One of the changes photographers encounter when switching from a film camera to a digital camera is the various options in image quality and resolution the digital photographer has when shooting. Most digital cameras can shoot at least five different levels of resolution, and some can shoot 10 or more different levels.
Although many digital photographers will just always shoot at the highest possible resolution because it's easier with a high resolution camera, there are times when it's advantageous to shoot at a lower digital camera resolution. Here are some tips for choosing camera resolutions and for learning: What is resolution?
- You can control the resolution and image quality of your photos through the digital camera's menu system. As you're choosing an image quality setting, you often can choose a width-to-length ratio, too, such as 4:3 or 16:9 ratios.
- If you know you will make prints of your digital photos from this particular subject, shooting at the highest resolution is a good idea. After all, you cannot go back and add more pixels to your photos a few days later.
- Even if you plan to make small prints, shooting at a high resolution is smart. Printing a high-resolution photo in a small print size allows you to crop the photo, giving you a result similar to zoom.
- Keep in mind that shooting photos at the highest resolution will require more storage space on memory cards and on your hard drive. If you shoot photos at 12 megapixels all of the time, you'll only be able to store about 40% as many photos on a memory card as you can if you shoot photos at a medium-quality setting, such as 5 megapixels. If you rarely print photos, shooting at a medium-quality setting can be advantageous in terms of conserving storage space.
- Some types of photos are better served at a low resolution. For example, any photograph you plan to use on the Internet only or that you plan to send by e-mail -- and that you do not plan to print at a large size -- can be shot at a low resolution. Low-resolution photos require less time to send by e-mail and can be downloaded faster. For example, Web quality photos sometimes are shot at a resolution of 640x480 pixels, and many digital cameras have a "Web quality" setting.
- Having said that, with all of the high-speed Internet options now available, shooting at a low resolution isn't quite as important as it was a few years ago. In the "old" days, when many Internet users were on dial-up Web access, downloading a high-resolution photo took several minutes. That's no longer the case for a large number of broadband Internet users.
- If you're unsure of how you'll use a photo of a particular subject, you can shoot it at various resolutions, giving you plenty of options. Or, you can lower the resolution later using image-editing software.