Publishing pictures online: looking at image size

Not that I’ve taken the plunge and bought an iPhone 4, I need to revisit the whole issue of what size to use when publishing pictures online. I’ve written about this before – even though I’d forgotten all about it. Luckily Google reminded me about my post when researching this post.

So, first you may ask why didn’t my new phone start me thinking about the whole issue again. Well, the iPhone 4 has a ridiculous display that makes photographs look really good. But at the same time, many applications automatically resize all images to full screen (e.g. Memoratus and the official Flickr app). When the picture being shown has originally been uploaded at a lower size (for example the default 640px of Flickr), the full size version tends to look… Well, unflattering would be a good description.

Of course one solution would be to not resize smaller images, but on a small phone that also leaves something to be desired. And as other displays increase in resolution from the old 72dpi (or so), the issue will continue to persist. However, at the same time we as publishers of the images must also be wary of image theft etc.

Sure, publishing an image on the web will always serve as an avenue for image theft especially when the image is used online. But in most cases those situations are noticed and can be resolved. Honestly I’m more worried about unauthorized use in print. And that is where the published size of the picture becomes important.

In my research for this post I noticed varying guidelines on how to prevent image theft (watermarks, various tricks to hinder downloading, hotlinking prevention etc.). The interesting fact was that most articles were still agreed in limiting image size, 500px was often mentioned as a good size (probably since it is the old default that Flickr used).

My previous post on the topic had some data on screen sizes used when browsing various sites of ours. Then, I was making the case for displaying larger images (700px as opposed to 500px) and only partly addressing image theft. Now statistics show quite clearly that 700px (or Flickr’s 640px) is a size most people shouldn’t have issues with. I really won’t go into a discussion on mobile sites etc. since I am looking at the issue from the perspective of publishing photographs – looking at most photography at 360×240 is a fairly pitiful experience.

At the moment I’m still going to stick to my original though of publishing images with 700px as the length of the longest side. Even though it means that when I visit my own shots on my phone, the experience isn’t always optimal. Who knows, I may have to revisit this whole issue sooner rather than later…

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