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In photography, resolution can be discussed in a number of ways. In basic terms, resolution is the quality of the image. The higher the resolution, the sharper, more defined and detailed the image. Camera resolution is measured in megapixels. The Camera’s sensor is made up of millions of pixels, which are tiny light sensitive squares that register the brightness of the light hitting the sensor when a photo is taken.
Megapixels are the measurement of pixels in height and width on the camera sensor. For example, the camera manufacturer describes the camera’s resolution as 10.1 megapixels. What exactly does that number mean? Well there are one million pixels in a megapixel. The pixels on the camera sensor are 3904 x 2598 (W x H). Take 3904 x 2598 = 10,142,592 and divide it by 1 million and you have 10.1.
Camera resolution is the measurement of the detail captured in an image, but also relates to how large an image can ultimately be reproduced. In today’s market, you don’t have to worry about getting a camera that meets the basic resolution requirement, as most cameras have more resolution than you will ever need. Only if you are using your photos for larger-scale prints do you need to concerned about your camera’s resolution.
Print resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi) or how closely the printer places dots on the paper. Ultimately, the resolution of the printer is the major factor in the overall quality of the photo. When it comes to printing your images, generally you want your photos to be anywhere from 300 dpi and up. The exact number will depend on the quality of the printer and the size of print.
Screen resolution is measured in pixels per inch (ppi), it’s the actual number of pixels the monitor is able to display. Screen resolution is described by the horizontal and vertical pixel measurements, such as 1024px x 768px. Screen resolution tends to be much smaller than print resolution because when printing, the ink dots can be much closer together than normally seen on a screen. In other words, you can fit more pixels in a printed photo than on your screen. If you are displaying your photos on the web, generally you’ll want a resolution between 72 – 125 ppi, since each monitor will display the pixel distribution differently.
As you can now see, discussing photography resolutions encompasses quite a bit more than just how many megapixels your camera is. Happy Shooting!