Digital Camera Photo Files
Digital Camera Photo Files
Mark Comon (Vice President, Paul's Photo, Torrance, CA) gives expert video advice on: How does my digital camera turn my picture into a file?; How do various types of memory cards differ?; How much memory do I need for my digital camera? and more...
What is a digital photo "file"?
A digital photo file is your picture. With digital cameras your picture is stored on the memory card. It's called a jpeg or jpg file. That's your picture. Just like your letter is a Word document or your spreadsheet at work is an Excel file, your pictures are generally a jpeg file stored on the memory card that's then transferred to the computer or transferred to the photo lab to print. A jpeg file is a picture. That's where your pictures are.
How does file size affect my digital camera's image quality?
One of the basic settings you need to make on your digital camera is to adjust the number of megapixels and the type of file you make on the camera. Most of your cameras come with the camera set at less than highest quality, so you need to go into the menu on your digital camera and adjust to set the camera to the highest megapixel and to the highest picture quality, or what I call fine JPEG. Some cameras actually call it fine JPEG, some call it high-quality or super-quality, but you want to set on your digital camera in the setup menu first when you get it out of the box, or if you come to Paul's Photo or a camera store like mine, we always do that for our customers to make sure that you're getting the best quality.
How does my digital camera turn my picture into a file?
With digital camera photo files, when you take a picture in a digital camera it's not a picture, its data, it's ones and zeros, binary information. The camera chip inside the digital camera takes the life; the world that we see converts it to electronic information. Then the computer in the digital camera assembles that into a picture. We call that the jpeg file. The jpeg file in your camera can be saved either as a large file, a medium size file, or a small size file, this is called image compression. So, we want to set the camera to do jpegs, but we want to take the biggest file size that we can, or the least compression, or fine jpeg, because this would give us the best picture quality.
What file-size options should my digital camera have?
Your digital camera's going to come with some file-size options. I really don't find those to be important. You have the camera; you buy a ten megapixel camera. I really think it's a mistake to shoot that camera at anything less than ten megapixels. The only thing I can think about here would be if you're just doing things for eBay or other online applications where you may want to turn down to lower picture quality. My advice to my customers is always shoot at the highest quality and when you get to the computer later on, turn down the quality there. I don't like to recommend lower quality in the camera because what happens if you forget when you're shooting eBay, and the cat jumps up on the table and does something crazy and you want a picture of it and you've got it at this crummy eBay quality? You want the best quality all the time, and then readjust it later.
Where does my digital camera store my photo files?
The camera takes the picture, looks at the image, transfers it to the memory card. The memory card remembers our digital film. Whether your camera takes Compact Flash, Secure Data, X-Data -- Extreme Data -- or a memory stick, that's where your camera stores the pictures: on the memory card. The four types of memory cards are Compact Flash, Secure Data, Extreme Data, and Memory Stick that goes in a Sony camera.
How do various types of memory cards differ?
When you're buying a digital camera don't think about what memory card it takes unless you have other devices that take a memory card that you wish to match. Most customers are buying their second or third digital camera, and they already have a stack of memory cards. So I think it's wise to try buy your next camera that takes the same memory cards. Or maybe you have a mp3 player or a PDA or something that takes a memory card, like a secure data card (SD card). The secure data cards are really cool because they fit in most of the movie cameras today as well. So you can use the same memory card in your PDA's, some of your phones, and your digital camera. That's really cool. Compact Flash cards generally offer the most power, the fastest, and the biggest. But they are a little bit bigger. It's quite a bit bigger than the SD type card. So this card won't fit in the super small compact cameras, but in the bigger SLR cameras this is what you are going to have to take. Some of the older small cameras took these, not anymore because those cameras are to big for todays market.
Which memory card should I buy with my digital camera?
So what's the best memory card? The best memory card for my camera is the one that it takes. When you're buying a digital camera, don't think about what memory card it takes, unless you have other devices that take a memory card that you wish to match. Most customers are buying their second or third digital camera and they already have a stack of memory cards. So, I think it's wise to try to buy your next camera that takes the same memory cards. Or maybe you have an MP3 player or a PDA or something that takes a memory card.
How much memory do I need for my digital camera?
How much memory do you need for your digital camera? Well, it depends on how many pictures you want to take. Remember, we talked about on your digital camera, you want to shoot generally in the fine jpeg mode. Fine jpeg mode means the camera stores the pictures on the memory card at roughly half the mega pixels on the camera. So, if I have an eight mega pixel camera shooting in fine jpeg mode, my pictures are about four megabytes on the camera. So, how big of a memory card or how much memory do I need? How many pictures do you want to take? If I have a one gigabyte card, which is a thousand megabytes, with an eight mega pixel camera shooting in fine jpeg mode, my pictures are four megabytes a piece, that means I get about two hundred and fifty, rough numbers, pictures on a one gigabyte card. So, if I don't need two fifty, I could go down to a five twelve megabyte or half gigabyte card and get one hundred to one hundred and twenty five pictures. If I need more pictures, I could go to a two gigabyte card and get five hundred pictures. How many pictures do you want to take before you have to change the memory card?
How many digital photos can a memory card hold?
Well, it depends on the quality of your digital pictures. Remember we talked earlier to shoot the camera at the highest megapixel and find JPEG? When you go to buy a camera at a big box or club store, it's going to say on the sign 'thousands of pictures on your memory card!' Woah, dude! Thousands of pictures! Well, that's at low quality. How many pictures your memory card can take depends on the quality. If you set the camera to the higest megapixels and the highest picture quality, remember that the picture size on the memory card is going to be roughly half the megapixels on the camera. So if I have a ten megapixel camera, the pictures are going to be five megabytes apiece on the memory card. So how many pictures will my memory card hold? You divide the number of megabytes into the total megabytes of the card. So if I have a five hundred and twelve megabyte card and my pictures are five megabytes each, I can get roughly a hundred pictures on the memory card. Now, I could also set that camera to get a thousand pictures on the memory card. But they're much lower quality pictures. You want to take the best quality pictures you can.