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View Full Version : how big can I have a 6.1mp image printed without much loss of image quality



Turo
08-09-2007, 06:31 PM
I have several images I took at full resolution with my D50 (6.1MP) on jpeg fine with no cropping (still haven't stepped up to RAW). Some of them came out better than I thought, and I wanted to have some of them printed. What I dont know is how big I can go without losing much image quality (I don't want the printed version to look stretched and.or jaggy around edges). Just curious, thanks!

David Metsky
08-09-2007, 06:53 PM
It will depend somewhat on the image itself but you will be fine with 8x10 or 11x14. Do you want to go bigger then that?

D70FAN
08-09-2007, 08:53 PM
I have several images I took at full resolution with my D50 (6.1MP) on jpeg fine with no cropping (still haven't stepped up to RAW). Some of them came out better than I thought, and I wanted to have some of them printed. What I dont know is how big I can go without losing much image quality (I don't want the printed version to look stretched and.or jaggy around edges). Just curious, thanks!

I print at 13 x 19 quite a bit and I've printed (and sold) my D70 images at 16 x 20 and they looked great.

fionndruinne
08-09-2007, 10:14 PM
Yeah, you should be able to go for 11x14 without even thinking about it, and 13x19 and a little ways up from there should be fine as well. I just had some 8x12's printed, and looking at them, it's obvious I can go further if I want to.

toriaj
08-09-2007, 10:19 PM
I printed up to 20"x30" once, and it was fine. Depends on how detailed your shot is. A sunset is going to look smoother than a cityscape.

Alex D80
08-09-2007, 11:36 PM
I own a print shop and it really depends on the RIP software been used. If the software used is just Windows or Mac drivers, then you have a chance of it looking pretty bad at very big size. We use ONYX PosterShop and we can print a little 65k file up to a 30x40 and still looks great. We have printed 4-5MP files into 60"x90" and they turn out amazing. It has to do with the quality of the plotter and the RIP engine been used.

tekriter
08-10-2007, 07:48 AM
So many variables in this question - what ISO was used, how sharp is the picture?

I order 12 x 18's from Costco that are pretty good if the basic picture is shot well in the first place. I have a D50 with 6 mpx.

Quality of a print is subjective, and I have a case in point.

A couple of months ago I was called by a mother of a football player whose team I cover. He was a high school senior, and not a regular player. I had taken a shot of him making one of the few catches he made last season, and the shot was actuall pretty good if I say so myself. The catch was fantastic, by the way.

Anyway, the mother wanted to surprise her son by having me order a poster-sized print of this shot. More than a poster, in fact. She wanted it to cover his closet door in his bedroom. This would make it roughly 30 x 60 inches!

Now this shot was taken at ISO 1600, at night, and to get the cropping she wanted with just her son in the picture meant that I was only going to use the center one-third of the frame, maybe even a little less. The total enlargement was going to be on the order of a 90 x 60 inch horizontal frame, from 6 mpx at ISO 1600.

I warned her that there was NO WAY it was going to work. She asked me to try, so I did, and ordered the print from an online place that specializes in posters. When the tube arrived, I was afraid to look. Sure enough, the picture had pixels that were huge. I thought we had just wasted this lady's money.

She came by - and loved it. The graininess, the pixellation, didn't matter one bit. Not to her, at least. I heard from her a couple of days later that her son had called all his buddies over to see his picture and they thought it was cool.

Moral of the story? Don't let anyone tell YOU what the limits are - decide that for yourself.

Turo
08-10-2007, 08:14 AM
I print at 13 x 19 quite a bit and I've printed (and sold) my D70 images at 16 x 20 and they looked great.

Good to know, I'd like to try a 16 x 20 and maybe an 11 x 14 and see how they compare.


I own a print shop and it really depends on the RIP software been used. If the software used is just Windows or Mac drivers, then you have a chance of it looking pretty bad at very big size. We use ONYX PosterShop and we can print a little 65k file up to a 30x40 and still looks great. We have printed 4-5MP files into 60"x90" and they turn out amazing. It has to do with the quality of the plotter and the RIP engine been used.

So the best thing to do is to put the images on a disk and take them to a good print shop that uses quality RIP software then right? I hadn't planned on printing it myself since I do not own a color printer.


So many variables in this question - what ISO was used, how sharp is the picture?

I order 12 x 18's from Costco that are pretty good if the basic picture is shot well in the first place. I have a D50 with 6 mpx.

Quality of a print is subjective, and I have a case in point.

A couple of months ago I was called by a mother of a football player whose team I cover. He was a high school senior, and not a regular player. I had taken a shot of him making one of the few catches he made last season, and the shot was actuall pretty good if I say so myself. The catch was fantastic, by the way.

Anyway, the mother wanted to surprise her son by having me order a poster-sized print of this shot. More than a poster, in fact. She wanted it to cover his closet door in his bedroom. This would make it roughly 30 x 60 inches!

Now this shot was taken at ISO 1600, at night, and to get the cropping she wanted with just her son in the picture meant that I was only going to use the center one-third of the frame, maybe even a little less. The total enlargement was going to be on the order of a 90 x 60 inch horizontal frame, from 6 mpx at ISO 1600.

