Image resolution is a value that’s used to describe the quality of image. When it comes to photography and digital images, resolution is measured by pixels. You can probably think of a handful of times you’ve come into contact with resolution even if you’re not a photographer. For starters, when you’re watching a YouTube video, you can pick the resolution from the bottom right corner of the screen. Your computer may automatically lower the resolution when the internet connection is slower. Similarly, if you’ve ever tried to zoom in on a small detail on a photo on your phone, you may have noticed that you can only zoom in to a certain extent before the details become very blurry and almost indistinguishable. That’s a result of low resolution!
If that sounds familiar, you probably already know more about resolution than you think. Keep on reading to learn all the basics of resolution and how it affects the field of photography.
High vs low resolution
An image with high resolution is crisp and sharp. That happens because of the high pixel count. A higher pixel count may also make the image or text look smaller. Overall, an image with high resolution is very detailed. You can keep zooming in without any consequences. At the same time, high resolution requires better and faster computer performance. If you’re working with an older model device, it may not support high resolutions, so keep that in mind.
Low resolutions do the exact opposite. The image does not look as sharp, text may appear larger, and it doesn’t require high performance from your device. Low resolution is easier to read, but it entails a fall in quality.
Of course, when we’re talking about high vs low resolution, we have to keep in mind the exact number of pixels. Consider YouTube, for example. A resolution of 1080p is desirable, but 720p is not bad either. It’s when you go below 720p that things really start to get bad. Ultimately, most people thrive for the highest resolution available. But, when you’re looking at photos or videos as a viewer, a slight fall in resolution might not bother you as much as you’d think. It’s also helpful to think about it in terms of your screen size. You can get away with slightly lower resolution when you’re looking at a photo on your phone. But, once you display that same image on a large projector screen, the poor quality will become more striking.
Why resolution is important
The importance of image resolution does not only pertain to the image preview you see on your camera’s monitor. Sure, it will ultimately make your images sharper and crisper, but it’s about a lot more than that.
After you’re done with the photographing, you’re not really done with the photo itself. There is a lot of work that goes into each photo in the process of editing. Naturally, it’s a lot easier to edit a high-quality photo. You can zoom in to greater detail and the quality of editing will be higher as a result. The best way to understand this concept is to compare an image with high resolution to an image with low resolution. The former will look sharp and distinct, while the latter will look unprofessional and fuzzy.
The resolution of the photograph decides how big you can make the image without compromising its quality. The higher the resolution, the more wiggle room you have with the size. A high-quality image can turn into a poster or be displayed on a big screen, while a low-quality image is destined to a life on the screens of mobile devices. You can make it bigger too, of course, but it would lose all sharpness and detail.
You have probably seen resolution described as two numbers, like 1600 x 1200 or 640 x 480. The second number describes the number of lines in the image, while the first one describes the number of pixels each line displays. Thus, a resolution of 1600 x 1200 has 1200 lines with 1600 pixels in each. You can multiply the two numbers to get the final pixel count in the picture. Naturally, the higher the pixel count, the better the image quality.
Resolution in photography
The obvious question is, does higher resolution equal better quality? The short answer is – yes. In essence, that’s exactly what it means. The higher the pixel count on your image, the higher the quality of the photo. But, it’s not enough to just buy a camera with the highest number of megapixels you can find on the market. It will definitely help produce high-quality photographs, but there are other factors in play that you should consider.
The lens you use has the power to make or break your photos. Some lenses are not capable of taking advantage of the full megapixel count of your camera. Therefore, if you’re going to invest in a superb camera, you should also think about purchasing a lens that will be able to resolve all that detail. In the opposite case, your camera will just go to waste.
Other factors affecting the quality of image are aperture, ISO, and shutter speed, also known as the three pillars of photography. To take advantage of your camera, you need to find the right settings that will enhance the image. Failing to do that may lead to prominent motion blur, diffraction, low sharpness, and overall loss of quality. If you have a high-quality 45-megapixel camera, it will maintain that quality in every shot. That means that it will pick up all the errors produced by the lens and make them more prominent.
High resolution can make your job as a photographer and editor a lot easier. It will make your photos look sharper and add definition. If you find a great camera that offers high resolution photos, go for it! However, keep in mind that resolution is not everything. You need to find an appropriate lens and use other settings on your camera to make your photos look flawless.