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Old Jan 27, 2006, 1:44 AM   #1
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Being obviously new to the digital camera world, I would appreciate some "clarification" about the "Fine" and "Standard qualities that are available for picture quality.

Whilst I understand that the resolution allows me more detail, cropping benefits at the expense of larger file sizes, the "fine" and "standard" also appear to increase (or reduce) the file sizes.

My "problem" comes from the fact that I'm unable to see any visible difference (yes, I do wear glasses!) and would appreciate some clarification as to whether it's "really worth it" to use the "fine" setting.

In my case and for the very high percentage of my photos, I do not plan to print anything larger than 8 X 10 (rarely) and, in most cases, will view my photos on the PC. Do I really need anything more than to set the camera for 3Mb and to "standard" (for example)?

Yes, I know that "bigger is better" (at least so they say!!) but, really, isn't it just unnecessary? Also, if anyone on this forum could point me to any article currently on the Internet that explains this, I would appreciate it if you could let me know where to find it.

Many thanks and thanks to Steve for this wonderful web site too.

Best regards,

Raymond
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Old Jan 27, 2006, 3:16 AM   #2
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Those affect to how strong JPEG compression is used.

Because JPEG is lossy compression this is one of those rare cases when bigger is always definitely better than smaller.
Too tight setting can cause serious degradation of quality, first sign of too tight compression are "halos" around sharp color edges and total disappearing of finer details. Hardness of compression varies between cameras, some cameras could even have hard size limits connected to compression setting which would increase compression to even harder setting if that size limit would be broken.
But that's very hard to find out and would require lot of testing.

Normally size of file depends on resolution (=amount of pixels and data needed to be saved) and content of photo, if you took shot of white smooth wall that's definitely going to compress to smaller space than shot with lot of details.
So resolution is one thing you need to know for determining roughly how good image is based to its file size.
You didn't tell what megapixel count camera has so I can't tell directly rough file size which shouldn't have any visible detail loss/artefacts.

In general it would be best to use such setting which causes minimal amount of compression artefacts because once compressed there's no way to get thrown away details back and even getting rid of these artefacts is hard.
And because compression level connected to different settings can vary noticeably, best setting of some is similar to "average" setting of others so you should take some shots with different settings from something which has lot of fine details and then compare detailed areas of those shots in PC with 100% "zoom" (actually slight magnifying makes comparing them easier) to see at which settings detail loss/artefacts become visible.


http://hannemyr.com/photo/defects.html
http://www.photo.net/learn/jpeg/
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Old Jan 27, 2006, 3:32 AM   #3
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E.T.

Firstly, thank you SO much for such a detailed reply and the useful links too.

In answer to the resolution of my camera, I've just purchased a Panasonic FZ30 which I felt was "more than enough" for a beginner like myself. It's capable of taking pictures at 8Mb (fine or standard) but, maybe due to my eyesight (???) and on my pc's monitor (it's a 21" one), I find that a 3Mb (standard) picture is considerably more than acceptable. Also,as far as actually printing the photos, I'm sure that Iwill never print larger than 8 X 10 (and that only very rarely)

Of course, that gives me over 2,000 picture capability on the 2Gb card that I also bought for it ("bigger is better"?????) and, whilst maybe I'll never need to have that capability, why not leave space on the card for those "just in case" situations that arrise when on holiday?

I'm soon off to Orlando (Disney) and surrounding areas with my girlfriend and will be there for around 15 days. As all will be "totally new" and a "once in a lifetime trip" I just have the feeling that I should be "prepared" for the unknown and have the possibility of capturing "everything"!!!!! A point to add is that I will NOT be attempting to take any video whilst on the trip (just not that keen on it, that's all).

Am I just getting paranoid about all the resolution and quality issue? Of course, I could just shoot all at 8Mb and fine and just buy another card, of course!!

Once again, thanks for your reply.

Best regards,

Raymond






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Old Jan 27, 2006, 9:42 AM   #4
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The tough part is knowing when your going to take that great picture you want to enlarge, so most people will just crank the camera up to its highest settings all the time. Most times though, you could get away with (at least) one step down from max compression without any discernable difference even when printing 8x10. Its worth trying out BEFORE hand, try taking the same landscape picture at the various settings and look at it on screen or have it printed. That way you will know what is acceptable to you.

