Afterword

ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Choosing a Digital Camera (K2 #58)

Question
When choosing a digital camera, should I go for the one with the most megapixels?
— Ugyen, Thimphu

Answer
Next to archery and cycling, photography has become a favourite hobby for many Bhutanese. Selecting a digital camera is daunting: the variety is enormous. Before discussing megapixels, let’s talk about the type of camera you may wish to buy. In the good old days (5 years ago) people had to choose between two main categories: The cheaper compact cameras, and the professional, bulky - and very expensive - DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras. DSLR cameras are the enormous ones with the huge lenses that tourists - and photo buffs - like carrying around. DSLR cameras produce better photos due to two main factors: First, the lenses are larger and of better quality (the lenses are also interchangeable, so you can use the one most appropriate for the situation). And second, the sensor - that’s the small device inside the camera that converts the optical image into electronic data - is much larger. This is where we reach the issue of megapixels.

The Canon EOS M mirrorless
interchangeable lens camera (MILC)
The sensor is divided into a rectangular grid comprised of millions of tiny pixels. Each of these pixels captures the light from a specific, tiny area of the image. In an 8 megapixel (8 MP) camera, for example, there would be about 8 million pixels. The more pixels, the higher the resolution. But if the sensor size remains the same, and the number of pixels increases, each of these pixels will become smaller and capture less light, and the picture quality will deteriorate. This means that increasing the number of pixels without increasing the sensor size is not beneficial. In fact, this may produce “noisier” photos. Shopping for a camera by comparing the number of megapixels is therefore a fallacy. It is better to compare lens quality and sensor size. Since this is difficult, I would recommend checking review sites such as Digital Photography Review (www.dpreview.com) before buying a camera.

I mentioned that up until recently there were two main categories that consumers could choose from. In the last few years, a new category of cameras has emerged. MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera) combines the small size of compact cameras with DSLR features such as interchangeable, quality lenses and a huge sensor size. These cameras produce incredible photos for a fraction of the cost (and size) of a DSLR. It’s no wonder these cameras are the fastest-growing digital camera category.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to boaz@thimphutech.com