The Megapixel Chase

Why Less Might Be More in Street Photography


Peter Pickering

4/30/20242 min read

Street photographer
Street photographer

We've all seen it happen: a new camera drops boasting more megapixels than ever, and suddenly, it feels like everyone's rushing to get their hands on it. But let's chat about why, especially in street photography, chasing megapixels might not be the wisest pursuit.

What’s the Big Deal with Megapixels?

First off, megapixels do have their place. They're crucial when you're into types of photography that demand high resolution for large prints — think studio, glamour, or certain commercial shoots. More megapixels mean you can see every eyelash, every thread of fabric in stunning clarity, which is great for a billboard but might be overkill for the gritty, spontaneous world of street photography.

The Real Street Scene

Street photography thrives on the raw, candid moments of everyday life. It’s about emotion, movement, the play of shadows and light — none of which hinge on having a massive megapixel count. In fact, too many megapixels can sometimes be a disadvantage. Higher resolution files take up more space on your memory cards and hard drives, not to mention they can slow down your workflow, from shooting to editing.

Old School Cool

Remember, some of the most iconic street photographs were taken with cameras that, by today's standards, would be considered technologically obsolete. These photos have stood the test of time not because of how many pixels they packed, but because they captured a feeling, a moment, a piece of human experience. And often, they were shot on film or early digital cameras with relatively low megapixel counts.

Think about it — when you look at a compelling street photo, are you zooming in to count the bricks on the buildings or are you soaking in the story, the atmosphere, the light? It’s probably the latter.

Quality Over Quantity

What matters more in street photography are factors like composition, timing, light, and perspective. A camera that allows you to be nimble, unobtrusive, and responsive is typically more beneficial than one that just offers a super high resolution.

The Joy of Simplicity

There's something to be said about working with less. Using simpler or "lower spec" cameras can push you to focus more on the essentials of good photography. Limitations can breed creativity and force you to think outside the box, rather than relying on technology to carry your images.


So, next time you hear the buzz about the latest and greatest megapixel monster, take a moment to consider what you really need from your photography gear. For street photographers, the ability to capture life as it happens is more important than counting pixels. After all, the best camera is the one that you can carry with you and use to tell the stories you see — and often, that doesn’t need to be the one with the highest megapixel count.

Remember, great street photography is about capturing 'the decisive moment,' not the decisive megapixel. Keep shooting, keep exploring, and let’s keep those real moments in focus.

© Peter Pickering 2024.

The Megapixel Chase: Why Less Might Be More in Street Photography