Since vector images are essential mathematical formulas, the quality of such images is not fixed but, rather, depends on the environment in which the image is created. If an image is displayed on the screen, it will be rendered at screen resolution; if it is printed on a high resolution printer, it will be printed at high resolution; and so on.

In contrast to vector images, bitmapped images are often acquired rather than created from scratch. Photos are typical loaded onto a computer via a digital camera or a scanner. As far as manipulating bitmapped images, the king of the arena is definitely Adobe Photoshop which is available in a few different flavours such as Photoshop Elements as well as the main program: Photoshop CS4. Other contenders are Corel PHOTO-PAINT and Paint Shop Pro.

Another key difference between the two types of image is that the quality of bitmapped images is determined when the image is acquired: when the photograph is taken or when the print is scanned. Although the quality of a bitmap can be reduced (a process known as downsampling), it is not possible to increase its resolution or quality.

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