I have a Sony Mavica digital camera, and am confused about the combination of settings I would need to use in order to get the best quality image should I want to enlarge past 8 x 10 print size, possibly even to poster size. My camera offers the following options:
Image size: 1600 x 1200 / 1600 (3:2) / 1280 x 960 / 640 x 480
Pic Quality: Fine / Standard
Also, again referring to enlargements, the camera has a 6x digital zoom...am I better off NOT using the zoom if I want to enlarge the final image? I remember reading that digital zoom causes distortion or noise when an image is enlarged.
If you need more info to answer my question, please let me know. I appreciate any advice!!
I have a small Canon 2.1Mp with about the same resolution as your Sony. I'd highly recommend you set it to either 1600x1200 or 1600x1280 and set picture quality to Fine. I made enlargements up to 5x7 with my camera and they looked pretty good to me. Do NOT use the digital zoom if you want quality. It's the same as if you take a digital picture and crop part of the picture (ie same amount of pixels being displayed in a bigger space).
I used a couple of Sony Mavica's at work when doing accident investigations and other fun stuff. Most of our output was to normal printers, so quality wasn't the main issue.
I think it should go without saying that the largest pixel dimensions your camera offers (1600 x 1200) at the higher setting (Fine) will give you the best resolution for an 8 x 10. 1600 (3:2) will make your image proportional to a 'standard' 4x6 print dimensions.
You don't give the megapixel size of your camera, but with a 1600x1200 max, I'll guess it's less than 3 MP, which is not condusive to poster-sized enlargements.
And yes, digital zoom is a myth, a bell-and-whistle feature to make the camera seem more versitle than it truely is. Digital zoom, simply put, sacrifices image quality for subject closeness. In other words, if you have the camera set for the highest quality jpeg, using digital zoom will automatically lower the image quality in order to make the picture 'bigger'.
You've got a good digital camera for snapshots, but if you want to enlarge your pictures beyond 4x6 or 5x7, you'll need to upgrade your equipment.
Oh, and just a heads up: this question is best posed in the 'Digital Photography' forum, contact a moderator and they can move it for you.
You MIGHT be able to pull off a good 8x10, assuming the interpolation facilities of PSE and Genuine Fractals. Try resizing in you image editing software and print something out, just to see what you get.
I have found, depending on final usage, that printing anywhere from 180 to 240 dpi will produce an acceptable to very good 8x10 print. If you want an excellent 8x10 that looks like it was shot with an ISO 100 or slower film you really need about 300 dpi. Anything higher that 300 dpi is just wasted, human eyes are not that good and most printers are not capable of resolving detail beyond 300 dpi. Don't let the 2400 dpi or higher numbers that the printer makers tout, after the averageing and filling in that is done by the inkjet process, you won't get more than 300 dpi and you certainly cannot see it. FYI, I read somewhere that someone with 20/20 can only see about 12 line pairs per mm and this works out to 300 DPI. If your vision is 20/40 you won't be able to see any difference between 300 dpi and 150 dpi, unless you put on some reading glasses and get REAL CLOSE.
Bottom lining it, take your image size, divide it by 200, and that is the print size in inches that you can get a print that will pass muster with 95% of the people you show it to. That means that a 1200 x 1600 pixel image will make a very good 6 x 8 inch print, one that 95% of the people who look at it will think is quite sharp. I have routinely made 8x10 prints from 1200 x 1600 pixel files for documentation purposes that serve the intended use perfectly and they appear fairly sharp, about what you would get using Kodak MAX film.