“A New Year’s Resolution… But wait, we’re only in June, it’s a little too late or a little too early, don’t you think?”
Well, that’s a good question avid photography reader, but the resolution I’m referring to is “a horse of a different color”.
Most cameras will take a picture with a resolution of usually 240 pixels per inch or 300 pixels per inch.
Mega pixels refer to the total number of dots making up the image, pixels per inch refers to how tightly packed the pixels are together and how large the pixels are.
The fewer number of mega pixels used to make an enlargement, the blurrier the picture will be when it is blown up or enlarged.
The more mega pixels, the more memory required to save the file/picture, but the clearer the picture will be when printed or enlarged.
Memory is a precious thing, and it should be used wisely. If your camera will take both RAW and JPEG images, the RAW files require more memory and will shoot slower and take longer for your camera to store these pictures. If you shoot in JPEG, these pictures are smaller in memory size, because they are compressed, and you can shoot more of them faster.
So, revisiting our rule of thumb, if you need lots of images quickly, JPEG is right. If you take your time to compose and don’t mind the larger files, RAW files will give you more control.
Enough refresher, now for the purpose of this post. When you take your pictures and put them on the Internet, you need to know how this picture is going to be used. You need to think about the media.
No, Dan Rather won’t help you on this one.
How is your picture going to be used after it’s posted? Is it going to be viewed in print or on a computer screen?
If the image is just going into some one’s email for viewing, or if it is going to be posted on the Internet, you should use a setting of 72 pixels per inch.
The image should be converted to “sRGB”. Most cameras are set to “RGB” as the default color scheme, because it is assumed you are going to print the pictures after you take them.
If these settings are correctly applied to your pictures, they will be smaller files and will be easier to transmit through email and will load faster on web pages, and will be “optimized” for viewing on a computer monitor.
One final note for images displayed on a computer, the maximum size for the longest side of any picture should be no more than 8 inches. If your picture is set in portrait the tall side should be no more than 8 inches. If the picture is set “landscape” or sideways as the longest side then the top and bottom sides should be no more than 8 inches.
For printed pictures, the color spectrum should be set to RGB, because it makes use of the full spectrum of colors available to the color printing device, more than what’s on the computer monitor, and the pixels per inch should be the original settings of 240 or 320 pixels per inch.
The image size can be adjusted through your photo editing software or most photo printing machines will automatically convert the size based on your selection.
So, the down-and-dirty:
Internet or email, 72 ppi, sRGB, no more than 8 inches on the longest side.
Picture for printing as final destination: 240 or 300 ppi, RGB, and whatever size you want the image printed at.
Remember, the bigger the image, the more memory the picture will take, so treat your memory nicely.
A final word of caution: If you change the settings of a picture to make it smaller for the internet or email, save the file with a different filename, so you do not destroy or reduce the quality of your original image.