The amount of detail that the camera can capture is called the resolution, and it is measured in pixels. The more pixels a camera has, the more detail it can capture and the larger pictures can be without becoming blurry or "grainy."
Some typical resolutions include:
- 256x256 - Found on very cheap cameras, this resolution is so low that the picture quality is almost always unacceptable. This is 65,000 total pixels.
- 640x480 - This is the low end on most "real" cameras. This resolution is ideal for e-mailing pictures or posting pictures on a Web site.
- 1216x912 - This is a "megapixel" image size -- 1,109,000 total pixels -- good for printing pictures.
- 1600x1200 - With almost 2 million total pixels, this is "high resolution." You can print a 4x5 inch print taken at this resolution with the same quality that you would get from a photo lab.
- 2240x1680 - Found on 4 megapixel cameras -- the current standard -- this allows even larger printed photos, with good quality for prints up to 16x20 inches.
- 4064x2704 - A top-of-the-line digital camera with 11.1 megapixels takes pictures at this resolution. At this setting, you can create 13.5x9 inch prints with no loss of picture quality.
High-end consumer cameras can capture over 12 million pixels. Some professional cameras support over 16 million pixels, or 20 million pixels for large-format cameras. For comparison, Hewlett Packard estimates that the quality of 35mm film is about 20 million pixels [ref].
Next, we'll look at how the camera adds color to these images.