# "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints"

Started May 20, 2012 | Discussions
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 "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" May 20, 2012

So we've all heard on this forum many times that the 5D3's resolution is less than the D800, but is capable of prints that are "plenty big", and "unless you're printing a billboard", etc.

But I saw an interesting argument today that I wanted to get your opinion on.

Most professional print labs print at 300DPI. So assuming the goal is to maximize fidelity, we want to align our pixels to printed dots.

We can of course enlarge/resize literally any image to print any huge size, but the moment we start uprezzing a smaller resolution photo to a larger size print, we start to lose fidelity.

The 5D3's resolution is 5760x3840, which at 300DPI translates to 19.2" x 12.8".

The argument is that anything larger than that, you are interpolating and thus beginning to degrade image quality.

For comparison's sake, the D800 would be 24.5"x16.4" and the Phase One IQ180 would be 34.4"x26".

Thus the person's claim that
"5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints"

By this logic, it suggests that photographers (particularly landscape) whose #1 priority is IQ/print resolution have an argument that not only is more resolution better, but FF lenses+bodies have a ways to go before they max out the print resolution of, for example, a 20x30" print.

Civil discourse only pls.

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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to nitts999, May 20, 2012

I've made (interpolated) 60" x 90" prints from my original 12 mpx 5D that look great, though that's pushing things...for many images 40x 60" would be the limit with the 5D2 or 5D3.

Math is one thing, whereas with modest sharpening you can push things further.
What the D800 affords is the ability to crop and still have a pretty big file.

But all of this is nonsense anyway...we have tools that most of the greats of 20th century photography would have killed for. They didn't have image stabilization let alone aperture priority....aaahhhh, but I'm getting off track here.

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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to Eric Meola, May 20, 2012

The D800, yes, allows for greater cropping, but I wouldn't ignore its ability to make larger prints that retain greater detail vs 5d2/3 as well. If one makes 20x30 prints from 5d3 & D800, will the difference be earth shattering? No, but the advantage of the D800 is still desirable.

Eric Meola wrote:

I've made (interpolated) 60" x 90" prints from my original 12 mpx 5D that look great, though that's pushing things...for many images 40x 60" would be the limit with the 5D2 or 5D3.

Math is one thing, whereas with modest sharpening you can push things further.
What the D800 affords is the ability to crop and still have a pretty big file.

But all of this is nonsense anyway...we have tools that most of the greats of 20th century photography would have killed for. They didn't have image stabilization let alone aperture priority....aaahhhh, but I'm getting off track here.

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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to nitts999, May 20, 2012

To me, there is a theme underlying so many of these posts. Theme: Is more resolution better? It is. It ALWAYS is. This printing example is just one example. A D800 user can downsample to make an even sharper print at 18x12. The advantages work both ways.

Speaking of landscape photographers...Luminous Landscape just compared the D800E to the \$10,000 Pentax MFD camera...and it was a tie. We should ALL celebrate that a \$3300 is now competing with \$10,000 medium format digital cameras. But due to an obsessive need for our camera brand to be "superior" many cannot.

nitts999 wrote:

So we've all heard on this forum many times that the 5D3's resolution is less than the D800, but is capable of prints that are "plenty big", and "unless you're printing a billboard", etc.

But I saw an interesting argument today that I wanted to get your opinion on.

Most professional print labs print at 300DPI. So assuming the goal is to maximize fidelity, we want to align our pixels to printed dots.

We can of course enlarge/resize literally any image to print any huge size, but the moment we start uprezzing a smaller resolution photo to a larger size print, we start to lose fidelity.

The 5D3's resolution is 5760x3840, which at 300DPI translates to 19.2" x 12.8".

The argument is that anything larger than that, you are interpolating and thus beginning to degrade image quality.

For comparison's sake, the D800 would be 24.5"x16.4" and the Phase One IQ180 would be 34.4"x26".

Thus the person's claim that
"5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints"

By this logic, it suggests that photographers (particularly landscape) whose #1 priority is IQ/print resolution have an argument that not only is more resolution better, but FF lenses+bodies have a ways to go before they max out the print resolution of, for example, a 20x30" print.

