How many MP to make really good A2 prints?

Started Mar 26, 2013 | Questions
timccr
Junior MemberPosts: 30
Like?
How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
Mar 26, 2013

I have been trying to work out how many MP I need to produce really nice A2 prints. Opinions seem to vary widely, as does the quality of prints in exhibitions that I have been looking closely at lately. So, I want to be able to produce uncropped (call me old fashioned but I swear I get better photos by taking the time to compose in camera) A2 prints that I can stand really close to and peer at and they still look good. I am hoping some really picky people will give their opinions!

Also how many A2 prints does one have to be making for it to be worth buying an A2 printer rather than using a lab?

Thanks in advance.

ANSWER:
just Tony
Contributing MemberPosts: 686
Like?
Opinion: it's more about the number of square mm in the sensor
In reply to timccr, Mar 26, 2013

I would personally tend to not go there with my 20MP, 1" sensor Sony RX100, if another option I had on hand was a slightly lower MP count APS-C camera (assuming it too had a fairly recent Sony sensor). The Sony is phenomenal at A4 but that one MP number isn't the whole story.

Full frame = better yet. Visible pixel edges are just one out of many artifacts/defects that you don't want to see, and more magnification scale makes them all more prominent.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Hugowolf
Forum ProPosts: 11,509
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to timccr, Mar 26, 2013

timccr wrote:

I have been trying to work out how many MP I need to produce really nice A2 prints. Opinions seem to vary widely, as does the quality of prints in exhibitions that I have been looking closely at lately. So, I want to be able to produce uncropped (call me old fashioned but I swear I get better photos by taking the time to compose in camera) A2 prints that I can stand really close to and peer at and they still look good. I am hoping some really picky people will give their opinions!

So you want more widely varying opinions?

300 ppi is good, 360 ppi is better, it would be difficult to see the difference after 720 ppi. And yes, photographic technique (not composure) can have a great impact on image quality - rock solid tripod (wood is better than metal), mirror lockup, remote trigger, etc.

So at 300 ppi you would need 34 Mp for an A2 print. I have A2 prints from a 13 Mp camera that look great. I have printed 3' x 4.5' (slightly larger than A0) with 22 Mp, and they looked great too. Standing alone they look great, but that doesen't mean you couldn't tell the difference when compared side-by-side with prints from a higher resolution source.

> Also how many A2 prints does one have to be making for it to be worth buying an A2 printer
> rather than using a lab?

One, if you are prepared to put the learning time into it and want the control and quality it gives you. None if you think yuou can ever match the price of a production lab.

Brian A

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Serhat Abaci
Regular MemberPosts: 243Gear list
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to Hugowolf, Mar 26, 2013

I have 8~10mp picturese that i print for customers on A2, its okay as long there is no bad compression like the JPEG compression that induces artifacts into the image

 Serhat Abaci's gear list:Serhat Abaci's gear list
Canon EOS 100D Canon EOS M Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM +3 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
JJ Winkel
Senior MemberPosts: 1,387
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to timccr, Mar 26, 2013

You mention "uncropped" A2, well that is not possible to start with as ISO A paper form factor is 1.414 whereas your sensor will be 1.5 if full frame or APSC or 1.333 if 4/3, thus you will have to either crop or play with margin sizes, which for A2 size will probably be the best choice.

To keep the A2 form factor you will have to crop the long side if full frame or APSC, or the short side if your camera is 4/3. So first question is borderless or margins ?

If you print with margins, what size ?  And same margin size all around ( again with crop ) or differential like having a bigger size at the bottom, which is optically more pleasant ?

Then only you can deduct your actual image size and pixel sizes.

A 24 MP APSC sensor produces a 4000 x 6000 pixels picture. 
--
JJ.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Sal Baker
Veteran MemberPosts: 7,888Gear list
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to timccr, Mar 26, 2013

I've printed from sharp, clean 8mp captures at to that size and they look very good.  The 21mp files from my Canon 5DII are more than adequate for excellent prints.

Sal

 Sal Baker's gear list:Sal Baker's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EOS 350D Fujifilm X-E2 Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM +5 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
timccr
Junior MemberPosts: 30
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to timccr, Mar 26, 2013

So far then I need to have something between 8 and 34MP. I think I sort of knew I would get answers like that!

When I say uncropped that means there will be margins and they won't be equal. I'd like to keep them fairly small. I need to keep the camera fairly small too so I really don't want to go FF if I can avoid it.I need UWA and macro glass so sadly fixed lens is out of the question.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Taurus43
Regular MemberPosts: 365
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to timccr, Mar 26, 2013

The only thing that matters surely is what minimum number of pixels you need. A couple of people have said they produce good A2 prints from 8Mp images so that's the answer you need. I regularly produce A2s from my 12Mp Lumix GF1 and they look great. My 16Mp GH3 is better, but not remarkably so. The important thing is to get good image quality in the first place - lack of sharpness or excessive noise really show up at that size.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
jbart1
Regular MemberPosts: 181
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to timccr, Mar 26, 2013

From a purely mathematical stance if we assume 300ppi is the minimum for "excellent" quality prints then you will need a 36mp image  7200x5000 (7360x4912 on the D800) to come close to the A2 print size in a 1:1 ratio.  This would mean cropping a bit off either end and having some margin along the top and bottom as the aspect ratios are slightly different.  There is the thought though that the larger a print is the farther away it is meant to be viewed from.  In that school of thought an A2 print at 240ppi or 180ppi may be acceptable depending on the intended viewing distance.  Obviously for gallery shows this does not come into use as much since the viewing distance can be extremely close.  If being used for advertising however the minimum viewing distance may be quite large.

