Today’s Question: With newer high-resolution monitors, what now would be the acceptable photo resolution standard for online sharing? I recently purchased a new computer, and the recommended resolution for the monitor is 3840×2160 pixels. This setting is larger than my old monitor of 1920×1440. Now when I view my website, I find the photos are quite small. I usually keep my website jpeg photos in the 1050×800 range.
Tim’s Quick Answer: I still tend to use a resolution of around 1,000 pixels on the long side, in part because most website visitors are not using extremely high-resolution displays. I also suggest using responsive web design whenever possible for sharing photos online.
More Detail: Sizing photos for online sharing involves striking a balance between an image that is large enough for viewers to see well but not so large that a stolen image could be printed at a large size.
I tend to size photos to around 1,000 pixels on the long side when sharing online. This generally ensures the image will be at a reasonable size for viewing, without being so large that the image could be printed at a large size.
The statistics I’ve been able to locate indicate that around 60% of website visitors worldwide are using a display resolution of 1920×1080 pixels or lower. Many who have a higher resolution display, myself included, tend to operate that display at a resolution lower than the maximum.
For typical resolution settings an image sized to around 1,000 pixels on the long side will fill about one-quarter of the screen. On a display with a 4K resolution that image would only fill about one-sixteenth of the screen. However, most web browsers allow you to zoom in on a page you’re browsing, and if the photo is shared on a page that employs responsive web design (which includes many blog site templates, for example), then the image will appear at a similar size regardless of display resolution.
If you’re more concerned about having a relatively large display for your photos and not too concerned about the potential for your photos to be stolen and printed at a moderately large size, you could increase the resolution for the photos to 2,000 pixels on the long side. This would provide an image that is about full-screen for the typical website visitor, and about one-quarter of the screen for someone using a 4K display. Note that an image shared at this higher resolution could be printed up to 4″x6″ at excellent quality, and up to around 8″x10″ with very good quality.