Digital camera advantages:
These camers are convenient, and you can view your photos, mistakes and
all, right away. It can save enormously on printing costs if you take a
lot of photos but keep or print only a few. You will save money on developing
and printing costs using a digital camera. If you print every photo on your
home printer, the cost of colour cartridges, paper and printer will likely
be higher than commercial printing services. It's very useful if you never
print photos but publish them on Web pages.
Digital camera disadvantages:
Photographers who like control over shutter speed and aperture plus other
features will find that a digital camera, with equivalent features for
creating high quality photos, is more expensive than a film camera.
Do you want to send your photos by Email and publish them on a Web page
or print and enlarge them? Each of these might require different resolution
or size settings on your digital camera or even choosing a better quality
camera. Printing requires a high quality image and computer display requires
fast loading (small file size). Both are very different requirements.
For Web sites, Email or displaying on your screen, you can use the most
basic camera (1MB will do). If you want professional photos enlarged to
11 X 14, you will have to use a high-end (more expensive) camera with
a better quality lens and extra features, resultion and storage capability.
You should check out digital video recorders which can also be used for
taking still images. Some digital cameras are hybrids that can take still
pictures or short videos (movies).
If you send only a few photos by Email, and have a large backlog of prints
to digitize, a scanner might be more useful than a digital camera. A scanner
can convert prints into image files you can save, publish to the Web or
Email. It has the added advantage of being able to scan (paper) pages
of text, which you can then convert to a document file using OCR (optical
character recognition) software. You can also use a scanner with a modem
and fax software as a fax machine.
Faxing requires 200 dpi for reasonable quality at the receiving end -
check this image property using your image software. In your photo editing
software, you may have to resize a large picture to fit a normal fax page
(8.5 X 11 inch). Convert your photo to gray-scale, make sure the image
is 200 dpi, then alter brightness or contrast if it improves the appearance.
FAX transmission will not "print" the best quality photo but you can come
Most cameras save photos in the JPEG (JPG) format, a standard
Web image format. JPEG is a compressed format
to save storage space and is known as a "lossy" format. Compression causes
loss of picture quality as the file size gets smaller, but is usually
not noticable on a Web page or Email. Some cameras use uncompressed TIFF
format - this high quality format takes up the greatest amount of storage
space and is available only on more expensive cameras.
Camera picture quality is expressed with terms like "Good, Better, Best"
or "Standard and High". You will have to refer to your manual to what
terms are used for your camera. Generally, the highest quality combined
with highest resolution settings will result in the best quality pictures
for printing, creating the largest file size. This means you can take
the fewest number of pictures before your camera storage is full. It also
results in the slowest downloads for people viewing them on the Web or
Resolution is measured in pixels on a computer monitor - a typical 15
inch computer monitor, which is 11 inches across set in your system to
display 800 X 600 pixels (default is 640 X 480), will display about 72
pixels per inch.
Image size (in pixels) - approximate file sizes for best quality setting:
2048 X 1536 3 MB
1024 X 768 1 MB (XGA)
800 X 600 700 KB (SVGA)
640 X 480 40-85 KB (VGA)
VGA is the default setting for many computer monitors even though they
are capable of higher settings. On some cameras, the largest resolution
setting will create an image that will not fit on the screen of a normal
computer monitor and you will have to scroll up and sideways to see it
all. For example, if your monitor is VGA, then a horizontal photo taken
using that setting will be 640 X 480 pixels and will fill your screen.
The same photo displayed on a high-resolution monitor set to 2048 X 1536
would fill about a third of the way across the screen and fill 10% of
the area. A photo size of 2048 X 1536 would contain 3.34 Megapixels (3
Best quality with XGA size will result in picture file sizes of about
400 Kilobytes each. A 4 MB flash card in a camera will store about 10
images at that quality.
How to Choose Settings
You should experiment with a digital camera to see the difference yourself
- take the same picture at all setting combinations and make notes about
file size and picture quality on your computer monitor and printed out.
These notes will come in handy for future reference.
Web and Email:
If you are using the photos for Email or Web pages, a "Good" or "Basic"
quality with VGA size will likely be adequate with file size will be in
the 40-85 KB range. If images are larger than that, you should be wary
of putting more than one on a Web page. People get very annoyed when pages
take more than 15 seconds to load and often leave or press the "STOP"
button. An image that is 2" wide on the screen will load much faster than
one that fills the screen. Always use photo editing software to resize
your images for a Web page - never resize them using HTML image attributes.
You will probably need maximum quality and size settings (in the 1-3MB
range) for printing. For magazine publishing, you may discover your camera
is not up to the job! To submit photos to a professional print shop, images
usually must be a resolution of 300 dots per inch - or 300 DPI, which
will be equivalent to the highest quality settings on your camera.
Stealing Images off the Web:
If you check most Web sites, you will notice a Copyright notice at the
bottom. That means that you may not use any images, code or information
without permission of the creater. In Canada, this right is inherent in
law. You own copyright on your original creation without doing a thing.
Of course, you have to be prepared to protect your copyright - which could
be expensive. Proof of authorship is fairly easy with images, which are
date-stamped at date of publishing and are rarely changed.
Protect your original images:
If you are concerned about plagarism of images from Web pages, you could
deface them with text (e.g. your name) or add digital or image "watermarks"
using software (e.g. Photoshop).