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The way a digital camera works is that it processes light and color information through its lens and then records this information onto a removable media card. The information stored to this media card consists of digital data that is ultimately represented in digital pixels. A 2 Megapixel (MP) camera can process and record images that consist of 2 million pixels apiece. Similarly, a 8 Megapixel (MP) camera can process and record images that consist of 8 million pixels apiece. Why is this important?

Two reasons. First, the more pixels that can be recorded to an image, the larger the image can be printed. And second, the more pixels an image contains, the more detail will be revealed of the subject

The Olympus EVOLT E-300 is a 8.0 megapixel camera. This lesson explains the role of megapixels by comparing an 8 megapixel camera (Olympus EVOLT E-300) with a 2 megapixel camera (Olympus D-520).



(Click on any image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  • Components of resolution
  • Comparing Megapixels
  • Image Quality
  • Setting your resolution for high resolution prints
  • Outdoor lighting tips
  • Downloading and printing your images

Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Camera/Media

Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex Boom
  • Photoflex BoomStand
  • Photoflex LiteDisc 22" Black/Silver
  • Photoflex LiteDisc 22" Soft Gold/White
  • Photoflex LiteDisc Holder
  • Tan muslin background and spring clips

Computer and Software

  • USB enabled computer
  • Olympus Camedia software
  • Olympus P-400 dye transfer printer
  • Olympus A-4 Gloss Dye Sublimation Media

 

The image above is a composite of two photographs taken by two different digital cameras, an 8 Megapixel camera and 2 Megapixel camera. For comparative purposes, we’ve magnified these images to be of equal scale. Notice how the difference in detail is very obvious.

(Note: if you have a 3, 4 or 5 Megapixel camera, your resolution capabilities will fall somewhere in between these examples.)

In addition to the differences between cameras, there are also settings you can make within each camera to render its optimal resolution (image size and quality).

The first part of this lesson focuses on the difference of resolution between an Olympus EVOLT E-300 SLR digital camera (8.0 MP) and an Olympus D-520 Zoom digital camera (2.0 MP), and walks through the process of taking an outdoor portrait. The second part focuses on downloading images to your computer, and preparing it for the highest quality print resolution possible.

 

 

Basically, there are 2 variables that determine the resolution of an image: Camera Megapixel Size (2 MP, 3 MP, 4 MP, 5 MP, 8MP, etc.) and the Record Mode Settings (pixel dimensions/compression level). Here, we will take a look at the Record Mode settings of the EVOLT E-300.

 

 

RECORD MODE

ADJUSTING THE IMAGE QUALITY AND THE IMAGE SIZE

The EVOLT E-300 offers a variety of Record mode settings that ascend in both image size and quality. They are:

• SQ1, SQ2 Standard Quality 1, 2 - Two JPEG setting ideal for web quality images.
• HQ High Quality- a JPEG setting good for web and some print quality images. This setting offers the maximum pixel count with medium compression.
• SHQ Super High Quality – the least compressed JPEG format, great for both web and print, write time to card is faster than in TIFF or RAW formats. This setting offers the maximum pixel count with a minimum of compression.
• TIFF Tagged Image File Format - this format is designed expressly for print, applies no compression, but images take more time to write to card and file sizes can be quite large.
• RAW Olympus Raw Format (.orf)- because there is no compression applied to an image in this format, Image Quality is optimal and sometimes noticeably better than with the TIFF format, the write time to the card is slightly faster and file size is somewhat smaller than with the TIFF format, but files can only be displayed as images with the Olympus “Viewer” or “Studio” software. There is also a mode that allows you to shoot in both JPEG and RAW quality settings as well.

 

 

The chart below illustrates the differences between these modes.

 

Chart 1

Chart 1

 

This next chart illustrates the approximate number of images you can expect to record to either a 256 MB or 512MB CompactFlash card at various Record modes.

 

Chart 2

Chart 2

 

If you prefer to shoot in the RAW, TIFF or SHQ modes, we recommend purchasing larger CompactFlash cards, as you will only be able to record a few images to an empty 32MB card (2 for the RAW setting, 1 for the optimal TIFF setting and 8 for the Standard SHQ setting).

 

To select a Record Mode, press the resolution button on the back of the camera and turn the Main dial to choose from the selections. Here, we chose the SHQ mode (figure 1).



Figure 1

 

COMPARISONS

To give you an idea of the size differences between a 2MP camera and an 8MP camera, we photographed this Gerber daisy at the highest SHQ settings and placed the results next to each other. The examples here demonstrate the size ratio between these results (figures 2 & 3).

 

 

In the illustration below, notice how the 8 MP (3264x2448 pixels) results are more than 4 times the size of the 2 MP (1600x1200 pixels) results (figure 4).

 



Figure 4

 

As you can see, the size and image quality differences between these two images are huge, particularly when it comes time to making high quality prints.

SHOOTING FOR HIGH QUALITY PRINTS

For this next part of the lesson, we decided to shoot an outside portrait with the Olympus C-8080 Zoom to illustrate how your Record Mode settings will affect your print sizes.

