Camera Parts

Digital image resolution

Written by Gail Bjork

The number of pixels in a digital image is referred to as resolution. High resolution is important if you crop photos or make large prints.


The number of pixels in a digital image is referred to as resolution and refers to the number of pixels per inch (ppi). More megapixels means higher resolution. Resolution relates primarily to print size and amount of detail in an image when viewed on a computer monitor at 100%.

A digital camera with a high megapixel count doesn’t guarantee it will produce better looking images. Many factors influence image quality including the quality of the optical lens and camera sensor.

What having a higher resolution camera does mean is that you’ll be able to crop more when editing and printing large sized photos.

Some manufacturers offer two near identical model cameras, except one has a higher megapixel count. The one with more megapixels can cost considerably more and may be an unnecessary expense for some.

Buy a digital camera primarily because it has the features you want, not just because it has lots of megapixels.

So, how many megapixels?

One of the best ways to decide how many megapixels you need is to consider the largest size prints you make. Get a camera with the number of megapixels that will yield the best print results for that size.

For the suggested number of megapixels for the best prints based on print size, refer to the related chart.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.


  • Several factors determine the actual size of an image such as amount of detail and number and shades of colors it contains. Images containing more detail have a larger files size than images with less detail even though each images has the same number of pixels. For example, the file size of a black and white image will be smaller than the same scene taken in full color.

    Your camera shoots JPEG images, which are compressed images that are small in file size than RAW images. When a JPEG is opened in an editing program such as Photoshop, it is uncompressed. If you edit and save the file, you are given the option to select the amount of compression. The less compression, the better the image quality but the file size is also larger.

  • I have just started using a digital camera – Panasonic Lumix FH20.  The camera display says pictures are being taken at 14 mp.  When I download them to Apple iPhoto each picture has listed a different mp – some 4 or 5 mp.  None at 14 mp.  Why is this?  Aren’t the pictures really 14 mp?  Is it the camera – it is set at 14 mp.  Is it iPhoto?