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Megapixel race is ‘confusing consumers’

Good cameras need more than a high megapixel count

LG KC910 Renoir

LG KC910 Renoir

Mobile phones with a resolution between 12 and 20 megapixels have been outlined in Sony Ericsson’s four year development plan, it has been reported.

The news of Sony’s plan was announced in the same week that LG claimed to be developing 10-megapixel cameraphones for launch in the near future. There are several eight megapixel cameraphones on the market, including the Samsung Innov8, the Sony Ericsson C905 and the LG Renoir.

Which? researcher Ben Stevens said: ‘Companies are using these impressive sounding figures to sell their phones, but the resolution (measured in resolution) is not as important as consumers are led to believe.

‘There are many factors that are more important in the make up a camera’s picture quality than the resolution. Camera manufacturers, and now mobile phone manufacturers, are using high megapixel counts to appeal to consumers, yet this aspect of the camera’s capabilities is unlikely to effect the amateur user’s photography.’

Print digital photos

A 2008 Which? survey asked 2498 members about their digital photography habits. The survey shows that 67% of people don’t print their digital photos, but simply store them on a PC. The survey also reveals that 52% of the people who do print their photos use an inkjet printer in their homes, and will therefore usually print in either 6×4 or 7×5 inch dimensions.

Ben Stevens said: ‘A 2.2 megapixel camera will take a photo with sufficient resolution to be printed to A4 size or to be viewed on a PC’s monitor. A trained eye may want to use up to eight or nine megapixels, but unless a photo is going to be blown up to a tremendous size, then a higher resolution is unlikely to be required by an amateur photographer.

‘If a consumer is looking for a new camera, then I would recommend that unless they want to print huge photos, they should ignore the megapixel count. Which? carries out very thorough testing of cameras, where picture quality is scrutinised. I would suggest that a consumer looks at our camera report before making a purchasing decision.’

Digital camera reviews

In our current Which? mobile phone test, the performance of the camera makes us 15% of the total test score. We continually assess consumer habits and feel that this is an accurate reflection of the value that consumers currently attribute to this particular function.

Reviews of 240 cameras can be read in our digital camera report, where there is also a brief overview of how we test. We also have a printers report featuring test results on more than 50 models.

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