What Camera Resolution Do I Need?

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If you are using a digital camera to shoot photos, the shooting resolution can be selected to meet your photography requirements. The resolution can be lower if your purpose is just to share photos via social networks or send them via email. But the resolution needs to be higher so that you can make nice prints of photos.

To decide how much camera resolution which is finally needed, you need to know the printing size that you like to make. You can take the following table as a reference for determine the appropriate resolution.

Before seeing the relationship between a resolution amount and the sizes of prints, you should not forget that your image and printing quality do not only depend on the resolution. The following factors are also very important to help you define the look of your photos on paper or a computer screen.

  • Appropriate lighting
  • The quality of the camera lens
  • How much steady your camera is
  • Accurate auto-focus on the subject
  • Appropriate shutter speed, depending on a still or moving subject
  • The cleanliness of the equipment

One of the very important factors to decide the image quality as well as the print quality is the camera’s image sensor. It is common that the image quality will be better when the physical size of the image sensor is larger regardless of the number of megapixels that a camera offers.

It is also easier to make the purchasing decision on a digital camera if you know the sizes that you want for your prints. If you often want to prints photos at large sizes, a camera offering a very high resolution number should be considered. Otherwise, just a camera with the average resolution level is enough for making prints of small sizes occasionally. This helps you save a certain amount of money.

After seeing the following table, you will know how much resolution you’ll need for prints at the average quality or very high quality. You should not completely base on the listed resolution to make sure about the top quality at the listed size, but it give you the initial idea on how to decide the sizes of prints.

The resolution amounts equivalent to the different sizes of prints
Resolution Average quality Top quality
0.5 MP 2×3 inch N/A
2 MP 3×5 inch 3×5 inch
4 MP 5×7 inch 5×7 inch
6 MP 6×8 inch 8×10 inch
8 MP 8×10 inch 11×14 inch
10 MP 9×12 inch 13×17 inch
12 MP 10×13 inch 13×17 inch
14 MP 11×14 inch 13×17 inch
16 MP 12×16 inch 13×17 inch
18+ MP 13×18 inch 13×17 inch

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