Digital single-lens reflex camera

Do Megapixels Matter When Buying a Camera?

Tech companies love to wave big numbers and fancy sounding words around in their ads, and camera manufacturers are no exception. Although it isn’t as bad as it was a few years ago, “megapixels” is normally their go-to buzzword. But what is a megapixel and does more really mean better? Let’s find out.

What Are Megapixels?

On every digital camera sensor, there are tiny little “photosites”. Each of these is a sensor for a single pixel. When light hits a photosite, it determines what color that pixel should be in the resulting photo. Obviously you need lots of photosites to get a high resolution image; one million photosites will give you one million pixels—or one megapixel—in the final image. This means a 20MP photo was taken with a camera that had a sensor with twenty million photosites.

Megapixels and Sensor Size

The sensors in digital cameras come in different sizes. The sensor inside your smartphone is smaller than the sensor inside a crop sensor camera and the sensor inside a crop sensor camera is smaller again than the sensor inside a full-frame DSLR.

The different sensor sizes compared. Blue approximates to a smartphone sensor, green to a crop sensor, and red to a full-frame sensor.

All three of these cameras, however, can have a 12MP sensor. What changes is the size of the photosites on the sensor. On a smartphone camera, they’re tiny, while on a full-frame camera, they’ll be much much larger. This affects the overall image quality.

The Pros and Cons of High Megapixels

The size of the photosites is very important for image quality and low light performance. While the technology has come a long way over the last few years, and it’s now possible to cram more photosites than ever onto a sensor, there are pros and cons to it.

The more megapixels a sensor has, the bigger the image it can create. This is really useful for fashion and studio photographers who want every single detail, such as the subject’s eyelashes, as clearly as…

How to Wirelessly Transfer Photos from Your Camera to Your Computer

If you’re a prolific shutterbug, you know what a hassle it is to constantly pull the SD card from your camera, plug it into your computer, and transfer the files to get to the snapshots you just took. Here’s how to add Wi-Fi based photo transfer to your digital camera.

Wi-Fi Enabled SD Cards Are the Secret Sauce

An increasing number of digital cameras ship with built-in Wi-Fi support that makes it easy to wirelessly transfer your photos from your camera to your local network for storage, post-processing, uploading to social media, or all of the above—no tethering your camera to your computer or pulling the SD card required.

That’s a great feature to look for if you’re shopping for a new camera, but for everyone else rocking older cameras, a small upgrade is in order: a Wi-Fi SD card. Introduced several years ago, Wi-Fi enabled SD cards take advantage of the constant reduction and refinement of electronic components to pack in both photo storage and a tiny Wi-Fi radio into the form factor of an SD memory card. Aside from the label they look absolutely identical to their non-networked counterparts.

There’s one big downside: the sticker shock. A Wi-FI SD card will typically run you 3-4 times the price of a similar non-Wi-FI SD card. You’ll also need to recharge your camera battery more frequently, as the Wi-FI SD card steals power from the battery to run the Wi-Fi radio and associated hardware—though newer cards are pretty power efficient.

What You Need

Before all else, check to see if you even need a Wi-Fi SD card. While Wi-Fi integration used to be a very rare premium feature on digital cameras, increasingly you’ll find it on everything from DSLRs down to little pocket-size point-and-shoot cameras. Look up your camera model online to check the specs and ensure you’re not overlooking the built-in Wi-Fi features. (Note: Some camera models include additional menu functionality designed to integrate with a Wi-Fi SD card, but they don’t actually have Wi-Fi capabilities themselves. Be sure to read the fine print.)

Second, you need to determine if your camera will support a Wi-Fi SD card. As a general rule, if your camera can support an SDHC card (an upgraded form of the original SD card format) then it should be able to handle a Wi-Fi card with no problem. Typically the only problem you’ll run into is if your camera is very aggressive in cutting the power to the SD card between read/write times—in that case, you may find that the camera doesn’t keep the juice flowing to the SD card long enough to transfer all your photos.To play it extra safe, you may wish to hit up Google and search for the model number of your camera and “Wi-Fi SD card” to see if people have had success.

Finally, after checking out your camera’s feature list and that it supports SDHC cards, it’s time to pick out a Wi-Fi card. While there are several Wi-Fi cards on the market, including the Toshiba FlashAir, the Transcend Wi-Fi, and the EZ Share SD Card,…

What Are Prime Camera Lenses, and Why Would You Use Them?

In photography, there are two types of lenses: zoom lenses and prime lenses. Zoom lenses cover a range of focal lengths. If you’ve just bought a new DSLR, the kit lens that comes with your camera is almost certainly a zoom lens; most come with an 18-55mm lens, which means that lens covers every focal length between 18mm and 55mm. A prime lens, on the other hand, covers just one focal length. A 50mm lens is just a 50mm lens.

If, however, the 18-55mm lens that comes with your camera can be used as a 50mm lens, why on earth would you get a dedicated 50mm prime lens?

Prime Lenses Perform Better

Focal length is just one of the characteristic of a lens; the other important one is aperture. Just knowing the focal length of a lens doesn’t tell us a whole lot about how it will perform in the real world.

This image, like all the others in the article, was shot with a prime lens. For this photo, I used a $150 50mm prime. Even a $2000 zoom lens would have struggled to get this shot.

Focal length determines the field of view and apparent magnification of the lens, while aperture determines the depth of field and low light performance. All 50mm lenses will share the same field of view and magnification, but they can have vastly different apertures.

