Digital camera's and good prints

  Fateful Shadow 09:33 12 Aug 2004

We've got this digital camcorder and it's a bit old (I don't think the resolution is even a megapixel!) which can take still shots. However, when my dad puts the shots on the computer and tries to print them out, they look really 'blocky,' and I'm guessing that's because of the camera's low resolution.

If we wanted to print out A4 pictures which were good quality, would we have to buy a camera that has a higher number of megapixels, or am I just getting confused?

Thanks :)

  cga 09:43 12 Aug 2004

Simply the answer is Yes. The full print resolution for a full a4 page is about 120 megapixels on an average photo printer. Clearly you are not going to (and dont need to) take photos at that resolution because the print software fills in. What you do need is a matter of judgement but I would say the minimum for a 6x4 print is 3 megapixels and you might just get a passable a4 print at this level. Be aware that the quality of the paper is just as important as the quality of the printer or picture when printing photos. I could not beleive how true this was until I did some tests. On ordinary paper it not only looks grainy but much of the detail disappears altogether.

Hope this helps

  Fateful Shadow 09:48 12 Aug 2004

So if I was to get a 5 megapixel camera and print out an A4 picture on photo paper that would bring pretty good quality prints then?

Thanks for the reply :)

  cga 09:59 12 Aug 2004

In my opinion - Yes.

THe only thing I will say is that display on a screen is not nearly so demanding and, after a few years of digital photography, that is how I view most of mine. I also put them on CD and view them in my DVD player.

A 5mp Camera should be fine for the special photo you want to print but I will bet that you will set it to a lower resolution for 2 weeks of holiday snaps :-)

  hssutton 10:02 12 Aug 2004

Well yes, but, a 3Mp camera with a good lens will give a better result than a 5Mp with a poor lens. Gets confusing doesn't it. You can buy an 8Mp camera for less than £100 and as much as £800 for a 3Mp camera + the cost of a lens.

Maybe a better question would be "I have X £s to spend, what camera do you reccomend?"

  961 10:10 12 Aug 2004

If you want good quality A4 prints you need a digital camera (not a camcorder) with a good quality optical zoom lens and a minimum 3 megapixels. Then you need a good photo printer (which need not be expensive...£60 will do, and good quality photo printer

Canon produce good cameras but so do several others. Go to Jessops and seek advice. You do not need to spend the earth and although it may be the case that the more megapixels the better the secret is lens quality. The above spec WILL produce A4 prints that will satisfy all but the most critical

Many camcorders will produce still prints but this is an add on and the quality is always going to be well down on a still camera

  961 10:11 12 Aug 2004

"and good quality photo paper"

  cga 10:20 12 Aug 2004

hssutton is right - there is a lot more to this than just the raw megapixels (althought I would not expect to find a 5 mp camera with a really poor lens).

In choosing a digital camera there are a number of key things to consider (in no specific order).

Megapixels (Should not be the only measure)

Battery type (this is a hotly debated subject)

Optical zoom

Memory type

Maybe you should try a specialist site. Here is one click here who have their own forum on this

  Djohn 10:21 12 Aug 2004

I use a Kodak DX6340 3.1 Mp 4 x zoom. The lens quality is excellent and using my Canon i850 printer I can print A4 photo's of top quality.

Used the camera at my sister-in-laws wedding recently and can't keep up with the request from relatives for copies of photo's. :o(

  Stuartli 10:36 12 Aug 2004

Most people actually make prints from .jpeg files and are perfectly happy with them.

  hssutton 10:40 12 Aug 2004

cga, you don't have to look far on the internet to find many 5Mp+ cameras with nothing more than a bit of plastic for a lens and digital zoom, for less than £100.

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