Mobile Camera Myths: What Phone Makers Don't Want You To Know

By Hilda Scott , Mar 10, 2013 02:32 PM EDT

All mobile phone manufacturers –– Apple, Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola, BlackBerry –– try to entice consumers with the promise of awesome phone features. Specifications are important to consider when purchasing a mobile phone, except not so much when it comes to the phone's camera megapixels (MP).

Many people get caught up in the terminology 'megapixel' and assume that a phone with a higher megapixel number means better picture-taking results. That's not the case, since a phone with a 4MP camera can take photos that are just as good as an iPhone 5 with its 8MP camera.

The difference between a 4MP and 8MP camera is irrelevant since pixel counts are like calculating square footage. Doubling a pixel count only increases the real linear resolution by 40%, which is subtle and pretty much invisible in photos. Anything more than 8MP can actually distort images since the pixels become smaller and bunch together. 

A megapixel consists of one million pixels (short for 'picture element'). Pixels are the tiny little dots that photos are made up of and are arranged horizontally and vertically. Multiplying the number of vertical pixels by the number horizontal pixels that the camera's sensor captures determines the megapixel number. A digital camera that captures 2048 vertical pixels and 3072 horizontal pixels would have a total of 6,291,456 pixels or 6.3MP.  

Photography experts will tell you that the 'Megapixel Myth' is a big fat lie developed by camera makers for the sole purpose of luring consumers. It's much easier to hook people into purchasing something with the 'more is better' sales pitch. When an individual thinks their camera is inadequate, they feel the need to replace it. The same theory appears to have passed onto mobile phones. Users with a phone that has a 5MP camera may feel that an upgrade to a phone with an 8MP camera will mean that they will be able to take better photos.

Clear images depend more on how a photo was taken than how many megapixels a camera has.  As long as the photo has 100 to 150 dots per inch (DPI), that's more than enough for sharp photo results. The photos would look fine and you can even print out a 30-inch photo from a 6MP camera if you wanted to, and it would look great.

More important factors in any camera are its lens, low-light sensitivity and sensor. An individual's photography skills determine whether a photo will come out good or bad. A good understanding of lighting and a steady hand when taking a mobile picture mean more to taking a good photo than megapixels. A well taken, clean photo taken with a 4MP phone camera is better than an out of focus photo taken from a phone with an 8MP camera.

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