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Thread: Pixel Size When Printing

  1. #1

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    Pixel Size When Printing

    I am having a hard time finding a photo sharesite that will keep my photos at the original size
    (approximately 3000 x 2000) which has led me to this question....exactly what pixel size does a photo need to be for optimal printing?

    Are my photos at 3000 x 2000 overkill, or do they produce a better photo? I SHOOT all my photos at the highest JPEG camera setting (too newbie for RAW...but hopefully one day). I know this is very important (learned by a very sad experience), but when it comes to PRINTING - is it still important to have the higest pixel count? What kind of photo print would you get at minimum requirement as compared to original size?

    I use a lab service and these requirements are on their website

    Minimal Pixel Sizes

    4 x 6 print = 900 x 600

    5 x 7 print = 1024 x 768

    8 x 10 print = 1220 x 960


    Thanks so much for all you smart photographers who are so willing to help newbies/dummies.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Jeannie - I'm no printing expert and I'll let those who are answer your question. But, as regards ........
    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    (too newbie for RAW...).
    No you are not. Definitely not. No way. Absolutely not at all. Nope.

    First thing I did when I started with a digital was work out how to get it into RAW. And it stayed there from day 1. Starting to shoot RAW will open up so many more windows of opportunity for you.

    Sure, it will feel like taking two steps back at first. But the leap forward that it will then give you will leave you speechless.

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    No you are not. Definitely not. No way. Absolutely not at all. Nope.

    First thing I did when I started with a digital was work out how to get it into RAW. And it stayed there from day 1. Starting to shoot RAW will open up so many more windows of opportunity for you.

    Sure, it will feel like taking two steps back at first. But the leap forward that it will then give you will leave you speechless.
    Donald is right Jeanie, take his advice and go for it!

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Most FREE photosharing websites have thousands of images uploaded to them a day. To have smaller file sizes saves them a heap load of storage space as well as making the loading of the site to normal users a whole lot quicker.
    There is a reason why they are free, and you get what you pay for.
    3k by 2k is a 6Mp file size. Typically 300ppi is recommended for printing. So, that means 3000 pixels on a side means you have 10" natural (without scaling up).
    The VAST majority of images are viewed on screen ONLY (probably around 900x600 max, giving a file of 540,000, a lot smaller) and so no need to make every image of large size.
    You get what you pay for, and it's free.

    Graham
    (agree with above on RAW, hard drives are big enough and cheap enough to save the larger size, plus it gives you best potential quality when you revisit in time to come with new found knowledge on how to manipulate)

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    I'm sorry...but all of you have missed my point. I am asking a question about pixels in regards to PRINTING.

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    I am wondering, Jeannie, why you wish to send your photos to a sharing site at such large sizes?

    These are printing sizes and not necessary for on screen viewing. Do you specifically want people to print large high quality photos from your files? Or are you using these sites as a means of safe storage away from your own computer?

    There isn't a 'one size suits all' recommended file size for sharing sites but I find that 800 pixels on the largest side is a good compromise. And as well as being cheaper for you, it prevents anybody from making unauthorised large prints.

    I usually also set slight Jepg compression which saves a little more space without any real quality difference when viewed on screen.

    And regarding shooting Raw. Yes, as the others have mentioned, there isn't any real problem with this. In fact in many ways I would say it is easier than shooting Jpeg and having to worry about getting everything correct, including any auto 'enhancements' at the time of shooting.

    There are however, as always, a couple of downsides to Raw. Files are larger and can take longer to download particularly if you are using a low power older computer. But for most people, this isn't a problem.

    And secondly, you will require a little bit of editing skill to convert your Raw images into prints. But this isn't difficult, at least not at the basic level.

    However, many of my friends seem to think that any form of digital editing software is bound to be difficult and totally above their capabilities. So they just shoot Jpeg, with maximum in camera auto enhancement, then take their cameras to a local 'photo developer' and collect the unedited 6 x 4 ins prints just as they did with film cameras.

    And with regard to best printing sizes. It is often stated that photos need to be at a resolution of 300 pixels per inch for printing. But in reality, a smaller size of around 200 ppi is normally sufficient, and a little less often still produces good results.

    For instance, I would ideally produce a file size of at least 1,200 pixels for a 6 ins wide print; or 2,000 pixels for 10 ins.

