From time to time I get the feeling this is not said enough !
Every one in a while a friend or relative would ask me on advice on what digital camera to buy. Many of them are on their second or third model and realized that, even if they bought the camera with the most megapixels they could afford at the time, they didn’t get the quality they expected. That is also true and in part exacerbated with phones.
Marketing is not driving innovation in this case - it’s driving nonsense ! Yes increasing the pixel count on the sensor gives you more resolution, it also gives you more noise.
Yes, you can have a lot of megapixels on an APS or full frame sensor inside a DSLR and get away with it. Cramming the same number of pixels in a sensor the size one would typically find inside a phone or compact digicam is pure idiocy.
I wish the manufacturers would focus on better lens than on more megapixels - but the cost is higher for them and the marketing would take a hit. Nobody knows why f1.4 is better than f2.8 which is better than f5.7 and so on.
Phones ? I bet you that if they would stick with 3.2 megapixels - which btw is really enough for snapshots you take with a phone - you will get magnificent shots. ****
Note to manufacturers: nobody takes pictures with their phones and print wall sized posters from them !
So, unless you buy a camera for really big prints - but then you would know what you need - check other features of your future camera instead of megapixels:
- check samples (not on the manufacturers website as those always look good) on a reputable site like DPReview.com
- use the camera in store and read a review to see how others find the control layout and ergonomics
- type of card used (you really want a more expensive Sony Memory Stick? etc.)
- type of battery - custom Li-Ion or regular AA Ni-Mh rechargables - each has it’s own advantages
After that and more go with the one you liked even if it has the lowest megapixel count.