But let's imagine that you did photograph your shots using one of these Mega-cameras at their maximum resolution. The jpeg file required to save such an image is gargantuan and, if you're one of those unfortunates who access the internet using a dial-up connection, would require impossibly long to upload. To add insult to injury, eBay's auction software would then resample the file and discard 90% of it to create an image of 3” x 5” or less. By contrast, an image composed of a 300 x 350 pixel array creates a file that is about 30 kb in size, which is far friendlier in terms of both uploading to the web and storing on your hard-drive. 

Figure 5
Small is beautiful when it comes to digital photography.

These images were created using an Olympus 1.3 Megapixel point-and-shoot camera focused on a “Sunrise Pure Rye” shot glass, from Sonnenschein of Chicago.
The images in the left column were created with the camera set at its lowest resolution, the images on the right at its highest.
The photos in the top row show the entire glass and have been reduced to 50% of actual size for printing. The image on the left is composed of a 306 x 363 pixel array and displays 4-3/4” wide x 5-3/4” high on a 17" computer screen. The jpeg file is 31kb on diskThe panels printed at actual size (100%) show that this 31 kb image is crisp and clean and perfect for display. The image shown at right was generated from a 95 kb, high-resolution jpeg. There is no difference in image quality: all that the extra resolution buys you is increased demands on storage space and upload time.
The differences between the low- and high resolution images only begin to show when they're enlarged. At 200%, the low-resolution image (left) begins to reveal its pixels and at 400% becomes unusable. By contrast, the high-resolution image on the right is still holding together well at 200%. Only at 800% do the individual pixels become obvious in the high-resolution image, corresponding to a print size of approximately 38” x 46”.


In other words, unless you plan on making a 6-foot tall poster of a Hayner to put behind your bar, a 2- to 4-Megapixel model will serve all of your photographic needs. If I were shopping for a camera today, I would take a very close look a Nikon Coolpix [Figure 1], an Olympus Camedia [Figure 6A], or a Canon Powershot [Figure 6B], all in the $150 - $200 range.  

If budget is more limited, then you might want to look at used cameras. All of my shot photography is carried out using a three-year old Olympus. Even though it’s only rated at 1.3 Megapixels, that’s still more power than is necessary [Figure 5] and hence I always have it set at its lowest resolution.

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