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Old Jun 8, 2006, 2:19 PM   #1
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I have a question that I been thinking about for a while. Lets say you have a 6mp camera and you only have 128mb to work with. The camera is able to shoot in 6mp, 4mp, and 1mp. The quality of the jpeg compression quality is high, medium, and low.

I need to get the most picture out of the card that I have to work with. I will not be printing any poster size pics, mainly 4x6 if I do print it. With that in consideration is it better to shoot at 6mp in medium or low quality or is it better to shoot at 4mp in high quality?

I know I can just buy a 1gb card to solve the problem. I do have a 1gb card but I will let my friend use it on his trip to Hawaii for a week. I have nothing planned for that week, but just in case if I do want to go outside to take a few snap shots.
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Old Jun 8, 2006, 2:43 PM   #2
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Are you going to be wanting to crop your photos? To me, with what you outlined, that would be an important factor. Just my personal preference, but if you aren't going to crop, I'd shoot at 4 mp and choose finest setting. If I wanted to crop the photo I'd use 6 and medium. When I was looking at digital cameras originally, it seemed that some cameras compress their files better than others, but I don't know if that matters any more. I haven't shot with anything other than the best quality since I got my first digital camera several years ago. Since you aren't talking about enlarging, I don't think more megapixels are critical.
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Old Jun 8, 2006, 7:31 PM   #3
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I would actually shoot larger, lower quality images myself. The reason for that is that even if you double the number of pixels, you usually don't add that much detail overall. Most photographs have a lot of areas of very little noticeable detail scattered all over, and when you use low quality compression it just smudges over a lot of that detail, but keeps most of the important stuff.

When you save a smaller, high quality image, the compression basically uses a lot more data to preserve a lot of the detail that you can't really see.

Here's an example:

This is a crop of a photo, resaved for the web in Photoshop at high quality (60).

This is the same crop, twice as large (4x the pixels), at low quality (30). The files are the same size, but the low quality one has a lot more visible detail, especially if you look at the faces and details on the shirts. You can see the difference if you take the photos into Photoshop and enlarge the small one 200%. It had to throw out a lot of the detail in the faces because of the lower resolution.

The reason the larger image manages to looks so good with the same file size is because of that blurry background. The small image spent a lot of bits preserving all the subtle shades back there, while the low quality large image did not, which is good because it wasn't necessary.

However, you may find that your low quality, but higher resolution images do take up more file space depending on what you photograph, particularly scenes with a lot of detail. It really depends on how the in camera processing handles the compression I suppose, so you might want to try the different settings out and compare.

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