Thank you, Canon, for dropping out of the megapixel race

g111The average mom and pop have judged digital cameras by megapixels alone since the beginning of time. Most people think that more megapixels means a better picture. A lot of the time brand, lens, or sensor type doesn’t factor into the buying decision and why should they? Manufacturers have long catered to this mentality by outing cameras that constantly have more megapixels than others. But today’s announcement of the 10MP Canon G11 point and shoot camera, Canon has officially dropped out of the race.

The predecessor to this camera, the G10, had a whopping 14.7MP on a small sensor. That’s a lot. But the camera also had issues shooting above 800 ISO and in low light. This can partly be blamed on the over-packed sensor. But the new G11’s 10MP sensor should resolve some of those complaints. However, the surprisingly low pixel count also caused us to dismiss an early leak. It’s not like Canon to drop the megapixel count on one of its halo cameras. This is from the same company that stuffed 21MP into the EOS 5D Mark II and leapfrogged the 12.1MP Nikon D700.

But finally the average consumer might start to understand that megapixels are not the sole factor in the quality of a camera. It might take some explaining from a salesmen, but they have been doing that for years.

I sold digital cameras at Circuit City from 2000 to 2004 and know first hand the buying mentality of most people. The first rule in sales is to understand that the buyer thinks they are an expert. Most of the time, they have talked to family members, who are also experts, seen something on Good Morning America, or even ventured onto the Internet in search of advice. Most of these people aren’t dumb or arrogant, they just don’t want a sleazy salesman to take advantage of them. But as soon as the salesmen points them in the direction of a modest priced Nikon or Canon, over a higher megapixel no-name, they get leery.

It eventually takes some calm reassuring and print samples to prove that there are more important aspects of a camera than just the megapixel. I can remember talking  a lot of folks out of the 8MP Sony DSC-F828 and into the original 6MP Digital Rebel. The Sony had an astounding 8MP for the time (2003-2004), but it was heavy and had lots of performance quirks. The trouble was the the Digital Rebel only had 6MP and that didin’t justify the $900 price for a lot of people. But the camera had a great CMOS sensor and was backwards compatible with all the EOS lens. A win-win.

Hopefully this move by Canon to include less megapixels into the G* series means that the company is willing to move past megapixels. Hopefully other manufacturers will follow suit and include better sensors rather than more megapixels. Hopefully consumers will catch on. Hopefully.