Do Megapixels Matter?

I have been taking digital photographs for over 20 years now. I first began dipping my toe into the digital universe as a supplement to my color film photography, but I went full time digital around 2007.

I’ve used a variety of cameras but almost all of my images went on to this blog or were viewed on a computer monitor. I did the odd color print on my home inkjet, but in the last ten years or so even my travel photography was documented for the Internet.

Of course as I got more into digital, my cameras got better and certainly the sensors featured more megapixels. At the end of the day though does a larger more sophisticated camera sensor really matter?

Lets take a look at a few images over the years.

2 Megapixels

Location: Ravine, Georgetown Ontario

Camera: Canon Powershot A60

Date:2003

This was my first digital camera and quite primitive by today’s standards. The photo holds up pretty well as a blog entry though.

5 Megapixels

Location: Woolen Mill Ruins, Merrickville ON

Camera: Nikon Coolpix 5000

Date:2005

This was one of Nikon’s early fixed lens, non DSLR digital cameras. It had its quirks and was quite slow in use, but given the right conditions it yielded a decent result.

6.3 Megapixels

Location: Wolf Grove Road, Mississippi Mills, ON

Camera: Fuji Finepix S6000fd

Date:2009

One of my most enjoyable digicams – this was a bridge camera with a 10.7X wide angle to longer telephoto lens attached. This rather large and bulky apparatus went on many a trip with us, and gave us some wonderful memories.

8.2 Megapixels

Location: Kensington Gardens, London UK

Camera: Fuji Finepix F480

Date: 2008

There were times when we took a cruise holiday, and it just wasn’t convenient to carry the large and clunky long zoom S6000 ashore. As an alternative I picked up a smaller Fuji pocket sized camera. The F480 was not an easy camera to get a good picture with – it was slow to focus and very poor in low light situations. Once in a while I did manage to use it properly.

10 Megapixels

Location: Sydney Harbour, Australia

Camera: Canon Powershot S90

Date: 2015

By 2010 I wanted to stop taking a big heavy bridge camera on holiday but I could not tolerate using the smaller Fuji Finepix 100% of the time. The Canon S90 solved my problem as long as I did not want to take long telephoto shots. It had a great lens and sensor combination for most travel photos and it went everywhere with us for years. My granddaughter Veronica still uses it.

12 Megapixels

Location : Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Voyage Church, La-Seyne-sur-Mer, FR

Camera: Panasonic Lumix ZS50

Date: 2016

This compact 30X zoom is my current travel camera – tiny, lightweight and extremely versatile. I got it in 2016 because I wanted to get longer telephoto images than I could get with the S90. it is a bit slow for action shots, but it has image stabilization and the colors are great.

12.3 Megapixels

Location: Old Railway Bridge, Almonte ON

Camera: Nikon D90

Date: 2024

With most of the major manufacturers switching to mirrorless cameras, the older DSLRs are getting sold off at bargain prices. I picked this 2008 era Nikon up dirt cheap.

The D90 was a great still photo camera in its day, and I can use all my 1990s era Nikon autofocus film lenses with it. It’s very heavy and I’d never take it on a holiday, but it sure is a fun camera to use.

24.2 Megapixels

Location: Mississippi River, Almonte ON

Camera: Nikon D5500

Date: 2015

Although I was a single lens reflex film photographer for close to 25 years, I was slow to embrace the DSLR. A major reason was that I did not want to be cleaning dust off the sensor. In 2015 I decided that Nikon had solved the dust issue and I got the D5500 and a couple of VR lenses.

The D5500 is arguably the best camera I have ever used. I have not traveled extensively with it, although I’ve used it a lot for family photos and around Almonte. It has an articulated touch screen and a pretty good optical viewfinder. It is excellent for fast action.

I do plan on taking it on future driving holidays and I likely will use it to teach my granddaughter the basics of DSLR photography.

To sum up, I have taken images with 8 different digital cameras with various sized sensors ranging from 2 to 24 Megapixels. All of these images look OK on a blog. Now if I were cropping the image to enlarge a portion of it, or making large paper prints, the situation would be different. But for my uses I would say that anything over 5 MP will be fine.

There are other issues that might influence your choice of camera, such as the need for fast action in sports, or long telephoto wildlife photography. Certainly if you intend to make high res videos, many of the earlier digicams would be useless to you.

At the end of the day, an old school still photographer can get by perfectly well with a 10-12 MP old school camera. That’s how I see it, anyway.

10 Years Ago

Looking back 10 years isn’t so tough when you get to the point where you can remember how it was 70 years ago.

Nevertheless, 2014 was unusual in one sense. We did not take a cruise of any sort that year. We had taken two in 2013 before Susannah was born (TransAtlantic and British Isles) and we had scheduled a bucket list TransPacific cruise for 2015. Maybe we were preoccupied with helping Sarah with 3 kids, or maybe we were just saving our money for that cruise of a lifetime.

