All the things to think about for a poster

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by HeroOfSpielburg, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. Hello,

    I've done a little reading and think I understand the basics of what it
    takes to print a beautiful image from a digital camera, but in case I'm
    confused or forgetting something, I'd be much obliged for the

    I have a five-megapixel Powershot S50, and am trying to print a high
    quaity image for an art show (scouts are coming). Since there are so
    many limitations with CCD quality and what not, I've decided to take a
    bunch of my best shots and align them on a poster-size (30"x40") print,
    each contributing shot ending up about the size of a postcard. From
    what I can tell, the things to be concerned about are:

    1) resolution: from a 2592x1944 raw file, tiling say about five shots
    across the poster plus borders, when I print the resolution will end up
    being about 430ppi (2600x5/30"). The guy at the print shop told me
    this should be more than enough, especially since it's a big poster and
    people are going to be standing a couple feet away from it. My
    question: is it fine to deliver the PSD to the shop at this native
    (maximum) resolution (like a +400mb file), or should I downsample for a
    particular ppi to prevent the printer from doing this in the driver?

    2) color management: unfortunately, I don't understand the half of how
    to manage color profiles yet, but I'm hoping that if I prepare it in
    sRGB on my monitor at home, the print shop can make it work out okay.
    I read that the most common problem with color matching is not the
    tones but gamma from monitors. Is this true? Can I tune my laptop LCD
    to match the gamma of the printer somehow?

    3) noise and sampling artifacts from the CCD: the print shop guy said
    the thing that gets ugly fastest is shadows, producing noise with
    banding or aliased areas. If I am using a resolution as I suggested
    above, will this work out ok? I suppose there isn't much to be done
    about noise in the CCD other than try to only use shots taken at the
    lowest speed setting of the camera (ASA 50). I've noticed that just on
    the monitor, shots taken at 100 or 200 can look pretty trashy. I
    suppose the key here to is maintain smooth, widely dispersed levels in
    the image?

    Anyway, I'm really nervous about this as it's my first art show, and I
    really don't want my presentation to be ruined by technical screwups in
    the transition from monitor to paper. Thanks to anyone that can make
    me feel a little more knowledgeable and confident about this.

    HeroOfSpielburg, Aug 23, 2006
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  2. In the absence of any true expert leaping up to assist, I'll try.. (O;
    Correct. 300 ppi is generally regarded as 'very good' resolution, 240
    is enough for most things, and if you stand back, it can drop
    further... Of course if they are small images, people are going to
    tend to want to get up close..
    An excess of pixels generally does no harm, as long as the application
    can handle it, and you/they don't mind the large files. So just ask
    them, and maybe take two versions just in case. Do they use PSD files,
    by the way? Not all systems do...
    No-one does. (grin)
    You *should* be OK.. Applying color management well is not something
    you will do in 15 minutes, so maybe leave it for later projects. Just
    make sure your monitor is well set up
    Yes, it's true, see above.
    Most laptop LCD screens suck, so probably not. Just try changing your
    viewing angle and note the difference in brightness/contrast/gamma, and
    sometimes color. Yeeuch. CRT monitors are far, far better, but some
    of the newer high-end LCDs are getting there.
    First, noise and sampling artifacts are two very different things!
    At those sizes I doubt you will see a thing, because noise/grain is
    reduced via resampling (it averages out pixel values). Get your screen
    properly adjusted, then display the images at about twice the size as
    they will print, then roll your chair back to about 3ft/1m. If they
    look ok, you should be laughing.. If not, try Neat Image (is there
    still a free version?) or Noiseware Community Edition, which I like a
    Yes. Also, try to avoid underexposing... but bear in mind that
    overexposing can blow highlights, so on some scenes you will have a
    dilemma.. Shooting RAW can help, as can dialling down the contrast to
    give more headroom, and if all else fails use any decent noise reducing
    software as above - they are pretty dang good nowadays. And noise will
    usually only be a problem at sizes where you are using the full
    resolution of your camera. 6x4 prints should be clean, 7x5's ok-ish,
    but 11x8's...hmmm.
    Yep, so that's where accurate exposure, shooting RAW and low contrast
    settings, if applicable, may be useful.
    Why not ask him to do a small test print, so you can see how you are
    going before committing to the poster?
    Well, you are asking the right questions! Good luck, let us know how
    you go.
    mark.thomas.7, Aug 23, 2006
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  3. HeroOfSpielburg

    Pat Guest

    Mark's comments were very good. Just a couple of other things for you.

    While you may not be able to handle color management, your print shop
    can. So print out a print or two, just the way you want them, and have
    the print shop print to match it. It's prettty easy for them to do

    It is possible that they can't exactly match your colors. You are
    working in 3 color and the print shop might be working in 4 color. So
    they have to rip the file. Generally all goes well if the lab does a
    good job, but once in a while it produces interesting results. Of
    course, the other issue is that they are not using the same color inks
    you are using.

    If you are worried about pixelation, ask them if they have fractal
    software for upsampling. It works pretty well.

    As for what format to send it, use whatever the lab wants. Generally
    ..PSD is okay.

    As for the size, if you can fit it on a CD or DVD, you're good to go.
    If you can open it and manipulate it on your computer, they probably
    can on theirs, too. It's not their first rodeo.

    Good luck with it.
    Pat, Aug 23, 2006
  4. Thank you Mark and Pat. You've both given me excellent advice, and I
    can now proceed on to my printing with confidence. Sorry for the late
    reply, things have been so busy at the office, I haven't had a day off
    in weeks. Thanks again!!
    HeroOfSpielburg, Sep 3, 2006
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