Monday, June 26th, 2017

How Many Pixels Make A Good Print?

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One of the more common dilemmas for people is choosing the paper size for printing their photos. Everybody knows that if your digital camera does not produce enough pixels (or actually megapixels) printing its photos on a large paper size will yield poor quality and you will be able to see the actual pixels (also known as pixelation)

So how many megepixels do I really need in order to print on a specific paper size? there is no one right answer for that. The actual quality of the print depends on many factors other than the number of pixels. For example the paper quality itself the printing process that is used the lighting conditions when the photo was taken the photo itself (i.e. portraits are different than scenery) and much more.

However a rough estimation of how good a picture will be based on the number of pixels can be calculated and is actually pretty easy to do. When evaluating how good a print will be there is a measurement that is simple to use and provides a good estimation for the quality – it is called PPI (pixels per inch). PPI is actually the number of pixels along one inch. To get a good print you would need a certain PPI (on both X and Y axis).

Experiments show that the following qualities are usually associated with a specific PPI number:

PPI 100 – fair to bad

PPI 200 – good

PPI 300 – very good

So all we need to do now is to figure out for each paper size how many megapixels translate to those PPI numbers. To calculate this we need to simply multiply the page length by its width in inches. The result is the number of square inches on the page. Now multiply this number by the square of the PPI number and the result is the number of pixels on the page which is the number of pixels we want our source photo to have. Here are the numbers calculated for some common sizes (for 100,200 and 300 PPI respectively):

page 4X6 0.24MP 1MP 2MP

page 5X7 0.35MP 1.5MP 3MP

page 8X10 0.8MP 3MP 7MP

page 11X14 1.5MP 6MP 14MP

page 16X20 3MP 12MP 28MP

page 20X30 6MP 24MP 54MP

Again we would like to emphasize that these are just ballpark numbers. Factors like the ones mentioned above and also like the compression ratio used (low or high compression) and the aspect ratio difference between the paper and the camera can result in a need for more or less pixels. Our best advice is if you are not sure just try one or two photos before printing a large batch.


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Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Proverbs 29:18

The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2

He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
Psalm 104:10-13

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number living things both large and small.
Psalm 104:24-25

Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.
Ansel Adams

When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!
Ted Grant

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.
Dorothea Lange

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
Ansel Adams

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
Henri Cartier-Bresson

You don’t take a photograph, you make it.
Ansel Adams

Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.
Matt Hardy

Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.
Elliott Erwitt

Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.
Imogen Cunningham

You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.
William Albert Allard

If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.
Garry Winogrand

I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good.
Anonymous

Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.
Ansel Adams

It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get.
Timothy Allen

 


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