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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Megapixels
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01/06/2009 07:33:54 PM · #1
I am new to the board and photography in general. I have some experience with handheld digital camera's and have a Nikon Coolpix. I am interested in purchasing a DSLR as I am getting tired off my 35mm Maxxum 5 and wanted to get into the digital age. I do have a few questions:

Mainly about megapixels. What should I be looking for? I think my 5.1 MP handheld camera takes really good pictures as it is. Should I be more worried about other aspects of a DSLR rather than what the megapixel rating if I am looking for image quality? I am currently looking into getting a used Nikon D70. After getting a new camera I plan on trying to teach myself photoshop or GIMP using this website, youtube, and whatever other internet and community resources that I can find.

Thanks for your help and I do have to say before I end this post that I can only hope to one day achieve the quality of photo's that most of you guys can produce!!!!
01/06/2009 07:38:09 PM · #2
I would spring for a new D40 or D60 before I would payout for a used D70 but that's me. A d40 will be a huge upgrade for you and I don't really have any issues with resolution myself and my usage is very similar to yours.
01/06/2009 07:41:23 PM · #3
You will also find a lot if image quality has to do with the lenses you choose. Don't skimp there either. Read all the reviews you can on lenses... and DPC is definitely a great place to start.
01/06/2009 07:41:44 PM · #4
Megapixels isn't the big issue, there are so many other factors playing in. If you are looking for good image quality, the DSLR route is the one you should head for. They also offer a lot of user control and flexibility.
01/06/2009 07:43:10 PM · #5
I had a D70s, it was a great first DSLR and you should be able to pick one up for around $200-300 with a kit lens.

6 megapixels was more than enough for most of the stuff I did, but I found if I wanted to crop fairly heavily it wasn't quite enough and shots would end up looking a touch soft.

For the price you would probably get one I would say go for it, but you'll probably find you'll want to upgrade again in a couple of years.
01/06/2009 07:44:58 PM · #6
Megapixels are almost meaningless marketing hype at this point. A low end 6MP DSLR will generally outperform a 15MP point and shoot camera in terms of image quality. The main challenge is to determine the platform you want (Nikon/Canon/other) and determine what you can afford from the current or last generation of models. From there, good quality lenses will make more difference than megapixels.
01/06/2009 07:46:22 PM · #7
what kind of budget/price range do you have in mind?
01/06/2009 08:00:51 PM · #8
The more pixels a camera has, the larger prints you make will look better close up.

An 8x10" can be made from a 15 megapixel camera, as well as a 4 megapixel camera. When you look at the print from say, 2ft away, they will look identical. It's when you look at the print up close that you see the difference in pixels. Up close meaning that your nose it touching the print paper.

Same thing with a 20x30" print. A 12 megapixel camera can easily do it, but so can a 21 megapixel camera. It's just how close you look at the print that you start seeing the difference.

The other factor with more pixels is that there is more cropping room.

Either way, I wouldn't worry about pixels if I were you. Camera functionality, ergonomics, and manufacturers equipment line-up (i.e. lenses) are more important to look at.

01/06/2009 08:13:09 PM · #9
Just to agree with what the others have said. Any recent camera will give you plenty of pixels. The other factors affecting image quality are way more important. There's a good reason that Nikon still sells lots of 6Mp D40's. An entry level SLR that came out 3 years ago can be had now for less than some subcompacts. My Rebel XT kit was $327 and Adorama was recently selling the XT body refurbed for $250
01/06/2009 08:33:21 PM · #10
What Scalvert said....; )
01/06/2009 08:36:35 PM · #11
Jumping in to agree with the others. I recently made several 16x20" prints of images I took with my 6MP D70 that were just stunning, even with my nose pressed right up to the paper. One had been cropped all the way down to 3.5MP. They were all good, sharp, well exposed images that had been taken with good lenses, though. And I was using a $1000 printer.

I wouldn't think of doing anything like that with a P&S. But then again, not everyone wants to make 16x20 prints, either.

01/06/2009 08:39:23 PM · #12
Originally posted by chromeydome:

what kind of budget/price range do you have in mind?

I planned on spending about $300 on a camera and maybe 6 months down the road spend about $500 on a good lens. I am really interested in learning macro.
01/06/2009 08:51:33 PM · #13
What everyone said. Take your time testing out the prospects in the store. This can be hard to do for people who have trouble concentrating in stores, but do it. Make sure you understand the features and how you can access them, although you can get used to almost anything if you have to, but why should you if there is something that suits you better... For me the most important thing is how you relate to the viewfinder and heft of the camera; the next almost equally important thing is the lens. (I wish I had followed this advice: my kit lens is OK, but no better than my FZ10's Leica lens, and much slower. I wish I had thought a LOT more about lenses, and taken the time to appreciate that the enormous leap in sensor size is meaningless without an enormous leap in glass).

