Want to take good pictures with your DSLR or phone? You’ll need the best resolution you can get. Resolution is a term for how many pixels are in an image. The more pixels a photo has the clearer and more real it looks. Even though many different settings affect the quality of a photo, resolution may be the most important. We’ll show you how to set up your camera or phone to take photos with the highest resolution possible. We’ll even show you how to combine multiple images to resolve a composition look higher than it is.
Method 1: Changing Your DSLR’s Settings
Set your camera’s settings to the highest resolution possible
This setting should be in the menu under “quality” or “resolution.” Most DSLR cameras won’t say how many megapixels their resolution is, which is how the resolution is measured. Instead, it will show a series of icons that show the different sizes and qualities. Always pick the biggest size (or number) that you can.
For example, the icons might say “L,” “M,” “S1,” “S2,” and “S3,” which stand for “large,” “medium,” “small 1,” “small 2,” and “small 3.”
If the resolution is given in terms of megapixels, you will only see a list of numbers. Know that the resolution is better the higher the number.
You can always shoot in a high resolution and then change it to a lower resolution when you edit. Though, you can’t do the opposite. In editing, you can’t change the resolution up, so always use the highest resolution setting.
For compression, choose the curved icon over the stair-step icon
If there is more than one version of each size in your camera’s resolution menu, these are different compression settings. Choose the round setting over the square one every time. The camera may have an icon that shows the level of compression next to the letters or pixels that show the quality. Most of the time, a curved icon means better compression, which gives you a higher-resolution photo.
- If your camera doesn’t use the usual icons, it will say things like “fine,” “basic,” or “normal.” If your camera doesn’t use the standard icons, choose “fine” or “superfine.”
- The amount of information lost when you take a photo is called compression. The image will be clearer and sharper if there is less compression. But files that don’t have compression are very big. If you’re storing your photos on a smaller hard drive, that’s something to keep in mind.
- Technically, compression is not a resolution setting, but it affects the resolution directly, so it is often tied to a resolution setting in your camera.
Shoot in RAW if you want to keep the quality of your photos when you edit them
Even though JPEG is the most common file type for sharing and uploading photos, if you shoot in JPEG, your camera automatically lowers the quality a bit. If you shoot in RAW, which is the most accurate image format, you can always convert it digitally to JPEG without losing any pixels at the start.
If your camera doesn’t have a RAW mode, use JPEG instead of TIFF or whatever else is available.
Use the lowest ISO you can with the light you have
ISO, which stands for “International Standards Organization,” is a camera setting that controls how sensitive your shutter is to light. When you turn up the ISO, the objects in the image become clearer, but the texture and smoothness get worse. This can look a lot like lowering the resolution. Choose the lowest ISO possible to keep your image’s quality high and keep its resolution.
- When it’s dark, your ISO needs to be higher. Most of the time, you don’t need more than 100-400 ISO in normal light, unless you’re shooting something moving.
- ISO is one of the three most important camera settings that affect the quality of your photos. The other two are aperture and shutter speed, neither of which will change the resolution.
Digital editing doesn’t let you zoom in as your camera does
Some photographers take pictures with the widest angle they can and then crop or zoom them later. This makes your pixels look bigger than they are, which lowers your resolution. Use your lens if you need to get closer to your subject. This way, when you pull up the photo in a post, you won’t lose any image quality.
Remember that resolution just means how many pixels there are. When you zoom in digitally, you make the pixels bigger by zooming in on them. This resolves lower.
Method 2: Use your phone to take high-resolution pictures
Assume that your phone automatically takes high-resolution pictures
Unless you have a very unusual phone, it’s likely that your phone shoots in the highest resolution possible. Most people aren’t photography experts and wouldn’t even think to change the camera’s resolution. Because of this, phone makers make it easy for the average Jane or Joe to use their cameras.
Change the video resolution on your iPhone to make it clearer
You can’t change the resolution of photos taken with an iPhone on your own; they’re already as high as they can go. You can change the size of the moving image, though! Tap the FPS (frames per second) icon in the corner of the viewfinder when you’re in the camera app. From there, you can change how big your video is.
In this case, bigger is always better, just like with the resolution of a photo. 4K is about as good as it gets these days, and the newer iPhones can shoot it. If you want the highest resolution and your phone doesn’t have 4K, shoot in 1080p.
To change the resolution on an Android, change the size of the photo
You can change the resolution on most Android phones if not all of them. Find the camera’s shooting modes menu and choose the settings. Most of the time, this is where you’ll find the resolution settings. Choose the highest number you can to get the best quality picture.
