Welcome to the world of digital photography! It’s an exciting journey full of possibilities, but like any new technology, it can be overwhelming at first. Two terms that can be particularly confusing are megapixels and megabytes.

While they may sound similar, they are actually quite different and understanding the distinction between them can greatly improve your photography workflow.

As you delve deeper into the world of digital photography, you’ll come across these terms quite often. And it’s important to differentiate them to fully grasp their significance.

Think of it like this: megapixels are like the canvas, and megabytes are the paint. Both are essential in creating a beautiful picture, but they serve different purposes.

In this article, we’ll dive into the differences between megapixels and megabytes and how they impact your photography. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with all the technical jargon; we’ll break it down into easy-to-understand concepts.

So sit back, grab your favourite camera, and let’s explore the fascinating world of digital photography together!

Key Takeaways

  • Megapixels measure the resolution of an image and determine the number of pixels present in an image. The more megapixels, the sharper the image will be.
  • Megabytes measure digital storage and indicate the amount of memory or space a file, including an image file, takes up. The size of an image file can vary depending on factors such as resolution, format, and compression.
  • Resolution or DPI is the level of detail that an image holds and is closely related to megapixels. Increasing resolution beyond the megapixel count can result in a drop in image quality.
  • Knowing the number of megapixels and megabytes of an image file is important for properly storing and managing your data.
  • A one-megabyte image file is 1-megapixel at 8-bit depth, while a 3-megapixel file is 2.8 megabytes at 8-bit depth, and a 20-megapixel file is 19 megabytes at 8-bit depth. The size of an image file may increase or decrease depending on the bit depth.

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?


In conclusion, understanding the concepts of megabytes, megapixels, and resolution is crucial for anyone interested in photography or digital media. While these terms might seem confusing at first, practicing and experimenting with them will undoubtedly help you comprehend their relation much better.

By increasing your knowledge about image size and quality, you can capture and store high-quality images that will last for years to come.

Learning about these concepts is just the beginning. With technological advancements, there is always something new to discover and explore. So, whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur enthusiast, keep experimenting, keep learning, and keep pushing the limits of what’s possible.

As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” With the right knowledge, tools, and techniques, you can capture stunning images that will speak volumes. So, go out there and unleash your creativity, and who knows, you might just create something that will leave a lasting impression on the world.