Civil discourse only pls.

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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to Eric Meola, May 20, 2012

Eric Meola wrote:

But all of this is nonsense anyway...we have tools that most of the greats of 20th century photography would have killed for. They didn't have image stabilization let alone aperture priority....aaahhhh, but I'm getting off track here.

But many of them shot with 8x10 inch view cameras!
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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to nitts999, May 20, 2012

nitts999 wrote:

By this logic, it suggests that photographers (particularly landscape) whose #1 priority is IQ/print resolution have an argument that not only is more resolution better, but FF lenses+bodies have a ways to go before they max out the print resolution of, for example, a 20x30" print.

Civil discourse only pls.

It might suggest that, but I don't think that's a correct conclusion.

But alas this being dprev, only resolution and sharpness count, subject matter is secondary. As to subject, any pet will do. Cat's photographed 5 stops underexposed and then corrected in post are particularly stunning. When comparing those to Munch's scream, I'm left wondering how many billion some of the underexposed cat photos will bring some day.

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 like clockwork In reply to ryanshoots, May 20, 2012

Your reply is of the standard "it's the photographer, not the camera" variety. You successful add the obligatory condescension as well, and you even set up some straw-man arguments that you knock down w/ pleasure.

The assumption here is that the subject matter does matter, but that it doesn't change. We're not comparing one photographer vs the next, or a kitty-cat vs...an oil painting(!?).

Pick your favorite photographer (dead or alive) from the past 100 years. Now imagine the most amazing (non-pet) subject you can imagine. Once you've basked in the loveliness of that fantasy for a few momemts, imagine them reaching for the camera. Now imagine the exact same scenario (same wonderful subject, same wonderful talent), except this time they reached for a different camera.

Now re-read the thread within that context so that you don't start bringing in red-herrings like subject matter and poor exposure that have absolutely zilch to do with the topics, which ponders questions like whether or not native vs up-rezz'd resolution is discernible on a 20x30 print.

ryanshoots wrote:

nitts999 wrote:

By this logic, it suggests that photographers (particularly landscape) whose #1 priority is IQ/print resolution have an argument that not only is more resolution better, but FF lenses+bodies have a ways to go before they max out the print resolution of, for example, a 20x30" print.

Civil discourse only pls.

It might suggest that, but I don't think that's a correct conclusion.

But alas this being dprev, only resolution and sharpness count, subject matter is secondary. As to subject, any pet will do. Cat's photographed 5 stops underexposed and then corrected in post are particularly stunning. When comparing those to Munch's scream, I'm left wondering how many billion some of the underexposed cat photos will bring some day.

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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to nitts999, May 20, 2012

Have you ever used film before? You know the stuff that came in a canister and was wound onto a spool! When you finished it had to go to a lab for processing and printing!

Well if you have used film, you would know that printing larger than 12x18 inch would have the same result then as a 22MP digital camera now!

I remember back when Digital first came on the scene, and I would regularly print 20"x30" posters from my 3.1MP Canon D30, my 4.1MP 1D... then almost every camera up to my last purchase of the 1DsMkII.

If I placed each print side by side, and you stood 3 x the diagonal distance away from each print, they would all look like they were taken with the same camera.

But as this is DPReview and EVERYONE is a pixel peeper, that wont happen as everyone wants to look at their enlargements from2 inches away and pull it to pieces.

Even the old Canon 1DD at 4.1MP can produce images for a billboard, as NO ONE looks at a billboard from 2 meters away!!!

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 that is why In reply to nitts999, May 20, 2012

That is why at the film time we where only printing at 2.4x3.6 cm

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 I doesn't matter... In reply to ryanshoots, May 20, 2012

ryanshoots wrote:

nitts999 wrote:

By this logic, it suggests that photographers (particularly landscape) whose #1 priority is IQ/print resolution have an argument that not only is more resolution better, but FF lenses+bodies have a ways to go before they max out the print resolution of, for example, a 20x30" print.

Civil discourse only pls.

