I come from the world of film cameras, where larger negatives are generally preferred over smaller negatives because they generally can hold more information and detail.
Now, with digital cameras, they have options that allow the photographer to select how much resolution to use for each photograph. Furthermore, the cameras allow specifying aspect ratio, but this also affects resolution.
On my ultra-portable and waterproof Sony DSC-TX30 digital camera, I can select many different resolutions/aspect-ratio combinations for still photographs.
Here are the choices:
- 18M (4:3)
- 10M (4:3)
- 5M (4:3)
- VGA (4:3)
- 13M (16:9)
- 2M (16:9)
What I really want is maximum resolution (18M) at 16:9, but that's not available with the sensor on this camera, likely due to its shape.
Even though I generally view photographs on a 16:9 screen, it still seems like taking the photographs at 18M (4:3) is the best choice. That way, the camera is saving the most data, and I can always crop later if I really want.
The downsides seem to be:
- When viewing photographs on a (now) typical 16:9 computer screen or a 16:9 TV, the image does not take up the entire screen. This is a significant downside as this is the medium on which I view most of my photographs.
- When taking a photograph, it's challenging to frame the shot for 16:9 when the camera's screen is showing 4:3.
Out of the thousands of photographs I take per year, I only print 1-3 of them; I print in fairly large scale (at least 30" for the larger dimension) for mounting on a wall. Except for these photos, I tend not to perform any post-production.
Is there a standard practice or guidelines to use when taking digital photographs to help the photographer decide whether to use a higher resolution at a less desirable aspect ratio (4:3) versus using a lower resolution at a more desirable aspect ratio (16:9)?