I posted this in the Photography forum---but I get more responses here---and maybe it will help someone else from getting crappy crops.
I usually do my own editing (in Picasa because it's free) prior to uploading to an online printing provider--either Walmart or Kodak. Now keep in mind, in many cases, I tend to crop my pics very close, sometimes to bring focus on the person(s) or to crop out things I don't want in the picture. When I get to the checkout, I am asked whether I want Standard 4x6 prints (which would automatically crop my photo even more, sometimes cutting off tops of heads, etc.) or True Digital prints (which would not crop my photo any further, but would change the size of my print from 4x6 to 4x5.3--which I think is an odd size, and it's too small to fit into a 4x6 frame.
I use a Kodak Point and Shoot camera, which from what I've read, uses a 4:3 aspect ratio (as opposed to the 3:2 ratio of most DSLR's). All of this aspect ratio stuff is foreign to me, but I just discovered that I can use the menu on my camera to change my picture size from 4:3 to 3:2 (but it drops my megapixels from 7.1 to 6.1). It would solve my cropping problem, because I could then get my 4x6's (without any further cropping--I think), however, I would lose 1 megapixel of clarity. If I had a higher megapixel--say 10 or more---I could change my aspect ratio, and still have a good quality print.
So for now, using my camera at it's highest setting 7.1MP with a 4:3 aspect ratio, how do I go about cropping? What I mean is, if I want to get my print in 4x6 size, how do I determine just how much "extra space" I should leave (during MY cropping), to allow for the extra cropping that will take place during the printing process? And should the "extra space" be left equally on all sides of crop or just top and 1 side? (And, what if I want my picture in a 5x7 or 8x10---that's even more to think about)
I should probably contact Customer Service at my preferred online providers, and ask them (they should know right?) but I've found (especially with editing questions) they don't know much more than I do!!!
I know there are some smart women in this bunch, so any advice or suggestion will be greatly appreciated!!