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View Full Version : What image size/resolution should I shoot at? What do you shoot at?



reppans
01-06-2007, 08:38 AM
Hi everyone, I'm new here and am seeking advice on how to handle the compromise between large files/disk space usage and image quality/print size. Sorry if this is a common question, but I've tried researching on various sites without any luck.

Up to now, I've been pretty much a point and shoot guy, but am interested in getting into a bit more creative photography with my new camera, a Canon 710IS. So far, for most of my photos, I just view on the computer, some I'll print in the 4x6 or 5x7 size, and a select few in the 8x10 size. However, if I get some get to more creative stuff, I might end up printing some (by a professional) in a larger size for framing.

If I shoot at my camera's max resolution all the time (3072x2304, superfine), the files get up to 4mb and just seems to take up too much space and time (for computer, SD card, web hosting site) for little viewing benefit. But then again, there are those once-in-a-life-timers that you just wish you had every last pixel for editing/large printing. Of course, you never know which are the best, until after it is shot is made.

So what are some good strategies to handle this conflict?
- shoot at max size/res, be harsh with deleting, move originals off to CDs, resize duplicates for hard drive, hosting site albums?
- shoot at realistically usable intermediate size/res, skip the extra photo handling, save straight to HD/hosting site, suffer image quality loss for editing/enlargements?
- any other strategies you follow or can recommend?

BTW, I was previously using a S230 and understand a bit of photography theory from my college days with a manual 35mm SLR. Pixels and digital formats, however, I'm pretty green.

Appreciate any thoughts...

Rontech1
01-06-2007, 09:57 AM
Hi everyone, I'm new here and am seeking advice on how to handle the compromise between large files/disk space usage and image quality/print size. Sorry if this is a common question, but I've tried researching on various sites without any luck.

Up to now, I've been pretty much a point and shoot guy, but am interested in getting into a bit more creative photography with my new camera, a Canon 710IS. So far, for most of my photos, I just view on the computer, some I'll print in the 4x6 or 5x7 size, and a select few in the 8x10 size. However, if I get some get to more creative stuff, I might end up printing some (by a professional) in a larger size for framing.

If I shoot at my camera's max resolution all the time (3072x2304, superfine), the files get up to 4mb and just seems to take up too much space and time (for computer, SD card, web hosting site) for little viewing benefit. But then again, there are those once-in-a-life-timers that you just wish you had every last pixel for editing/large printing. Of course, you never know which are the best, until after it is shot is made.

So what are some good strategies to handle this conflict?
- shoot at max size/res, be harsh with deleting, move originals off to CDs, resize duplicates for hard drive, hosting site albums?
- shoot at realistically usable intermediate size/res, skip the extra photo handling, save straight to HD/hosting site, suffer image quality loss for editing/enlargements?
- any other strategies you follow or can recommend?

BTW, I was previously using a S230 and understand a bit of photography theory from my college days with a manual 35mm SLR. Pixels and digital formats, however, I'm pretty green.

Appreciate any thoughts...

I believe you have answered your own question.

But then again, there are those once-in-a-life-timers that you just wish you had every last pixel for editing/large printing. Of course, you never know which are the best, until after it is shot is made.

My advice? Shoot at highest quality, invest in more/larger memory cards, Delete the losers, burn to cd all images or get an internal or external backup drive for images. Also, SD cards are really cheap for the amount you can get.
For instance 4 gig for 70.00!!!!
http://www.flash-memory-store.com/secure-digital.html?gclid=CNy_nvatzIkCFQOYWAodrSh4Yg

That once in a lifetime shot you get but took at the lowest res to save space will have you cursing your decision for a long time.

Just for info, I shoot in RAW format. A jpg at my best quality will run somewhere between 2-5 meg in file size. A RAW of the same file will run between 10-20 meg!!!!
BUT, I know I have the best available file to work with, if I ever do get that once in a lifetime shot.:D
Just my .02,
Ron

SpecialK
01-06-2007, 07:56 PM
Use your first choice. Edit well, keep your keepers and next best. Note that some editing software (I use Firehand's Ember) will reduce the jpg file size (to something like 600k) without cropping if you just fix a few dust spots - very handy. Sometimes I just clone some black into a black shadow so it does not even show. It does not seem to affect image quality.