Looking back at our 18-55mm kit lens, at 50mm it probably has a maximum aperture of f/5.6. This isn’t especially wide, and won’t make pleasing portraits or perform great in low light. The 50mm prime lens, however, will have an aperture of f/1.8…

Do I Own a Photo If I’m In It?

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about who is able to do what with photographs. One of the most pervasive ideas is that because you’re in a photo you own it, have “joint copyright”, or our in some other way entitled to use it. To some degree it makes sense: that’s your face in the picture, but sadly it’s just not how things work. So let’s answer the question properly: do you own a photo if you’re in it?

Copyright and Photographs

When it comes to photographs, all these questions revolve around copyright. These are the collection of laws that protect creators of original works from being ripped off wholesale. Copyright is what prevents other websites just taking my articles on this site, How-To Geek, and republishing them elsewhere without our permission.

Whenever someone takes a photo, they’re creating an original work. They can use a multi-thousand dollar DSLR or an iPhone; pushing the shutter button is all that’s necessary. If you’re in the image, nothing changes: the photographer is still creating an original work and thus getting the copyright. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a photo of you or a duck, the photographer owns it. Since the photographer owns the photo, you as the subject don’t have any rights to it.

Even though Ali is the one in the photo, I hold the copyright because I took it.

Let’s use a practical example: you’re at a wedding, and the photographer takes a load of pictures and puts them up on their website. There are full versions for sale, but one of the low resolution previews that would make a great Facebook profile picture. Can you download one and use it?

Simply, no.

It doesn’t matter that it’s a lovely photo of you. Publishing the photo on Facebook is violating the photographer’s copyright. They could even sue you. The same is true for any other photos of you floating around. If your friend takes a…

How Does the “8x” Zoom on My Point-and-Shoot Compare to My DSLR?

Your camera may boast “8x zoom”, but most DSLRs do not advertise values like these. So how do they compare? The answer is more complex than you may think.

That “8x” value that doesn’t necessarily mean objects in the photo will look 8 times bigger than they do with your eyes. It just means things will be 8 times bigger than its most zoomed-out position—but two cameras in their most zoomed-out positions will not look the same size.

Every lens affects your image in a different way. A wide angle lens warps the perspective in the image so it shows more than you could see with your naked eye. A telephoto lens does the opposite, zooming in like a telescope to distant objects. These things are separate from the actual “zoom” function on your camera, so one 8x zoom lens may not make objects as large as another 8x zoom lens.

So how do we calculate how much bigger an object appears in a photo compared to your eyes, where you’re currently standing? To find that out, you need to know the focal length and field of view of the lens you’re using.

“Canon vs Nikon:”
Did you know about this one camera setting that ruins your pictures? Go to

Focal Length and Field of View

In photography, the focal length of a lens is the distance between a the camera’s sensor and the internal components of the lens itself. This focal length determines how close objects look to your camera and what part of the scene actually fits within the picture—otherwise known as your field of view. A massive, telescope-like lens with a 1000mm focal length will make objects look very close. Lenses with smaller focal lengths will make objects appear farther away.

Many lenses can “zoom” to different focal lengths. For example, an 18-135mm lens will let you zoom from an 18mm focal length to a 135mm focal length.

Here’s an example. I shot the following two images with my Canon 650D and an 18-135mm lens.

The first photo was taken at the shortest focal length: 18mm. It’s a pretty wide field of view.

The next photo was taken in the exact same place half a second later. The only difference is that I’ve zoomed in to use the lens’ longest focal length, 135mm.

As you can see, the field of view is a lot narrower in the second photo than the first, because we’ve zoomed in on the mountains.

Here’s the catch, though. Different lenses, at their shortest focal length, will show things differently. Remember that 1000mm telescope lens? Even if you don’t zoom in with it, you’re still seeing things much closer than a camera with an 18-135mm lens. So focal length alone isn’t…

What Lenses Should I Buy for My Canon Camera?

The biggest advantage DSLRs have over smartphones and compact cameras is swappable lenses that suit what you’re trying to shoot. Whether you want a lens that can blur the background for great portraits or something that lets you zoom in close to the action, there will be one available.

Lenses, however, are expensive. With so many choices, you need to be make sure you’re getting the right one for your needs. A well looked-after lens will last for years so it shouldn’t be a throwaway choice.

If you’re already an experienced photographer, this article probably isn’t for you. I’m not going to be recommending any super expensive, professional quality glass. Instead, I’m going to look at some of the best options for beginner and intermediate photographers who are looking to shoot new things.

Before diving in, it’s important to note that Canon has two different lens mounts: EF-S and EF. EF-S lenses will only work on crop sensor cameras like the entry-level Canon EOS Rebel T6. EF lenses will work on all Canon’s DSLRs.

If You Want to Shoot Portraits

For portraits, there are two things you need: a focal length of between about 50mm and 100mm, and a wide aperture. This focal length range gives you natural looking portraits without too much distortion and the wide aperture lets you blur the background to nothing.

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM fits both these criteria perfectly, and at $125 is an absolute steal. There are very few lenses this good, available that cheap. I still use the one I bought when I first started portrait photography regularly.

If You Want to Shoot Sports or Wildlife

Sports and wildlife photography are technically very similar: you want close up photos that show the action, but, whether because you’re stuck on the sideline or can’t sneak up on a wild…