Microscope Cameras & Mega Pixels - Does It Matter?

 Its Time To Purchase A Camera

Welcome to the world of digital microscopy. You have already hopped on your laptop and started your search for the camera that will deliver that perfect crystal clear image. During your search, one term kept jumping out – Pixels.  Or more specifically, Megapixels!  Everyone knows that the more pixels you have, the clearer the image! So all you need to do is find the camera with the most Megapixels, right?  Well, not so fast…


Bigger Is Not Always Better

Despite the marketing hype surrounding Megapixels, when it comes to scientific imagining, the number of pixels is only part of the story.  The reality is that the quality of your image is dependent on a number of factors that vary by application, most notably, the optics.  Although it seems counter-intuitive, higher magnification objectives actually require fewer pixels. In fact, if you are working at a higher magnification, the optical system is limited to about 3–5 Megapixels that can be transferred to the sensor of a camera.  Therefore, if you go out and purchase that 20 Megapixel camera hoping to maximize clarity, know that the “extra pixels” will have NO EFFECT on the resolution of the image.  They will, however, impact the following areas:


Speed - Each pixel takes time to read out. The more pixels you have, the more time it will take.

Capacity - Large image files use up your computer’s memory.

Sensitivity – The more pixels you have, the lower the sensitivity of each individual pixel.

Pixel Capacity - Smaller pixels hold fewer electrons. This reduces the dynamic range and the ability to detect dim details and bright details in one image.


Speak With An Expert

It is true that at lower magnifications you will need a higher resolution camera to capture all of the details that your microscope delivers.  So in the end, your camera choice will really depend on the application for which your system is being used and the resulting configuration. But how can you be sure that the camera you are considering is appropriate? After all, too many pixels and you are slowing down your workflow for no reason, too few and you are not getting the resolution you need!  Don’t worry.  Just give us a call at 800-219-1451.  At Microscope Central, we have over 80 years of experience helping customers find the right equipment for their needs.