It is a common misconception, and it has been addressed before on photography groups, forums and news sites many times. However, for the new year starting today (2016, for those reading in the future), I reasoned a quick video review of the concept of file resolution versus pixel dimensions, and the interplay between them, would be in order.
The short version of the story is simple: pixel dimensions are all that matters when showing your work on-screen.
The long(ish) version of the story is also simple, but could be a little murky for those with no graphic design experience (and there are plenty of skilled photographers that have no graphic design background).
The key points to keep in mind, as I mention in the video, are as follows:
- Resolution (e.g. 300dpi, 240dpi, etc) only affects how your photo looks printed, in any form. This is a big part of what makes an image sharp (or not) when printed.
- Pixel dimensions (e.g. 3,000x2,000, 900x600, etc) affect how your image is seen on-screen, and I do mean any digital display at all.
- Web browsers, including and especially mobile ones, resize images on-the-fly as needed, and your pixel dimensions can be altered by this. However, they do not become any resolution higher than what the display's pixel settings are set to.
- Send your files to your web designer at the very-specific settings of "Whatever your designer asks for."
- Exporting from Photoshop, Lightroom or Capture One at any specific resolution means exactly nothing to your final image when displayed on-screen, provided you aren't also resizing the pixel dimensions upon export.
Check out the video above or on my channel, drop me some discussion or derision in the comments, and have a fantastic 2016, friends.