Digital Photo Processing

With the advent of digital photography, it is now possible for the consumer to do their own digital photo processing rather than hand the procedure over to a digital camera photo processing shop. These days, anyone with a suitable printer connected to their computer can do their own digital photo printing.

Digital images are normally transferred to a computer where they can be edited and processed with specialised software and then printed out, but to get the best possible quality prints several guidelines should be followed.

When downloading your digital photographs to a computer, always ensure that the images are transferred at their original resolution. The reason for saying this is that some software will automatically down size the pictures to a preset size, a process which should be avoided.

However, some older or less expensive cameras do not have sufficient pixels to give a good resolution and therefore decent printed pictures. The majority of photo processing outlets print pictures at 300 pixels per inch and for you to obtain the same level of quality when processing and printing you own photographs, those images should have a resolution of at least that level.

Pixels are the individual dots that make up a digital photograph. Digital Cameras are nearly always rated in mega-pixels (millions of pixels) which is the total number of pixels that camera can record. A digital camera with a rating of six mega-pixels is able to capture images which are 3008 pixels high by 2000 pixels wide.

As the number of pixels in any digital image is fixed, the more the size of a photograph is increased the less the number of pixels per inch. Consequently, if the image is enlarged beyond the standard of 300 pixels per inch the resulting clarity and sharpness will be reduced. Photographs from cameras rated at two mega-pixels can be printed as large as 5.8" x 3.8" at 300 pixels per inch, whereas a four mega-pixel camera can print photos as large as 8.2" x 5.4".

It follows therefore, that first step in getting good quality prints is to ensure that your images are at the correct resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch.

Digital Photo Editing

One of the advantages of using digital cameras is the ability to edit the resulting images before you actually print them out. There is a problem, however, with editing images that have been saved in JPEG format. Because of the way that a JPEG image is compressed in order to reduce the resulting file size, each time they are re-saved they lose a little bit of data. Ultimately, each time a JPEG image is edited and resaved, the quality of that image will decrease significantly. In order to avoid this scenario, try to minimize the number of edits to a JPEG image to one or two at most and save the edited image under a new file name which will keep the original file intact. Of course, if the images are stored in an uncompressed format like TIFF, you would be able to do as many edits as you like without any loss of quality.

Digital Photo Printing

Once you have got to the point that you want to print your pictures, you can either do this yourself or enlist the services of a photo processing store. Many photo processing stores and mail order processing services offer a facility whereby you can upload your photograph files up to their server and they will print your photographs for you. Once they are printed you can pick them up, in the case of a store, or have them mailed to you where the service is on-line only.