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Photo Tip Thursday: Optimizing Images for High Definition Displays

This week’s Photo Tip Thursday is all about optimizing your images for viewing on the Retina/HiDef displays on the newer line of computers/digital devices. Some of you might have noticed when you resize your images to what might be seen as the proper size for your blog as denoted in your HTML, when you view these images on a high definition display, they appear a bit grainy and the edges of your subjects appear block like and pixely.

The reason for this is the increased pixel density of the new displays. Take a MacBook Pro 15″ for example. The older model with the standard display had 1440 x 900 pixels. The newer MacBook Pro 15″ has 2880 x 1800 pixels. Keep in mind though that the physical size of the screen isn’t changing between the old and new computers however. Newer methods of manufacturing have led to the development of smaller pixels, so in the space that one pixel took on an older display, four smaller pixels can be fitted on a newer display. See the example below for an illustrated explanation.

The cube on the left represents a pixel from an older display. The four cubes on the right represent the  four smaller pixels of a newer display that fit in the same space that a single, larger pixel from an older display would occupy. Because the physical display size hasn’t changed but more pixels have been added, these new high definition displays are said to have a greater pixel density.

The problem with resizing images to fit both standard as well as high definition screens is that, if you export images at the size needed for older displays, they won’t display that well on the higher definition ones. The smaller dimension images will have to be “upscaled” which means that the computer stretches the image out and guesses what it would look like with more pixels. This is bad news bears for high definition displays.

To get around this problem, find the original dimensions that your images are supposed to be, then double them. For instance, If your blog uses 650 x 975 pixel images. Doubling these dimensions yields images that are 1330 x 1950 pixels. Don’t worry that these images are larger than what’s needed for older displays, your computer can easily downscale them and they’ll look just fine on older computers but also look tack sharp and clear on new high definition displays. The file sizes are still very small too.

Thanks for reading!

  1. Great tip! I'm always worried my files will be too large, but I just accidentally did this last night (doubling the size) and it worked fine.

  2. Kacie Ellis says:

    Thanks so much for this tip! I'm going to start doing this!


  3. Great post, so useful!

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  4. I love your photography tips! I need all the help I can get! 🙂

  5. Ashley Rae says:

    Thank you for your post! Very informative and will definitely will try this for my blog! 🙂

    xx, Ashley Rae


  6. That explains why my photos always look the worst on my MacBook, thanks for this!

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