Last week while I was considering a newer digital camera (My Rebel XT is nearing it’s exposure rating), I was bouncing around Gizmodo and came across an article that changed the whole nature of my search: “Why More Megapixels Isn’t Always Better“.
I was just going to glance at it to reinforce what I already knew, which is that while a 10MP point-and-shoot and a Rebel XTi or Nikon D60 have the same resolution, the control and lens quality of the digital SLR (single-lens reflex) is far superior. But Giz slapped me and sternly said, “No!”
The sensor is where most of the megapixel machismo comes from. When you squeeze the shutter button, the sensor (like film in old-school cameras) is exposed to light for however long you have the exposure time set for. The most common metaphor to talk about how a sensor works is that it’s like an array of buckets (the pixels) that collect light, and the amount collected is turned into an electrical charge, which is converted into data…
Obviously, there’s a world of difference between the image quality you’re going to get out each of those [a pocket camera and a DSLR] . Most of it comes down to the size of the sensor and the pixels. You can fit a much bigger sensor inside of a DSLR than you can inside of a mobile phone, which not only means you can fit more pixels on the sensor, you can fit much bigger ones—imagine bigger buckets to catch the light.
The real difference isn’t (all) in the lens and in the control you have over it. It’s in the sensor. Those cheap pocket cameras, even the expensive ones, have pixels that are much smaller and lower quality than those of DSLRs. They collect less light, which means less detail.
But even among the high quality “prosumer” cameras that I was looking at, one rule is generally true: “So, on a given sensor size, a lower megapixel count with bigger pixels will produce cleaner images.” Which means the 12MP monster I was looking at wouldn’t actually give me a better picture, because the sensors were the same size.
I hate to admit this, but last night I watched the next-to-last episode of the Bachelor with my wife. I tried everything I could to not pay attention but I got sucked in. And everything I saw just made me sad.
She was sent packing because Jason, the bachelor, thought she was unable or unwilling to be deep and open with him, and she couldn’t understand it. While defending herself she talked about the environment in the girls’ house and how uncomfortable it was to be away from her Blackberry, her social engagements and her busy schedule.
“We couldn’t leave the house. I’m never in my apartment; I’m always on the go.”
It struck me later that the way we fill our days is similar to the way Canon or Nikon fills a camera’s sensor. Some people throw in everything that will fit: long hours, late nights, lots of acquaintances, networking, study, entertainment, etc. They squeeze every moment out of their days. Others only give time to a few high priority things, and some or all of them may be on the list above, but they cherry-pick them.
Just like with the cameras, the first group gets a shallow, distorted picture, while the second has clarity and depth.
How are you filling your days? Are you “always on the go” to social events, or meetings, or even (gasp!) church groups? Are your interactions and time investments brief and shallow, or do they have the kind of depth that bears fruit through clarity in your relationship with Jesus, with the people around you, and your understanding of yourself? If not, it may be time to ditch a few pixels to get a better picture.
If you’ll allow me to mix my metaphors, we need bigger buckets.