Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

Digital photography enthusiasts: what pixel and quality settings should I use?

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » The DU Lounge Donate to DU
 
bbernardini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 09:15 AM
Original message
Digital photography enthusiasts: what pixel and quality settings should I use?
My wife gave me one of my Christmas presents, a Pentax Optio M20, early, as she thought I might want to use it when our son is born. I've got two 128 MB memory cards, and I'm trying to figure out the best settings for picture quality. My pixel choices are 7M, 5M, 4M, 3M, 2M, 1024 and 640, and the quality settings are either one, two or three stars. If it's any indication, given the size of my memory card, 7M and three stars allows for 34 pictures, while 640 and one star allows for 966 pictures.

So, any thoughts as to what settings a non-professional such as myself should use? Thanks!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 09:20 AM
Response to Original message
1. If you are wanting to print the pictures out for framing, use high quality
For printing and framing, probably you can't get enough resolution.

If you are wanting to share them on your computer then lower quality will suffice, because you probably won't want pictures bigger than 800x600, and 640x480 more likely. If you want to do both then you should use high quality and then reduce a copy of the image later on your computer.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
taterguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 09:21 AM
Response to Original message
2. Use the highest possible quality settings
The only reason to use lower settings is to free up space on your memory card.

Cards are getting quite cheap now if you're ever away from a computer for an extended period of time and need to have lots of photos on the card.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 09:32 AM
Response to Original message
3. 3M makes good 4X6 prints.
Since most of my stuff is just snapshots, that's what I generally use. For the internet you can always scale them down using the software that came with your camera, or something like irfanview (if you use windows...)

If I'm taking time to take a picture that is likely to be printed at 8X10 or larger, I use the maximum resolution.

But do yourself a favor if you can afford it: buy some gigabyte memory cards, the price has really come down. I used to feel like I had to bring my laptop on vacation, in case I had download pictures, and to me a laptop has stink of work about it. Now I just carry large memory cards which gives me a feeling of liberation -- that I really am on vacation.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
asthmaticeog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
4. There's no way a camera as tiny as the Optio M20 is a true 7mp.
The CCDs in those things are just too damn small for that kind of resolution. Which means the camera interpolates (or the pixel numbers are otherwise fudged), which means you aren't getting any more actual image detail at the higher settings, just crowding your chip. I'd do 2 things if I were you: one, leave it set at 3M or 4M, three stars, which will be plenty of res to make 4x6 prints from, and two, get a bigger memory card. I just got a high-speed gigbyte CF card at Best Buy for like $35 with rebate. With storage getting so cheap, there's seriously no point in being stingy with your shooting, the way you'd have to be shooting fake-7M on 128MB cards.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 10:23 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Personally, I love these things for the video.
With a camcorder I always end up recording far too much and never looking at it again. If my video is already highly segmented, as it tends to be if I'm using a camera like this, then I'm much more likely to make something interesting of it.

The process reminds me a lot of the 8mm films I used to make.


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Schema Thing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #4
9. eh? If they advertise it as 7megapixels, it's 7 megapixels.
They are using the same chip technology as everyone else in the camera industry. I'm sure for that matter that they can pack even more pixels on the same size chip. And more pixels is more resolution (though at some point, you end up with better pixel resolution than your lens can resolve).

Thought of in old school film terms, a frame of kodachrome 25, cut in half or even third, would still have more image detail than a full frame of Ektachrome 400. Grain and pixels are roughly analogous.

I agree he should just get a 1 gig card.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
asthmaticeog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 06:46 PM
Response to Reply #9
14. "Well if they advertise it, it MUST be true!"
Edited on Sat Dec-16-06 06:48 PM by asthmaticeog
"They are using the same chip technology as everyone else in the camera industry."

CCDs vary widely in quality. They also vary in size. An SLR that claims to be 7M is likely to be true 7M, that is to say a physically larger CCD. Smaller cameras use smaller CCDs. Because most consumers look at megapixels (a term that is itself almost meaningless - a 1M CCD does not produce an image with a million pixels) and nothing else, ways to fudge the Megapixel counts for pocket-sized cameras are legion (almost all of them involve increasing noise somehow), and none of them increase the amount of detail you get.


"I'm sure for that matter that they can pack even more pixels on the same size chip. And more pixels is more resolution"

Your faith is charming but misplaced. And it betrays a horrid understanding of math. Long story short, more resolution is worthless without more information. Not all pixels are created equal. And a chip of a given size will fit a given number of pixels, period.


"(though at some point, you end up with better pixel resolution than your lens can resolve)."

Indisputably true. Which is why whenever someone's looking for more from a digital camera than "I want it to fit in my pocket," I recommend the Canon S3IS. The lens is unbelievable.

