# Two ways of looking at how large to print

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Scott W, Apr 9, 2005.

1. ### Scott WGuest

In another thread the question came up as to how large can you make a
print from a give size image, in this case from a 3.2 MP camera.

There are two ways to look at how big a print should be made, both are
correct under some circumstances. On one hand you might want the print
to be just as sharp as you can get it, in this case you would want to
print at 300 dpi and some people would say even higher. This would
limit a 3.2 MP image to about a 4 x 6 print. But the other way to look
at it is that the photo has a certain amount of detail in it and you
might want the people looking at the print to be able to see all the
detail that is in the photo. The human eye has a hard time seeing low
contrast details that are small, so printing the photo large will make
more visible to the viewer.

To many photographers the sharpness of the print it critical and they
are reluctant to make prints that would reduce the resolution below 300
dpi. But for any give photo printing it larger will make a print that
almost all people will prefer to look at. I have seen this over and
over again, I used to make small prints from my Nikon 995 (3.2 MP
camera) that where very sharp and I would also make 8 x 10 prints of
these same photos. People overwhelmingly preferred to look at the 8 x
10 prints.

So what resolution is right for a print depends on the circumstances,
if you know you are going to be making 8 x 10 prints, then you are best
off using a camera that has somewhere around 8 MP. But if rather you
have a photo form a given camera and you want to make the best looking
print from it then you would print larger, printing at a DPI of
somewhere between 150 and 200 seems good.

Just to be clear I am not saying that for a given size print 150 dpi
will look better then 300 dpi, far from it. What I am saying is that
for a given digital image printing at it 150 to 200 dpi will produce a
print that most people will enjoy looking at more then a smaller print
made at a higher dpi.

I should also point out that the amount of noise in a photo will
greatly effect the optimum size to print it at, more noise smaller
print. And of course it always help if the photo is in focus.

Scott

Scott W, Apr 9, 2005

2. ### ecmGuest

Scott W wrote:
> In another thread the question came up as to how large can you make a
> print from a give size image, in this case from a 3.2 MP camera.
>

SNIP
>
> Just to be clear I am not saying that for a given size print 150 dpi
> will look better then 300 dpi, far from it. What I am saying is that
> for a given digital image printing at it 150 to 200 dpi will produce

a
> print that most people will enjoy looking at more then a smaller

print
> made at a higher dpi.
>

SNIP

Yes, you're right, of course. But, it also depends on what the
photographer is trying to convey in the print.... the print is just a
logical continuation of the process of capturing a photographic image,
and the detail on the print is as important as the lighting, exposure,
and medium it's captured with.

I often print my vacation snapshots at 200 dpi after cropping, and it
looks great at 4X6 - it's a memory, really, it doesn't matter if it's a
bit fuzzy as long as it evokes the right emotions. If I want to hang
something on the wall, though, I want that "art photo" detail and
crispness, so that a viewer can look at it from 6 feet, 2 feet and even
6 inches and see something new each time. Take a really close look at a
good quality Ansel Adams reproduction sometime - you'll see what I'm
talking about. Mr. Adams was as much a master in the darkroom as he was
behind the camera....

ECM

ecm, Apr 9, 2005

3. ### mike regishGuest

I'm interested in this too. When I open a 6 Mb image in PS and click on
"image size", it comes up at 41"x27" and 72 dpi. I usually crop at a 8x10
ratio, resize to 8"x10" and resample to 300 dpi. Originally, it's about
3000x2000 pixels.

Why does PS default to such a large dimension (in inches)? My printer only
does 8x10, but I'd really like to get one blown up to that 41x27 sometime,
just to see what it looked like. I just resampled the original at 300 dpi
and it was something like 298 Mb and 12,000 pixels wide.

