Ever wondered when the best time is is to use the maximum amount of megapixels on that new digital camera of yours? The rule of thumb that I’ve always leaned on had to do with enlargements. For example, if you know you’ll be printing a photo in sizes larger than 8×10, then for the best possible results, set your camera to its maximum megapixel size. But if a 4×6 photo is the ultimate size that you’ll be working with, you may find that a setting of 6 MP (megapixels) will do the job just fine. Shooting pictures for the web or email? You can probably put the setting even lower.
For years I’ve achieved fantastic results with my 6 megapixel Canon PowerShot Digital Camera, and sometimes I’d only shoot the photo with a measly 3 megapixel — and it still looked good!
A new use for a higher megapixel setting
Recently I’ve discovered a new use for setting a camera to its highest megapixel setting. A couple of months ago I purchased the new Canon PowerShot IS-120 which sports a 10 MP capability. Then the IS-130 showed up, and I was able to upgrade. The Canon PowerShot IS-130 features a 12 MP resolution. The feature that mainly sold me was the Image Stabilization (that’s what IS stands for in the model number) and the amazing 12x optical zoom. As far as the megapixels go, the Canon had a maximum of 12, but that seemed massively overkill at first. So, I started keeping the setting at 6 MP because most of my photography was not going to be blown up to poster size prints. It also had the advantage of keeping the file sizes to a smaller, more manageable package.
And then Extreme Makeover: Home Edition came to town!
My wife and I followed a hunch one day while watching ABC’s Extreme Makeover team build a home for the Hurston family in Cocoa, FL. ( Read the whole story here ) Our hunch: That Ty Pennington and the Design Team were at the nearby Space Coast Regional Airport. Sure enough, after a short drive we found ourselves spotting the Extreme Makeover team while at Titusville’s Warbird Museum. While we stood along the security fence, suddenly the whole amazing cast was right in front of us… BUT, and here’s the kicker, they were about 100 yards away! What to do? Enter my new friend: the 12x optical zoom. Still, the distance between me and ABC’s stars was still considerable.
Maximum megapixel to the rescue, Scotty!
By setting my camera to its maximum megapixel setting — in my case that’s 12 MP — I was able to first zoom in at 12x with the optical lens and take the pictures. Then later, with the pictures downloaded to my computer, I further “zoomed in”, cropped, and then finalized my shot.
As an example, take a look at the pictures at the top of this article. Click on the 2,3,4 and 5 and you’ll see some examples. Starting with Paige Hemmis in photo #2, you’ll see how the original picture appeared in its full, 12 MP size. Next click on #3 and you’ll see how the photo appeared once I zoomed and cropped it using a photo editor on my computer. The same is true of Ty Pennington in pictures #4 and #5. (Incidentally, when it comes to photo editors, my favorite is Paint Shop Pro, but Adobe’s Photoshop and even Microsoft’s Windows Live programs are good choices too.)
Overview / Tips and Tricks
Because my digital photos were taken with the maximum amount of megapixels, I was able to zoom in, crop, and enlarge just a small subset of the original photo. My slideshow of the Extreme Makeover “Stuck Bus” moment is the perfect example of using this technique. Nearly every one of these pictures was cropped from a larger, 12 megapixel image.
Remember, keeping extra or large capacity memory cards handy can be very helpful, because the higher the megapixel, the larger the image file size.
So, the next time some Hollywood stars suddenly show up in your neck of the woods, or you find that you need some additional help in zooming in on a distant subject, just start snapping pictures at a high resolution, then crop, size and “zoom” them all in later.
Source: Personal Experience
Additional Links Mentioned in This Article:
Extreme Makeover >> Volunteering at the Hurston’s Home Build
Photo Shoot – Extreme Makeover Home Edition ‘” The Bus Gets Stuck in Florida Sand!