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Megapixels!...?

Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my worldRound Rock, TXRegistered User regular
So last night we got my mom's Christmas gift to us, one of these: Flip Ultra HD. New grandchild and all that. Her husband was wondering what the megapixels were on it. Browsing their site I see it's "1/4.5 inch, 1.6 megapixel CMOS sensor (2.2 µm square pixels)". 1.6? That's not much! But it records 720p video?

I understand megapixels on a basic level (light sensors), but how does that relate to video quality? I mean, the video I shot looks pretty good, but I thought 1.6MP was like 2001 standard. Help me understand this.

Sir Carcass on

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    stigweardstigweard Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    720p = 1280x720.
    1280*720 = 921600 pixels

    1.6Mp cmos is plenty to do a 720p video. They aren't directly comparable as all sensors aren't counted in grouping, and there is pixel binning to figure out colors going on and other technical stuff, but... yeah, 1.6Mp is plenty to record 720p video.

    You can checkout someplace like dpreview for a more detailed look at how camera sensors work.

    stigweard on
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    Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Ah, so digital cameras tend to have more because they create images with much higher resolution, I take it?

    Sir Carcass on
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    PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Ah, so digital cameras tend to have more because they create images with much higher resolution, I take it?

    Yeah, your average point-and-shoot digital camera is at least 6MP, or 3072x2048. They're also only capturing a single image, not 30 or 60 per second as would be the case with a video camera.

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    Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I think this kind of sums it up.
    End of the day, the most important thing is that you are happy with the quality level that comes out of your camera for the purpose that you need it for (e.g. website, viewing on computer, printing, enlargements, publishing, etc.). I strongly recommend that you look beyond megapixels when purchasing a digital camera.

    Thanks all.

    Sir Carcass on
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    Recoil42Recoil42 Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Whoa whoa whoa. First things first:
    Her husband was wondering what the megapixels were on it.

    First of all, this is like asking what the "gallons of gasoline is" on a car.

    Megapixels means "one million pixels" -- it's a quantity. So asking "what the megapixels" are is nonsensical. If you're truly to understand what's going on here, you need to understand if you don't know already, and keep in mind if you do, that digital pictures are made up of grids of little coloured points called "pixels", and the resolution (but not necessarily overall image quality!) of an image directly relates to how many pixels there are in that image.

    Moving on:
    Browsing their site I see it's "1/4.5 inch, 1.6 megapixel CMOS sensor (2.2 µm square pixels)". 1.6? That's not much! But it records 720p video?

    I understand megapixels on a basic level (light sensors), but how does that relate to video quality?

    One megapixel would be one million pixels, or in a square image, something with the measurements of 1,000 x 1,000.

    This picture, for instance, is exactly one megapixel:
    tGJ3V.jpg

    It has a height of a thousand pixels, and a width of a thousand pixels. You can do the math.

    This one is the same:
    k441y.jpg

    720p means a grid of 1280x720 pixels. In a 720p image, there are 921,600 pixels. So 720p is actually under a megapixel.

    These are both 720p pictures:
    ZUHhv.jpg

    D8mvE.jpg

    Ah, so digital cameras tend to have more [megapixels] because they create images with much higher resolution, I take it?

    This also doesn't make sense, because by definition, more pixels means a higher resolution image. Literally they are one and the same.

    You've probably got two elements of confusion coming into play here.

    One is the 'age' thing. As you mentioned:
    I mean, the video I shot looks pretty good, but I thought 1.6MP was like 2001 standard.

    First, you have to get rid of this notion of megapixels = image quality.

    1-2MP was around the standard for still images about ten years ago, yes, you're right. But a 1.6 megapixel image can look a hell of a lot better today than it did ten years ago. There's a lot that goes into a digital camera, a lot of image processing and digital wizardry. And technology has improved far more than just adding pixels: The sensors are better, noise reduction algorithms are improved.

    Again, you have to get rid of this notion that MP = IQ.