In any event, it looks like our holidays in 2014 were weekend affairs in Syracuse NY.

I just had a look back at some of the photos I took on one of those trips. Most were shot with a tiny Canon S90 digital camera. There were some clunkers, as that camera was pretty bad at fast action – and little kids move fast. Others – like the one above – are pretty memorable. That one was taken at the Gifford Zoo.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Expresss in Dewitt, so the kids spent a fair bit of time in the pool. Even Susannah enjoyed the water.

Most of our shopping was at the Destiny Mall. I doubt Veronica would enjoy the classic carousel today as much as she did in 2014, but she sure liked it back then.

Destiny Mall also has a number of indoor obstacle courses. The kids were only able to use the junior course back then. This year they were climbing on the 5 level adult one. Scary.

I guess the point is you don’t have to take a big expensive holiday to have fun. We sure had fun 10 years ago this summer.

Rogers Unplugged

Time was, you had Plain Old Telephone Service over a twisted pair cable, and analog cable TV over coax. When the Internet became available there was dial-up connection over the phone line, and eventually either DSL or cable access. Even if you switched away from traditional telephone to Rogers Home Phone, your connections were complex.

Up until recently I had a spaghetti jungle of wires and boxes, even though all of my communications came via Rogers Cable:

  • Ancient Rogers PVR with a hard drive inside, connected to a CRT standard definition TV.
  • Two dumb HDTV units connected via coax to Digital TV boxes.
  • Rogers Internet modem connected to a Linksys mesh network for wifi access thrioughout the house.
  • Standalone telephone modem connected via coax.

It all worked OK after a fashion, but I got a notice that the very old PVR was going to be decommissioned by Rogers at the end of the month – the 24 year old SDTV would not work any longer. This set off a flurry of IT activity at my place.

First, I removed the old PVR and the SDTV. The old TV will have to be recycled.

Next I moved the larger dumb HDTV to the basement to replace the SDTV and got a brand new Samsung smart TV to go in its former place. Very nice.

Next was the start of Rogers Unplugged. The telephone modem, Internet modem, two other cable boxes, coax cable and mesh router setup were all replaced by a new Rogers Gateway, one wifi boosting Pod and three tiny wifi IPTV boxes. A lot of wire and electronic junk went out the door. And I ended up saving about $80 a month on my Rogers bill.

I’m still learning how to use the new TV and I had to reconfigure a wireless printer, but so far I like the new setup. The new gateway – XB8 – takes care of everything.

I remain convinced that modern technology is too complicated for most of us boomers though. Case in point – you can’t configure anything on my shiny new network without a cellphone app. It sure is a long way from the old telephone party line. (If you don’t know what this is, don’t ask.)

Gratitude

Our previous cats – one purebred, two moggies – were adopted as kittens, less than a year old.

We had hoped to age gracefully alongside our beloved ginger, Mr. Oates. We were devastated, left forlorn and bewildered, when Oates got suddenly ill and passed away at the age of 9 last year.

We certainly did not expect to be in this situation, and at our age it seemed unwise to get another kitten – who might live 15-20 years. Would we just have to give up on the idea of feline companionship. Now that was a depressing thought.

In March we saw a Facebook notice about Stanley the white and brown tabby. He was going through his own later life crisis. Adopted as a rescued kitten, Stan had lost his home and his family in middle age when the older man who he lived with had to go into a nursing home. He had a brief stay with the older man’s relatives, but they had two other cats who couldn’t get along with him. He was lucky to get placed in a no-kill shelter who took him to a foster home. At least he wasn’t stuck in a cage in a humane society.

Older guys like Stanley face a grim future if they are homeless. They probably have a 50/50 chance of ever being adopted and it can take months, if not years for the right person to come along.

He needed us; we were pretty sure we could fix things for him. He came home with us a week or so after we saw the Facebook notice.

It took Stanley a few days to decompress; it took him a few weeks to get comfortable with us. Nowadays his gentle nature is coming to the forefront:

  • He’s responsible. Stan uses his litterbox religiously, and he respects our furniture. He knows what a scratching post is for.
  • He’s playful. For an older cat he has lots of energy, and he loves to chase after a wand toy, or bat around a catnip bag.
  • He’s a lap cat. We were not sure he would be at first, but now most nights he’s happy to hop up beside me on the couch, crawl onto my lap, and PURRRR.
  • He’s not an all night cuddle bunny, but he will hop up a few times during the night to get warm. He stretches out, mostly on Maria’s side of the bed. He is a hot water bottle.
  • I think he will become my afternooon nap buddy before too long. He’s taken to snuggling with me for a brief time after lunch.
  • Finally, Stan has a profound attitude of gratitude for having been given a second chance. Cats are singular beings of habit; that said, they have much to teach us about adapting to crushing lifestyle changes or being content with simple pleasures. So many cats in our area are cruelly dumped in rural venues where they end up cold, hungry, sick, lonely or in a world of pain. We are saving one old soul from such a fate. He is grateful.

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