Are megapixels the same as megabytes?

Megapixels are not the same as megabytes. These terms are closely related to digital photography, though, and, understandably, they could be confusing for someone new to the technology.

In this article, I will be differentiating these terms to help your workflow and help you better understand digital photography, as these terms are unique aspects of clicking pictures.

Once the terminology is well settled, digital photography will get more interesting. You don’t need to know all of their features, only the stuff that would help things get easy to understand.

What is a megapixel?

Megapixels, or MP, is a measure of the resolution, which means that the pixels in an image are calculated by determining the number of pixels on the height and width. It measures the size of a digital image and shows how many pixels are present in an image – the number of pixels a camera will capture is fixed unless you buy a new camera.

Megapixels also assert how many pixels a camera can capture in a picture. Modern cameras have at least 10 megapixels, but they can go much higher, which means that the camera has captured 10 million pixels, as 1 megapixel = 1 million megapixels. The higher the megapixel count, the sharper the image will be.

Megapixel resolution plays a vital role in how large you can print your photographs because the more megapixels you have, the more detail you have recorded, and you have to make sure that while printing, the pixels do not start to show.

What is a megabyte?

A megabyte or MB is a measure of digital storage or the amount of memory or space any file – including image files – takes up. This can change depending on several factors. The more information is in the file, the more bytes the file will take up.

By definition, one megabyte is 1,000 kilobytes or 1,000,000 bytes. One byte is the amount of memory taken up by a series of eight 1’s and 0’s, the basic units of the binary system.

As for image files, the megabytes an image takes up are correlated to some extent to the quality of the image. Generally, the fewer megabytes an image takes up, the less quality the image has.

Megabyte is a common term used in photography, like most hard drives are measured in gigabytes.

Knowing how many megabytes a picture takes up is essential to properly store and manage your data. The image file size can differ because of various reasons, such as:

  • Resolution(DPI) of the image.
  • The format in which the image has been saved. The three most common formats to save an image are JPEG, PNG, and RAW. JPEG and PNG produce smaller-sized files, while RAW produces the largest files, but the image quality is the highest.
  • Compression of the image – if the image went through any.
megapixels and megabyts

What is resolution?

Resolution or DPI is essentially the detail that an image holds. The resolution also shows how many pixels are present in a digital image.

It is closely related to megapixels. However, the resolution is changeable through editing, cropping, or altering a specific picture. An image with a higher resolution or more DPI would have better image detail, while a photo with a low resolution might not have a fine image detail.

You can increase the resolution above the megapixels, but it will result in a drop in image quality.

The image resolution can change due to editing. Keeping your image at the highest resolution gives better results even if it takes more space than other files.

How many megapixels are in a one-megabyte image file?

Converting megapixels to megabytes or vice versa has the following factors to take care of:

  • A megapixel value
  • A megabyte value
  • Width of the image
  • Height of the image – and then multiplying it – Width*Height

But, based on a pixel converter, the one-megabyte image file is 1-megapixel at 8-bit depth. The bit depth starts from 1 and goes up to 64. However, this pixel converter does not mention width or height.

How many megabytes is a 3-megapixel file?

The 3-megapixel file is 2.8 megabytes at 8-bit depth. Therefore, it may increase or decrease according to the bit depth.

How many megabytes is a 20-megapixel file?

A 20-megapixel file is 19 megabytes at 8-bit depth. Therefore, it may increase or decrease according to the bit depth.

Related: How many megapixels is 4K?


Megabytes, megapixels, and resolution describe an image size, but they all have different meanings. Above, I have explained each of the terms to help clear out any surface doubts that you could have.

Practicing and experimenting with megapixels, megabytes and resolution will help you understand its relation much better, thus allowing better insight into the topic.

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