May 23, 2008, Newsletter Issue #91: Why Resolution Is Important

Tip of the Week

Pixel is short for “picture element.” Each cell within a sensor array essentially creates one pixel. And each pixel is one little detail about the object being photographed. The total number of pixels a sensor array records is called “resolution.”

Imagine if you were asked to describe the entire history of the world from the dawn of man, in as much detail as possible, with just 300,000 words. Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, Babylon, Rome, Greece, the Zulu Empire, the Mongol Horde, the Vikings, the Renaissance, the Incas…

How could you possibly fit all that – and more - into 300,000 words? It's the same scenario with digital cameras. You can only fit so much detail into 640 pixels by 480 pixels (VGA resolution). That's why these low-resolution pictures look grainy and fuzzy. There are only 311,040 pixels to work with.

Now imagine you've been given 8 million words to describe world history. That's more than 25 times more words to cover the same topic. While you'll still have to leave things out, your description will be a whole lot more detailed, won't it?

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Patricia Walters-Fischer