240ppi would be approximately 24mp.

If you talk to printers they may say that using the right up-scaling algorithm you can double the size of the original without introducing noticeable artifacts at close viewing distances.  This would stand to reason that an 18mp original would be sufficient for gallery shows and 6mp for advertising.

Of course this all depends significantly on the subject matter.  A simple composition may upscale significantly larger without degradation than a complex scene.

Clear as mud now ?  yeah me too

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Steve Balcombe
Forum ProPosts: 10,786
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to timccr, Mar 27, 2013

timccr wrote:

So far then I need to have something between 8 and 34MP. I think I sort of knew I would get answers like that!

Yes, but there's a good reason for that - they are answers to different questions.

Hugowolf mentioned 300 dpi and that's correct for an image which needs to stand close examination at normal reading distance. An example which especially comes to mind is the aerial photograph which Glastonbury Festival publishes every year on the final day - A2, and everyone views it at arm's length looking for their tent and reminiscing about a favourite spot on the festival site. 34MP would not be too much for that, but any more would be wasted because the printing process couldn't reproduce it.

On the other hand a typical formal portrait to be hung on a wall and viewed from 10 feet away would be fine at 8MP.

selected answer This post was selected as the answer by the original poster.
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Hugowolf
Forum ProPosts: 11,509
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to Steve Balcombe, Mar 27, 2013

Steve Balcombe wrote:

timccr wrote:

So far then I need to have something between 8 and 34MP. I think I sort of knew I would get answers like that!

Hugowolf mentioned 300 dpi and that's correct for an image which needs to stand close examination at normal reading distance.

There ae other considerations too, including the native RGB input resolution of the machine on which it is to be printed: Epson 360 or 720 ppi, Noritsu 300, 320 , or 400 ppi, etc, etc.

An example which especially comes to mind is the aerial photograph which Glastonbury Festival publishes every year on the final day - A2, and everyone views it at arm's length looking for their tent and reminiscing about a favourite spot on the festival site. 34MP would not be too much for that, but any more would be wasted because the printing process couldn't reproduce it.

Another, but related example would be any panorama, I have yet to see any displayed pano that did not draw viewers to within inches of the print.

Brian A

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Steve Balcombe
Forum ProPosts: 10,786
Like?
Re: How many MP to make really good A2 prints?
In reply to Hugowolf, Mar 27, 2013

Hugowolf wrote:

Steve Balcombe wrote:

An example which especially comes to mind is the aerial photograph which Glastonbury Festival publishes every year on the final day - A2, and everyone views it at arm's length looking for their tent and reminiscing about a favourite spot on the festival site. 34MP would not be too much for that, but any more would be wasted because the printing process couldn't reproduce it.

Another, but related example would be any panorama, I have yet to see any displayed pano that did not draw viewers to within inches of the print.

Yep.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Jacques Cornell
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,170Gear list
Like?
My experience with 10MP
In reply to timccr, Mar 28, 2013

I'm very happy with my 16"x24" prints of detailed landscapes made with a 10MP Panasonic LX7 and printed on Ilford Gold Fiber Silk on an Epson 4000. I put a print up in a show, and after a few weeks I remembered it as being not quite as detailed as I'd like. I went back and looked at it again, and hot damn, it looked great, even from 12" away.

I do think 16"x24" is about the limit for landscapes with that camera, but portraits and other shots where you don't need or want razor-sharp micro detail could go larger. Since I shoot a lot of landscapes and want to make bigger prints, I bought a 16MP MFT camera for that work. I also have a 21MP 1Ds3, and for portraits it's just TMI - too much information. Who wants to count pores? I'm also very happy with some 20"x30" landscape prints from 11MP 1Ds files.

As others have noted, there are several factors other than MP that have a big impact. I can think of three offhand: lenses, technique, and processing. The LX7 lens is better than most compacts, just a tad softer than my Canon L zooms. I shoot landscapes at base ISO, stopped down for optimal sharpness, and with fast shutter speeds or on a good tripod as needed. And, I shoot RAW, process carefully in Aperture, and apply gentle noise reduction and sharpening with Topaz Labs' DeNoise, InFocus and Details.

As for printing, matte or semigloss paper surfaces are more forgiving than glossy, which is one of many reasons I like Ilford GFS so much. Printing on a smooth high-gloss surface will ruthlessly reveal any micro defects in sharpening or pixelation.

-- hide signature --

'No matter where you go, there you are.'

 Jacques Cornell's gear list:Jacques Cornell's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 45-200mm F4-5.6 OIS Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8 +27 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
timccr
Junior MemberPosts: 30
Like?
Thanks
In reply to timccr, Mar 30, 2013

Thanks everyone. The example of the photo of Glastonbury was very helpful. I'm now going to try and do test prints if I can bludge the appropriate cameras. As it's for shooting underwater this won't be easy. Thanks again

Tim

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads