This guide will cover the following:
- Camera resolution setting
- Camera color parameter or color profile
- Learn to use camera white balance settings
- Camera exposure settings
- Camera focus
- Camera ISO settings
- Digital camera aspect ratio
Tips for digital camera use and settings:
Camera resolution setting – Digital cameras have various resolution or quality settings which relate to the pixel dimensions of the photo captured. The resolution of a digital photo determines how large it can be printed and maintain the same quality as the original photo. You should always have your camera set on the highest quality or resolution setting no matter what print sizes you intend to produce. Even smaller print sizes will be slightly better quality since the higher resolution setting will capture more image data. If you want poster size or larger prints, you definitely need to use the highest quality setting.
Camera color parameter or color profile – Whenever possible, you should set a color profile on your camera to embed the photos with a standardized color parameter. This will standardize the color in the photo for better, more natural color output when the photo is printed. To start with, it is recommended to use a simple color profile such as sRGB, or if you are a more advanced user, establish any profile you like to work with in photo editing. Any quality print lab should be able to print your photos color managed to the embedded color profile. While it is possible to convert color profiles, it’s best not to do so as fine color definitions can be altered slightly when converted.
Learn to use camera white balance settings – Using the correct white balance setting when taking photos is very important for the best color and image dynamics. Most cameras have the setting designated as daylight, shade, flash and other such settings and more advanced cameras may have a feature for custom white balance. Learning to use the correct white balance settings will make a big difference in the quality of your digital photos, along with better color and photo image density.
Camera exposure settings – Photo exposure is probably one of the most critical settings for taking quality digital photos. Digital cameras are very light critical so leaning correct exposure techniques will yield much better photos. This is particularly important when printing large format prints. Incorrect exposure, or having to make excessive digital adjustments to a photo will bring out more grain and alter color in areas like shadows. The best technique to use is learning a camera’s exposure lock feature. With this feature, the photographer can select an area of the photo where best exposure is required, lock the exposure and then reframe the image as needed and take the picture.
Camera focus – The focus of the photo is extremely important when considering photo enlargements, especially very large prints. Photo details that may appear just fine on an 8×10 print all of a sudden can appear hazy when printed large. Most digital cameras have auto-focus that works well, but you need to be sure and give the camera time to focus. This is particularly true in lower light conditions. It is also a good idea to learn to use the camera’s focus lock feature, where you can lock on to a certain area of the image for best focus and reframe the image before taking the picture. Camera shake should be mentioned here as another problem. Again, this problem may not be noticed on small prints, but can be a big problem for very large prints. This problem can be magnified in low light conditions where the camera uses a longer exposure. You want to steady the camera as much as possible at all times, and we recommend using a tripod and image stabilization lens whenever possible.
Camera ISO settings – Today’s digital cameras have amazing ISO settings, but you need to be careful when using high ISO for low light conditions when considering photo enlargements. The higher the ISO setting, the more grain will be produced in the photo. Very high ISO will yield excessive grain which will be very apparent when the photo is printed large. It may be a better choice to use a lower ISO and then digitally adjust the photo in an image editor if you plan on printing photo enlargements.
Digital camera aspect ratio – All digital cameras produce a certain format or image aspect ratio and some cameras can be set to a variety of different aspect ratios. This is the ratio of image width to height and you should be aware of the aspect ratio of your camera when framing and considering photo enlargements. When taking photographs for a certain print size or format, it may be required to crop the original photo so you should take this into consideration when framing the photo.