on resolution

Pixel DogI’d venture to say that, for other than those in the professional media industry, the resolution of a digital image is pretty much irrelevant.

By resolution I mean the volume and quality of information in a file. A common marketing concept is that more is better. More pixels, more data, more information. It’s what drives the digital photography technology industry. Megapixels. The bigger the number, the better the camera; so goes the commercial message.

Another over-hyped feature in camera technology is manual control. That is, the ability to adjust an image based on the control of shutter speed, aperture, and white balance. But, again, I would say that very few people other than professional photographers or hardcore hobbyists actually care about this.

For most of us, it’s point and shoot. End of story.

Megapixels and manual control present unnecessary challenges to the average user.

Image exposure is a relatively complicated theoretical process. And more megapixels means more time, more battery power, and more memory. The more data a device packs into an image file, the more computing technology you as a user have to throw at it.

I’ve studied photography and own a few photographic devices, including a pseudo-SLR with double-digit megapixel powers. But I’ve been shooting exclusively with my iPhone’s built-in camera for the past few days and find the experience just fine. Fun, even.

Sure, the iPhone camera is low resolution. It’s just 2 megapixels. And there are no manual controls, not even a zoom. But I’m capturing some decent shots and the whole process is so simple. What’s more, I can moblog images at the moment of capture, which allows me to generate a sort of ongoing journal of my day.

Rather than megapixels and manual control, I’d say photography is more about experience and integration into lifestyle now. It’s all about how easy it is to snag a moment and communicate it to people who aren’t there. As mobile technologies drive us away from our desktops, the actual quality of the images we capture matters much less. As long as we can snap and share with a minimum of fuss, we’ll be happy.