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The Three (DigiCam) Musketeers
 

RESOLUTION AND COMPRESSION

Digital cameras give you choices of shooting at different resolutions and then having the resulting pictures compressed in the camera. Why compress? Because if you didn't, only a few uncompressed high resolution pictures could fit on the camera's removable memory card...one or two per 8MB. Achieving the right balance between the resolution and compression determines the ultimate quality of the image.

Resolution indicates the total number of pixels on the imaging surface and is a good indicator of how big you can enlarge the picture before it starts to fall apart...or pixelate. Compression also affects image quality because some color and detail information is lost in the process. A compression ratio of 1:2 is better than 1:16; however compression ratios from 1:2 to 1:8 will usually yield high quality photographic prints that are virtually indistinguishable from each other.

Unless you're shooting only for the Web, choose the highest resolution and then vary the compression depending on how many images you want to fit on your memory card. You can also mix images taken at different resolutions and compression ratios on the same card...which is (very) roughly analogous to mixing pictures exposed at different ISOs on the same roll when shooting with a film like Kodak MultiSpeed.


Olympus Nikon Kodak
Resolutions High: 1280 x 1024;
Low: 640 x 512
High: 1280 x 960;
Low: 640 x 480
High: 1536 x 1024;
Medium: 1152 x 768;
Low: 768 x 512
JPEG Compression Ratio Choices At "High" Resolution 1:2 or 1:8 1:4 or 1:8 or 1:16 1:8 or 1:11 or 1:19
Number Of "High" Resolution Images That Will Fit

On 8MB Removable Memory Card Using Different Compression Ratios

At 1:2, 8 images;
At 1:8, 24 images
At 1:4, 12 images;
At 1:8, 24 images;
At 1:16, 48 images
At 1:8, 14 images;
At 1:11, 20 images;
At 1:19, 33 images
File Size At Highest Resolution 3.75 Mb 3.52 Mb 4.5 Mb

 

 

 

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