One of the main ways that manufacturers categorize their digital cameras is in terms of pixel count. What this is is the number of individual pixels that go into making each image. Today this number varies between 1 million (1 Megapixel) to around 14 million (14 Megapixels). A million pixels is abbreviated to MP, so a 1MP camera has 1 million pixels and a 3MP camera has 3 million pixels. Currently most popular consumer digital cameras have between 2MP and 5MP. A 3MP camera can make excellent 4 x6 prints and very good 5 x7 prints. If you intend to make lots of 8 x10 prints, then perhaps a 4MP or 5MP camera would be a better choice. Sometimes two numbers are given, total pixels and effective pixels. Total pixels count every pixel on the sensor surface. Usually the very edge pixels aren't used in the final image. Effective pixels are the number of pixels actually used in the image after the edge pixels have been dropped.
The size of the digital file corresponding to the image which the camera produces depends on the pixel count. In most consumer digicams each pixel generates 3 bytes of data (so called 8-bit data ). One for red, one for green and one for blue. This means that a 3MP camera, which has 3 million pixels, generates 9 million bytes of data, or 9MB (megabytes). A few cameras can generate extra data for extra quality, and some of these cameras generate files which correspond to 2 bytes of data for each color ( 16-bit ), so a 3MP camera which is capable of generating 16-bit data will produce an 18MB image file.