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The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Lesson 20 of 24

Image Size & File Settings

Khara Plicanic

The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

20. Image Size & File Settings


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:07:20
3 Exposure Triangle: Aperture Duration:13:22
4 Exposure Triangle: ISO Duration:07:15
5 Exposure Q&A Duration:24:07
6 Shooting Modes and Scenes Duration:04:05
7 Shooting Mode: Auto Duration:05:06
8 Shooting Mode: Program Duration:04:48
11 Shooting Mode: Manual Duration:23:41
12 Flash Duration:21:43
13 White Balance Duration:12:35
14 Exposure Compensation Duration:08:22
16 Focus Points Duration:08:27
17 What is a Pixel? Duration:04:41
18 Print Vs On-Screen Resolution Duration:17:26
19 Cropping Duration:11:14
20 Image Size & File Settings Duration:23:59

Lesson Info

Image Size & File Settings

Let's talk a little bit about the settings, then. So we have image size and our file size. So you had asked earlier, Gabby, how do you know? Well, your camera will probably tell you. When you're shopping for a camera, you wanna read, I know nobody likes to just read the details, but you see the trouble we get into when we don't read details. It's problematic. But you can look, there's usually, like, a short cheat sheet of technical information, and somewhere in there it will give you two numbers, and it will be pixels, dimensions. It'll be one giant number by another giant number, and it's literally telling you how many pixels across and how many pixels up and down the camera will capture. So that'll be in the specs somewhere when you're shopping, and it's super easy, especially if you're shopping online, it's so easy to find all that information. But then on the camera itself, they can really vary in the way that they talk about size. So some cameras will talk about it in terms of T-s...

