Clueless newbie question

Discussion in 'Digital Point & Shoot Camera' started by stars, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. stars

    stars Guest

    I have had a Canon PowerShot S100 since 2001. By the end of 2004 the
    battery wouldn't really hold a charge and the pictures came out dark, so I
    decided to get a new camera. As I had been happy with Canon & had
    accessories like extra Compact Flash Cards and a card reader that would work
    with a newer model, I decided to stick with Canon. I went back and forth
    between the A95 and the PowerShot s500. After being used to the small size
    of the s100, handy for travel, etc., I couldn't get used to the size of the
    A95, so I wound up with the s500.

    Anyway, I expected the same level of pictures as the s100, just better
    quality due to more megapixels. Apparently I am completely clueless when it
    comes to this b/c now I am having the following issue:
    Photos taken on my s500 look funny when viewed at a normal size onscreen
    (doing a lot of photo sharing through ofoto.com, shutterfly, snapfish,
    etc.). If I increase the size of the photos the quality becomes nice and
    clear - but how can I share a photo that is larger than my 17" screen?? Is
    there a setting I need to change on my camera, or is it something that I
    need to do once the file is downloaded onto my computer? Is it possible to
    get nice sharp pics from a 5 megapixel that look clear at a 4X6 or 5X7 size
    onscreen?

    Can someone advise?
    Thank you in advance.
     
    stars, Apr 17, 2005
    #1
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  2. stars

    mort Guest

    Hi,

    There are two factors here. I have an S500, and my premium paper prints are
    sharp and colorful, from 4x6" on up to 8.5x11". Computer screens have a limited
    sharpness, and smallish images just do not have much detail. If an image fills
    the screen, then of course there will be more visible detail.

    Have you tried printing 4x6" prints on good paper, either on your printer or
    elsewhere? With your camera, assuming that your camera technique is adequate,
    prints should be nicely sharp and detailed from 4x6" up to 8.5x11".

    Good luck.

    Morton
     
    mort, Apr 17, 2005
    #2
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  3. stars

    stars Guest

    Thanks for the quick response. I have not tried printing any pictures yet.
    I don't have a color printer here - just a b/w laser. I usually print
    through ofoto.com. Assuming my photos print well, is there anything I can
    do to get decent quality on-screen? People's faces look funky when viewing
    the photos through one of the photo-sharing sites. Do I need to compress
    the file size? Also, I want to take pictures of a few things to sell on
    ebay, so I need to be able to post clear photos. Is this a matter of
    adjusting the settings on my camera when I take a photo specifically for
    this use, or do I need to compress the file after the photo is taken?
     
    stars, Apr 17, 2005
    #3
  4. stars

    stars Guest

    Replying to my own post - I think I have it figured out. I fiddled with the
    settings on my camera and I was able to shoot a photo that looks clear at a
    small size. This should work for my ebay listings.

    Thanks again for the help!
     
    stars, Apr 17, 2005
    #4
  5. Stars,

    Can you tell us what setting on your camera gave you better results?

    My suggestion was going to be that you use a photo editing software and
    reduce the side of your image to a maximum width of 750 pixels. This
    will make your photo viewable on 800 x 600 resolution screens.

    By re-sizing your photo first, you get the compression algorithm in the
    resizing feature of your software to make it look better at a small
    size.

    Charlie

    Got digital photos? Show them off!
    http://FlyingSamPhoto.com
     
    Charles Kerekes, Apr 17, 2005
    #5
  6. stars

    stars Guest

    Hi Charlie,

    I dug up the manual to the camera (I know, I know...should have done that
    before bothering everyone here). Apparently for resolution I have 4
    choices - Large, Medium1, Medium2, and Small. I set the camera to "Small"
    which equates to 640 X 480 pixels. There was also a setting called
    "Compression" which gave me three settings - Superfine, Fine, and Normal. I
    set the camera on Superfine. I took a few pics of something I wanted to
    sell on ebay and they came out nice and clear at a small size - perfect for
    the purpose I was aiming for.

    I have Adobe photoshop, but was not adept enough at reducing the image size
    without sacrificing the quality. Maybe changing the settings on my camera
    is "taking the long way around", but it got me where I needed to go!

