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Old Jan 5, 2003, 6:43 PM   #1
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Default Ideal resolution for small prints

I understand that a 2mp camera is sufficient for printing a 4x6 photo. I plan to get a camera mainly for snapshots and since I have an SLR, I doubt I'd use the digital for large prints. My question is this: do places like Ofoto max out at around 300DPI or will they accept even higher resolution photos? Is there a noticable quality difference for a 4x6 print between a 2mp camera and a 4mp camera?
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Old Jan 5, 2003, 7:44 PM   #2
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It's possible you could see some difference under a microscope, with some printers or lab systems, but this alone is not really worth worrying about.

To the casual observer the quality should look outstanding and indistinguishable from the 4MP image.

There are two caveats:
1) Some 4MP cameras outdo some 2MP cameras in image quality, even when they shoot at the same resolution.

2) With a 4MP image, you have more headroom to crop without affecting quality, if that's something you may be doing.
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Old Jan 5, 2003, 7:47 PM   #3
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Theoretically 2Mpix should be enough for 300dpi 4X6. However most cam's image size probably translates to 41/2 X6 for 2Mpix. Kodaks use a different image aspect ratio. So by the time they chop off 1/2" you're just under 2Mpix for your print size, but it's pretty small and these print machines will probably be using res. enhancement.

Will you notice any difference if you use a higher Mpix cam? Probably very little difference, BUT the difference between the two may be in the amount of compression used on the 2Mpix cam. If it's oldish when memory was expensive, compression factors were higher to get more pics on smaller cards. A more recent 2Mpix cam or a 3 might have less compression so you'd expect to see little difference.

A word of caution, if you just shoot pics and send for processing without editing then you're at the margins of performance for 6 X 4. If you edit then you will likely be cropping and resizing, together with further compression in the save, so your image file will lose quality - perhaps to the point where you notice. Earlier 2MP cams were also less sensitive, so correction in this area for under exposure might add some distortion which starts to become noticeable.

If you use a print service they usually offer 300dpi if using Fuji Frontiers. I think Kodaks can do 400dpi. But these are laser scans on to photo paper, so quality will be the same as for a film neg. done on a 1Hour service, since they usualy scan the neg. and use the same machine.

If you've been using the SLR for serious work and plan to use the digicam for occasional snapshots you have lowish expectations and 2Mp will probably just do. However, when you have appreciated the flexibility of digital and become more interested and ambitious, you might regret not buying a 3 or 4 Mpix cam.

Many SLR users on this forum have fallen in love with digicams, although we all accept they are not perfect, with more improvements needed.
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Old Jan 6, 2003, 2:01 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

You bring up good points, especially regarding cropping. I've been using Photoshop for years, so I'll likely be doing a bunch of touchup. It probably does then make sense to go for a 4mp camera. I'm currently looking at the Minolta F100--it's small and has nice manual controls. I need the camera to be small enough to fit in a pocket... are there others I should be looking at in a similar price range?
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