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Why More Megapixels Is Bad On Compact Cameras

This is an article explaining why the trend and hunger of customers, and thus, manufacturers, for more and more megapixels on compact digital cameras is actually a bad thing.
Most people that don’t have a technical understanding of the digital photography technology are fooled to believe that the more MP a digicam has, the better its image quality. This was true in the beginning of the digital photography era, but especially nowadays, is totally wrong.

I experienced it myself, having a Sony DSC-P73 from 2003, with 3MP on a 1/2.5″ sensor. It produced images that were actually better than the Sony DSC-H9 I bought in 2007, having 8MP on the same size sensor. I knew then that more MP on a small sensor is indeed bad, but I trusted that technology and know-how had evolved over those years, being able to compensate for the increase of noise. Boy, was I wrong.
The difference was not so much there with pictures taken outdoors on very bright, sunny days, but was definitely noticeable on cloudy days, indoors, etc… At the time of purchase, the P73 cost about €250 if I recall correctly, while the H9 at its introduction cost around twice as much !

I was shocked with this, and it made me totally disgusted with any camera that had a small sensor and more than 6MP.

I think it was only two months after I bought that H9, that I went to search for a second-hand Sony DSC-R1 (which has an APS-C size sensor), and the image quality of that is on par with an SLR camera in combination with very expensive glass.
I now own two of them, and I practically haven’t touched my H9 since I got the first one.

» Best picture quality with 6 megapixels! [ 6mpixel.org ]

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Sony DSC-R1

I made up my mind: I had to have a large sensor digital camera. I looked at all that the big brands had to offer, but they were all DSLRs with their known shortcomings (changing lenses, only Olympus has Live View, etc…).

So naturally I end up with that special camera everyone talks about. At the time (but even now it would be) it caused a shockwave on the digital camera market. It was a design that no-one else dared to engineer: a large (APS-C size) sensor, combined with a fixed lens. So essentially, you get the one major benefit of a DSLR -a large sensor combined with a great lens and thus delivering fantastic image quality- and the easy of use of a ‘consumer digicam’ -live view, no hassle with several lenses, AND affordable-. Read more about the R1 and why it is so unique here [ dpreview.com ].

The fabulous Sony R1 has been around for a while (Q4 2005), but it wasn’t that cheap, not to mention never available again. Ever. So I started looking on second-hand sites and as lucky as I usually am *ahem*, I found someone who was selling his R1 for a really good price, together with a camera bag, filters, second battery, etc… Suffice to say, it didn’t take me long to decide and place a bid 🙂

He accepted and as of yesterday (Wednesday15/08/2007) I am now the proud owner of a Sony DSC-R1. I went out for some snaps yesterday evening, of which I uploaded a few to my Flickr site. Expect more -many more- to come very soon 😉