I warned her that there was NO WAY it was going to work. She asked me to try, so I did, and ordered the print from an online place that specializes in posters. When the tube arrived, I was afraid to look. Sure enough, the picture had pixels that were huge. I thought we had just wasted this lady's money.

She came by - and loved it. The graininess, the pixellation, didn't matter one bit. Not to her, at least. I heard from her a couple of days later that her son had called all his buddies over to see his picture and they thought it was cool.

Moral of the story? Don't let anyone tell YOU what the limits are - decide that for yourself.

Most of the pictures are fairly sharp straight out of the camera. Most have been post-processed with photoshop for a little color balancing and added sharpness. Camera is a D50 and the iso on the images is set at either 200 or 400. Does it matter that the images are post-processed?

Here are cropped/resized version of some of the ones I'd like to have printed:

http://ww2.cs.fsu.edu/~donate/wakeboard/wake2/images/wake2_16.jpg

http://ww2.cs.fsu.edu/~donate/wakeboard/wake2/images/wake2_47.jpg

tekriter
08-10-2007, 09:23 AM
Turo -

Those are great, and I think they would blow up just fine.

David Metsky
08-10-2007, 09:53 AM
Killer shots!

mugsisme
08-10-2007, 11:30 AM
Those are just incredible. I think they would be perfect. I blew a picture up to 16x20 that was cropped. It turned out well. I did it on Shutterfly, and they did a fantastic job.

SpecialK
08-10-2007, 09:52 PM
In theory, any size will be fine - if you view it at the "correct" distance. That distance is...(drum roll)....

Focal length (35mm equivalent I guess, from the old days) x degree of enlargement.

So, essentially, the bigger the enlargement, the further back you should view it from. In practice, though, I think we walk right up to a poster-size print and "peep".

Alex D80
08-11-2007, 06:04 PM
So the best thing to do is to put the images on a disk and take them to a good print shop that uses quality RIP software then right? I hadn't planned on printing it myself since I do not own a color printer.


I sell posters, banners, canvas in a daily basis. Enlargements or same size; laminated or not. Most of the time I do tell my customers to bring me digital images and for them to be around +1.5MB; which means at about +3.5MP. Another thing I tell my customers before we print is: How are you going to be looking at this picture? Under a scope or on the wall above the sofa which you will be standing about 5' away? That makes a difference.

Go to the mall and look at any poster printed and they all look pretty darn good at a 5' walking distance. Now, get really-really close and look at the quality. Unless they were printed on a Lightjet machine you WILL see the dots. Lightjets are the only plotters in the world that are capable of printing and you will not see the pixel/dot patterns. Not even under a scope.

If you are going to look at a poster picture at under a foot, then you are looking for a Lightjet brand image. Be ready to pay in the hundred's for a big poster. When I mean big I am talking about 30" x 40". Lightjets are nothing but a photo-lab type process. The Lightjet burns the paper and then the paper is processed just like a film. The difference is that you are processing the paper directly, not the film.

If you want something a little more economical, then an inkjet plotter will do. The one we use is high-speed, high-quality, outdoor resistant, solvent based. With it we can print posters, banners, pictures, canvas, vehicle/fleet wraps, see through perf material for windows on cars/buses, opaque films for light boxes, etc. We can print all this while the customer waits most of the time.

Turo
08-12-2007, 08:08 AM
Thanks for all the helps and comments guys. Most of my pictures are uncropped so the are fairly large. To answer your question AlexD80, the images will not be under a lot of scrutiny up close, the purpose of them is to frame them and maybe hang them in a room or something similar (ie, viewed from 2 or 3 feet away).

A friend of mine ordered a 20x30 print of one of his images through shutterfly and it looks great, I think I may give them a shot first and see the results. I'm not expecting stellar results since the images are only 6.1MP, but I'd like to see how they turn out. I'll let you all know what I think of them.

Turo
09-26-2007, 05:31 PM
UPDATE:

I know this thread is a little old but I figured I'd post an update in case anyone was curious (or is curious in the future). I ordered two of my pictures from shutterfly and had them printed at 20"x30" and they turned out great! I did quite a bit of post-processing to make the file as perfect as I could. And the images were almost full-size for my camera (D50) with very minor cropping. I am definitely very happy with the results :D.

tekriter
09-26-2007, 06:04 PM
Turo -

Glad to hear that!

The two images you posted here were AMAZINGLY sharp and detailed so I figured they would come out just fine.

Tony_V
09-26-2007, 06:14 PM
Moral of the story? Don't let anyone tell YOU what the limits are - decide that for yourself.

That's the perfect answer...

TNB
09-26-2007, 06:17 PM
A little late I guess...


Most of the pictures are fairly sharp straight out of the camera . . . Here are cropped/resized version of some of the ones I'd like to have printed
First, it depends on how much you have cropped. Since someone mentioned Costco and if you have access, you can upload the photos to Costco Photo and pick enlargements. Their program should also indicate if the photo is suitable or not for printing that particular size. I recently ordered three 20x30s from Costco since their prices are much cheaper than what I would pay locally. And although the prints were supposed to arrive in today--the photo tube was open and empty. I've already requested replacements from Costco and reported it to UPS. It just sucks since I didn't watermark the photos because they were for me. A copyright mark is supposed to be on the back--one blonde, one redhead, and one brunette. Opps, those were the subjects, not the watermark. :)

Moral of the story, read the entire thread and watermark your photos.