Is the number of megapixels in the smartphone camera important?

When choosing a smartphone, we gullibly pay attention to the number of megapixels, guided by the principle of «the more — the better». But why do some phones at 12 megapixels shoot better than the flagship novelties at 24 megapixels and more? Does it look familiar? We are ready to dispel myths and tell you what options you need to pay attention to in order to choose a smartphone with a good camera.

 

What’s behind the megapixels?

 

Let’s start by figuring out what megapixels are. They are the value of one million pixels (light-sensitive cells) that form the image. In megapixels you measure the resolution of the matrix or the size of the created photo. A pixel is a separate square that appears as a point due to its small size. If you zoom in any image on the display screen, you will see it as a «grid» consisting of pixels. The more pixels you see, the better the image. The more megapixels — the higher the resolution, and the higher the resolution, the better the image will be in wide format printing. Agree, not every day you have to print a billboard, so within a smartphone does not have to chase for super high resolution. Modern standard phone cameras are equipped with 10-18 megapixels, it is quite enough for the user. But to achieve professional shots, you need to take into account other factors, which we will talk about further.

 

Size is important

Distracted by the number of megapixels, not all manufacturers advertise an important component — their size, or rather pixel size. Remember the golden rule: it’s better to have fewer megapixels with larger dots than many with smaller dots. In other words, the larger the pixel size, the more photons it absorbs during exposure. A sensor with large pixels will show less noise. Cameras that are in the same conditions with an equal number of megapixels but with different pixel sizes (e.g. 1.55 μm and 1.12 μm) will receive a different flow of photons, which means that they will produce a different image quality, where the smartphone whose size is higher prevails. Correspondingly, the conclusion: a coarse pixel guarantees a higher level of detail in the picture. Gradation of quality according to the size of the sensor is determined as follows:

 

    1.55 μm-1.40 μm — shoot at any time of day, not afraid of bad light;

 

    1.40 μm-1.22 μm — gives good images day and night, but in poor light is not without noise;

 

    1.12 μm or less — can only take good shots during the day in bright light.

 

Good camera readings in your smartphone

If the secret is size, why do manufacturers not use it in their models? The fact that a large sensor requires a large size of optics, which affects the thickness and width of the smartphone itself. Not everybody wants to hold a thick gadget in his hand, and customers do not like the camera, either. Therefore, manufacturers are either being criticized, sacrificing the sensor, or mount the module in the «thicker» body.

 

Any lens, be it a professional camera or smartphone, includes many technical components, so we will discuss other important criteria before buying.

 

Aperture — light source

For bright, detailed photos, the light that «feeds» the camera is first and foremost important. Since not every user carries studio lamps with them and the weather is not always sunny, the camera receives its light from the aperture. The wider the iris (aperture, luminosity), the more light it will absorb. Its size is indicated by the letter f, a number with a fraction, where a smaller value indicates a wide aperture, not vice versa. A low figure will indicate the best camera in a smartphone. The advantages of wide aperture are macro capabilities, blurring the background. The most commonly used aperture ratio:

 

    f/2.6, f/2.4 — poor quality and smeared photos;

 

    f/2.2, f/2.0 — are found in budget smartphones;

 

    f/1.8, f/1.7, f/1.6 — optimal size for bright, detailed photos.

 

 

Matrix size

Matrix is the main element through which we get the image, it is a chip of photodiodes (photosensitive elements). The light hitting the photodiode forms an electrical signal, which is further formed in the digital one. Complicated? In simple words, previously this role was performed by the film, but now the sensor — a plate inside the camera, receiving the light and information about the photo, which is sent to the processor, and it already stores the ready photos in the memory of the phone (it takes 0.276 seconds). But even this is not the main thing, to buy a smartphone you need to remember one thing — the sensor must be large. Here again, the smaller the number after the fraction, the better. Here are some examples:

 

    1/3″ — not bad pictures on a cheap phone;

 

    1/2.9″, 1/2.8″ are middle-class devices;

 

    1/2.6″, 1/2.3″ — flagship gadgets.

 

It should be noted that a large number of megapixels can suppress the sensitivity of the sensor, so in order to achieve better balance, for its large size will be enough smartphones for 12-13 MP. Ultimately, the matter lies in good optics and automation of a particular model.

 

Optical stabilisation

Did you want to take a picture of the sights as you pass by on the tourist bus or take a picture of the rainbow when you are late for work? Immediately, you can imagine cool shots, but in fact it is a blurred spot. Optical stabilization helps you get clear shots on the go, on the move or in poor light. It won’t «rattle» the frame, but sharp and focused.

 

Autofocus — guarantee of sharpness

 

Everybody wants sharp pictures, especially when it comes to selfies. Autofocus provides automatic focus on the subject or multiple subjects. In today’s smartphones, autofocus has become a must-have feature, so there’s no autofocus except for cheap models that keep focusing manually. Another question is how effectively both devices detect objects. The best way to check this is by testing it yourself or by looking at the reviews. If you understand the type, it can be contrast (in primitive gadgets), phase (more intelligent) and laser (the best) autofocus.

 

Smartphones with good cameras

What only manufacturers do not go to lure a buyer to buy a smartphone with a supposedly cool camera. There are phones with double, triple, quadruple and even modules of five cameras, and megapixels and jumped over 40. But you and I already know that’s not the main criterion. A great example of dispelling the myths about megapixels is Samsung, whose Galaxy S7, S8, S9 at 12 megapixels show great pictures thanks to the large size of pixels. Other examples of cool cameras without «twisted» numbers are Xiaomi Mi 8, Google Pixel 2, Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Huawei P20, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium. Separately, we note the company Apple, which managed to achieve the level of professional photography with «terrestrial» indicators of megapixels: iPhone XS Max, iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus.

 

Cameras of modern smartphones are not just a combination of lenses and megapixels, behind its production are engineering and optical development, where every detail is thought out the passage of light and the work of complex algorithms. In order not to be misled, do not be led into advertising, and use our recommendations!