In the last few years we have seen the digital camera movement rise to unprecedented heights. I'm talking about my parents adopting a technology that isn't at least twenty years old. To be fair, they did get an HDTV before me...though that's not the point. With everyone buying digital cameras and getting all hyped up about being able to print their own pictures there are quite a few misconceptions and a lot of questions that the basic consumer needs answered.
I used to teach computer classes at CompUSA and every so often I would instruct some first time digital camera owners on how to use their fancy new gadgets. The question that came up the most often was "what is a megapixel and why do I care?" That question is still a valid one today and I just came across a great article and diagram that I will share with you now.
Simply put, the number of mega pixels your camera determines the quality of the photos it is capable of. Notice I said "capable." Just because you have the worlds greatest camera doesn't make you the worlds best photographer... So how many megapixels do I need? The chart below illustrates the size of photo you can print with a minimum number of megapixels. For example: if your camera has 6 megapixels you can print a 6'x10' photograph that looks film quality. Anything over 6'x10' and you will start to notice loss in quality.
For most people the magic number is 8'x10' since most consumer printers will not print anything larger than a standard piece of paper. To print out a film quality 8x10 you need somewhere between a 6 and 8 megapixel camera.
(inches are on the sides and the megapixels are the big numbers in the colored boxes.)