Also, I'm getting from this that the camera will only deliver a certain
limited dpi depending on the camera's MP. How does PS resampled dpi relate
to what the camera can deliver. Does it fake some pixels or something?

mike

"Scott W" <> wrote in message
news:...
>
> Just to be clear I am not saying that for a given size print 150 dpi
> will look better then 300 dpi, far from it. What I am saying is that
> for a given digital image printing at it 150 to 200 dpi will produce a
> print that most people will enjoy looking at more then a smaller print
> made at a higher dpi.
>
> I should also point out that the amount of noise in a photo will
> greatly effect the optimum size to print it at, more noise smaller
> print. And of course it always help if the photo is in focus.
>
> Scott
>

mike regish, Apr 9, 2005
4. ### Scott WGuest

mike regish wrote:
> I'm interested in this too. When I open a 6 Mb image in PS and click

on
> "image size", it comes up at 41"x27" and 72 dpi. I usually crop at a

8x10
> ratio, resize to 8"x10" and resample to 300 dpi. Originally, it's

> 3000x2000 pixels.
>
> Why does PS default to such a large dimension (in inches)? My printer

only
> does 8x10, but I'd really like to get one blown up to that 41x27

sometime,
> just to see what it looked like. I just resampled the original at 300

dpi
> and it was something like 298 Mb and 12,000 pixels wide.
>
> Also, I'm getting from this that the camera will only deliver a

certain
> limited dpi depending on the camera's MP. How does PS resampled dpi

relate
> to what the camera can deliver. Does it fake some pixels or

something?
>

72 dpi is there for historical reasons, the screen resolution of the
very early Mac was at 72 dpi. This is still a number that is commonly
used as a good average screen resolution. So if you are looking at
your photo on the screen at full size it will in fact be huge.

It is easy to set the dpi to anything you want without effecting the
photo, under resize uncheck the resample checkbox and then simply type
in the new dpi that you want.

Most of the time when you get a photo printed the dpi that is imbedded
in the photos is not used to make the print, the program that is doing
the printing will scale the photo to fit the page. Some programs allow
you to either print at the given dpi or to scale the photo to fit the
page.

When you get your photo printed outside at someplace like Wal Mart or
Costco they are always scale to fit the size of the paper being printed
on. So I can take the exact same photo to Costco and get two print
from it, one a 4 x 6 and the other a 12 x 18 and both of these will
print fine because the photo printer that they use will scale the photo
for me.

Scott

Scott W, Apr 9, 2005
5. ### paulGuest

Scott W wrote:
>
> Just to be clear I am not saying that for a given size print 150 dpi
> will look better then 300 dpi, far from it. What I am saying is that
> for a given digital image printing at it 150 to 200 dpi will produce a
> print that most people will enjoy looking at more then a smaller print
> made at a higher dpi.

I agree. 3MP photos don't look better than 6MP at that size but they
definitely look better than 4x6's! I made a bunch of 8x10's from my 3MP,
some even cropped and people love them. I did a tiled 16x20 & it looked
great (from a distance).

paul, Apr 9, 2005
6. ### Ron HunterGuest

mike regish wrote:
> I'm interested in this too. When I open a 6 Mb image in PS and click on
> "image size", it comes up at 41"x27" and 72 dpi. I usually crop at a 8x10
> ratio, resize to 8"x10" and resample to 300 dpi. Originally, it's about
> 3000x2000 pixels.
>
> Why does PS default to such a large dimension (in inches)? My printer only
> does 8x10, but I'd really like to get one blown up to that 41x27 sometime,
> just to see what it looked like. I just resampled the original at 300 dpi
> and it was something like 298 Mb and 12,000 pixels wide.
>
> Also, I'm getting from this that the camera will only deliver a certain
> limited dpi depending on the camera's MP. How does PS resampled dpi relate
> to what the camera can deliver. Does it fake some pixels or something?
>
> mike
>
> "Scott W" <> wrote in message
> news:...
>
>>Just to be clear I am not saying that for a given size print 150 dpi
>>will look better then 300 dpi, far from it. What I am saying is that
>>for a given digital image printing at it 150 to 200 dpi will produce a
>>print that most people will enjoy looking at more then a smaller print
>>made at a higher dpi.
>>
>>I should also point out that the amount of noise in a photo will
>>greatly effect the optimum size to print it at, more noise smaller
>>print. And of course it always help if the photo is in focus.
>>
>>Scott
>>

>
>
>

Because you have your display set at 72dpi. Most monitors can be set to
96dpi (or higher), and the rendering will make a smaller picture. It is
just spreading the pixels out at the setting for dots/inch for your
display device. To print, you need to specify a higher DPI so that the
size will be what you need. Most programs do this math FOR you, which
is why I rarely print from Photoshop Elements.

