If you are trying to fully understand the ins and outs of your digital camera and file size, you may be looking for clarification on some of the more technical aspects of their design. Understanding why the best digital cameras save images at different DPIs can help you take better photos and have more fun with your camera.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Digital cameras save images at different DPIs to suit a variety of use case scenarios.
  • Generally speaking, a lower DPI will be recommended for digital screens, while a higher DPI will be recommended for physical print jobs.
  • You can shift up the DPI by diving into the camera’s settings menu or by changing the resolution.
  • If no setting option is available, change the DPI of an individual image via a piece of photo editing software.

What is DPI?

DPI stands for dots per inch, and it generally refers to the overall resolution of the digital image and how many inches wide it is. This should not be confused with PPI, which is pixels per inch and is a term usually reserved for monitors and smartphone screens. Though it must be noted, DPI does refer to image dimensions that are shown on a computer screen or via a print job.

Insider Tip

DPI stands for dots per inch, and it generally refers to the overall resolution of the digital image and how many inches wide it is.

Why do Cameras Save Images at Different DPIs?

A good digital camera will typically offer the option to save a quality image with a wide variety of different DPIs. This is to make image files to suit different tasks. For instance, a DPI of 72 is usually sufficient for a computer screen, while a pixel dimension of 300 is good for normal print jobs. A DPI of 400 or above should be reserved for high-grade print jobs, where pixel density is extremely important.

So Higher is Always Better?

Not really. There is only so much the human eye can see when it comes to pixel density and pixel dimension, after all. There is a reason that a lower DPI is recommended for computer screens, while a higher DPI is recommended for printing physical images. This is also similar to what you should keep in mind when learning what the different focus types on a digital camera are.

When it comes to a digital photo on a computer screen, a high pixel dimension will technically be of a higher resolution, but the file will be larger and will slow down the website, app, or related piece of software. Balancing the resolution with the image size, pixel counts, and how many inches wide it is can be difficult.

Insider Tip

A DPI of 72 is usually sufficient for a computer screen, while a pixel dimension of 300 is good for normal print jobs.

How to Change the DPI on a Digital Camera

The steps will vary from camera to camera, but here are some steps to take to change the DPI of a digital photo on your digital camera.

Check the Settings

You may be able to change the DPI via the camera’s integrated settings. Read your instruction manual to learn the exact process to do so.

Change the Resolution

There may not be a way to physically change the DPI, as the DPI will fluctuate according to the resolution. If this is the case, change the image resolution the camera is set to capture via the settings menu. You can also change the resolution quality via a photo editing software app, such as Adobe Photoshop.

You can also get to understand the F Stop on a digital camera if you want to further pursue your photography interests.

Warning

A DPI of 400 or above should be reserved for high-grade print jobs, where pixel density is extremely important.

F.A.Q.S

How to choose and control image size and file size?

When it comes to choice, opt for a DPI of 72 for web-based digital images and go with 300 for standard print jobs. Higher-quality print jobs should shoot for a DPI of 400. As for control, the process will change depending on your camera.


How do I check the DPI of an image?

To check an image’s DPI in Windows, right-click on the file name and select Properties > Details. You’ll see the DPI in the Image section, labeled Horizontal Resolution and Vertical Resolution. On a Mac, open the image in Preview and select Tools > Adjust Size. It’s labeled Resolution.


When do you use DPI?

Dots per inch is an extremely important metric when it comes to completing physical print jobs, though it is also handy for web-based applications and software suites such as Adobe Photoshop.



STAT: This DPI number does not need to be exact, 10% or 15% variation won’t have a great effect. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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