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Old Jan 27, 2006, 10:02 AM   #5
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First off, I agree with everything that E.T said. Very well written.

RaymondK,
I don't believe you're being paranoid. It could tip over into that, but I don't feel it has yet. Worrying about what setting to use is not unreasonable... you want to get the most you can out of your new camera. Figure out what matters and what doesn't, then worry about what does. So learn about resolution, set it so you're happy and then worry about the things that do matter all the time (like exposure.)

When you read those links you'll probably learn that JPG was designed with the human eye & brain in mind. It's really rather advanced and therefor it is possible that differences in the image will be subtle and you won't see them unless you know where to look. One way to do this is in some editors you can load two images and put them in "difference" mode and it will overlay them and calculate the differences. And then you won't have to fight the algorithm that is trying to compress. I know that Photoshop can do it, I don't know if PS Elements can (or anything else, for that matter.)

While having a 2G card might be slightly excessive, it isn't unreasonable. I'm buying some new cards soon and I'm trying to decide between 1G and 2G. The big question for me is the fear of corruption. If something happened you'd loose a lot more pictures on the 2G. But the trade of is cost (the 2G cost less per megabyte.) Do you have a way to copy files off your camera/card while on vacation? Even if you found a store that could burn the data to disk, I would consider having some play for that. 2000 is a lot of images, but with digital you take a lot more images because it's basically free! 100 images a day is not unexpected and that would be 1500 over the 15-day trip.

If you don't have a way to back up your images on vacation (bring a laptop, find a store that will burn you a few CDs.) Then you might consider getting another memory card. Of course, you could always just get on in the US. Orlando isn't a small town... I'm sure there are many places there to buy another card, and it might even be cheaper over here!

And lastly, I wanted to expand on something E.T said. If you do set the compression higher and some JPG artifacts creep into your images they might be subtle and unnoticable... but if you edit your images when you get home, things like sharpening can bring out the artifacts and make them more noticable. So while you might not be able to see them in the originals, they might bite you in the rear when all is said and done.

Eric
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Old Jan 27, 2006, 10:29 AM   #6
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Raymond, you've gotten some good advice from the pros. From the peanut gallery I would add that I too worry about corruption (2 @ 1GB versus 1 @ 2 GB or just simply 2 cards versus one) so a back-up card would be a good possibility. If the pros haven't mentioned the next two possibilities then they probably weren't worth mentioning and certainly weren't part of your original post, but I wondered if the purchase of one of the 'portable hard drives' where you offload the card periodically was an option (possibly cheaper than a laptop)...the pros could say if this was going to cause a loss of data on the image upon transfer. Another comment is that though digital does encourage lots of shots because they're free, there's always that painful option of deleting images along the way if you get in a real tight - but I think based on some advice I have gotten in another thread, 'delete' is not going to give you back the same full capacity that a transfer then format would...or am I confusing my SD card for the D50 with what is applicable to your camera, dunno, just a thought about an 'emergency plan'.

My vote is for shooting at max and buying at least another card.

This advice and about $50US might get you a bad cup of coffee.

Have fun on the once in a lifetime trip and may you get all the great shots you see.

M
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Old Jan 27, 2006, 11:01 AM   #7
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Power isn't going to be a problem as you can recharge every night. So for your holiday shots you can regularly go through the images and delete shots you know you won't want to keep. With digital you often take duplicates to make sure you got a good shot and there is no reason to keep any but the best shot. Since JPGs vary according to content the camera will often slot a smaller image into a slightly larger space, but the inefficiency isn't a big deal. If you keep only the good shots you can take a lot of images.

I would guess that 8Mp standard quality would give you over 500 shots on your card. That is a lot of pictures if you regularly dump the bad ones. I would shoot at 8Mp standard for the vacation and not go lower in resolution. Even if you make a large blow up for the wall you won't see a big difference between fine and standard. The compression artifacts start showing up with a lot of post processing – especially sharpening.

A second card might be a good investment for your trip. But 500 shots is a lot if you regularly delete poor or duplicate images.

For other than the vacation I would always shoot at best quality and resolution. If I had a FZ30 I would probably shoot only raw, but you might not want the hassle of having to convert them if you don't have the latest Photoshop.