You can also take advantage of the trial period when you buy; this works better of course if unlike some of us you live not too far from the store and have the time to do your testing within that trial period. Good luck.
01/06/2009 08:58:26 PM · #14
Originally posted by cytoxan:

Originally posted by chromeydome:

what kind of budget/price range do you have in mind?

I planned on spending about $300 on a camera and maybe 6 months down the road spend about $500 on a good lens. I am really interested in learning macro.

I would say your first stop would be a local camera store to get your hands on several makes/models of "entry" level dslrs. You can use this exercise (likely more than one session) to narrow down your selection of brand (Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, etc) based on how they feel in your hands, user interface, etc. Once you have narrowed it down, you can then consider models--features, price, bargains, etc. You may well be able to find a new body at that price, but you may find you can get a "higher level" model used for the same money. Some camera stores also carry used cameras, and ebay is also an option.

Your approach is good--spend more of your budget on a good lens--it will serve you well, and you will likely upgrade bodies at some point, but the lens will still be good to go! :-)

Megapixels are not the most important criterion, but still an important one. 6MP will serve you well, but you might find it becoming limiting at some point down the road. If I were able to find one in the price range you have, I would tend toward 10MP. Having said that, a 6MP with a good lens will be much better than a 10-12MP with a so-so lens, and if you get truly hooked on photography, a body upgrade is in your future anyway :-)

The best, most powerful macro lens out there is still insufficient to see my knowledge of macro lenses :-) I suggest you take a look in the Macro Gallery here and see what lenses folks are using.

Welcome to DPC! This is a great place to learn, to see a wonderful variety of imagery, styles, techniques. We look forward to seeing your work (and post some coolpix images, too--no need to wait)

Message edited by author 2009-01-06 21:10:17.
01/06/2009 09:01:31 PM · #15
megapixels ARE important!
if you are having to choose between 2 dSLRs of almost identical features and specs except for the pixel count, go for the higher pixel one. on compact cameras, the pixel counts are marketing hype, this i agree, but on dSLR it is usually implemented (more pixels) in a good way that it doesn't compromise image quality.

contrary to most discussion you would read on forums, more pixels allow you to make larger print, with more details captured of a particular scene than a camera with lower/less pixels.
01/06/2009 09:19:23 PM · #16
Having had a d70 for just over three years and looking to move forward myself, I can tell you that jumping from a point and shoot to a D70 -won't be a dissapointment, and I have to agree with the others who have stated that megapixels are overrated, especially for someone just getting into dSLR photography.

That being said however, I honestly -wouldn't- recommend a d40 or d60, and would suggest either going for the D70 or a D80, which can also likely be purchased inexpensively.

The reason for this is the auto-focus incompatibility with d40/60 because of their lack of a screw-drive-thingy. The fact is, you're getting a DSLR because you're wanting to move into a more advanced realm of photography. By purchasing a D40/60 you'd be effectively limiting the ability of your camera to autofocus with the large majority of lenses. Sure, you'd be able to use some of the common lenses available, but you wouldn't even have an autofocusing 50mm unless you spend $400+ on the new one instead of buying the 50mm 1.8.

My point is, the D70, or a D80 depending (assuming going with an older model to save money) sounds like a good option, and in my opinion, a better one than a d40/d60.
01/06/2009 09:29:59 PM · #17
Some of my plans include making larger prints. I mainly want to get into photography to make art for my own house. I am really interested in (at some point) putting some of my work onto canvas. So in order to do this I am assuming, from what you all are telling me, that I either need:

1. a good lens and with almost any MP DSLR or

2.High MP with a so-so lens which could also be upgraded later to a better lens? Am I on track in my thinking.

I will look into putting up some of my Coolpix shots up. I actually was not going to at first because I felt it a little foolish. It seems that everyone's pics on here come from DSLR's.

Great info guys. Thanks

Message edited by author 2009-01-06 21:31:15.
01/06/2009 09:36:56 PM · #18
Oops, got to become a paying member to put up some pics. I'll have to see how this forum is before doing that. I do have a flickr account that I recently started. If you are interested in some of my coolpix shots they are there. Only have 4 of my favorite pics of NOLA in it so for though. My username on flickr is 91mini.

