As you can see, resolution is a bit of a sticky wicket. What if you aren't sure how large you want to print your images? What if you want to print your photos and share them online?
Personally, I take the "better safe than sorry" route, which leads to the following recommendations about whether to choose Large, Medium, or Small when you select a Quality setting:
1 Always shoot at a resolution suitable for print. You then can create a low-resolution copy of the image in your photo editor for use online. Chapter 9 shows you how.
Again, you can't go in the opposite direction, adding pixels to a low-resolution original in your photo editor to create a good, large print. Even with the very best software, adding pixels doesn't improve the print quality of a low-resolution image.
1 For everyday snapshots, the Medium setting (5.3 MP) is probably sufficient. I find that 10 MP, which is what you get from the Large setting, to be overkill for most casual snapshots, which means that you're creating huge files for no good reason. So I stick with Medium unless I'm shooting critical images.
^ Jump up to Large (10 MP) if you plan to crop your photos or make huge prints. Always use the maximum resolution if you think you may want to crop your photo and enlarge the remaining image. For example, when I shot the left photo in Figure 3-6, I wanted to fill the frame with the butterfly, but I couldn't do so without getting so close that I risked scaring it away. So I kept my distance and took the picture at the Large setting, which enabled me to crop the photo and still have enough pixels left to produce a great print, as you see in the right image.
^ Reduce resolution if shooting speed is paramount. If you're shooting action and the shot-to-shot capture time is slower than you'd like — that is, the camera takes too long after you take one shot before it lets you take another — dialing down the resolution may help. Lower resolution produces smaller files, and the smaller the file, the less time the camera needs to record the image to your memory card. Also see Chapter 7 for other tips on action photography.
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