I shoot RAW as well so I can do minor tweaks (not interested in manipulation for its own sake). It makes 2-6 MB jpgs, but I delete the RAW file afterwards (unless I get that 1-in-a-million shot - haven't yet). Keeping all those 10 MB files would truly create space issues.

mattdm
01-07-2007, 06:11 PM
In my experience, the difference between the super-quality jpegs and the normal quality jpegs in most cameras is hard to detect. You may occasionally be able to tell a difference by examining pixel-by-pixel, but not usually. This is at the price of having files twice the size, which not only take up more space but take twice as long to save and to transfer.

I would, howver, recommend the highest resolution -- that'll give you more room to crop if you need to. (Although if you've got a point & shoot with a 8 or 10 meg sensor, you may be able to go down a step without much compromise in actual image detail.)

forno
01-07-2007, 06:27 PM
In my experience, the difference between the super-quality jpegs and the normal quality jpegs in most cameras is hard to detect. You may occasionally be able to tell a difference by examining pixel-by-pixel, but not usually. This is at the price of having files twice the size, which not only take up more space but take twice as long to save and to transfer.

I would, howver, recommend the highest resolution -- that'll give you more room to crop if you need to. (Although if you've got a point & shoot with a 8 or 10 meg sensor, you may be able to go down a step without much compromise in actual image detail.)

Dont forget that viewing a pic on a computer is only ever going to look as good as the resolution of the monitor, a print is a different story;)

Rontech1
01-07-2007, 06:52 PM
So far, for most of my photos, I just view on the computer, some I'll print in the 4x6 or 5x7 size, and a select few in the 8x10 size. However, if I get some get to more creative stuff, I might end up printing some (by a professional) in a larger size for framing.

Maybe this will help some.
http://www.design215.com/toolbox/megapixels.php
NOT definitive, but good for comparison. Some good pros/cons under the chart.
Also this one
http://www.scantips.com/calc.html
Has some cool calculators on it.
Ron

mattdm
01-07-2007, 07:05 PM
Dont forget that viewing a pic on a computer is only ever going to look as good as the resolution of the monitor, a print is a different story;)

Well, same story, really....

forno
01-07-2007, 07:44 PM
Well, same story, really....

How so ??

sla
01-08-2007, 03:01 AM
Hi
When I watch my photos at home, drinking hot tea, sometimes I find a detail to be more interesting than a whole image. So I recrop an image. Or sometimes I want to experiment with composition.
While viewing photos fullscreen you wouldn't notice any difference between normal and highest quality. But if I look closer, I find "normal" pictures slightly less sharp. And they seem to have a little more noise.
This is why I set quality to max. That would matter if you care about cropping your photos. To me it was important enough to buy a bigger flash card. They are not expensive (especially SD).
You can degrade quality any time. You rather can not do reverse way. And usually you know that you have photo of your life AFTER you press stutter. It is worth to remember.
regards

mattdm
01-08-2007, 03:55 AM
Hi
While viewing photos fullscreen you wouldn't notice any difference between normal and highest quality. But if I look closer, I find "normal" pictures slightly less sharp. And they seem to have a little more noise.

Changing the jpeg quality won't make pictures more noisy -- that's a different issue.

What camera are you using? I'm curious if you've tried a blind test, where you're comparing two sets of images without knowing in advance the quality setting. On some cameras, the "normal" setting is definitely such that there are more compression artifacts than there should be, but on many others, it won't be an issue.

mattdm
01-08-2007, 03:58 AM
How so ??

An image is always only going to look as good as the resolution of the displaying device, printer or screen. There's no fundamental difference.

sla
01-08-2007, 05:25 AM
Changing the jpeg quality won't make pictures more noisy -- that's a different issue.

