Enough already! 7 megapixels more than adequate for compact cameras

The results of the latest Pocket-lint.co.uk and sister site Photographypress.co.uk reader Polls are in and as always these results provide a fascinating snapshot of how our tech-loving readership feel about a certain issue.

This week we looked at digital photography and asked you "Is 7 megapixels enough for a compact camera?".

From our Pocket-lint.co.uk readership we got an overwhelming 80% worth of "yes" whilst the Photographypress.co.uk readership thought different with a 75% "no".

From the first Apple QuickTake back in 1994 that had a resolution of 640 by 480 and could capture eight whole photographs in its memory to recent news bringing reports of 200 megapixel sensors going into production, no one would deny that digital photography has come a long way in a very short time.

Camera manufacturers have always competed on one thing - resolution. In what became dubbed the "megapixel race" in the early days the fight for consumer's cash was all about who could be the first to affordably produce 3, 4, then 5, then more megapixel compact cameras.

Now with 12-megapixel compact cameras, such as Panasonic's LUMIX DMC-FX100 and Casio's Exilim Zoom EX-Z1200 either already hitting the market or due for release later this year, it it time to stop and ask if this is going too far - and - if the rest of the technology in the camera can match up to these monster megapixel counts.

Vic Solomon, product intelligence professional for Canon UK Ltd comments: "The issue with ever increasing resolutions is that manufacturers must ensure the other components in the camera are able to cope with this extra resolution. Our policy at Canon is to only increase the pixel count as and when the lenses and image processing technology is able to cope with this extra resolution".

As a very general rule of thumb, a photo taken at full six megapixel resolution can be printed out to A3 size without showing any pixellation. What people need to consider is - is the average consumer going to be printing out photographs larger than this?

Soloman points out: "Some people will welcome the increased resolution, others will not necessarily see the need as they will never print anything larger than an A4 print. Whichever group you fall into, the ability to crop a small section from a larger image for printing is a big benefit".

Arguably, some manufacturers are going down different routes other than just resolution to appeal to consumers. Size, or lack of, sells - people want cameras that will fit in their pockets. Kodak and Canon have both released cameras that have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing files to be sent wirelessly to computers or printers, others like Samsung with their innovatve NV range, have focussed on the user interface the camera offers.

So with the results from our Pocket-lint.co.uk reader poll all but declaring that the megapixel race is over, apart from at the very top end of the market (don't forget that 75% "no" from the enthusiast-level Photographypress.co.uk readers), it would be nice to see manufacturers getting more innovative with compact cameras and seriously looking beyond resolution.


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