Difference 16MP vs 20MP Digital Cameras

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Updated July 27, 2022

If you are shopping around for a new camera you may be wondering about megapixels and how they relate to image quality. Is there a difference between 16MP vs 20MP digital cameras? The best digital cameras, after all, tend to reach or go beyond these metrics. Keep reading to learn more about megapixels.


  • The difference between a 16MP and a 20MP digicam will be slight, though the latter should feature a subtle increase in image quality.
  • MP stands for megapixels and modern digital cameras often include large image sensor sizes that go well beyond 20MP.
  • The more megapixels available, the more sensitive to light a given image sensor will be. Light sensitivity translates to greater detail.

Comparing 16MP and 20MP Digital Cameras

The obvious difference is the number of megapixels the image sensor can process. It is worth noting that a jump from 16 megapixels to 20 megapixels will not result in a large difference in image quality, though there may be some subtle differences. The contrast in image quality will not be as stark as, say when comparing point-and-shoot cameras vs SLR cameras.

There may be some other differences when it comes to comparing CMOS vs CCD digital cameras, as the digital camera sensor size can vastly make a difference.

Insider Tip

Megapixels are not the only metric by which to measure the efficacy of a camera. The sensors matter, as do the lenses and other components.

Sensor Size

Generally speaking, the number of megapixels available with a digital camera will correlate to the size of the image sensor. Though modern camera manufacturers have begun stuffing many megapixels into smaller and smaller image sensors. For instance, modern smartphones can include 48 megapixels or more and the sensors included with a smartphone camera are certainly much smaller than what is found with a traditional digital camera. Of course, larger image sensors result in more detailed photos which leads to larger file sizes. This can be important if you are comparing Bluetooth vs Wi-Fi digital cameras.

Light Sensitivity

The more megapixels available with an underwater digital camera should increase its overall sensitivity to light. In other words, the image sensor will be able to display more light in digital photos, meaning whiter whites and deeper blacks. It is light, after all, that creates a digital image in the first place. So, if you want a little more light sensitivity, choose a 20MP sensor over a 16MP sensor.

Pixel Level and Pixel Size

Obviously, more megapixels translate to higher-quality images. Smaller pixels result in more detail while a larger pixel results in less detail. The more megapixels available with a given camera, the smaller the pixels are allowed to be as they display digital images. So, with this in mind, a 20MP digital camera will boast a bit more resolution than a 16MP camera, thanks to the larger pixel number. You may find higher megapixels in the full-frame digital cameras over ASP-C models.


What’s the difference between HD and megapixel cameras?

HD cameras are still megapixel cameras, they just feature larger sensors, making them higher resolution cameras. Compact cameras tend to feature fewer megapixels than dedicated digicams.

How to choose the best camera phone: Sensor size vs megapixels?

Sensor size and megapixels are typically correlated, though a camera phone will not be able to use interchangeable lenses that adhere to the micro four-thirds standard. Though modern phones do usually include high-resolution cameras and high-resolution sensors.

How many megapixels do you need for 4K, 8K, HD, and 1080p?

This will depend entirely on how detailed you want the image to be and the overall image size. There is no hard and fast rule.

STAT: A camera that makes a 2048 × 1536 pixel image (3,145,728 finished image pixels) typically uses a few extra rows and columns of sensor elements and is commonly said to have “3.2 megapixels” or “3.4 megapixels”, depending on whether the number reported is the “effective” total” pixel count. (source)

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