they?
The Next Question?
To my mind, the question that naturally follows this page is...
"How many pixels are enough?"
If you would like to hear my thoughts on this, then read my article on
the difference in megapixels
and find out what dams have to do with the answer!
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