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Digicams - Choosing a Compression Setting

Your digital camera probably provides a control for choosing the amount of compression that is applied to your images. Compression is, in a nutshell, simply a way of trimming some data out of an image file so that its file size is reduced.

Typically, compression settings are given the same vague monikers as resolution settings: Good/Better/Best or High/Normal/Basic, for example. Remember that these names refer not to the type or amount of compression being applied, but to the resulting image quality. If you set your camera to the Best setting, for example, the image is less compressed than if you choose the Good setting. Of course, the less you compress the image, the larger its file size, and the fewer images you can fit in the available camera memory.

Because all cameras provide different compression options, you need to consult your manual to find out what the options on your particular model do. Typically, you find a chart in the manual that indicates how many images you can fit into a certain amount of memory at different compression settings. But you need to experiment to find out exactly how each setting affects picture quality. Shoot the same image at several different compression settings to get an idea of how much damage you do to your pictures if you opt for a higher degree of compression. If you camera offers several capture resolution settings, do the “compression test” for each resolution setting.

As you choose your capture settings, remember that the pixel count and compression work in tandem to determine file size and image quality. Tons of pixels and minimum compression mean big files and maximum image quality. Few pixels and maximum compression mean tiny files and lesser image quality.


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