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Thread: Maximum Print Size - Your Results and a Challenge

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    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Maximum Print Size - Your Results and a Challenge

    This came up recently in another forum of large format photographers and I thought it would be informative and enlightening here. This discussion may also be worth eventually compiling down into a tutorial at some point.

    Given that most people here predominantly work with dSLR's, where the imager is often 36mm x 24 mm or smaller, what is the Maximum Print Size achievable which still maintains an excellent to acceptable image quality both for yourself and, if you are a professional, for your clients ?

    Please detail your cameras, including imager size and photosite count, lenses yielding the sharpest clarity, post processing methods/software, and printer and/or print services employed to achieve your maximum print size. Of course, do include information on the print dimensions achieved.

    To add a bit of challenge, lets refrain from theoretical discussions and stick to actual results achieved. Or try your hand at going for a big print, larger than anything you've done before, then report what you achieved and how you got there. Lets see if there is a limit to Maximum Print Size or at least determine what it is.

    Also, lets limit this to single exposure, un-cropped, full imager prints. No mosaics or stitched composite images and no tight crops from the central imager sweet spot.

    Despite the discussions of lens MTF, imager size, photosite counts, software, process flow, camera and lens brands, the bottom line in reality is the resulting image. A compilation of methods, technologies, and results, of course including bragging rights to who can get the largest print, would be invaluable to both new and experienced photographers. ( Hey, someone please check the Guinness book of world records. Let's see what is the largest print from a dSLR, then we can get the challenge winner's results listed in the book !! )

    Here is a point of reference, a contributor on the large format Maximum Print Size discussion said that he achieved a 72" x 96" print from an Olympus E-20 about ten years ago and he included a photo of the print hanging on a wall that went from ceiling to floor.

    So no cheating. We all must be able to back up our Maximum Print Size claims with photographic proof. ( And no photoshopping of the evidence ) Lets see what can actually be achieved and document how to get there.

    -=-=-

    At present, I'm waiting on delivery of a 32" x 22" print that I'm getting from a print on demand service that was shot with my Sigma SD14 with an 4.7M photosite imager size of 20.7mm x 13.8mm. Good, bad, or indifferent, I'll be posting my evaluation and details of the results here.

    -=-=-
    Last edited by Steaphany; 16th October 2009 at 01:00 PM.

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    Re: Max Size - Your Results and a Challenge

    Well mine wont be particularly impresive, but i recently did an A4 print from one of my images from my kodak Z8612 (8MP, final image ended up at 5MP once cropped) Asside from the printer putting it out a little dark, the picture is pin-sharp. The other one for comparison would be a 35 megapixel panorama printed across 7 A4 images using photorazor, using an older fujifilm P+S 5MP, again pin-sharp.

    Edit: actually i also have a 23Megapixel panorama printed across 5 A4 which i guess just about works out to a slightly lower ppi than the others, again pin-sharp.

    When i say pin-sharp, i mean even when im holding the image inches from my eyes to study the quality, since i dont normally get closer than a meter or so, i wouldnt hesitate to print a 5MP image across an A3 piece of paper if my printer could do so.

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    Re: Max Size - Your Results and a Challenge

    Unfortunately, exercises like that tend to ignore a MAJOR variable ... For some reason they seem to assume that as the print size increases the viewing distance remains the same (pretty much equivalent to the length of the photographers nose!), but the reality is that - with the public general - as the print size increases, so does the viewing distance.

    I've printed single frames up to 66 inches wide from a 21 MP camera (3:1 aspect ratio so exactly 1/2 the (vertical portion) of the image was cropped and discarded making the image effectively a 66" print from a 10MP camera) - and it looks just fine. I've got many 33" images (33 x 22" is my standard vertical size) hanging on my gallery wall shot with both 8MP and 21MP cameras - and you can't tell the difference from normal viewing distances.

    Personally I blame Photoshops 100% view; if people couldn't zoom their images any bigger than 25% I'll bet that they'd all be a LOT happier with their prints!

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    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Re: Max Size - Your Results and a Challenge

    Today I received my 32.00 x 21.33" print from a full imager photograph taken with my Sigma SD14. The imager size is 20.7mm x 13.8mm.

    Here is proof of the print's size:

    Maximum Print Size - Your Results and a Challenge

    The print was ordered unframed and came rolled in a mailing tube. The curl is still evident here. The scale that I have placed on the image is a metric drafting scale with an overall length of 12 and 7/8 Inches.

    This is when the print is viewed at a normal viewing distance.

    Saying that the clarity is good is just my opinion, but here is some proof.

    This is Colin's "pretty much equivalent to the length of the photographers nose!" viewing distance:
    Maximum Print Size - Your Results and a Challenge

    This manufacturers plate on the engine is readable and states

    "AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVE COMPANY 40246 BROOKS WORKS JULY 1906"

    The smaller text is harder to make out but is recognizable when you know what to expect. Below the plate is an engine servicing platform with the edge painted white. The clarity of the edge is easy to see.

    Some points of note regarding the scale. This image has been magnified 39.3 times between the long dimension of the SD14's imager to the long dimension of this physical print. The print height of the manufacturers plate on the engine is roughly 17mm. This corresponds to only .433mm on the imager's surface or just 55 pixels.

    In preparation for printing, I used the Studio Edition of Qimage to produce an up scaled 4X image to allow for a maximum print size of 60" from the on demand print house, in this case Imagekind. The resulting 10560 x 7040 pixel image, when printed at 32" wide yielded 330 Qimage pixels per inch or 82.5 imager pixels per inch.

    I am happy with this result.

    Now, who can beat my 39.3X or a 32"x21" Print size ?

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    Re: Max Size - Your Results and a Challenge

    Wow this is an expensive challenge! All I can afford is my 4"x3" prints... Waiting for that special shot to come along and I'll do a 13"x9", maybe even frame it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Personally I blame Photoshops 100% view; if people couldn't zoom their images any bigger than 25% I'll bet that they'd all be a LOT happier with their prints!
    I blame monitor manufacturers! If only the DPI of monitors matched what we printed at!

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    Re: Max Size - Your Results and a Challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    I am happy with this result.
    I knew you would be

    Now, who can beat my 39.3X or a 32"x21" Print size ?
    Sorry to have to say this, but I beat those sizes several time a week

    (22 x 44" is my standard size, but I've been doing 22 x 66" recently - and up to 22 x 88" )

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