--
Ron Hunter

Ron Hunter, Apr 9, 2005
7. ### BubbabobGuest

"Scott W" <> wrote:

> When you get your photo printed outside at someplace like Wal Mart or
> Costco they are always scale to fit the size of the paper being printed
> on. So I can take the exact same photo to Costco and get two print
> from it, one a 4 x 6 and the other a 12 x 18 and both of these will
> print fine because the photo printer that they use will scale the photo
> for me.
>

You'll get much better resizing in photoshop. The native resolution of
CostCo's QSS-3101 printers is 320 ppi.

Bubbabob, Apr 9, 2005
8. ### Chris BrownGuest

In article <>,
Scott W <> wrote:
>
>It is easy to set the dpi to anything you want without effecting the
>photo,

Indeed. I have yet to have the "Image Size" dialogue trip the shutter
release.

You can also rescale the dpi without affecting the image, which is very
handy. ;-)

Chris Brown, Apr 9, 2005
9. ### Justin ThymeGuest

"mike regish" <> wrote in message
news:...
> I'm interested in this too. When I open a 6 Mb image in PS and click on
> "image size", it comes up at 41"x27" and 72 dpi. I usually crop at a 8x10
> ratio, resize to 8"x10" and resample to 300 dpi. Originally, it's about
> 3000x2000 pixels.
>
> Why does PS default to such a large dimension (in inches)? My printer only
> does 8x10, but I'd really like to get one blown up to that 41x27 sometime,
> just to see what it looked like. I just resampled the original at 300 dpi
> and it was something like 298 Mb and 12,000 pixels wide.
>
> Also, I'm getting from this that the camera will only deliver a certain
> limited dpi depending on the camera's MP. How does PS resampled dpi relate
> to what the camera can deliver. Does it fake some pixels or something?

Ahh, the old dpi confusion issue. A digital photo does not have a dpi
resolution, it has pixels. A 6MP digicam has roughly 3000x2000 pixels. DPI
settings are irrelevant, 3000x2000 pixels is how much detail is in there.
DPI only comes into play when the image is viewed - whether that be on a
computer monitor or on a print. Computer monitors are considered to have on
average 72dpi, so when photoshop says an image is 72dpi, it only says that
because it is displaying it on a computer screen. If the image is 41"x27" @
72dpi, what photoshop is really saying is "if you want to view this image so
that 1 pixel in the original matches 1 pixel on your monitor, and assuming
your monitor is at the average 72 dpi then the image will measure 41inches x
27inches". There is no need, and no point, to resize the image just to
resave it again. Ignore the size in inches and dpi, and work only in pixels
at this level. Then, if and when you want to print the image, resize to the
target size and resolution.
>
> mike

Justin Thyme, Apr 10, 2005
10. ### mike regishGuest

Thanks. That makes it much more understandable to me. I have been resizing
and resampling to 300 dpi for prints, but couldn't understand how that
related to what was on the monitor.

Thanks again.

mike

"Justin Thyme" <> wrote in message
news:9U_5e.559

> Ahh, the old dpi confusion issue. A digital photo does not have a dpi
> resolution, it has pixels. A 6MP digicam has roughly 3000x2000 pixels. DPI
> settings are irrelevant, 3000x2000 pixels is how much detail is in there.
> DPI only comes into play when the image is viewed - whether that be on a
> computer monitor or on a print. Computer monitors are considered to have
> on average 72dpi, so when photoshop says an image is 72dpi, it only says
> that because it is displaying it on a computer screen. If the image is
> 41"x27" @ 72dpi, what photoshop is really saying is "if you want to view
> this image so that 1 pixel in the original matches 1 pixel on your
> monitor, and assuming your monitor is at the average 72 dpi then the image
> will measure 41inches x 27inches". There is no need, and no point, to
> resize the image just to resave it again. Ignore the size in inches and
> dpi, and work only in pixels at this level. Then, if and when you want to
> print the image, resize to the target size and resolution.
>>
>> mike

>
>

mike regish, Apr 10, 2005

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