Understanding Megapixels - Why Numbers aren't always everything

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Whether procuring camera equipment for a construction site or looking for your next smartphone, one camera specification seems to stand out among all others: Megapixels. Camera manufacturers the world over want you to think that the 1.3MP camera you bought a few years ago is vastly inferior the newest 8MP model out today. But is it? The most truthful answer we can give you is:

...Maybe.

Digital Photography, like any technological advance of the past couple centuries, is a complex discipline. Pinning quality down to a single number simply doesn't work, so let's take a look at what megapixels actually are and what else contributes to the quality of your camera's images.

Defining the Megapixel

Every image you see on a screen —including the text you're reading right now— is comprised of pixels. Think of pixels as extremely tiny tiles that combine to form a completed image. You can actually see individual pixels on most 20th century television screens; modern pixels are too small to be seen on most screens. Cameras typically count the number of pixels their images contain in the millions. A single megapixel consists of one million pixels, and a camera with more of them can produce a crisper, more detailed image than one with less.

Where camera consumers often go wrong is assuming that higher megapixel counts always means higher quality photos. The fact of the matter is that different cameras use specific technologies to achieve specific results. Megapixels are important, but it is more important to get the right camera for your needs.

CEECAM Camera Types

At CEECAM, we offer clients access to two types of cameras:

  • DSLR Cameras—Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras are some of the most commonly used consumer cameras on the market. Our company has engineered a series of DSLR cameras specifically designed to take high quality photographs in slow, deliberate succession. Our clients typically use DSLR cameras to create vivid, life-like time lapse videos of their construction projects. These cameras offer the color response and consistency necessary to produce extraordinary results for time lapse photography. These cameras cannot live-stream images, however, and therefore make poor security cameras.
  • CCTV IP Cameras—Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras are typically used for monitoring construction sites and other sensitive areas. They provide great image accuracy and support high frame rates, including live-streaming content. However, the images they produce don't have the same color consistency or vibrancy as DSLRs, making them better suited to site management and security functions than to artistic or promotional productions.

As you can see, choosing your desired camera based solely on its megapixel value could still lead to unsatisfactory results. There is a world of difference between an 8MP CCTV camera and an 8MP DSLR camera. Although both are professional-quality devices, they are intended for different uses. Part of what makes them different is the way they treat light.

What Really Makes the Difference: Your Camera's Sensor

Despite what camera and lens manufacturers might say, the camera is not the most important element in the field of photography. Light is the most important part of any photographic project; you must choose a camera that reacts to light in the way you expect to get the results you want. The sensor, which is responsible for interpreting the way incoming light is converted into pixels (and megapixels) is the most important part of this equation.

Camera manufacturers like CEECAM use sensors specific to the task each camera is expected to perform. For this reason, you'll find our time lapse DSLR cameras are outfitted with the largest and most dynamic sensors available for each model. Your promotional material should have the polished sheen on a professional photographer's camera.

Using a full-format sensor for monitoring workplace safety and security, on the other hand, is overkill. Not only that, but it's unfeasible—time lapse DSLRs feature a maximum frame rate of one image every five minutes and can't shoot live video.

For these tasks, it is preferable to use one of our live stream CCTV camera systems. Our live stream cameras are outfitted with sensors that maximize the clarity of the image, capturing movement with great accuracy so you can remain fully informed on the daily progress of your project. You can access these images from any smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac without issue, obtaining an image resolution that offers the best compromise between detail and bandwidth accessibility.

Find Our Which Camera is Right for Your Project

CEECAM offers a range of time lapse and live stream cameras, from affordable 2MP options all the way up to 36MP time lapse cameras featuring a massive sensor producing images of astounding depth and quality. Our broad product range ensures that a solution exists for every project's budget. Contact a member of our team and ask for expert advice on the best camera for your needs.