Posts tagged ‘printing’

January 31, 2011

How Big Can I Print My Photo?

How big can I print my photos is a very common question. Even professional photographers happen to struggle with this topic.

To avoid any further confusion that we could inflict by technical calculations we put together the following practical matrix showing how many megapixels (M) you should set your camera to if you want to have your photo printed in one of the standard sizes. If your camera settings show width-to-height dimensions in pixels, the additional table below will come handy.
Note:  The calculations are based on the printing standards requiring the resolution of 300 pixels per square inch (a.k.a. 300dpi).   (A pixel is the smallest measurement of the picture size. 1 Megapixel = 1 Million Pixels.)

Can I stretch out an image for a bigger print?
Yes, you can, but the resolution will diminish resulting in a blurrier print. Let’s say you want your photo twice bigger. Then by stretching it out you impair the resolution to 150 pixels per square inch. You can still print your photo but you might not be happy with the result, especially if the image was not high quality to atrt with.

Can an image be enlarged for a bigger print?
Yes, PhotoHand provides this service – it is included in the price of Photo Retouching. The end result may be not as sharp as you want it to be, depending on the quality of the original shot.

Any defect in the original picture resulting from a bad focus, low quality lense, dim lighting, too much flash, camera shaking will only be magnified and might not be subject to effective correction.  Keep in mind that even with the ideal shot, it’s not recommended to lower the resolution to less than 200 dpi.

How Do I Know How Many Megapixels There Are in My Images Once It Is Saved on My Computer?
The number of Kilobytes (KB) or Megabytes (MB) in your computer file roughly corresponds to the number of pixels and megapixels. For example, 2MB photo file will have about 2M (Megapixels) and is good to be printed as 6″x4″.

You don’t need Photoshop or any other editing software to check. Just find the icon for the file on your computer and do the following:

For Mac:
1. CTRL + click on the file (right click)
2. Select “Get Info” from the menu
3. Under “General” check the size of the file

For PC:
1. Point the cursor to the icon of the file and do the right click
2. Select “Properties” in the opened window
3. The “General” tab in the opened window shows the “Size” of the file in Kilobytes (KB) or Megabytes (MB).

If you click on the “Details” tab you’ll see the file dimensions in pixels and the resolution it is formatted in.

In the illustration below:
Sample 1 – The file is formatted in the resolution 72dpi (72 pixels per square inch) that is the standard resolution for the web but too small for print. If we change the resolution to 300, we will need to make the size smaller for density of pixels to be correct, otherwise the stretched out pixels will make the picture fuzzy and pixelated.

Sample 2 – The photo is perfectly formatted to be printed as 5″x7″. The resolution is sharp – 300dpi and the height and width of pixels is enough (see the matrix above).

Sample 3 – The file is setup in the low resolution of 72dpi but the the height and width of pixels are sufficient to re-format the file in 300 dpi and print it 8″x10″ without losing in quality.

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October 26, 2009

Consumer Guide to Photo Book Printing & Binding

Not all photo books are created equal. When consumers come to PhotoHand to order a wedding or family book, our first question is what kind of printing and binding they prefer. So, how to choose what photo book you want?

Based on the type of paper and binding used in the production, photo books can be of three kinds: Flush Mount Albums, Coffee Table Books, and Lay-Flat Photo Books.

How to choose printing and binding for photo books

Options available for all the types:
custom photo book design or templated design
– custom photo cover or fabric/leather/vinyl cover with a monogram or without
– UV coating

Flush Mount Album
Flush mount albums have thick, unbending pages with printed photos dry-mounted on cardboard. The covers are mostly made of leather, leatherette fabric, or vinyl.
ADVANTAGES: The book opens flat allowing to see the seamless continues design through the page spread.
DISADVANTAGES: The pages are thick as cardboard which makes the book too heavy and difficult to flip through. Also, the most expensive kind of the three.

Coffee Table Book
If printed at a good printing company, the book looks like an art book sold at Barnes and Noble. Coffee Table Books have been successfully replacing Flush Mount Albums in the wedding album, family, maternity and baby book market. The photo paper pages can be reinforced with UV coating that will make them as thick as business cards.
ADVANTAGES: The book definitely looks more contemporary and elegant. Price-wise, the most affordable of the three options.
DISADVANTAGES: Frequent handling can eventually weaken the binding or cause paper cracking leading to tear at the binding.

WARNING! If you opt for a coffee table book, you might decide to use one the online services that lets you drop photos into templates and send the book into print at a click of a button. This is a cheap solution that probably serves some purposes depending on your expectations. We wouldn’t recommend this for a family memories book. The samples that we received from cheap printers invariably had some defects: front and back covers differed in size, the paper was yellowish (probably recycled) which made the photos look dull, and the stitching was sticking out luck a sore thumb when you opened the book. Top-quality printers only work with photographers and designers and avoid taking orders directly from consumers because there are a lot of technicalities involves.

Lay-Flat Photo Book
A relatively new “hinged paper” technology introduced in January 2008. An integrated flexible hinge, allows the book to open flat like a Flush Mount Album though the book still has flexible photo paper pages making the book manageable. The photo paper pages can be reinforced with UV coating that will make them as thick as business cards.
ADVANTAGES: The most durable binding make the book resistant frequent handling. Through slightly more expensive than an average professionally made coffee table book, a lay flat book is still very affordable.
DISADVANTAGES: Compared to Flush Mount Albums, the design spread has a visible separation line at the binding, though with skillful design that keeps this fact in mind, the separation between the pages will not ruin the visual perception of the collage.

As you can see there pluses and minuses in each option, but Whatever type of printing and binding you pick for your photo book, PhotoHand will create page designs to match the requirements of of your chosen technology.

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October 13, 2008

Defining Your Image Size for Quality Printing

This is the question that we, at PhotoHand, get every day – why can’t you blow up my photo into a poster after you have retouched it. The answer is that the size of the photo is too small. To print a small poster – the size of a standard sheet of paper, your photo has to be at least 5 Megapixels in photo terms, which equals 5 Megabytes in computer terms.

A photo image is described by two parameters: “Image Size” and “Image Quality”. The image SIZE is defined by the total number of pixels – a collection of small dots. The number of pixels per square inch defines the QUALITY of the image.

If the number of pixels (the size) of the image can’t be changed after the image has been captured, the image quality is defined AFTER you have taken the photo. Image quality or resolution will be defined when you decide how many pixels (dots) should be per square inch of your photo.

More pixels/dots per square inch mean higher resolution and subsequently higher quality of print. 72 dpi (dots per inch) are perfect for the web but not for printing. Quality printing requires 300 dpi.

So, the more pixels you capture from the start, the bigger photo you will be able to print after these pixels have been squeezed into square inches by 300 in each.

Here is a sample of calculations:

Suppose you want a print sized 4 by 6 inches in photo quality.
(4in x 300dpi) x (6in x 300dpi) = 1,200 pixels x 1,800 pixels
This equals 2,160,000 pixels (roughly 2.2 Megapixels) in total which is approximately 2.2 Megabytes.

To make it easier, we put together this cheat sheet for you.


We hope we were able to help, but if you still have questions please contact us through our website www.PhotoHand.com.

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