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How Do I Determine the Best Camera Settings?

Digital Camera FAQ: Questions on Working With Images


Q: How do I determine the best camera settings?

With almost every point-and-shoot digital camera, you can set various aspects of the image, including resolution and quality. Resolution refers to the number of pixels in the image. Quality involves the amount of compression used on the photo. Determining the best camera settings will help you achieve the best photo quality.

Most digital cameras give you the option of shooting at best/high, normal, and Web/computer quality, although some cameras have more options. You can change the quality settings through the camera's menu. You also usually can select from a variety of resolution amounts through the camera menu. Photos with higher resolution will have more pixels and should be of higher quality.

Images with more compression and fewer pixels will have less overall image quality, requiring less storage space. Images with less compression and more pixels will have more image quality, but they will require more storage space. Because memory is so inexpensive these days, you'll rarely want to shoot at settings that results in low image quality. Once a photo is shot, you can't go back and add pixels, after all. Images that you plan to print should be of a high image quality with the highest image resoluton you're camera allows.

To learn more about how resolutions relate to the sizes of prints you can make, see the "What camera resolution do I need" chart.

Find more answers to common camera questions on the camera FAQ page.

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