Image size vs image quality is one of the great debates in the age of digital photography. In our latest cheat sheet we’ll illustrate the effects on your images at different settings to show you just how size matters!
On most DSLRs, you get at least three levels of compression to choose from – the highest quality is ‘Fine’, the next-best is ‘Normal’, and ‘Basic’ is the lowest quality, and best reserved for emergencies.
Your camera also gives you a choice as to how many pixels you want your picture to have. To choose the maximum number your sensor allows, select Large (L). Medium (M) produces images 75 per cent of the width or height, while Small (S) produces images half the width or height of the full-size version.
We’ve illustrated the effects of this process in the infographic below. Simply click on the cheat sheet to see the full size version, or drag and drop it to your desktop to download.
How to set image size and quality
The process is pretty similar on most cameras. For the purposes of this tutorial we used a Nikon D3100
On a smaller Nikon D-SLR like the D3100, you need to press the ‘i’ button to display the Info screen, then use the multi-selector to highlight the quality (‘QUAL’) settings, top right.
Raw or JPEG?
If you choose raw from the Image quality menu, you’ll see that the Image size menu below is greyed out (RAW files are always shot at full size). To shoot JPEGs, choose Fine, Norm or Basic.
If you choose one of these JPEG options, you can then use the Image size menu to choose the Large (L), Medium (M) or Small (S) image size, but see the box at the top of this page before deciding.
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