The digital proofs on this web site were all scanned at 96 dots per inch (dpi) using 16 million colors. Therefore, they will look the best on your screen if they are viewed the same as they were scanned, i.e., in 24-bit True Color at 1280x1024 dpi. If you are comfortable you know how to setup your computer display to these standards, make the changes now, before you view our Samples or your proofs. If you're not comfortable with the procedure, or if you would like a refresher, as well as a link to some free Microsoft software to make the job easier in the future, continue reading.
The digital proofs on this web site are best viewed in 16 million colors (which in Windows parlance is a color depth of 24-bit True Color). While they can also be viewed in 65K colors (16-bit High Color), or 256 colors (8-bit), or 16 colors (4-bit), the greater the number of colors up to 24 bit only–they don't benefit from 4 billion colors (32-bit True Color), the more natural the appearance of the photos on-screen, and the closer the proofs look to the final photo printed on paper from the negative. Conversely, a lower number of colors makes the proof colors appear less sharp and defined, and more 'mushy' and artificial.
Anything from 640x480 to 1600x1200 will work. The lower the numbers, the larger the photo will be displayed, but also the lower the resolution and resultant clarity and detail. The larger the numbers, the better the clarity and detail, but the smaller the photo will be displayed. 1280x1024 24-bit True Color is the ideal compromise; 800x600 24-bit or 16-bit High Color is an acceptable compromise.
Each of our digital proofs is actually a file on the Internet of about 20KB. Generally speaking, the larger the file size, the more information is contained about the image, and therefore the more details and colors of the subject have been captured and can be displayed. We use a proprietary 'smart' compression program which makes the maximum reduction in file size of the JPEG images we display, with the minimum loss of detail and clarity. The advantage of a relatively large proof file size is, the proofs contain enough information and detail for you to really enjoy them and be able to see the nuances of expression. The problem with larger file sizes is, they take longer to download from the net to your computer screen. Depending on how many proofs are on one page, it might take a while (3 to 10 minutes) to display all the images. A lot will depend on things like your modem speed (14,400 baud/14.4K bits per second (bps), or 28.8K or 33.6K or 56K), your actual connection speed (which is seldom at the highest rated speed of your modem), the amount of RAM (Random Access Memory) in your computer, the size of your Windows swap disk (free disk space used by Windows when it runs out of the RAM in your system), the speed of your Internet Service Provider's (ISP) connection to the Net, the amount of network traffic at the time you are on, etc. After all the proofs (or any pages you view on the web) have been displayed on your computer once, they have actually been 'downloaded' or stored on your computer. They should display much faster the next time you display them, since your browser will have 'cached' or stored the images to the Windows Temporary Internet Files folder on your disk. These files are erased after 15 to 30 days after the last time they were refreshed, so if you wait a long time to re-view your proofs, you start from scratch again.
We use a relatively large file size for our Digital Proofs because we feel our customers will prefer to sacrifice speed to get better detail. Please be patient–it will be worth the wait.
If this seems to be a lot of work every time you want to change the screen resolution, you are right. Luckily, there is a much easier way. Microsoft Windows 98 comes with a small (40KB) program called 'QuickRes' which allows you to change the screen's resolution and bit depth on the fly, without rebooting! When you boot up, it's in the extreme right portion of the Task Bar on the bottom of your screen. If you are using Windows 95, you can download this little gem for FREE from Microsoft's web site Downloads Page as a part of a group of 15 utility programs they call 'Windows 95 Power Toys.' It takes a 28.8K modem less than 1 minute to download Windows 95 PowerToys - QuickRes, and only 2 minutes or so to download the entire 205K set of 15 utilities Windows 95 PowerToys - PowerToys Set. Click here to get directly to the MS Downloads Page where these utilities are available for free, then use your browser's 'Back' button to return to our web site after you have finished downloading them. (If Microsoft has changed the path to them, and my link no longer gets you to them automatically, you can manually search for either the word "QuickRes" or "PowerToys" by going to the Microsoft home page at http://www.microsoft.com. Please let me know too, so I can change the hyper link in these directions for the next person.)
After an image has been scanned or captured for display on the web, there are a fixed number of pixels or picture elements in the file. Our square images are usually 480x480 pixels with the border and drop shadow. No matter what resolution you choose to display them at, the number of pixels you are looking at stays the same. Lowering the resolution to 640x480 means that each one of the 480 pixels are large and far apart, as is everything else on the page. Increasing the resolution to 1600x1200 (which is the way I like to view these images) makes each one of the 480 pixels smaller and closer together, making the overall size of the image smaller, and the image appears 'sharper.'
This optical illusion is exactly the same as looking at a 5 inch TV screen displaying the universal NTSC standard of 550 lines of resolution very close together, versus looking at the same 550 lines spread out over a 54 inch TV screen. The picture 'appears' sharper when the lines are thinner and closer together, and less sharp when fatter and spread out over a larger surface. Increasing the screen resolution therefore, does not actually make the image better or sharper, it just appears that way. On the other hand, increasing the color depth to 24-bit True Color does indeed make a real difference in the quality of the image you see.
The maximum color depth and screen resolution you can get on your system is based on the limitations of your monitor and your display card. The specifications of each will tell you what you can expect. Today's top-of-the-line monitors can display 1800x1400 pixels per inch at 32-bit color depth using a .26 size pixel. Be prepared to pay plenty for those. But they will only display what your display adaptor can send to them, and on-board display memory is the key here. 1MB is standard, with 2MB, 4MB and 8MB as usual options. Better graphics adaptors also now come with built-in graphics accelerator chips which make the display of complex images much faster and smoother.
I use a Mag Innovision model MX21F 21" monitor which supports either 1600x1200 at 24-bit color, and an ATI All-in-Wonder Pro display adaptor with 8MB of on-board memory with a Rage Pro accelerator chip.
Please let me know via e-mail what works best for you, and of course how you like our Samples or your proofs!