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Thread: Printing and large format sizes

  1. #1
    whited3's Avatar
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    Printing and large format sizes

    I have reached the stage (he says sheepishly ) that I'd like to print and frame some of my pics. Having never done this I have a few questions please, before I go in to the print shop and make a goose of myself

    I understand there is a "standard" size ratio for printed images. 1:4 or 1:5? Would someone please confirm what this is?

    Does this ratio apply to larger images (say around A3)?

    Is there such a thing for panoramas or wide format images and if so, what is it?

    Are there standard sizes for large format prints for both normal and panorama images?

    I ask the above as I no doubt have to crop and size my images correctly before I submit them for printing.

    Cheers.

  2. #2

    Re: Printing and large format sizes

    I'll try to answer to my best of knowledge. A better person to answer you would probably be Colin Southern though...

    The most common small print size is 4R, which has a dimention of 4"x6" or 10cm by 15cm. This equates to an aspect ratio of 2:3, meaning the length is 1.5 times the breath. One thing to note about the "R" series; the number represents the length of the shorter side in inches. The weird thing is that the aspect ratio keeps changing as the size increases.

    E.g.

    4R: 4"x6" (1.5). Most common small print size.
    5R: 5"x7" (1.4)
    6R: 6"x8" (1.33)
    8R: 8"x10" (1.25). I believe this is the largest common print size for ~$140 consumer printers, like the Canon Pixmar 4870. One step up is probably the 11"x14" or 11"x17" and 13"x19" that some pro printers use, eg Canon Pixmar 9000 or 9500 inkjet printers. The largest I've sent for printing is 24"x36". Colin prints 44" by 66", (or was it 100" x 150"?)

    FYI, Super 8R or (S8R): 8"x12"

    The list goes on.


    I don't know why A4 papers are so popular for photos, but it's the most common size you'll see on the market today. The interesting thing about the "A/B/C" series is that the aspect ratio is 1:<square root 2>. This number is not entirely arbitary; this aspect ratio is maintained even if the paper is folded.

    Is there such a thing for panoramas or wide format images and if so, what is it?
    Each panorama I take is different. What I do is to print it on a large paper, and cut it later on. If you would like to fit it into a particular frame size, play with the image and canvas size in photoshop. (For "canvas," I usually uncheck the "perspective" option, by the way.) I believe that's what the photo lab would do in order to produce a specific photo size.


    Is this of any help?
    Last edited by Blazing fire; 4th January 2011 at 05:54 AM.

  3. #3

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    Have a guess :)

    Re: Printing and large format sizes

    Hi Mark,

    Quote Originally Posted by whited3 View Post
    I have reached the stage (he says sheepishly ) that I'd like to print and frame some of my pics. Having never done this I have a few questions please, before I go in to the print shop and make a goose of myself
    Print shops come in two kinds (a) those who churn out low-cost prints by the hundred - mostly 6x4 - and you mostly upload these to their computers yourself. Often staff know little about colour spaces and image adjustment, but are quite knowledgeable with the software that they use for printing, and (b) high-end professional labs that do larger prints, and are pretty much the opposite of group (a) in every respect.

    I understand there is a "standard" size ratio for printed images. 1:4 or 1:5? Would someone please confirm what this is?
    1.5:1 Is the most common (ex 6x4, 9x6, 12x8 etc), although you'll find that the likes of 10x8 is also popular (different aspect ratio though).

    Does this ratio apply to larger images (say around A3)?
    We don't normally use "A" sizes, although (unfortunately) it's often what the customer refers to because I guess it's what they're most familiar with

    Is there such a thing for panoramas or wide format images and if so, what is it?
    No, not really, although personally, I can tell you that 3:1 and 4:1 are about as "panoramic" as it gets.

    Are there standard sizes for large format prints for both normal and panorama images?
    No, not really.

    I ask the above as I no doubt have to crop and size my images correctly before I submit them for printing.
    In reality you can print any aspect ratio that you like so long as the longest dimension doesn't exceed the longest dimension of the paper it's printed on (eg a 6x2 is fine on 6x4 paper etc); you'll just end up with black or white bars at the top or bottom that you'll need to cut off. Just be aware though - and this is a biggie - if you're intending to print a non-standard aspect ratio you MUST ensure that the correct options are sleected at the print shop. If you don't then it's likely to either crop the extra horizontal component so that the shortest dimension is correct, or stretch the image so that both dimensions are "correct" -- both result in a train wreck.

    The other big "gotcha" is you need to ensure your images are in sRGB format, not Adobe RGB or (heaven forbid) ProPhoto RGB) (in Photoshop you'd click on Image -> CONVERT to profile -> sRGB (as target)). Or your images will look dull, under-saturated, and with colour shifts.

    Also, some print shop staff adjust images - often making them better, sometimes worse.

    Hope this helps

  4. #4

    Re: Printing and large format sizes

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Also, some print shop staff adjust images - often making them better, sometimes worse.
    Agreed. That's one reason I knew I had to print my own.

  5. #5
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Printing and large format sizes

    Printers use print sizes but if you want to buy paper it comes in A sizes; A6 is approx 6" x 4", A5 is twice the short side of A6 and is 6" x 8", A4 is popular paper size and is twice the short side of A5 or 12" x 8" and so on, A3 is 12"x16" all the way up to A0 and all approximate.

    I suspect it is a good idea to save in sRGB for commercial printing but in my Canon instructions they recommend printing 16 bit and aRGB. The prints look ok to me but then I like saturated.

    Commercial printers come in two prices, very cheap and very expensive. In fact where I live they won't even give a quote for work unless you are a business.

    The cheap ones use automatic machines, which apply automatic levels which is fine sometimes. They correct for common point and shoot problems and do not discriminate between dslr and p&s.

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