It might suggest that, but I don't think that's a correct conclusion.

But alas this being dprev, only resolution and sharpness count, subject matter is secondary. As to subject, any pet will do. Cat's photographed 5 stops underexposed and then corrected in post are particularly stunning. When comparing those to Munch's scream, I'm left wondering how many billion some of the underexposed cat photos will bring some day.

This is, to date, the most expensive photograph ever sold at auction.

http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/11/11/and-heres-the-most-expensive-photograph-in-the-world/

That being given, it really doesn't matter even one little bit about resolution, sharpness or even, frankly color rendition. The "artist" even removed the trees growing along the river to enhance the feeling of "desolation."
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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to actionshooter1920, May 20, 2012

actionshooter1920 wrote:

Well if you have used film, you would know that printing larger than 12x18 inch would have the same result then as a 22MP digital camera now!

Depends on the film. Ektar 25, sure...Fuji Reala, not so sure it was as good as a 22mp camera, more like 8-12mp...

I remember back when Digital first came on the scene, and I would regularly print 20"x30" posters from my 3.1MP Canon D30, my 4.1MP 1D... then almost every camera up to my last purchase of the 1DsMkII.

If I placed each print side by side, and you stood 3 x the diagonal distance away from each print, they would all look like they were taken with the same camera.

But as this is DPReview and EVERYONE is a pixel peeper, that wont happen as everyone wants to look at their enlargements from2 inches away and pull it to pieces.

Most aren't looking at prints, they're looking at monitors from less than 2 feet away and at 100% enlargement...

Even the old Canon 1DD

A lingerie camera? Used for photographing strippers? Hmmm?

(Sorry, couldn't resist, and, frankly, my inability to resist this is responsible for the entire reply!)
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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to nitts999, May 20, 2012

You condition of printing only 300 dpi without interpolation stipulates that the serious landscape photographer would only shoot the Phase One IQ180 and would be limited to 34.4"x26" prints.

Therefore, the world cannot argue with your logic. And, by the way, no print can be up or down sampled for variations in print size.....

Logical, but silly.
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 However ... In reply to Skip M, May 20, 2012

I just saw some full size Gurskys in the Hong Kong Art Fair. Not exactly my cup of tea.

As for his cameras:

"Gursky uses 100 ASA Fuji film in two large-format Linhof cameras (which are 5 x 7) that are positioned side by side, one with a slight wide-angle lens, the other with a standard one. Exposure time: 1/8 of a second, f-stop 5.6 to 8. He needs this for depth of field, and the relatively low-speed film for the resolution. Any occasional blurred movement is discarded later in the process. He gains speed by underexposing the film stock one f-stop, and has it developed using push processing."

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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to tony field, May 20, 2012

It would be preferable if new people were also forced to read 2.5 years worth of threads before they were aloud to post a message too perhaps we would get a better overall standard on the forums.

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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to Shane Pope, May 20, 2012

Shane,

I personally think people should be forced to take grammar/spelling lessons before they are "aloud" to post here, but that's just me.

Personally, I've been on these boards since 2004, but changed my username a while back as the old one was in my wife's name.

Shane Pope wrote:

It would be preferable if new people were also forced to read 2.5 years worth of threads before they were aloud to post a message too perhaps we would get a better overall standard on the forums.

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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to tony field, May 21, 2012

Well, I think I made it pretty clear it wasn't "my" logic, but simply up for looking for other perspectives.

That said, I think you're taking a bit of an extreme position, it was stipulated or "only", it's a matter of better and optimal. No one is saying you can't make nice prints from any DSLR on the market--that's silly. But if there were nothing better or no reason to want more, medium and large format wouldn't exist.

I think it's pretty well accepted that downrezing is far less damaging to IQ than excessive upressing in most scenarios. You're still discarding image info, but sharpness remains as usually it's associated with a smaller print, hence the ability to visually discern with the eye goes down as well.

My logic says is this:

1) the best resolution/sharpness comes when DPI equals native resolution of the image.

2) Given that people routinely print at larger than 18x12, at 300DPI, we still have "headroom" for resolution to increase and yield better prints.

