There's a long standing argument around digital photography, that more megapixels are not all that useful. For a fairly long time, especially when talking about technology, most DSLR and mirrorless cameras were mainly 24mp. Even today, there are a lot of cameras that are still sitting at 24mp.

For most daily use, I'd agree that 24mp would be enough for most people. Let's face it, most people who do something with their images are uploading them to Instagram, Facebook or a myriad of other photo sharing platforms. These images, especially when it comes to Instagram, are usually highly compressed online and even resized when posted. It makes little sense to have a higher resolution sensor if this is the main usage case.

So why, then, do more and more manufacturers seem to be releasing consumer and 'pro-sumer' level cameras with a higher megapixel count? Several Fujifilm cameras are now exceeding 40mp, Canon have a range of sensors varying from 24mp up to over 40mp, and Sony have full frame cameras that are up to a mind bending 60mp! But what's the point?

A lot of people print images, and the extra resolution can come in handy. It's still not entirely necessary, as you can fill an A4 page with a much lower resolution image and get amazing results. I have a photo of my rescue dog from when we first got him, that was taken on 35mm film. That's printed on an A3 page and is framed and on our hallway wall. It's a lovely image.

The other huge advantage is being able to crop your image. Consider the image above, that was taken on my Fujifilm GFX 50R, with a 63mm Mitakon lens. At a crop factor of 0.79, it is an equivalent focal length of a smidge over 50mm on a full frame camera. The GFX 50R has a 50mp sensor. That's a lot of pixels! The image has been cropped down to a 1:1 (square) image for the Instagram platform. I've ended up printing it on an A3 sheet as well, and whilst it does not fill the page, it does span from side to side. Given the image above isn't square due to the formatting of the article header, I've added it below.

Lost In The Crowd, Perth Train Station, Feb 2024

So, what's the point of this article, really? Well, I have a friend who has primarily shot film most of his photography life, apart from the odd digital camera here and there. He's recently picked up a Fujifilm X-Pro2 and is still unsure about the change to digital. I've been trying to convince him that he hasn't wasted his money, and that there are benefits to digital aside from not having to spend a fortune on film and dev. (Side note: I still shoot film regularly, and have heaps in the fridge I need to use!)

I sent him the above image, and then the screenshot below, of the full image it was taken from.

Lightroom screenshot showing image crop

I have to admit, even I was surprised at how tightly I could crop this image, and still get not only a decent image for social media, but one that I have managed to print fairly large and still get good results from.

So, the next time that someone tells you that megapixels don't matter, don't listen!