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We all have our little pet peeves and one of mine is when certain words aren't used correctly, and resolution is a term that is almost always misused. In digital photography terms, resolution is simply a measure of how many pixels there are in an image over a given area. So if an image has resolution of 72 pixels per inch, then no matter how many pixels there are in the image, they are spaced so that it takes 72 of them to cover a one linear inch. Now many people, including camera makers and vendors, will speak of a camera having a particular resolution.
This camera has a resolution of 14 megapixels. 14 megapixels is not a measure of resolution. It's a pixel count. A camera doesn't actually have a resolution. Sure, the pixels on the sensor are spaced a particular way, but that's pretty meaningless in the real world, because the sensors are so small. The fact is, an image can have any resolution that you want it to have, because you can choose to space the pixels closer together or farther apart. Sometimes when I am delivering an image to someone and I ask what size they need, they will say I just need an image that's 300 pixels per inch.
That doesn't really tell me anything useful, because a 300-pixel-per-inch image could be 3 inches wide or the size of a billboard. Again, resolution is just a measure of how your pixels are spaced. Now, resolution and image size are inherently related, but their relationship is very intuitive. As I push pixels closer together, image size decreases. In other words, as resolution goes up, print size goes down. If I spread pixels farther apart, print size increases. So as resolution goes down, print size goes up.
Earlier, we discussed the difference between printer dots and pixels. We will talk about resolution for both of these. When speaking of pixels, we measure resolution in pixels per inch, or PPI. When speaking of printer dots, we resolution in dots per inch, or DPI. Note that most people still use DPI interchangeably with PPI. So if you ask a print service, say, for their printing specs, they probably give you a resolution specification in DPI; they actually mean PPI.
I am going to use those two different terms in this course for the sake of clarity and because they are the terms of Photoshop uses. And suddenly I am realizing I am going to be really self-conscious about my word choice for the rest of this course, because now that I've gotten all uppity about it, if any of you catch me misusing words, there is just going to be really embarrassing flood of email. If these terms are confusing, don't worry; we are going to look at a tool in Photoshop that's going to make it all much clearer.
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