Given that, I do think that most landscape photographers would prefer to shoot with the higher resolution camera and anything above those print sizes would begin to lose image quality, increasingly so as the image gets larger.

So for all the folks saying "you never need more than 22MP", I find that to be faulty logic. (just like I do when that bozo Ken Rockwell says 6MP is all anyone will ever need).

tony field wrote:

You condition of printing only 300 dpi without interpolation stipulates that the serious landscape photographer would only shoot the Phase One IQ180 and would be limited to 34.4"x26" prints.

Therefore, the world cannot argue with your logic. And, by the way, no print can be up or down sampled for variations in print size.....

Logical, but silly.
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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to nitts999, May 21, 2012

nitts999 wrote:

My logic says is this:

1) the best resolution/sharpness comes when DPI equals native resolution of the image.

2) Given that people routinely print at larger than 18x12, at 300DPI, we still have "headroom" for resolution to increase and yield better prints.

Certainly some folks print larger than 18x12. I suspect that most folks that do printing have a 13 inch wide printer and not the larger 17, 24, or larger printers.

For most of the printers, the 5D-III prints without interpolation. In my case, I have a 17 inch wide printer and do not see IQ differences if I print 13x19 or 17x22.

Given that, I do think that most landscape photographers would prefer to shoot with the higher resolution camera and anything above those print sizes would begin to lose image quality, increasingly so as the image gets larger.

Of course, more megapixels is always valued for many shots but it does take a good eye to see the difference from a 5D-II up to 24 inch prints. Certainly much larger prints will show IQ deterioration - if ultimate image quality is needed.

An other recourse is to print at 240 dpi instead of 300. As it turns out, my Epson printer's native resolution is 360 dpi - I always upres to that resolution. However, I cannot see differences between 360 and 240 dpi unless I really put my nose against the print. Your eyes, of course, may be different than mine.
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 Re: "5D3 can only print natively to 18x12 inch prints" In reply to nitts999, May 21, 2012

Unfortunately D800 has soft corners due to limitation on the lens. This happens because currently no Nikon lens are able to fully resolve 36mp. You get bigger print but soft corners.

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nitts999 wrote:

Your reply is of the standard "it's the photographer, not the camera" variety. You successful add the obligatory condescension as well, and you even set up some straw-man arguments that you knock down w/ pleasure.

I'm glad you were able to grasp those.

Seems to me the most the best answer to your question was given in the corresponding Nikon forum wherein you asked the same question. If you disallow all discussion beyond the bare technical facts, then this truly is your answer.

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nitts999 wrote:

Civil discourse only pls.

Sorry but that is directly in opposition to this:

But I saw an interesting argument today that I wanted to get your opinion on.

Whoever came up with that theory is dumb, and doesn't understand what the limiting factors are for print quality.

Most professional print labs print at 300DPI.

No they don't. Even consumer grade printers print at much higher resolution (e.g. http://www.canon.com.au/For-You/Printers/PIXMA-InkJet-Printers/iX7000 - 4800 x 1200 dpi). However the 'pixels' in printers aren't nicely separated little square like on a monitor. The different coloured ink can overlap or be out of alignment with the other colours, dramatically reducing the max resolution that can be printed.

Professional printers accept prints at 300dpi because there isn't much point providing a higher resolution image as it just wouldn't produce a visibly sharper print.

The argument is that anything larger than that, you are
interpolating and thus beginning to degrade image quality.

That is a non-sequitur. Whether interpolation improves or degrades quality depends on many factors - but seeing as every printer in use today already interpolates the image from 300DPI to it's own internal DPI it's non-sense to imply that all interpolating causes image quality degradation.

it suggests that photographers ... FF lenses+bodies have a ways
to go before they max out the print resolution of, for example,

You don't need to jump through ridiculous technical details about how printing works to make that argument.

You can just say that you'd like to print at 300DPI which for a 20"x30" print would require a camera with 9000pixels across. Yes, the current Canon cameras aren't that high resolution yet, so they have some way to go before being as 'good' as other cameras for 20"x30" prints.

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