Message edited by author 2009-01-06 21:58:31.
01/06/2009 09:47:59 PM · #19
Honestly, megapixels are all a punch of BS. I have made some great 20x24 + size images with my D2H and that has only four megapixels. It all depends on your usage though. I have two different types of cameras for my different uses. I have my D2H for sports and action photography (fast af, fast fps, and great build quality) and I have my D200's for everything else (10ish megapixels, fast af, decent fps, etc. etc.) Going from what you said about to make prints for your house and some possible macro photography I would recommend any of the following Nikon cameras:

D50 - Has some great high ISO for being an older camera, can take no AF-S lenses, 6 megapixels is a great jumping in point, and cost around 300 right now used. This would leave some money for a lens or two.

D70 - same as above, I would say it has slightly more noise at higher ISO but a better build quality IMO. Also around 250-300 so you could pick up a lens or two.

D200 - If you have the money to spare and are serious about your photography as an up and coming amateur, this would be the camera that I would recommend to you. It has pretty decent ISO performance, 5 FPS lets you perhaps dabble in sports photography and expand your horizons, better build than the previous two cameras, 10.2 megapixels for making larger prints and more flexibility for cropping in PP, a price used for anywhere from 500-750 (from what I found locally here).

D40/D60 - I would, personally, stay away from these cameras. Not because they do not produce quality images but because of there lack of a focus motor. This means that any lens that is not AF-S or 3rd party equivalent will not be able to autofocus on the D40/D40x/D60. This is a ploy, in my opinion, by Nikon to make you buy more expensive lenses before you are perhaps ready for them.

LENSES - The most important part of the equation. No matter what camera body you get, the lenses you purchase now or down the road will almost always be more inmportant unelss you find that your current body is limiting you. I would recommend you purchasing the Nikon 50 1.8 ($100) and then possibly either the Nikon 60 2.8 Micro (for macro work, $500-600) or the Tamron 90 2.8 (macro, $200-500).

I hope this helps cytoxan and I really think you should put some of your images up. You shouldn't feel foolish, we all had to start somewhere. Welcome to DP challenge, we look forward to seeing whatcha got! :)


PS feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.

01/06/2009 10:05:52 PM · #20
Another nice thing about the Nikon and Fuji DSLR's is that all the ones with a focusing motor can use almost any Nikon/Nikkor Ai or Ai"d lens built from about 1965 until now. The older lenses are manual focus and manual aperture control, but many have excellent glass, and are very inexpensive compared with their current counterparts. It would be a steep learning curve to begin your DSLR adventure with manual lenses, but after you learn how aperture and shutter speed and iso work, they can be a great addition to your kit at low expense.
Best of luck with whatever body and system you choose. You will be amazed with the photos if you get a good lens.
The first thing I noticed when I jumped from a 3Mp HP P&S to the Fuji S3 Pro was that suddenly I had about 1,100 new settings and adjustment combinations with which to "oops" the shot. : )
01/06/2009 10:19:42 PM · #21
I have a D70 and now a D90. My D70 is 6.1MP. You will find that the D70 with 6.1MP will kick the crap out of any point and shoot with even 8, 9 or 10 MP.

I think D70s with lens' are going for $200 + on Ebay. I have someone here locally that offered about that for my D70 with over 20,000 shots on it.

01/06/2009 11:02:18 PM · #22
i think the OP is asking about comparisons between higher megapixel dSLRs with lower megapixel dSLR.
and the answer to this, i say get the one with more pixel count.
01/06/2009 11:57:20 PM · #23
Originally posted by crayon:

i think the OP is asking about comparisons between higher megapixel dSLRs with lower megapixel dSLR.
and the answer to this, i say get the one with more pixel count.

So, according to you, he should get a D3X? False. There are other considerations like his price point and eventual usage of the camera.

01/07/2009 01:21:13 AM · #24
Originally posted by StOlafPhotographer:

Originally posted by crayon:

i think the OP is asking about comparisons between higher megapixel dSLRs with lower megapixel dSLR.
and the answer to this, i say get the one with more pixel count.

So, according to you, he should get a D3X? False. There are other considerations like his price point and eventual usage of the camera.


wrong. according to me, he should get as much pixel on the dSLR as he can for the $300 budget he mentioned.
01/07/2009 06:39:25 AM · #25
I need to look into lens that fit what cameras too I guess. I didn't know that that not all lens fit all cameras. Im learning a lot today.

Message edited by author 2009-01-07 06:48:36.
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