First we set the resolution to its lowest Record Mode setting (SQ2, 1600x1200 pixels) by following the steps in Figures 1 and 2 and adjusted the White Balance for daylight (for an in-depth look at this process, check out the two lessons on this site entitled, "Using Digital White Balance Indoors" and "Using Digital White Balance Outside").

To demonstrate how easy it is to get great natural lighting, we set up this makeshift portrait studio in an empty car garage. When the garage door is open and the sun is overhead, it serves as a large window light source, perfect for portraits. We created a background quickly by setting up a Photoflex LiteStand and Boom and clipping a sheet of tan muslin cloth to it. We then draped it off to the side to create sweeping folds.

We set the Mode dial to MANUAL, set the aperture to f/3.5 so that we would have a shallow depth of field and the background would be out of focus. We focused on the model’s face, and took a shot (figures 5 & 6).

 

 

Our initial result is quite good. The light on our model's face gradually transitions from light to dark to create a natural sense of depth and the background is nicely out of focus due to our aperture setting of f/3.5. (For a more detailed on how and why to set your aperture and shutter speed manually, check out the lessons on this site entitled, "Controlling Depth Of Field In Outside Portraits" and "Controlling Depth Of Field In Product Photography".)

In order to reduce the contrast in a portrait setup, it is common to use a reflector to fill in the shadow areas of the face. To demonstrate this effect, we set up a Photoflex 22" Soft Gold/White LiteDisc on a LiteDisc Holder and LiteStand and positioned it to the right side of our model's face to serve as a "warm fill" light. We then increased the Record Mode setting to SQ1 (2592x1944 pixels) and took another shot (figures 7 & 8).

 

 

The result shows that the shadow side has lightened considerably, and yet there is still a sense of dimension to the face. This classic "main and fill" lighting setup is used often, as it is very flattering to many people's faces. But, remember that when it comes to lighting portraits, there is no "right" way and that it is always good to experiment with different setups. For some people, increasing the contrast may make it more flattering. This is particularly true for men. To illustrate, we simply replaced the Soft Gold LiteDisc with a 22" Black LiteDisc to create a "negative" fill. Lastly, we set the Record mode to SHQ (3264x2448 pixels) and took another shot (figures 9 & 10).

 

 

Notice the difference the Black LiteDisc made. The shadow side is much darker now and the angled features of our model are much more pronounced.

Keep in mind, however, that how you choose to light someone is a matter of personal taste. Having a few different LiteDiscs at your disposal allows you to come up with the look you're after.

 

 

DOWNLOADING AND PREPARING FOR PRINT

In order to download your new images onto your computer to manipulate, email, or print them, you’ll need to install the Camedia software that came with your camera. After you’ve successfully installed this software onto your computer, you can follow these next sequences.

When you want to import the images onto your computer, there are a couple of ways to do it. One way is to connect the camera directly to your computer using the included USB cable (figures 11 and 12).

 

 

Another way is to use a USB media card reader. This allows you a little more freedom with where the camera is situated. For instance, if you have the camera mounted to a tripod and you want to review the images before striking your set, you need to make sure the computer is within the relatively short USB cable distance to the camera. Otherwise, you have to remove the camera from the set to download the images. With a card reader, all you have to do is remove the card from the camera and insert it into the reader. Olympus makes readers for all types of media, including the new xD-Picture reader, and we can’t recommend them enough.

Once you’ve connected your camera or media card reader to your computer, a card icon will appear on your desktop (for Macs) or as an external drive (for PC) allowing you to then view, edit, and save the images onto your computer.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind that if you want to delete any images from the camera's card, it is best to do it while the card is in the camera and not in the Reader. Otherwise the card can become damaged.)

Using the Camedia software, you can do many things with your images, including preparing them email and the web, making calendars, postcards, photo albums, and basic printing. Here, we copied the images to our hard drive, loaded our Olympus Dye- Sublimation printer tray with Pictorico Glossy Photo Paper and made prints of each of our portrait result shots (figures 13, 14 & 15).

 



Figure 15

 

We printed the SQ2, SQ1 and SHQ versions of our model and placed them next to each other. Here, you can see the differences in print sizes from the various Record Mode settings.

Remember, if you don't have E-300 SLR, the same size ratio will apply to your digital camera. And you will get a higher quality 8x10" print from the SHQ setting than from the SQ2, SQ1 or HQ settings. So before you shoot photos for email, web sites, or prints, remember to set your resolution accordingly.

For tips on how to prepare your images for email using Camedia software, be sure to check out the lesson on this site entitled, "Basic Startup With An Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital Camera".

 


Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Camera/Media

Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex Boom
  • Photoflex BoomStand
  • Photoflex LiteDisc 22" Black/Silver
  • Photoflex LiteDisc 22" Soft Gold/White
  • Photoflex LiteDisc Holder
  • Tan muslin background and spring clips

Recommended Links

  • To learn more about Photoflex equipment, go to www.photoflex.com
  • For more tips and techniques on lighting and cameras, visit www.webphotoschool.com and sign
    up for access to the Member Lessons.

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