There are numerous online services wanting to store your photos and Google+ is no exception. It is particularly convenient for Android phone and tablet users because that is a Google OS. Google+ can be configured to back up every photo you take online, which means that when the phone’s storage is full, you can delete the photos and carry on shooting more.
Whenever you use an online service to store your photos, there are several questions you need to ask. One is whether the original image is stored online or whether it is resized. It is no use having a 16 megapixel camera that takes 5312 x 2988 pixel images, such as on a Samsung Galaxy S5, if they are resized to no more than 2048 pixels wide or high when they are uploaded to online storage.
That’s just 4 MP and it means that a lot of detail in the photo is lost. It would limit the size they could be printed without looking fuzzy. Actually, you wouldn’t even get 4 MP because shrinking the width of a 16 MP photo to 2048 pixels would shrink the height to 1152 pixels to keep the aspect ratio and this is just 2.4 MP.
If you are wondering how big a photo this would be on paper, you need to divide the width in pixels by the number of pixels per inch used by the printer. The best resolution is 300 dpi (dots or pixels per inch), so divide 2048 by 300 and you get 6.8 inches. It wouldn’t even fill an A4 sheet of paper.
To find out whether Google+ is storing the full photos or is shrinking them, log in to your Google+ account and click the button top left to show the menu, then click Settings at the bottom. Scroll the page of settings to get to the Photos and Videos section and then either tick or clear Upload my photos at full size as you prefer.
Why would you not want to store photos at their full size on Google+? One reason is storage space. If you let Google+ resize your photos there is no limit to the number that you can upload and this means that you will never run out of online storage space. If you choose to upload photos at full size, the storage space they use is deducted from your allowance.
You get 15GB of online storage space for free with a Google account and you could quite easily fill this with high resolution photos in a few months if you were a keen photographer, leaving you with two options. You would either have to buy more space, or download photos and store them offline so you can delete them to free up online storage space.
If you only ever view your photos on your phone, tablet or computer, a photo resolution of 2048 pixels on the longest edge is actually fine. They will look sharp enough on the screen, If you plan to print photos at A4 or larger sizes, or if you view them on a 4K television, then should keep the original size.
Have you checked whether Google+ is resizing your photos?