Image Resolution for Digital Display


Today’s Question: I am the projectionist at my camera club. We show digital images on a large screen television using my laptop. I recently purchased a new 13-inch laptop with a 4K screen (3840×2160). My question is, when preparing images to show on the TV monitor, do I use the resolution of the laptop, the resolution of the TV, or some other resolution?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When preparing images for a digital display, they should be prepared based on the actual display that will be used to present the image. So, for example, with a high-resolution laptop display but a moderate-resolution TV monitor, if the TV monitor is going to be used for the actual display than the photos should be prepared based on that lower resolution.

More Detail: When presenting an image on a digital display the resolution of the image should match the resolution of the display, in order to optimize detail and sharpness in the image. The exception, of course, would be if the image would be zoomed in on during the presentation, in which case you would want a higher resolution.

When presenting a slideshow, for example, on a digital display, the image should be resized to fit the actual pixel dimensions of the display. You don’t need to worry about the pixel-per-inch (ppi) resolution for the image, as that only applies when printing the image. Instead, you can simply resize to fit the pixel dimensions of the display.

So, let’s assume your laptop has a 4K resolution, but the display you’ll use for the actual slideshow has a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels. You would want to size the images to fit within dimensions of 2560×1440 pixels, not the higher 4K resolution.

In general, it is also best to convert the images to the sRGB color space, to help ensure more accurate colors in the event the software you’re using to display the images doesn’t support color management.