hirts and what I call T-shirt sizes. So it will say, when you dig into your settings, it will say small, medium, or large, or sometimes it'll say postcard or poster or, I don't know. They talk about it in funny ways. Some cameras will talk about it in terms of megapixels. So it'll actually say, like, one megapixel, four megapixels, 12 megapixels. Or other cameras will talk about it in terms of the actual pixel dimensions. So then they'll literally write out 400 by 600 or whatever. It goes up from there and it gets all weird big numbers. So that is all gonna be in your menu settings somewhere, so you're gonna have to dig around. That's not a button. Just make peace with it, dig into your menu, and find that, and I recommend always keeping it on that larger setting, because you don't wanna get screwed later. If you do capture something really important and you really wanna be able to print it, you can't add photo, you can't add pixels after the fact. You can only really deal with it right then. So your best bet is to capture as big as possible and downsize if you need to, but, yeah, don't get screwed there. So set it on the high one. Then these little icons underneath here, this has to do with compression, and this is related to file format. So the L means large. That's like the T-shirt size. So these are all just different ways of saying the same thing. The small/medium/large, the megapixels, or the dimensions. That will vary by your manufacturer. But then most of them will follow that up with this little icon. The L again is the size, but then that little graphic next to it is either that curved little... It looks like a pizza pie. I'm all about food. Are you sensing this? It's silly. Peanut butter. That looks like a pizza, sort of a wedge, or cheese, maybe. That is talking about compression. The other one that looks like a jagged staircase represents a compressed file. So that is not related to the number of pixels. That's basically how, I like to think of it as how carefully they're packed. So if you were packing for a trip, for example, and you were gonna bring the same amount of clothes either way, you could shove your clothes into a backpack and then you have just a backpack, but your clothes might be wrinkled when you get to your destination. Or you can take the same amount of clothes and you could very nicely, like, if you were Martha Stewart, you would nicely pack in your big, beautiful suitcase that's color-coordinated for the season, and who knows? But you would have everything all packed, you know, nicely and spaciously, and everything would arrive like, ah, smelling like flowers and looking beautiful. But it's the same amount of clothes. It's just they take up more space in the fancy Martha Stewart suitcase versus the backpack that I would probably travel with. That's what that symbol means. It has to do with compression. So those pixels are either compressed and they take up less file size or they're less compressed and they take up more space on your memory card, but the number of pixels is gonna be the same, and that's key, 'cause people think that they're the same thing, but they're not. You can take an image that's 12 megapixels, for example, and you can compress it into a small file size, but it still has all those 12 megapixels. Or you can leave it more uncompressed, but the number of pixels would be the same. You guys have any questions on that? That's kind of a tricky... I don't know, people struggle with that a little bit. So that's compression. And that has to do with the JPGs. So that's not relevant to the RAW files. I also mentioned that we were gonna talk briefly about picture styles. That is another thing that is related to JPG. So let's talk, before we discuss that, let's talk about JPG versus RAW, 'cause I know this is a big point of confusion or even argument and debate between people. So here is my, I'm gonna try to remain neutral for as long as I can, about RAW versus JPG and what that really means and how it works. So there are two different file formats. So in your camera you can choose between capturing RAW or capturing JPG. JPG is usually the default, but your everyday image is, we trade JPGs. Like we trade all kinds of other commodities, JPGs are basically a commodity. So they're friendly and easy and all that. Other people prefer to shoot RAW. And the end result is gonna be the same. The beginning and the end is gonna be the same. You start by taking a photograph, you end with a finished file. It's just the in between that is slightly different. So let's talk about JPG first. So when you shoot JPG, you're capturing the image, it gets on, you know, it's in the camera, it's on the sensor. It gets cooked. I call it cooking. That's what I call the image processing. So we see this little dish here of it being cooked. So it's getting processed, and then it's gonna get saved to your memory card as a JPG, and that's it, basically. Then it zips all the way to the end here and cha-ching, it's ready to go. So JPGs are very straightforward. You can take it straight off your camera card and immediately put it on Facebook or immediately send it somewhere to be printed or whatever you wanna do with it, it's ready to go. You could also take it into Photoshop and cook it some more, but it's also pre-cooked. It's kind of like tempeh. Ooh, here's a new analogy. I've discovered tempeh recently, and where I buy it, it comes already cooked. Like, you can just eat it out of the package. Or you could do your own, you know, you could boil it or put it in the oven, or you could cook it however you want. That's basically how JPGs are. They are, come ready to eat, but you could cook the more to your liking if you prefer. So that's JPGs. RAW, on the other hand, is just like what it sounds like. It's raw. It's unprocessed. It is uncooked, unfiltered, un-anything. So again, it starts in the camera the same way. Click, you take a picture. And it doesn't get processed in the camera. So it bypasses that and it goes straight to your memory card. No processing. Then you take it off the camera. That's where it gets processed, by guess who? You. (laughs) You do the processing. And then you eventually need to save it as some other format, typically a JPG, for example, and then it's ready to go. So most of what happens to the RAW file happens out of the camera, so it's on the right-hand side here, the right of the memory card, whereas the JPG, I mean, unless you do more editing on it, it's gonna be processed in the camera, so it comes out ready to go. Well, what exactly happens during the processing? 'Cause it seems like editing almost. So is it just the camera itself editing it for you? Yes. That's happening? It's, well, editing, like, when I think of editing, I think of Photoshop and, like, whoa, I'll do fun things I wanna do. So it's not doing, like, it's not Photoshopping your photo, but it is, it's processing it. So what that means is it's applying different little recipes to tweak things like contrast, sharpness, color. What else is there? I forget. There's a few things, and I think I have it on the next slide. So there's a few little things that get tweaked, and that is what's called picture style, so we'll just jump to that slide really quick. So in the picture style, there are different settings, different, like, presets. You can have a standard picture style, you can have a portrait or a landscape. You can create different styles for different types of pictures. And then it's gonna tweak things like contrast and sharpness and saturation and those types of things. So this is what the menu looks like on a Canon camera, and you can dig in and then you change these numbers depending on what kind of settings you want. It's kind of a... And honestly, here's the thing. Honestly, I don't know that you see a big difference. Unless you really, like, pick crazy high numbers. I mean, it's not like I would download my JPGs and be like, oh no, I left it on the other picture style. I left it on standard instead of portrait, and now it's completely wrong. I mean, it's not like that. It's just, the camera is gonna capture the image and then it might, like, tighten up the contrast and a little sharpen and a tinge of more saturation or something, and then it puts it on the memory card for you. So it's very minimal. I mean, in my experience, it's very minimal. But it does exist, and it's the real thing. So that's what picture styles are. They don't apply to RAW because, if we go back here and look at our handy... Does this make sense? I'm so proud of this graphic. I spent a lot of time trying to make this as simple and clean and sensible as possible. So the RAW file, as you can see, gets processed after it comes off the memory card. So you are just doing it yourself, whereas the JPG, the camera is doing it. But it's very minimal. It's far less than anything you would do in Photoshop. It's just sort of a pre-formulation, but it's very minimal. Yes. (mumbles) One thing I did notice and didn't really understand. Maybe you can explain it a little better. Is if you did do JPG, it, something about the color space, Adobe versus SRGB? I know that kinda bakes that in there, as well. Are you talking, were you, okay, well, we didn't talk about the color space. We talked about white balance. Is that what your question is? No, I just remember in the menus something about the color space, and it was particular, I guess, to post-processing or something with the image later. Yes, so images exist, ultimately they need to exist in some sort of color space, and we have all sorts of choices. We have, but it boils down to basically RGB or ultimately, if you're going into print, you could convert the image into a CMYK image. That's a color space. Within a color space, we have what's called color profiles. This is really a little more than, like, beginner, but I'll answer your question in a general sorta way. So within those two color spaces, we have profiles. So within the RGB color space, we have profiles like SRGB or RGB (1998) whatever, and Adobe's this and that, and it's actually, there's actually a lot, but those are the main ones. So SRGB is... Or 1998 is probably gonna be one of those that you end up going with. But it, I don't know that you would see, like, for most people who are doing this, that is a level of detail that is not gonna affect anything until possibly, like, 300 steps later in the output process, at which point, you know, there's a way to deal with it at that time. So unless you know ahead of time what you're trying to do very specifically in terms of output, I would put it on, you know, SRGB and then just go with it. 'Cause you can convert after the fact. But that's one of the nice things about RAW versus JPG is in RAW, every, nothing's been assigned yet. It's truly, like the name implies, just raw. So no color information has been, like, baked into it yet. There has not been a white balance correction applied to it yet. None of that stuff. It's just completely unedited at all. So you would do all of that on your own. But this is where it really becomes, you know, your choice, your preference, because some people are just like, I will only shoot RAW. Don't even talk to me about JPG. And other people love JPGs and think you're crazy to shoot these huge RAW files all the time. So let's talk a little bit about what that really means. Does this make sense, though, before we get into that? So as far as the file formats, when you pick them in your camera, just know that the JPG is gonna get a little bit cooked by the camera. That's what those picture styles refer to. It's basically, like, how do you like your eggs? Over easy, sunny side up? What do you want? It's asking you how do you want your JPGs. And they will get put on the card like that, and then you can do whatever you want with them after the fact, but they arrive ready to go, whereas the RAW files come out and they're not usable until you cook 'em. So you can't take a RAW file and be like, hey, Facebook. It's not gonna work. Or hey, RAW file, let me just send this over to some lab quickly to, you know, print it or whatever. The lab is gonna choke on that and they can't deal with it. You have to process it first. So it's a little bit of a difference. But the picture styles and white balance, those are things that only apply to JPGs. The white balance is another thing that gets cooked into the JPG on your memory card. The RAW files won't. So what makes one... (sighs) More than the other? What, why, how do you know when to shoot one or the other or why does it matter? Why do we care? It's really personal preference. The thing that people like about JPGs is that they're already processed, so they're ready to go. They are compressed, so they're small and they're accessible. You don't have to have anything fancy to read them. You can take 'em straight out of camera and send 'em wherever you want. So that's nice. They take up far less space. Far less space. Like, a fourth. I mean, it's, RAW files, same number of pixels, but they are at least around four times bigger. Or maybe even more. I forget where I'm getting the four from. That even may just be a TIFF versus a JPG. I wanna say, yeah, so RAW files, I don't even remember. It's been a while since I did a straight-up comparison. But they're way bigger. Okay, so then what are some advantages of RAW? Well, because it's unprocessed, you have access to much greater information than you would with a JPG. So for example, let's say you take a photo and you just, like, butcher the exposure. I mean, you just really butcher it. In a RAW file, you open that, pull that into your computer, you have a lot more room to adjust it before the picture starts falling apart. With a JPG, because it's already been cooked, I mean, it really is like if you bake a cake. Let's say you bake a cake. I've done this before. It wasn't a cake. It was banana bread. I made banana bread for my new neighbors, and I forgot to put sugar in it. Ugh! (laughs) I forgot the sugar. I don't know how. Yeah. And so once it's baked, I mean, maybe, depending on how soon you catch it or whatever, you might be able to, I don't know, you're probably just screwed. I was screwed. So I just put some cream cheese, really sweet frosting on it, and I was like, there you go. It was edible. But it's already baked. So you have less ability to go in and make huge sweeping changes. Please understand, though, that does not mean you can't edit JPGs. You can edit JPGs in Photoshop. That's what I, every time I teach a course on Photoshop, we're editing JPGs. Like, that's how it's works. We're, it's all fine. But you have more room to correct problems in RAW because the solutions have not already been tweaked at onto it. Does that make sense? So you have greater flexibility. And some people wouldn't know what to do without that. They just wouldn't, without that extra cushion, they would be freaked out completely. So some people really like that about RAW. The unprocessed information is great for them. However, it is huge. Huge files. So you're gonna need... Really quickly, you better figure out file management and storage for all of that data, 'cause it's gonna take a lot of space. But also keep in mind it's the same number of pixels, so it's not... Sometimes people think RAW has more pixels. No, it does not. It's just very loosely packed. It's like the, it's the Martha Stewart suitcase, whereas the JPG would be more like, you're just gonna backpack, just cram it all in there and go. So that's more of a JPG. So there's not a right or a wrong. It's just that's the difference. Any other questions on that? Personally, I really, I don't know, I think JPGs get a bad... I don't know, they just get a bad rep or something. I think a lot of people are like, oh, they sort of turn their nose at JPGs, like, oh, JPGs. And I'm like, don't be hatin' on JPGs. Like, they are quick and easy and take up way less space, and I like to think if you are good and can nail everything in camera, (clears throat) then you don't need RAW files. So, but to each, you know, to each their own. I think most, a lot of people shoot RAW and some people would, you know, tell me I was crazy for wanting to shoot JPG, but I don't know. I like not buying new hard drives all the time and more storage. So, and I shoot manual mode and I... I don't know. I just, it works for me. But of course I've also shot RAW, and that can be nice, too, but it just depends what you're doing and what you want out of it, and if you need, you know, if you're not sure, like, how something is gonna be used or how it's gonna be processed, or if you just want as much data as possible. Not pixels, not resolutions, just data, then you'd wanna go with RAW. But know that you'll have to do some work before you can share all of your files and stuff, and the JPG would get you there faster. So that's why even though the RAW is heavy and the JPG is light and nimble, they could maybe, one you might like better than the other, so the balance is really up to you. Any other questions about file size, pixels, resolution, any of that kinda stuff? Does picking one over the other affect the num-... You can take it at one time, so... Oh, good question. Like the buffer on your? Yeah, yeah. So if you're shooting RAW and you're a sports photographer and you're trying to shoot ch-ch-ch, like, tons of, your buffer's gonna fill up fast and, yeah. So you'd have to see, if you're having problems with that, maybe try switching to JPG. I've never done a direct comparison because if, I would just be like, hmm, I'll go with JPG. But it's definitely gonna slow down all kinds of things, including, you know, your download will take longer and all of that stuff is gonna take longer. But, you know, it's a trade-off. So if that's important to you, then maybe you don't care, but, you know, and if you're shooting, if you run, like, an Ebay business or something, you don't care about RAW. Like, you don't need any of that. You just... You could even shoot small JPGs. That would be, like, the one exception. When I said always keep your camera on the highest resolution setting unless you are an Ebay business professional and all of it is going to be resized anyway, in which case I would have a dedicated camera just for that for shooting all your little, you know, product shots or whatever for the web. But otherwise you always wanna shoot high and then you can downsize later. So I also wanna mention when you're doing all of that, when you're capturing all that stuff, sometimes when people realize how resolution works and the way that the, you know, the pixels shake out, they start to panic and think that they have to format all of their photos before they can send them to be printed. So if that's what anyone at home is thinking, the answer is you do not have to do that, right? So when you download your photos, you can take 'em straight off your card and order whatever you want. You don't have to go in and resize them in Photoshop or something. The lab will do that. You can, you're basically taking all these pixels and saying, here, lab, you make me an eight by 10 out of this. Thank you very much. Right? Or a five by seven or whatever. And you can specify the crop, because if you're gonna order, you know, a square, it's gonna get cropped, so you might be able to specify I want it cropped on the left or the right or however it is that you want it. But you do not have to size all of your images before you send them off. They'll just scoop up all your pixels and put it in whatever you need. So just in case you were worried.