    I suggest you do a quick google of the "megapixel myth" and read up:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=megapixel+myth&btnG=Google+Search


    The second thing you have to be cognizant of is the difference between a video camera and a still camera, and why comparing resolution between the two just simply doesn't jive. You can't compare the numbers just face to face like that, because you're missing half of the picture. On the surface, it seems like a still camera is dealing with more pixels, yes. But a video camera is taking 30 to 60 frames per second. At 1MP, that means your video camera is processing 30 million pixels (30MP!) of image data per second.

    Compare this to your still camera -- it does a 10MP image, but it can only take one of those every couple of seconds.

    They're built for different purposes.


    Video recorders have fast chips so they can process lots and lots of data being streamed in. Whereas cameras tend to focus on sensor size and resolution, lens quality, and image processing algorithms to provide you with the best quality still image.

    Recoil42 on
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    bentbent Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Well thank god someone posted that.

    bent on
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    DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    We should copy and paste that into every camera thread.

    Daedalus on
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    Recoil42Recoil42 Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    bent wrote: »
    Well thank god someone posted that.
    Daedalus wrote: »
    We should copy and paste that into every camera thread.

    Well, given that shining endorsement... I've gone ahead and turned my post into a full article, because it was a topic I end up explaining to family and friends every year anyways:

    http://sachasayan.com/blog/?p=8

    Long, possibly over-technical, needs more graphics, but it should do. Feel free to copy it into any thread. Let me know if you have any crits/change requests.

    Recoil42 on
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    travathiantravathian Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Recoil42 wrote: »
    Her husband was wondering what the megapixels were on it.

    First of all, this is like asking what the "gallons of gasoline is" on a car.

    Megapixels means "one million pixels" -- it's a quantity. So asking "what the megapixels" are is nonsensical.

    I seriously hope you never have to work in customer service cause your analogies are terrible and your ability to understand what a person is asking is lacking. Yes, the persons wording of the question is poor, but it is pretty damn obvious they are asking how many megapixels each picture captured is made up of, which is quite relevant, just like asking how many gallons of gas the tank of a car can hold.

    edit: and given comparable features I would gladly pay 10-20% more for a 50% increase in pixels. You can always reduce the quality and file size later for posting to a board or emailing to someone, but until NASA gets off its arse, there's no way to improve the resolution of the picture I take of my kid's first step after the fact.

    travathian on
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    BarrakkethBarrakketh Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    travathian wrote: »
    Recoil42 wrote: »
    Her husband was wondering what the megapixels were on it.

    First of all, this is like asking what the "gallons of gasoline is" on a car.

    Megapixels means "one million pixels" -- it's a quantity. So asking "what the megapixels" are is nonsensical.

    I seriously hope you never have to work in customer service cause your analogies are terrible and your ability to understand what a person is asking is lacking. Yes, the persons wording of the question is poor, but it is pretty damn obvious they are asking how many megapixels each picture captured is made up of, which is quite relevant, just like asking how many gallons of gas the tank of a car can hold.

    It doesn't matter how many MP each image is made of, it's not an indicator of quality. For most practical purposes the size of an image in megapixels just means how big the resulting image will be.

    "Prosumer" DSLRs with larger image sensors can take much better pictures than your average point-and-shoot digital cameras, and your average digital camera with a stupidly high MP count will generally be taking pictures that are much noisier.
    travathian wrote: »
    edit: and given comparable features I would gladly pay 10-20% more for a 50% increase in pixels. You can always reduce the quality and file size later for posting to a board or emailing to someone, but until NASA gets off its arse, there's no way to improve the resolution of the picture I take of my kid's first step after the fact.

    I'd rather invest in a camera that, at the very least, stores the pictures you've taken in a RAW format.

    Barrakketh on
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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    That's easy, put the chmd firmware onto a Cannon point and shoot.
    Bam.
    RAW.

    Improvolone on
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    TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Ah, so digital cameras tend to have more because they create images with much higher resolution, I take it?

    Yeah, your average point-and-shoot digital camera is at least 6MP, or 3072x2048.
    This is why when people take pictures on their digital cameras, pull them off, zip up 10 of them and email them, it takes for fucking ever. God I hate it when people do that. The picture you are looking at is 3 times bigger than your desktop! perhaps you should make it smaller before you mail it off!

    Tofystedeth on
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