What format do I save my photos in?
Professional photographers prefer RAW or TIFF formats. They are the lossless formats. That means that little or no information is lost when they are saved. That may be fine if you're a professional but you can use up a lot of space on your camera's memory card if you use these formats. For day-to-day photography the jpeg (.jpg) format is just fine. Most cameras have at least 3 settings, they may be named differently in your camera but they all mean the same thing: low, medium and high. If you guessed low is the lowest quality and high is the best quality, you guessed right. The high setting compresses files slightly without a noticeable loss in quality. The low setting reduces the file size considerably but you may notice blocking of colors in and around the edges of objects and some loss of detail. That said, you can keep more low quality jpeg pictures on your camera's memory card than high quality jpegs.

Before you make any decisions about format take a peek at your camera's memory card. Think of the card as a roll of film. A 64mb card is like a small roll of film. You'll have to upload them to your computer more often to make room on your camera. A 512mb is a larger roll of film and you'll make fewer trips to your computer. A good first investment for a digital camera is to get a larger memory card if you need one. There are lots of features to consider when buying a card so speak to the professional who sold you your camera or refer to your manual. The more memory you have the more room to save.
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Photo file size explained.
We're talking about resolution here. It all depends on what you want to do with your photos. If you're going to print them on tee shirts or 8 x 10 prints you'll need a higher resolution. If you're going to print them out as 5x7 prints you'll do fine with a lower resolution. If you're just going to look at them on the web and never print them out then small is fine. Once again it's a juggling act of space on your camera's memory and computer and your personal preferences. The chart below will give you an idea of how much space each resolution will take. And what you can do with it.

Resolution Size in pixels Purpose Printed size File size*


2592 x 1944 or larger

Print or

Larger than
8.5 x 11 inches
216 x 279 mm

High= 1.500K
Med= 395K
low= 95K


2048 x 1536


8.5 x 11 inches
216 x 279 mm

High= 1.348K
Med= 245K
low= 68K


1600 x 1200

Print postcard size

4.7 x 3.5 inches
119 x 89 mm

High= 877K
Med= 160K
low= 48K


640 x 480

Web and email

No larger than
2 x 15 inches
54 x 40 mm

High= 165K
Med= 44K
low= 29K

Your camera may have different JPEG settings such as 'Normal', 'Fine', 'Superfine'. Actual size will vary from picture to picture
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Can I leave my photos on my camera?
Take them off your camera and save them on your computer, ASAP. That way, if the memory card fails or your camera is lost or stolen, you still have your photos.

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What about all my old photo prints?
Create a computer file archive by scanning them! Simply place a print on your scanner and using the software program that comes with it, specify a print-quality setting (if you have the option, 240-300 dpi/ppi). This will ensure that your photo looks crisp if you ever want to print it out. Some photo software will allow you to restore old photos by automatically adjusting faded colors or even 'patching' scratches and torn folds. Crop, scan and save the photo to your computer. And don't forget to burn your archived prints onto a disc, so you can hold onto your memories.

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