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Thread: Cropping for Print

  1. #1
    Soma Jones's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    Traverse City Mi
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    Cropping for Print

    I'm curious about this part of other people's workflow. I find it annoying to get to the end of post processing and being ready to send it off to the printer and then remembering that the aspect ratio isn't correct. Why in this day and age don't commercial printers have paper that matches digital dimensions? Or do they? Or am I missing something? It pains me to have to lop off the edges of a composition like watching a movie in "Full Screen" instead of letter boxed.
    What's the best solution?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Western MA, USA
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    Re: Cropping for Print

    This varies with the printer, but most decent printers will allow you to choose whether you want the print to spill off the paper or not. Of course, if you choose to have it printed without cropping, the paper will have white stripes on two edges if it isn't the same aspect ratio as the paper. But you can trim the paper yourself easily enough. About the only printer I have ever used that did not allow that was SnapFish, which is one reason I no longer use them. If memory serves, WinkFlash will allow you to specify printing without cropping (it may be called something else, I just don't recall) and the slightly more expensive but very good quality Adorama printing definitely allows that option. FWIW

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    South Devon, UK

    Re: Cropping for Print

    Soma. Are you talking about printing yourself or using the services of a high street/internet printing company?

    I always print my own on standard size paper then cut the prints as required, as Tom mentioned.

    And I often double up the prints per sheet for smaller size prints. For example 2 at 7 x 5 ins per full size sheet. This does take a bit of initial working out but isn't difficult. In actual fact this allows me to work with my preferred personal sizes, eg. 190 x 127 mm prints which gain a little extra compared with 'standard' sizes.

    Professional printing companies tend to work on standard popular sizes but these will vary considerably depending on country and popular demand.

    Common print sizes include 6 x 4 ins; 7 x 5 ins; 10 x 8 ins; 12 x 8 ins; European A5; A4; A3. A4 is 297 x 210 mm. So you can easily see why some printers prefer to just work with the commonest sizes which fit the majority of basic camera sizes; and these will vary between different types of camera.

    I suppose that the bulk of any printer's output would be 6 x 4 or 5 x 7 prints direct from point and shoot cameras; and their owners only ever use the full auto camera settings with little or no editing.

    Most better quality printing companies should be able to offer a range of paper sizes, although this may attract a premium printing rate to cover the extra 'messing around'.

    Resizing images to exactly fit the European sizes can require a bit of careful thought if you don't want to lose anything from one side. But very careful, selective, choice of cropping sizes is possible; although I don't always get it correct everytime unless I use a calculator.

    For me, cropping an image to suit the scene which I have photographed is just part of the editing process; and sometimes I need to produce a couple of different ratios from the same photo for different purposes.

  4. #4
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    May 2011
    Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA
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    Frank Miller

    Re: Cropping for Print

    Hi Soma,
    If you absolutely have to have the entire image conform to a different aspect ratio, consider trying the Content-Aware Scale in Photoshop. If I remember correctly Adobe has a tutorial video on how to use this feature. Under the right circumstances, the results can be impressive, even for extreme changes in aspect ratio, but (there is always a 'but'), the results are very image content sensitive.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    South Coast, UK
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    Re: Cropping for Print

    Hello Soma,
    Just to add a little to the discussion .. As I see it the problem starts with (most) of our cameras. Due to the baggage of history we mostly capture images in a 2:3 aspect ratio. As you and others point out, almost none of our output media / display devices are 2:3 ! So what to do? Well, speaking for myself, I try to visualise what I'm going to crop off when I take the picture. Nothing sophisticated I just leave a bit more space at the narrow ends of the frame. So the effect is often that I shoot with a wider angle lens setting than may be apparent in the final result. In post processing I crop to one of four ratios 1:1, 1:2.5, 1:2, 3:4. There is an upside to this. If I get it right I always chop off the corners the place where most of the lens aberration lurks. A result!




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