Just as ProPix is a combination of the words Professional Pictures, Pixel is a combination of the word Picture and the word Element. A pixel is the smallest element or component that makes up a digital photo or image. It is a small colored square that combined with thousands and even millions of others makes the digital image you see with your eye. In the case of a good quality photo at the right size there are so many pixels that your eye cannot distinguish each individual pixel but the entire photo appears as a single well defined image.
Quality and Size
The more pixels included in a photo the more detail in your digital image, they blend together better and make the image look sharper and clear. The quality setting on the camera allows you to adjust the quality of the photo which is in turn adjusting the number of pixels the photo will have when it’s taken. As you would suspect the more pixels which means more detail or data also means a larger file size. This only makes sense and can easily be seen by adjusting the quality setting on your camera. Most cameras will tell you how many photos you have room left to take calculated from the size of your memory card and your current quality setting on the camera. As you adjust the "quality" of the photo you will be taking, and thus the number of pixels, the number of photos available to take will change. As the quality decreases the more photos you can take and as you increase the quality the fewer photos that will fit on the card.
A photo with more pixels allows you to successfully crop tighter. With any photo no matter how many pixels if you crop too tight the resulting photo will be pix elated, meaning you will start to visually see the individual pixels. This is never a good thing and makes for a poor photo. So, the more pixels the smaller area you can crop and still have a sharp clear photo.
The quality of your prints are determined by the number of pixels as well. The smaller the print the fewer pixels needed in your photo. For example a 4×6 will not need near as many pixels as a poster 24"x36". This is much like cropping you are just going increasing the photo in the other direction.
So, what does this all mean to you? It means that you control the number of pixels in your photo. You control it by adjusting the quality setting on your camera. If your plan is to print 4x6s, or email the photos or view them on the computer you won’t need a lot of pixels. If you plan to print a poster or closely crop a photo then the more pixels the better. The trade-off in the number of pixels or quality, and the size of the file that you will be working with.
The Sports Photography Professionals