    Some printing establishments insist on 300 ppi but in many circumstances this just means a rather pointless exercise in resizing your images prior to sending them for printing. But it possibly does save them a little bit of time.
    Last edited by Geoff F; 10th December 2011 at 07:12 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Okay, apparently I haven't made myself clear. I was wanting to post my photos to a share site so that family members could download them to their PC and have them printed. I'd say 99% of the family members are going to have them printed at Wal-Mart's or the like. So....what I want to know is what pixel size is the best for optimal printing 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10.

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    PS - the whole point of putting my photos on a sharesite is for family members to print them so they can have photos of our Thanksgiving Reunion. Just a heap easier way for me, instead of me ordering a set of photos for everyone and them mailing the photos to them.

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    I'd say put them on the site at the recommended size for 8x10 prints ~1220 x 960. In that case if they feel the need for a smaller print, they can resize the images themselves, and in the exceptional case that they want a larger print, they can always email you for the original.
    Last edited by Hero; 10th December 2011 at 09:01 PM.

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    A useful article that may help your problem.

    http://www.rideau-info.com/photos/printshop.html

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    This will help you. I print all my own images from 6 x 4" right up to 24 x 60 inches.
    Firstly go to the tutorial area and read the tutorial on ppi vs dpi.

    For on screen viewing we are mainly dealing with ppi (="screen resolution").
    I store most of my images on flickr at 100ppi. This allows for quick file transfers and also kind of protects your image from being easily hacked and printed up to a huge size.

    For printing the key thing is dpi. The dpi you should choose depends almost exclusively on the distance you intend to view your print from. The closer you want to view the print the higher the dpi (="print resolution") required. Most printer manufacturers recommend 300 dpi (Epson say 360 for some of their printers) for high res small prints that you intend viewing from a 1 to 3 foot distance. If you are printing a large poster to be viewed from say 40 feet away you can possibly go as low as 100dpi. For most "domestic situations" (photo album stuff and up to say 11 x 17") just use 300 dpi. Resize the print at 300 dpi to the actual size you want to print and away you go. If you are using a commercial printer make sure you use the same colour space as they are using. Most just use sRGB. If they don't know what you are talking about - find another printer.

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    I'm sorry...but all of you have missed my point. I am asking a question about pixels in regards to PRINTING.
    To repeat myself - Typically 300ppi is recommended for printing.
    And as is asked elsewhere, the question needed to be refined - which you have now done (and which I also covered).
    To reiterate, for small image sizes free sites are suitable (printable up to 4x6" with acceptable (not great) quality). For anything to be printed significantly larger, free sites are not suitable.

    I have posted hundreds of pics from events onto flickr. IF people want they can download or just view on screen. For the VERY few who actually want a larger print (typically less than 1%), then I also provide them with my e-mail. Then I can send them the larger file.
    Trying to answer the real issue as well as the asked question .
    Graham

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for the answers.

    Ken - thanks for the website tutorial.
    Mark - Are you referring to the CIC tutorial on ppi vs dpi?

    I will study these and probably shouldn't ask any more questions until I do so....but....just one more
    Can you not tell any difference in a 4x6 print (pixel size 900 x 600) than a 4x6 (pixel size 3072 x 2048)?

    On highest JPEG setting of my camera the EXIF shows photo dimension as 2048 x 3072 - horizontal and vertical resolution as 180 dpi. Is 180 dpi as high as my camera records? Remember.....I have the much outdated Canon Rebel EOS 300D.

    My relatives wouldn't know what a pixel was if it bit them - I was just trying to keep the photo in a range to make an EXCELLENT photo.

    Okay - I'll go study now.

  14. #14

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Optimal pixels per inch (ppi) are generally considered to be 300. Any more does not affect the quality of the print.
    Dots per inch (dpi) refers to the number of dots the printer sets down per inch. However, dpi tends to be used for both (just to confuse people).

    LESS than 300 ppi will result in a suboptimal print. HOWEVER, I have made many prints at around 170ppi and it is not immediately evident that the quailty is less. It is acceptable quality for my needs on occasion. Most people wouldn't even notice the difference (photographers aside ). As such it depends on how good the viewers eyesight is, how much detail they are likely to be aware of (mine has improved vastly since getting involved more seriously in photography), how much they will view the print and so on.
    A print that is stuck on the fridge door with a bit of tape - 150ppi is likely to be adequate.
    A print that is in a matted frame, placed in pride of place on the wall in a high passage area, well lit, examined as a result of pride on a daily basis - print at 300ppi.

