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Choosing the Right Image Resolution – Part 1
by Travis Spangler
When you think of the word 'resolution' what do you think of? Maybe you think of New Year's resolutions, or maybe you think of resolution in the context of business law or mathematics. Or maybe you think about the British royal navy ships built in the 1600's and 1700's that bore the name of HMS Resolution. However, for the capture and document management world, most of us usually think of resolution in conjunction with image measurement which describes the detail an image holds. Simply stated, a higher resolution means more image detail. But determining how much detail is enough and understanding that there are trade-offs between detail, costs, and system performance are important points to consider when you are dealing with data capture and integrated document management systems.
Typically measured in DPI (Dots per Inch), resolution is a measure of how many pixels are contained in a given inch of linear space. A pixel is a single point in an image composed of varying values of red, green and blue. To put it simply, a pixel is one point of color. For example, a 300x300 DPI image will contain 300 pixels each horizontally and vertically for a total of 90,000 pixels per square inch of image. The higher the pixel density, or DPI, of an image, the more detail that image contains and generally speaking the better it will look. As a side note, it can be easy to confuse DPI with image size, such as the numbers often expressed for computer displays. A 1024x768 computer display is not an expression of its resolution, but rather the total number of pixels in the display.
But enough of the technical image resolution jargon. What does all of this mean to you and your scanning operation? Well, it means that determining the proper image resolution is not straight forward and that there are several things to consider: storage sizing, accuracy of processes such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), document transmittal time, scanning time, and end user viewing quality. With each of these factors affecting the other it can be difficult to strike a balance.