Class Description

A new camera is an adventure waiting to happen. It’s an invitation to explore and a tool that opens doors to awesome experiences. Learning your way around a DSLR for the first time doesn’t have to be daunting. With a little guidance, you’ll be confidently calling the shots in no time.

Pro photographer and educator Khara Plicanic will help you understand your camera like never before (whether a dSLR, compact point-and-shoot, or even a phone! ) and get you taking better photos fresh out of the box. Join Khara for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How exposure works and how each setting creates a different effect
  • The basics of different shooting modes (Auto, Program, Shutter/Aperture Priority, Manual, etc.)
  • How to make use of your camera’s functions - flash, white balance, exposure compensation, timer, and focus points.
  • How image size and resolution work, and why it matters (or doesn't)
  • How to choose and use different lenses.
  • The best resources to download, backup, and share your images. 


Kate Ambers

Khara is awesome! She really breaks down how the camera works, photography terminology, and technique. She does it all with a fun and entertaining personality and really makes it easy to understand what you are learning! I love this course!!! So worth it!

Holly Cooper

Loved this course and have recommended it to a friend who is looking to purchase his first DSLR. This course is perfect for beginners or someone who is self taught and who has picked a few bits up along the way; Khara then puts all these little bits of information together. I feel like the pieces have come together for me and I have taken my best/favourite photographs after watching these videos. Thank you CL and Thank you Khara x


I’ve taken a number of excellent courses from Creative Live, and this very thoughtfully organized, well taught class took me from “I love photography but I’ll never get how to do it” to “wow I get it!” It created a huge shift (finally!) for me. There is an intelligent simplicity that really does make for lightbulb moments. I’m extremely grateful for this class. Now I can go back and watch the others courses again and they will make much more sense and I can apply what I learned here.