Working with Camera Resolution

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Many digital cameras allow you to select various resolution settings. Those settings may be in pixel dimensions, such as 1024 x 768, or in graphic display standards, such as VGA (Video Graphics Array, usually 640 x 480) and XGA (Extended Graphics Array, usually 1024 x 768). The settings may even take on generic terms like Fine, Hi and Basic. To understand the resolution settings your camera offers, check the manufacturer's documentation.

Depending on your type of camera, the manufacturer may refer to resolution settings as Image Size.

Some manufacturers also tie in image quality with resolution and file format. For example, if you choose a Hi setting, your image will be stored as a TIFF, not a JPEG. (For more on file formats, see "Working with Different File Formats," later in this chapter.) And that Hi setting is only available if you choose Full resolution (which is equal to 2560 x 1920 pixels).

After you're familiar with your camera's settings, consider what setting is optimum for your intended output:

^ For high-quality printed images, shoot your photos at a higher resolution.

If you take the resolution setting in pixels and divide it by the recommended resolution of the printer (described in the preceding section), you get the size of your image when printed.

^ If the image is intended for the Web, be sure and take into account the demographics of your audience. Are they imaging professionals with 21-inch monitors or are they your friends and family with a 15- to 17-inch monitor?

Table 3-1 is a guide to the settings.

Table 3-1 Camera Resolution, Print Size (at a Printer Resolution of

300 dpi), and Screen Display

Table 3-1 Camera Resolution, Print Size (at a Printer Resolution of

300 dpi), and Screen Display

Camera Resolution

Print Size

Screen Display


8.5 x 6.4

Full — too large to display on any monitor


8.5 x 5.7

3:2 — too large to display on any monitor


5.3 x 4

UXGA (Ultra Extended Graphics Array) — displays full screen on 22- and 23-inch monitors


4.3 x 3.2

SXGA (Super Extended Graphics Array) — displays full screen on 21-inch monitors


3.4 x 2.6

XGA (Extended Graphics Array) — displays full screen on 17-inch monitors

640 x 480

2.1 x 1.6

VGA (Video Graphics Array) — displays full screen on 13-inch monitors

Understanding megapixels

You often hear cameras described or rated in terms of the number of megapixels they can capture. A megapixel is a unit of measurement equivalent to 1 million pixels and is used to quantify the resolution of digital cameras. The number of megapixels is calculated by multiplying the height and width of the image in pixels. For example, 2590 x 1920 pixels is 4,915,200 pixels, or the number of pixels my 5-megapixel Nikon is capable of capturing in full-resolution mode. More pixels means higher resolution, greater detail, and better quality. It also means big files. You will also find a "megapixel-dollar" relationship — the greater the number of megapixels, the more expensive the camera. For details about print sizes in relationship to the megapixels of a digital camera, check out Chapter 14.

Run your own test prints to see what your camera, and either your home printer or service provider, is capable of.

The size of the images when printed depends on the printer's resolution setting. The higher the printer resolution, the smaller the final print size. Similarly, if you reduce the print size of an image, the resolution of the image increases.

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Digital Cameras For Beginners

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.

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