Revealing the mysterious world of megapixels

By | November 6, 2023

Now that Halloween & Bonfire night are out of the way, it’s time to start thinking about preparing for Christmas… One thing that I almost always manage to leave too late is sending Christmas cards.  But this year, I’ve decided to do something a little bit different – rather than spending a small fortune on stamps and an age queueing in my local Post Office, I’m going to send out some eCards instead.

eCards are digital versions of regular greetings cards that you send out via email rather than by post.  They tend to be a bit cheaper than paper cards (some are completely free!) and all you need to send it is the other person’s email address.  Once you have that, you can just go to one of the websites below and pick out your design – on some websites you can even add personal touches like names and photos if you’re feeling particularly brave.

If you’d like to give it a try, the main websites I’d recommend would be Greetings Island, OpenMe, Punch Bowl or MoonPig.  I don’t blame you if it seems a little daunting, or if you prefer to send a normal card instead – I know I want to give my niece an actual card as a keepsake, even though she’s far too young to read it herself just yet.  And there is something really festive about seeing those bright red envelopes land on your doormat with the special Christmas stamps…

But for my godmother in Australia, sending an eCard lets me give her a nice lengthy update with lots of photos without it taking a week to get there or costing me a penny.  And while I’m on the subject of photos…

Photo sizes demystified
If you’re ever choosing a new mobile phone or tablet, you’ll notice a lot of the newer ones seem to have loads of cameras – maybe an “5MP Ultra wide camera”, as well as a “50 MP Main camera”, a “2 MP Macro camera” and a “13MP Front camera”… it’s all a bit mind boggling.

In practice you don’t need to worry too much about all the different cameras – your phone will usually choose which camera to use, without you having to worry about it – all you do is choose between the front one and the back one.  But what do all those numbers actually mean?

Here’s what that all means – and why it matters.  First of all – MP is just short for “megapixel”.  It’s a way of measuring the quality of the photos a camera can take – in general, higher is better.

It means how many million pixels, or dots, make up each photo. (If you’re pedantic like me, each megapixel is actually 1,048,576 dots, so not exactly a million.)

So a 5MP camera takes photos that each have 5 million dots in them.  And a 48MP camera takes photos that have 48 million dots on them.

The more dots it uses, the more detail you can see in the picture, although the flipside is that more detailed photos take up more space on your phone.

Of course, how well the photos actually come out also depends on the quality of the lens (or lenses – a lot of smartphones come with multiple lenses nowadays), the quality of the light detectors inside the camera, how well it adjusts for light levels, and so on. It’s not ONLY about the number of megapixels.

Do you use your smartphone (or tablet) for taking photos?
Part of the reason I’ve been thinking about all this lately is that we’ve been working on updating our Smartphone Photography One Step at a Time books. I’m not quite ready to announce all the details about them yet – and they’re not available to order yet either.

I’m hoping to be ready to tell all later on this week.

I cantell you that if you use a smartphone to take photos (or come to that, a tablet, as it works in basically the same way, just bigger), or if you’ve got one and have thought about using it as a camera, then you might find these books interesting… and possibly very useful.

After all, the quality of photos you can get from a phone now is pretty stunning. My phone can take brilliant photos – and it’s not like my phone is a particularly expensive one or that I’m a brilliant photographer.

But like with so many things on phones and tablets, many of the options you need are hidden away and unless someone shows you how to use it, you can’t easily work it out. Even if you know how to take a quick snap, you might be missing a few settings that would give you much better results… or struggling with sharing them… or printing them… or even doing basic editing to straighten a wonky photo or crop out an unsightly lamppost…

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. As I say, more info later in the week!

2 thoughts on “Revealing the mysterious world of megapixels

    1. Laura

      Hi Heather,
      Please could you call the office on 01229 777606 and we’ll see how we can help you?
      We’re open 8.30am – 5.30pm. Thanks


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