I recently received an email from my mother that included a Word document full of pictures she had taken with her spiffy new 10-megapixel pocket-camera. The pictures were great, but the Word document tipped the scales at a whopping 30 megabytes. It would have been rejected by many email systems, which often have a limit of 10 meg or so.
On the one hand, having original high-resolution images is great if you plan to make posters or use them for a screensaver, but for most purposes, the extra resolution is overkill. Particularly on the Web, you rarely see images wider than 500 pixels, and even a 3-megapixel camera can do a respectable job of that. If you plan to send pictures through email or put them on a Web site, you can make the image files a lot smaller by reducing the dimensions of the images.
For example, the Word document my mom sent displayed multiple images on the page. Even though each image is only displayed at about 45% of its original dimensions, the entire original image file is embedded in the Word document. If she had resized the images before putting them into the document, the document would have been much, much smaller.
Fortunately, you usually get some kind of image editing software with your camera so you can resize the photos yourself. Unfortunately, almost no one uses it. It takes extra time to make a lower-resolution version of your images for email and Web use, so few people bother. I'm sure many people wouldn't know where to start, and may not even realize there's an issue.
My wife Susan has written a couple of articles on this subject. They are posted at our ComputorCompanion.com and LogicalTips.com web sites:
I've also had to deal with the problem from a Web development perspective. When users upload photos to web sites, the files can be so big that the server throws an "exceeds maximum request length" error. I recently wrote an article on my NerdyMusings.com web site on how Web developers can address that issue.
If you like to send photos to family members or put them up on your Web site, you should really consider taking the time to learn a bit about your image editing software. Once you learn the secrets of cropping, rotating, resizing, and enhancing your photographs, your picture-taking experience will never be the same. And I mean that in a good way!