Thursday, September 08, 2005

Am I Sacrificing Quality If I Go Digital?

Using a digital camera has many advantages over a film-based camera. There is less hassle. It is less expensive over the long run. You know if your picture is what you want when you begin. The problem comes in when you are considering quality. Many people hedge on the digital camera purchase because they believe their pictures may look great on screen but will not turn out well when they are printed.

The general rule, though, is that you need the pictures to be 200 pixels per inch. Pixels are the tiny squares that form pictures. Decide how large you want the photo to be. The basic picture you would have printed from film is 4 inches by 6 inches. Multiply each number by 200 to determine the resolution you need for your digital photos. For the 4X6 picture, you will need 800 X 1200 resolution on your digital camera to get photo-quality pictures.

As long as you pay attention to the resolution on your digital camera, you will be in good shape. Also keep in mind that the picture will not look exactly like what you see on the camera. There are two reasons. First, most cameras only show a portion of the picture’s screen. Your camera may show 90 percent of what you will see in the picture. The same concept applies to film cameras, too, so don’t let that be the single reason not to purchase a digital camera.

The second reason is that light looks a little different once you have printed out the pictures. Digital images will tend to be darker than they appear on your camera's LCD screen. Because of this difference, you need to consider using the flash even when you do not think it necessary. Some people opt to keep their flash or backlighting on no matter what. That way they cannot get a photo too dark.

If you do plan to print from your digital camera, you have some say here in how well the pictures turn out. You have two choices. You can go to a store with a digital picture printer. These stores will have top-quality paper and a fairly easy to navigate system. The downsides are potentially long wait lines and the limited capability of the editing software they use.

You also can purchase a photo printer. These gadgets have become so popular that they are now pretty inexpensive; some models are less than $100. By having your own printer, you can make as many changes as you would like with the software system you choose. You will need to make sure you purchase picture paper, though, or the quality will suffer. Do not skimp here. There is a big difference in quality in low and high-end picture paper, but the price difference is not too great, especially considering that you did not have to pay for film or its development.

Using a digital camera soon will become the norm for everyone, and film cameras will fall to the wayside. If you make the jump now, you can work on perfecting your digital stills before completely ditching your film camera.

By Julia Mercer

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