Cropping for Quality – Digital Photography Tip of the Week

Last week I discussed framing your image for printing by allowing enough room in the viewfinder to allow you to print a variety of print sizes. This week I will talk about how to crop our image to obtain the highest quality print. If you remember a few weeks back I talked about camera resolution. Today that is important because you want to use the resolution your camera provides when cropping your photo.

When you crop your image to fit a particular print size or even to adjust composition, you do not want to change any of the pixel data that already exists in your photo. When you crop you image to a smaller size you simply want to cut off any part of the photo outside of your cropping boundaries. Some software will allow you to resample your image when you crop it which is what you do not want to do. Resampling an image basically means that the software will, on it’s own, either delete pixels in the image add pixels to the image.

Cropping Example

In this image, the dimensions are 2500 pixels wide by 3000 pixels high. We want to crop out the white section of the image (a section 1500 x 2000 pixels). To get the best quality image, the size of the image after cropping should be 1500 x 2000. That is, no pixels have been added or removed from the image we want to use. If your software changes the actual pixels after cropping, it has been resampled and the computer has interpolated where to add or remove pixels.

If you use any of the Adobe Photoshop versions (including Elements) select the area you want to crop using the Marquee tool then on the Edit menu, choose Crop. This will delete any of data outside of the cropped area while still maintaining the original pixels in the final image. If you change the marquee mode to Fixed Aspect Ratio, you can the ratio for the print dimensions you are cropping to. If you use Picasa 2 by Google, it will crop your image without resampling. There are a lot of software packages available, so look at your manual or the help files to find out how to crop in your package.

Adobe has a good document outlining resizing and cropping at

Adobe Photoshop Element 4.0 can by purchased online for $109.99 CDN or $87.99 US and Picasa 2.0 from Google can be downloaded free of charge at

Next week I will discuss getting close to your subject.


The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently the vice-president of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography he can address in the newsletter, send it to

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: