Basic digital camera terminology

Photographs taken with digital cameras are saved as images in a compressed file type called JPEG. The JPEG file type is a universal file format for images. Some digital cameras can store the images uncompressed, in the TIFF and RAW file formats.

Compressed images have smaller file size, which enables the storage of more images in the camera’s memory card. Image quality has the tendency to degrade if the level of file compression is high, as opposed to relatively less-compressed image files.


Basic digital camera terminology includes TIFF, or Tagged Image File Format. This is a format that saves images in high resolution. This image file format has the ‘.tif’ extension.

During the storage of TIFF files, these do not lose file information (and therefore, image quality) as they undergo compression. The drawback of using the TIFF file format is that these files consume more memory card space compared to a JPEG file. TIFF files also take up a longer period when copied to a memory card.

The TIFF compression method shrinks images to approximately a third of its initial size. For purposes of illustration, one TIFF image file taken at 5 megapixels has a size of more than 14 megabytes. The selfsame photo shot as a high-quality JPEG image is only around megabytes. Default JPEG settings will create a 95 kilobyte file from the 5 megapixel shot.

Here’s a tip and more basic digital camera terminology: some of the more recent digital cameras may not support the TIFF file format. These cameras create RAW or JPEG files. If you have a camera that does not have the RAW or TIFF format, adjust your camera settings to the highest resolution possible for excellent images.

Compression and Image Quality

To achieve the best picture quality, adjust your camera’s settings for highest resolution and least compression. Basic digital camera terminology also includes the following: the degrees of compression that digital cameras provide include Basic, Normal, Fine, and Super Fine. The Fine setting (or its equivalent) allows for great picture quality and least file compression.

Set your camera to least compression if you wish to take photographs and crop or print them later on. Higher compressions are good for posting pictures on the Internet or sending these through email. It is recommended to apply the highest image quality setting so that you can print or even blow-up a photo later on. Images can be shrunk and still keep the level of quality. Image quality is often compromised if the same image is enlarged.

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