What camera are you using? I'm curious if you've tried a blind test, where you're comparing two sets of images without knowing in advance the quality setting. On some cameras, the "normal" setting is definitely such that there are more compression artifacts than there should be, but on many others, it won't be an issue.
I use Fujifilm F10. I have no direct comparisions. My opinion is based on statistics. Statistically more compressed photos seem to be less clear and more noisy, no matter the reason (sensor noise or JPEG compression) and they look worse. And if I look at the picture and it is not as sharp as expected (the subject has smeared edges or colours), it is usually "normal".
Of course, as I wrote in my previous message, the difference is not visible at 1280x1024 resolution. It matters if I view at 100%, crop or do a heavier post-process.
regards

forno
01-08-2007, 01:03 PM
An image is always only going to look as good as the resolution of the displaying device, printer or screen. There's no fundamental difference.


Correct so dont shoot low res if you are going to do anything other than view on a computer screen, and ofcourse by the time you see it on the screen and work out it would be worth printing its too late.

Why people want to shoot at lower than maximum is beyond me???

Sure for some shots its ok but generally I dont see the point

Rontech1
01-08-2007, 05:00 PM
Why people want to shoot at lower than maximum is beyond me???
I agree 100%! False economy on the card & no latitude in the processing.
Mem cards are really quite inexpensive and the delete button came free with the camera/computer:)
Just my .02,
Ron

forno
01-08-2007, 05:07 PM
I agree 100%! False economy on the card & no latitude in the processing.
Mem cards are really quite inexpensive and the delete button came free with the camera/computer:)
Just my .02,
Ron


And the extra megapixels were certainly not free so why not use them

reppans
01-08-2007, 09:15 PM
Why people want to shoot at lower than maximum is beyond me???

Sure for some shots its ok but generally I dont see the point

Seriously?... Why it's the 3rd and 4th dimensions, space and time, of course..

Space: My main computer is a 100gig laptop. Between the MP3s and digital videos I have/want, space is at a premium. I do have a 250gig external drive as well, but I generally like to have all my stuff (except video, the biggest potential waste of space) on one medium, if I can. I have two 2gig SD cards, so the camera is usually just a temporary concern, but I do use video a lot and eats space like crazy. I also use web hosting sights for posting on pics on forums and, of course those are heavily space restricted.

Time: With my old S230, I did use intermediate sizes with files around 0.5 to 0.8 megs and I'd generally just dump all my pics to my computer or web hosting sites without much thought, editing or weeding out. At 4 meg a pix (5-8 times the size), I absolutely would need to adopt a pretty rigorous organizing, editing, weeding routine... (I'll face it, I'm just lazy). Since I mostly just view on the computer, and printed 5x7 or less, I never really noticed any image quality loss. In fact, I've always found larger pix more of a hassle with longer read times scrolling through pix on the computer or camera LCD, resizing *down* to post on the web/email/etc., lagging shot-to-shot times, and downloading to the computer. So far to date, I have not ever wanted to print greater than 8x10 or wish that I had more resolution. (Unfortunately, that probably speaks more of my limited photography skills than anything else :( )

Perhaps most significantly, I just need a total mind shift on deleting. You see, my previous photography life was 35mm film. You never deleted a negative, you just saved them in shoe boxes thinking one day you would come back and use them.

I don't know, I just have this thing about retaining photos, unless they're outright blurry or poorly exposed. I guess I just need to get over that hoarding mentality and move into the digital age.

Good to know that most of you do seem to shoot at max res. Thanks for all the replies.

sla
01-08-2007, 11:32 PM
Perhaps most significantly, I just need a total mind shift on deleting. You see, my previous photography life was 35mm film. You never deleted a negative, you just saved them in shoe boxes thinking one day you would come back and use them.
(...)I guess I just need to get over that hoarding mentality and move into the digital age.
Digital gives you more freedom. With 35mm film you had to choose BEFORE taking photo. Now you may choose after. Or you may not choose and have 50000 photos. Remember how many negative films would it be?;)


I don't know, I just have this thing about retaining photos, unless they're outright blurry or poorly exposed.

Now you don't have to delete even poorly exposed photos, at least not all of them. Some of them may really shine after a rid thru a good software.


Good to know that most of you do seem to shoot at max res. Thanks for all the replies.
Max resolution is not obligatory. You don't have to use maximum of 7MP, if you don't need it. I know some people, for whom 3mega is more than needed. But, like forno said, you paid for 7 millions of pixels, remember? ;)
regards