Often, the size of a photo is given as a ratio. For example, a 4:3 photo has 4 pixels of length for every 3 pixels of height. Ignore the ratio and choose the highest number overall to get the highest resolution.
Set a focus point to keep the picture clear and sharp
To set the focus point on an iPhone, you just have to tap on the spot you want to focus on. Around the spot, the iPhone will make a yellow square. Most Android phones work the same way, so just tap where you want the camera to focus. The highest resolution will be the one with the biggest number, either 720p, 1080p, or 4k.
This has nothing to do with resolution in and of itself, but it does make sure that the resolution stays true.
Method 3: Putting together several images to improve the resolution
If you have a DSLR, set the exposure and focus by hand
If you let the camera set the focus and exposure on its own, it will change from shot to shot. When you try to put the pictures together later, that will make things hard. Set the focus and exposure on one shot, then keep it the same for the rest.
If you can, use auto-ISO because it will make changes for you. If there is enough light, choose an ISO speed between 100 and 400. If there isn’t enough light, choose the lowest ISO speed you can. Use a shutter speed of 1/125. (2x the length of your lens). You’d want 1/270 for a 135-millimeter lens.
It’s harder to do this on a phone. But if you use continuous burst mode, the camera will probably keep the same focus and exposure for each shot.
The only way to change the resolution so that it’s higher than what your camera can do is to combine multiple photos.
Take a series of smaller pictures with a longer lens
Unlike a wide lens, a longer lens limits the size of the shot. Because you are focusing on a smaller area, your image will have more detail. If you want the best image possible, look for a lens that is 135 millimeters or longer.
Turn your camera or phone so that you are taking pictures in portrait mode. When you shoot in landscape, you capture less of the subject at once in terms of width, so when you put the pictures together, you get a higher resolution.
With this setting, you can take a picture of almost anything, as long as it stays still. Since you are taking multiple shots, you can focus on a small area or take a wide landscape shot.
Take all of your pictures when your subject is standing still
When you put the photos together, if the subject is moving at all, it will look like a blur. Things like plants swaying in the wind, cars driving by, and people walking are examples.
If you do get photos of people walking or cars moving, just leave those out of your group when you put the photos together.
Use “continuous burst” to take the pictures
Most of the time, you can just hold down the shutter button to take a bunch of shots quickly. You might need to change your camera’s shooting mode to “burst,” though. Just holding the camera in your hand will be enough to make small changes in perspective that will lead to a high-resolution photo.
- If you don’t have continuous bursts, just move your camera over the subject and take photos that overlap by at least 50%.
Take between 4 and 30 photos, depending on how high a resolution you want
Just putting together 4 photos can make a huge difference in the quality. But for the best quality, try to take 20–30 photos of the same area that you can stack together. This will give you a lot more megapixels.
Bring the pictures into Photoshop
Click “File,” then “Script,” and then “Load Files into Stack.” Find the folder with the photos you want to layer together and open it. If you click the box that says “Try to automatically align source images,” this process will not work right.
You can use whatever photo editing software you want. Most programs that let you edit can do this. It just so happens that Photoshop is the standard when it comes to editing photos.
Set the height and width of all the photos to 200%
Click “Image” followed by “Image Size.”
In both the height and width boxes, type “200.” Click the box next to “Resample,” and then choose “Nearest Neighbor.”
Don’t change the resolution. You’re going to make the resolution higher, so lowering it now would be pointless.
Use the Layers palette to put the photos in the right order
To choose all of the photos, press “Shift” and click on each one, or press “CTRL + A.” Click “Edit” and “Auto-Align Layers” after that. Set the projection to “Auto,” and make sure that neither “Geometric Distortion” nor “Vignette Removal” is checked.
To finish the process, click “OK.” If any of the photos in the layers look out of place, you can just delete them to make the photo look smoother.
Using the opacity setting, you can average each layer on its own
Start by setting the bottom layer to 100%. Use this simple equation to figure out the opacity as you move up the layers: 1/the number of layers. So, the first layer is 1/1 (100%), the second layer is 1/2 (50%), the third layer is 1/3 (33%), and so on. Just round up or down to the next whole number.
It doesn’t matter if you have duplicate opacity percentages near the top, which will have much lower opacity percentages.
Make the final picture as clear as possible by sharpening it
Click “Filter,” and then click “Sharpen.” Choose “Smart Sharpen” Change the amount to 300% and the radius to 2px. Choose to reduce noise by 0%, then click “OK” to let the program sharpen the photo.
Crop the picture to get rid of rough edges or things you don’t like
Choose the crop tool and move it so that it’s almost to the edge on all sides. Hit the “OK” button to crop the photo, which will smooth out any rough edges.
Don’t forget to save your image when you’re done.