    -stars
     
    stars, Apr 19, 2005
    #6
  7. stars

    J P Scott Guest


    Hi Stars...

    When I first got my first digital camers (Nikon Coolpix 950), I
    thought it would be best to take them all medium sized so that I'd get
    more photos on my memory card and they were an ideal size for showing
    on the net. But for printing them out they are just not good enough.

    I soon changed my mind and now I take ALL my photos at fine quality
    and then re-size them (BUT NEVER THE ORIGINAL) to send them to friends
    or post them on the net.

    JP
    ******
    For a terrific place to meet, chat, share and learn, come to the
    Photography Cafe! It's free! with 10MB space as well.
    http://photography-cafe.com
     
    J P Scott, Apr 19, 2005
    #7
  8. stars

    MartinS Guest

    So do I - memory cards are cheap these days. I crop/edit images for
    printing, saving at 90-95% jpg quality. For posting to the net, I
    reduce them to something like 640x480.

    The OP seems to have found something that works for his specific
    purpose, but s/he doesn't seem to understand the basic mathematics of
    number of pixels, resolution and physical image size.
     
    MartinS, Apr 19, 2005
    #8
  9. stars

    stars Guest

    JP,

    Changing the settings worked for pictures to use for Ebay purposes, but what
    you are saying makes sense in terms of pictures of friends/family/trips,
    etc. that I will want to print out. What program do you use for re-sizing
    your photos? I think I just need to spend a bit more time learning some
    software.

    thanks,
    stars
     
    stars, Apr 20, 2005
    #9
  10. stars

    stars Guest

    Memory is not my issue - have plenty of memory cards around here. Yes, I
    found something that worked for my specific purpose of posting a picture to
    ebay (and my item sold right away - an added bonus of that nice picture).
    Is my little solution the answer to all of my hopes & dreams for my dig
    photo taking? Nope.

    At first I was a bit insulted by your post - who is Martin to claim I don't
    have an understanding of basic mathematics? He has no idea that my job
    requires me to perform advanced calculations on my fancy calculator all day
    long! : ) However, before getting all defensive I re-read your post and
    decided, that hey, you're right - I haven't bothered to learn the basics of
    photography. Call me lazy - I was looking for a quick answer. Yes yes, I
    understand that the higher the number of pixels, the clearer the image.
    Monet and pointillism are not lost on me. Yes yes, I know there is math
    involved. Feel free to point me to a good resource to read up a bit more
    about digital photography & photo-editing, and rest assured I will learn all
    the necessary math!

    : )

    -stars
    (a "she")
     
    stars, Apr 20, 2005
    #10
  11. stars

    MartinS Guest

    Sorry if you felt insulted, and granted it does take a bit of time to
    get the hang of it. I'm sure there are websites that will help you, but
    I don't know any off-hand. Maybe others can make a recommendation, or
    you could try Google, or even read the manuals for Photoshop, etc.

    Irfanview is a simple, free but versatile program for doing basic
    manipulation of digital images, such as cropping and resizing.

    Think of the camera image as an original 35mm negative - you want to
    preserve it. Do any editing, cropping and resizing from the original,
    and save the result only once, especially if you want the best quality
    print. Since jpeg is a "lossy" compression format, each time you edit
    and re-save a file, you lose some quality. Whenever you "Save As.." a
    jpeg file, there is a "quality" option which adjusts the amount of
    compression (and the size of the saved file). The "fine" or "best
    quality" setting on a digital camera equates to about 95% quality. For
    files to be printed, use a high quality setting; for e-mail or website
    display, where the file size you can send may be limited, a lower
    setting of 75 or 80% will give you a smaller file with reasonable
    quality. Experiment!
     
    MartinS, Apr 20, 2005
    #11
  12. stars

    stars Guest

    Thanks for the tips Martin. I'm going to google up some more info and look
    into Irfanview.

    -stars
     
    stars, Apr 21, 2005
    #12
  13. stars

    Karl Guest

    Stars,

    If I'm reading your original questions correctly, (and quite possibly I'm
    not), here's what I do with my 5 megapixel digital for printing and
    displaying on a monitor or web site. I always shoot my pics with the
    intention of getting the best quality I can for prints up to 8x10, but
    knowing I most likely will make 4x6 prints, and will want to post pics on
    the web or use the pics for monitor wallpaper or to email for someone to
    view on a monitor. This may be more info than you could possibly need.

