How Do I Learn How to Take High Resolution Photos?

Digital Camera FAQ: Questions on Working With Images

Camera resolution
Most digital camera image sensors allow you to shoot at a variety of resolution counts. Nikon

Most of the newer digital cameras have plenty of resolution for beginning photographers to make reasonably sized prints, which means the maximum resolution in a digital camera isn't as important as it used to be. In other words, most new digital cameras can shoot what are considered high-resolution photos.

Remember, still, images in a digital camera aren't given labels such as HD (high definition) or ultra HD, such as you may find when shooting movies with a digital camera or a digital camcorder or when watching TV.

So you may be confusing high resolution with a high definition when asking this question.

Because there's no "standard" number for a high-resolution photo, determining what's considered high resolution will be different from photographer to photographer. Keep in mind that earlier this decade, 10 megapixels of image resolution was considered a lot and may have been considered a high resolution.

Not anymore. Now, even the most basic digital cameras, such as the best cameras for under $200, often will offer 20 megapixels of resolution. And high-level DSLRs can offer as much as 36 megapixels or more of resolution, such as the Nikon D810. The designation of what's considered a high-resolution photograph will change as the camera technology improves in the future.

Understanding Megapixels

Before we go any farther, we should explain how megapixels work in cameras. One megapixel is equal to 1 million pixels.

A pixel is an extremely tiny individual area on the image sensor that measures the amount of light that travels through the camera lens and strikes it. A digital photograph combines all of the pixels that the image sensor can measure. So an image sensor that contains 20 megapixels will have 20 million individual areas where it can measure light.

 

Other Things to Consider

Although resolution amounts are important in determining image quality with still images, keep in mind that all digital cameras of a particular resolution aren't going to yield the same image quality. Lens quality, image sensor quality, and response times of the camera all affect image quality, too.

The amount of resolution you'll want to your DSLR or point and shoot camera depends on how you plan to use the photos. Larger prints require more resolution if you're seeking to make the print as sharp and vibrant as possible. For images with a lot of resolution, you also can crop the photo and still print at a large size without losing detail in a print.

Unless you're a professional photographer, it's difficult to imagine that most cameras don't have enough resolution for shooting what would be considered high-resolution photos. You can make extremely large prints with only 10 megapixels as long as the photo is exposed correctly and is sharply focused

Shooting a Great Photo

Rather than worrying about the maximum resolution at which you can record a photo, make sure you're shooting with proper exposure and in good lighting to ensure the best possible image quality. You'll be much happier with your photography results if you take the time to have a great subject, great composition, accurate focus, and proper exposure, rather than worrying so much about whether it's going to be a high-resolution photograph.

It's also important to understand that a camera with a larger image sensor is going to create a higher-quality photo than a camera with a smaller image sensor, even if the cameras offer the same amount of resolution. So resolution and megapixel counts aren't the only aspects to pay attention to when trying to decide whether you're shooting what would be considered a high-resolution photo.

Find more answers to common camera questions on the camera FAQ page.