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Old Jan 27, 2006, 12:08 PM   #8
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I would just like to thanks ALL of you for all the very good and kind advice that you've given me here and I feel that I will use my discretion (lack of experience?) as to the actual resolution depending on the picture I'm taking (maybe the girlfriend will always insist on 8Mb as bigger is better!! - sorry, that was myBritish humour coming out - was it noticed?).

I feel that "standard" seems to be "safer" based on the sharpening aspect that "Eric S" mentioned (hope I understood that part) and I will also look around to see the price of another card when over in Orlando - the one I have cost approx $100 over here in the UK. I'm sure that one will understand too that it's not really going to be easy to "delete" pictures at the end of the day as this, for me, is a "once in a lifetime holiday" and, with the exception of really bad (blurred) pictures, I can't really see myself deleting many. From my limitied experience with the Panasonic FZ30 (all of 3 days now!), I don't see that being that many due to it's picture stabilising function - hopefully!

Finally, thanks again Eric for assuring me that I'm not paranoid about all of this - PHEW!!

I'll post some pics on my return (which will not be until mid-May) and will set myself at the mercy of the "wolves" and "experts" to know what they think. Not that sure how many pictures of the girlfriend I'll post though - it will just depend!!

Seriously though, thanks again to all of you for your time and good advice.

Raymond
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Old Jan 27, 2006, 3:27 PM   #9
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eric s wrote:
Quote:
2000 is a lot of images, but with digital you take a lot more images because it's basically free!* 100 images a day is not unexpected and that would be 1500 over the 15-day trip.
Actually I took about 750 shots worth of 1.6GB in 7 day trip to northern Finland and North Cape.
And length of that trip was 3400km (~2100 miles) so there wasn't really too much time for extra sightseeing and specially photographing something.
(5Mp Minolta 7i... and laptop for storage)

But I've bought Archos Gmini 400 MP3 player (20GB) which I can use for storage (it has CF slot) if I'll go to vacation without laptop.
Now current model doesn't anymore have CF slot but it has USB host controller supporting mass storage devices which means you could connect digicam to it like to computer. (I'm not entirely sure could you also connect USB card reader to those)


slipe wrote:
Quote:
So for your holiday shots you can regularly go through the images and delete shots you know you won't want to keep.* With digital you often take duplicates to make sure you got a good shot and there is no reason to keep any but the best shot.* Since JPGs vary according to content the camera will often slot a smaller image into a slightly larger space, but the inefficiency isn't a big deal.
Actually this is where solid state memories have big advantage, while fragmentation of files propably causes some slowering in writing/reading speed I'm sure it's few percents of that what it causes in hard drives which have moving parts and moving those to different place takes much time... also it's often reason for that very annoying sound.
(Microdrive is miniature HD)


Quote:
I would shoot at 8Mp standard for the vacation and not go lower in resolution.* Even if you make a large blow up for the wall you won't see a big difference between fine and standard.*

For other than the vacation I would always shoot at best quality and resolution.* If I had a FZ30 I would probably shoot only raw
That Pana has already quite tight compression...
Code:
3264 x 2448 JPEG Fine:   3,150 KB    250
3264 x 2448 JPEG Standard:     1,550 KB    495
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicfz30/page5.asp

For comparison I have KM A2 and with best setting smallest JPEGs have been somewhat under 4MB and average size is propably somewhere in area of 5-6MB... biggest one has been 7.5MB.
As good side I'm sure that this setting makes TIFF useless.


Basing to some resizing I have done 1600x1200 (1.9Mp) requires about 0.5MB, under that detailed photos start to loose lot of fine details and compression artefacts start to really show around 350kB.
(Paint Shop Pro's JPEG optimizer is good for tuning compression because you see what photo looks compressed with selected setting)

So for 8Mp that would make safe size clearly over 2MB
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Old Jan 27, 2006, 4:14 PM   #10
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E.T

The interesting thing for me is that I'm going to Flordia next month specifically for 8 days of constant photography. I expect that I'll take between 1000 and 1,500 image *A DAY*.

I'm actually scared of taking that many images, but I'll have that many opportunities.
Luckly I'm going to bring my laptop (which will stay in the house I'm staying at) and a Epson P-2000 for during-the-day storage.

But still, I could have 8,000+ from either a 20D or the 1D MkII N (8.2MP cameras.) The shear disk space and time to go thorugh them is very scary to me.

But, of course, this guy won't be that bad.

Eric
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