What is Resolution in Photography?

What is Resolution in Photography?

If you’ve ever zoomed in closely on a photo, then you’ve probably noticed these tiny pixels. When zoomed in, you’ll find that the picture is actually a web of interconnected rows and columns, forming small boxes or squares that are filled with colors. These boxes are known as pixels. The millions of pixels that make up the image sensor in a digital camera are actually tiny, light-sensitive squares. When you take a snapshot, each pixel captures the brightness and quality of the light striking it.
 
Resolution refers to a camera’s ability to represent discrete image information, such as details and textures. It determines how large a photo can become without becoming unrecognizably blurry or grainy. Typically, camera resolution is measured in Pixels Per Inch (shortened to PPI or DPI), which gives you an idea of image sharpness and detail.  
 

Measuring the Resolution

The most common way to represent resolution with pixels is “width” times “height”. For example, a camera manufacturer can describe the resolution of a camera as 3904x2598 (WxH) pixels. Resolution can also be represented as the product of these numbers, or 10,142,592 pixels. Taking the total number of pixels and dividing it by one million represents the number of Megapixels, or MP. In our example, the resolution of the camera would be represented as 10.1 megapixels (one megapixel is one million pixels).
 

Print Resolution Versus Screen Resolution

The concept of resolution gets a bit trickier when printing your images. Instead of dealing with a screen or image viewer that is locked at one resolution, you now have the option to print the image at any number of resolutions. So which resolution should you choose to achieve the best image quality?
 
Print resolution tends to be much larger than screen resolution. This is because the tiny dots of ink can fit much closer together than the dots on your screen. You can fit more “pixels” on paper than you can fit on a screen. For this reason, you should never print your image at the same resolution as the screen you’re viewing it on. If you try to do this, you will see some undesirable results.
 

Choosing a Digital Camera

Today, the average digital camera has plenty of resolution for your needs. It’s easy to find a digital camera that meets the basic resolution requirement for most printing and viewing purposes, which is around 6 megapixels. Cameras with a 12 MP resolution might be overkill for images that are simply going to be posted on social media sites, but if you’re taking photos with the intention of printing and enlarging them, then 12 megapixels might be appropriate. 


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