Digital Photography For Dummies
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To take quality photos on a digital camera, you need the correct resolution, format, and ISO setting. Most digital cameras display common symbols for exposure modes and offer basic file formats for creating and saving your digital photos.

Resolution in digital photos

Resolution refers to the number of pixels in your digital photos. If you don’t have enough pixels per inch (ppi) in your images, they will appear blurry when printed or displayed at a large size onscreen. Here is the minimum pixel count you need for quality prints:

Print Size Pixel Count Megapixels
4 x 6 1200 x 1800 2.1
5 x 7 1500 x 2100 3.2
8 x 10 2400 x 3000 7.2
11 x 14 3300 x 4200 13.9

*Based on 300 ppi; 1 megapixel = 1 million pixels

contrasting resolutions

Format of a digital photo

Format is the way your camera records and stores the data that makes up a digital photo. Camera Raw or a high-quality JPEG format, which usually comes standard on digital cameras, is your best bet for a clear image. A low-quality JPEG can result in a blocky, defected image like this one:

JPEG formats

The ISO setting on your digital camera

The ISO (International Standards Organization) setting on your digital camera controls how sensitive the image sensor is to light. The higher the ISO, the less light you need to capture a photo. Beware: An ISO set too high may cause an image with noise, or a speckled defect.

ISO settings

File format guide for your digital photos

When you take and store a digital image, you need to choose a file type, or format. Here are the popular choices when you choose a format for your digital photo:

Format Description
Camera Raw A format offered by some digital cameras. Stores raw, “uncooked” data from the image sensor, without applying normal adjustments to sharpness, color, and exposure. Gives photographers ultimate control over images and editing flexibility, but files must be converted to a standard format before sharing online, printing, or viewing in most photo programs.
JPEG The most popular digital photography image format. JPEG compresses images to make files significantly smaller, but too much compression reduces image quality. Used for print, the Web, and e-mail.
TIFF The leading format for files that will be used in print publications, such as newsletters and magazines. Preserves all image data but usually results in larger file sizes than JPEG and can’t be displayed by Web browsers and e-mail programs. The best format for storing converted RAW files and for edited JPEG files.


Exposure modes on your digital camera

Most digital cameras offer you a choice of exposure modes. Here are common symbols on a digital camera menu or mode dial that represent exposure modes:

exposure modes

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Julie Adair King is a veteran digital photography author and educator whose books are industry bestsellers. Along with Digital Photography For Dummies, she is the author of bestselling guides to many Canon dSLR cameras. Her books have sold more than a million copies.

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