Chapter 3. Controlling Picture Quality

In This Chapter

  • Reviewing factors that lead to poor photo quality

  • Exploring resolution, pixels, and ppi

  • Calculating the right resolution for traditional print sizes

  • Understanding the tradeoff between picture quality and file size

  • Deciding on the best file format: JPEG or Raw?

  • Picking the right JPEG quality level

Almost every review of the Rebel XSi/450D contains glowing reports about the camera's top-notch picture quality. As you've no doubt discovered for yourself, those claims are true, too: This baby can create large, beautiful images.

Getting the maximum output from your camera, however, depends on choosing the right capture settings. Chief among them, and the topic of this chapter, is the appropriately named Quality setting. Found on Shooting Menu 1, this critical control determines two important aspects of your pictures: resolution, or pixel count; and file format, which refers to the type of computer file the camera uses to store your picture data.

Resolution and file format work together to determine the quality of your photos, so selecting from the eight Quality settings on your camera is an important decision. Why not just dial in the setting that produces the maximum quality level and be done with it, you ask? Well, that's the right choice for some photographers. But because choosing that maximum setting has some disadvantages, you may find that stepping down a notch or two on the quality scale is a better option every now and then.

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