"Thought of in old school film terms, a frame of kodachrome 25, cut in half or even third, would still have more image detail than a full frame of Ektachrome 400. Grain and pixels are roughly analogous."

What you say about film is true. In the second half of that, "roughly" is the crucial word. It would take over 25M to truly approach the quality of film, and even at that level, film is still visibly superior in high-speed/low light situations.

Sorry if this seems lecture-y, I'm a professional. This crap haunts my dreams.

Edit: removed a misstatement
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Schema Thing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. I'm a profesional as well
I've been involved in digital imaging virtually from day one, and film previous to that and concurrently.

"They also vary in size."

Yes, they do. But there are only a few standards, and I point out below how to figure the size of your chip (it's also part of any camera review, widely available, and published by the manufacturer). Pixel count has NOTHING to do with the size of the chip. If a manufacturing process makes chips in the APS size of 5.0 mp, then that same manufacturing process is going to create a full frame 35mm chip of about 7.5 mp (1.5 times the physical size of the chip).

"more resolution is worthless without more information."

In digital imaging, resolution essentially comes from more pixels, and more pixels is more information.

"Not all pixels are created equal."

No, of course not, but in any given situation, more pixels means more information. Even with two competing, very different technologies, ccd vs cmos, the end results are pixels that, to the end user, are pretty much "equal".

"And a chip of a given size will fit a given number of pixels, period."

I don't know what you're thinking here. There are, in D-SLR's, two sizes of chips essentially, APS, and full frame 35 (with slight variations). I'd always figured that the little point and shoots were APS size as well, but I can also imagine them being smaller (this is fairly easy to figure out, as all manufacturers, including the manufacturer of the 7mp camera we are arguing about, will publish their "35 mm equivalent" information for the lens, all you have to do is divide to find out how much smaller it is than full frame 35). The point being, that even just within the APS chip size format, there have been everything from less than 3mp, to more than 12mp. The same pixel count variation would be true in smaller chip sizes as well. I'm sure there is an upper limit with current chip-making technology, but obviously that isn't what you meant in your above sentence.

Pixel counts vs chip size, in terms of manufacturing ccd's, has been experiencing the same sort of size:information ratio progress that all computer chips do.


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bbernardini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 08:04 AM
Response to Original message
6. Kick!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Omphaloskepsis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 08:12 AM
Response to Original message
7. Food for thought..
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
gmoney Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 08:24 AM
Response to Original message
8. I'd use the highest setting...
your picture opportunities will never repeat, so you want quality that you'll be pleased with if you need to make larger prints. You can always downsize them for webpages, etc.

Get a couple 1GB cards... www.dealram.com can give you a good price guide. Probably only about $30, depending on the format.

If you have doubts, set up a shot and shoot a frame at each resolution, then make prints. (Have someone pose holding a paper with the resolution written on it so when you get prints, you can tell them apart.) Make the frames as similar as possible (don't change the lighting or pose) and make it a type of shot you'll typically do. (For instance, if you'll usually use it indoors with flash, or outdoors, or indoors with no flash, use that situation for your comparisons.)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 01:51 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. If I worry about "picture opportunites" that never repeat...
... I don't take pictures. I'm a perfectionist so it helps me take more pictures knowing it's just a 4X6 snapshot which is never going to be a big enlargement. No worries. But I may be sort of odd that way. Sometimes I think it would be sort of cool to take 640X480 web pictures, and I've been thinking seriously of purchasing a camera phone or an inexpensive digital camera to do just that.

But for now I keep the setting on my camera to 3M and using a one gigabyte card, which is a pretty good compromise. Everything in life is something never repeated, and I'd rather have a lot of pretty good moments with a few spectacular moments, than a few perfect moments and a lot of emptiness.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
TommyO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 01:55 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. My suggestion as well
Edited on Sat Dec-16-06 01:58 PM by TommyO
Costco currently has Sandisk Ultra II SD cards (what you need for the M20) for just under $28 for a 1GB card, just under $48 for a 2GB card. edited to add: 7MP, 3 stars will give you around 270 shots on the 1GB card, 540 on a 2GB card. Staples prices are just a bit higher right now for the same cards. Keep the 128Meg cards for when you run out of space on your bigger card(s) - it will happen.

Use the absolute best quality that you can for which ever camera you have, many of your photo opportunities won't come around again.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Little Wing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 02:06 PM
Response to Original message
12. Here's your answer
Quit putzing around with 128MB cards.

Get a 1GB card

Link to 1GB SD Card for 20 bucks
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Link to 1GB Compact Flash card for 20 bucks
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bbernardini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-16-06 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. I was only putzing around with those cards...
...because that's what I already have, and I was trying to avoid spending more money. Looks like I'll have to, though.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Thu Apr 17th 2014, 12:16 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » The DU Lounge Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC