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How many megapixels do most people buy? More than you think.

The PMA is reporting that almost 80 percent of digital cameras sold in the U.S. in August 2008 were 8-megapixel or higher resolution models, with a whopping 27 percent of them 10 megapixels and more. If that doesn't sound surprising, compare it to the numbers from a year ago...

How many megapixels do most people buy? More than you think.

The PMA is reporting that almost 80 percent of digital cameras sold in the U.S. in August 2008 were 8-megapixel or higher resolution models, with a whopping 27 percent of them 10 megapixels and more. If that doesn't sound surprising, compare it to the numbers from a year ago when only 20 percent of cameras sold in August 2007 had 8 megapixels or more (according to NPD Group Inc. and the PMA Monthly Printing and Camera Trends Report).

While she couldn't give me more recent numbers, a PMA spokesperson informed me that digital SLRs accounted for only 10.3 percent of digital cameras sold in 2007 (9.5 percent in 2006), which means that many of the aforementioned megapixels are probably being wasted on compact or low-end cameras like this one whose limiting factors are not resolution but small sensors and/or lower-quality lenses. Because the the average consumer still doesn't understand that higher resolution doesn't equal better pictures, camera manufacturers continue to jack up the megapixels even if it affects image quality negatively--which too many megapixels in a compact camera arguably does by introducing more noise while cramming more pixels onto smaller sensors.

The good news, however, is that you can get great deals on good cameras with lower resolutions for all the folks who know enough to know what's enough.