    Quality if a print depends on the requirements of the viewer and the pride of the producer.

    Hope this helps.
    Basically, it's a moving target, so difficult to nail down.

    Graham

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    ...
    Can you not tell any difference in a 4x6 print (pixel size 900 x 600) than a 4x6 (pixel size 3072 x 2048)?
    ...
    Another take:
    4x6 @ 600x900 pixels gives 150 pixels/inch or 0.0067 inch/pixel (0.169 mm/pixel), a bit over what a person with good eye sight can resolve
    same at 3000x2000 gives 750 pixels/inch or 0.0013 inch/pixel (0.034 mm/pixel), way below what that same person with good eye sight can resolve (normally taken as ~300 ppi)
    That normal person is supposed to be able to distinguish details down to about 0.1 mm at a distance of 30 cm (sorry, I'm used to working in mm, not inches). That is high contrast detail, btw, not graded tones. For gradients, the resolution of the eye is lower. So in practice, you can get away with a lot less than 300 ppi and still get a very good looking print.

    So, the highest pixel size you want to use is a massive overkill for 4x6 prints, and would give excellent quality for a 8"x12" print (after that, you still get good viewing quality, as you don't normally look at prints of such sizes from reading distance...) (see what Colin Southern has to say on the subject, on numerous occasions )

    Then a final factor: you would only profit from the highest resolutions on glossy paper, with no surface texture. On mat or textured surfaces, you won't see the finest details, so 180-200 ppi would already give you the maximum quality.

    Remco

    P.S. If you really want to figure out what is going you'd have to consider the viewing angle between two points, as that's what count (that's why I said 0.1mm @ 30 cm).
    What it gets down to, is that if your print is viewed from twice as far, the viewers can only see half the resolution. So a print seen from 3 m only needs about 30 ppi to look perfect.
    I'd still use a bit more if I could, though, as they might come in for a closer look.

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    I have posted hundreds of pics from events onto flickr. IF people want they can download or just view on screen. For the VERY few who actually want a larger print (typically less than 1%), then I also provide them with my e-mail. Then I can send them the larger file.

    Graham's comment is probably the easiest answer all round. I sometimes do the same. Number the photos and upload them to whatever sharing site at a suitable size, say 800 pixels on the long side.

    Viewers can simply choose the images they want and tell you the numbers. You then e mail them with the files they require, which they can get printed. Or burn them to a CD/DVD and post that. In fact when faced with this situation I often burn everything to discs and send one disc to each person so they can pick which photos they prefer and do whatever they want with them.

    There are a few sites which provide a service where you send your photo files which they display; then they print and post the required prints directly to whoever requests them. But there is a cost implication here; although often not as expensive as you may expect.

    On highest JPEG setting of my camera the EXIF shows photo dimension as 2048 x 3072 - horizontal and vertical resolution as 180 dpi. Is 180 dpi as high as my camera records? Remember.....I have the much outdated Canon Rebel EOS 300D.

    The maximum number of pixels depends on your camera sensor size; which sounds like 3072 x 2048. Which means, if my maths are correct, you can print 10 ins max width at 300 ppi (10x300=3000). Or alternatively 16 ins at 180 ppi approx. Or any size in between.

    The default resolution (ie 180 ppi) varies with different cameras and can be as low as 72 ppi for some models. This is needlessly confusing as all that really matters is the total number of pixels; as previously mentioned.

    It is easy however to get confused when resizing images and if you aren't careful it is possible to accidentally loose a lot of your pixels.

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Many thanks to everyone's reply. I really appreciate it. My mind gets rather boggled at times.

    MODERATOR - Is is okay if I cut and paste this info in a Word document and print it for reference?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    MODERATOR - Is is okay if I cut and paste this info in a Word document and print it for reference?
    Of course it is. CiC is all about helping people learn. And if this thread has achieved that, then CiC has served its purpose!

    If you then go onto publish it and make a fortune, the royalties are split - Donald = 95%; Sean, Colin and Dave = 5%!

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    Re: Pixel Size When Printing

    Thanks Donald...and by all means - you can have 95% of the royalties.

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    Size of photo when Printing

    Hello,

    I am confused about standing printing size. A good freind tells me that a 8X12 is the official size for a professional printed picture if you respect the ratio witch is 2/3 in ma camera? But I cannot find frames of that size at my local store?
    Is there such a thing about "standard sizes"?

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