    I always take the pics with the largest capture size and least compression
    done inside the camera itself. In your case, I think maybe that's the Large
    setting and whichever the compression setting is for the least amount of
    compression (either SuperFine or Normal... check the manual). This will give
    you the most information/data for every pic. You can throw away some of this
    data during the editing, but you can never "add" quality/data back in to
    enlarge a small pic to make it a larger one.

    When I transfer my pics from the memory card to my PC, I save two copies of
    each pic; one copy to a folder I call "archive" and the second copy to
    another folder I name corresponding to the event where the pics were taken.
    I never again touch the copies in the "archive" folder. That's a safety net
    folder in case I edit something horribly wrong, I can recover the original.
    I always edit the pics in the second folder.

    I use PhotoShop Elements for my editing program, but I'm sure you can do
    this same set of procedures with whatever editing program came with your
    digital camera.

    I'm going to make a 4x6 print: I open the pic from the second folder with my
    editing program, I choose "resize", and unclick the "resample" box; if the
    pic is landscape-oriented, I choose resize the width to 6" (and the height
    will be resized to 4.5"); if it's a portrait-oriented pic, set the height to
    6", (and the width will be resized to 4.5"). Next, crop your pic to get that
    extra 1/2" of material out of the 4.5" dimension so it'll fit onto 4x6"
    print paper without the printer driver randomly cropping the pic. Once
    you've done that, then go back to the "resize" menu, checkmark the
    "resample" box, and then enter "300" into the dots per inch field. Now, save
    this edited pic as something other than the original you started out with.
    (Maybe add a number or letter to the original name when you're saving it).
    More importantly, you might also want to change the file "type" from a "jpg"
    file to "tiff" or "psd" format file when you save it. ("jpg" format files
    are already compressed files, and every time you "save" a jpg file, you
    throw away/lose clarity/detail information when the jpg compression is done
    again to save the file. "jpg" format is a "lossy" format. The "tiff" and
    "psd" formats are "loss-less" formats). Most all photo printers for us
    consumers eat 300 dots per inch as their most efficient input. You can feed
    your printer more than that, but I've found it makes no difference at all to
    the quality of the print, and sometimes the extra dots per inch choke the
    printer or at least slow it down. Now, you'll have terrifically clear 4x6
    prints of whatever your digital camera saw. If you're going to send the
    edited pics to ofoto.com or another site to have prints made, you also need
    to save the final edited file in "jpg" format because I think that's the
    format they want you to send to them.

    Once you've done the above, and you decide you want to display the 4x6 pics
    (you already edited for printing) on a monitor, go back into your editing
    program to "resize", make sure the "resample" box is checked, and then put
    "72" in the dots per inch window and click okay. This will have several
    effects: it'll give you a significantly smaller file saved on your PC's hard
    drive, it'll be a smaller file to email, and it'll be the optimum dots per
    inch for displaying a 4x6" picture on a monitor or on a web site. Save this
    file as yet another modified name from the (edited 4x6 print) input file. If
    you're going to send it to someone to display on a monitor, save it also as
    a "jpg" format file to send out, (since "jpg" is a pretty universal format
    file that both Mac and PC users can display on a monitor).

    Okay. Told you this was going to be more info than you needed. One last
    pointer: Be sure to back up your hard drive onto floppies, CDs, DVDs, or
    another hard drive in (or outside of) your PC, so in case your hard drive
    hiccups, you won't have lost all your originals and your time-consuming
    edited pics. Enjoy!

    ...Karl
     
    Karl, Apr 22, 2005
    #13
  14. stars

    stars Guest

    Intentionally top-posting - THANK YOU!!! Yes - you read my original
    questions correctly. I solved my ebay issue by taking smaller sized/more
    compressed pics, but that wasn't going to be a solution for posting pics on
    the web for friends/family, etc. I have printed out your post for
    reference. Thank you for taking the time to write all of that out - it is
    appreciated.

    -stars
     
    stars, Apr 25, 2005
    #14
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