The much used quote, "I print big"

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Michael J Davis
Michael J Davis Veteran Member • Posts: 3,624
Re: The much used quote, "I print big"

Mark Ransom wrote:

cba_melbourne wrote:

Mark Ransom wrote:

I think 300dpi came about with the first laser printers, particularly the HP Laserjet. It was judged to be the point where characters looked like they were printed whole on the page rather than being built up from little dots, as was common with dot matrix printers of the time.

Yes. But that was for office application. Black letters on white paper. Extremely high contrast, pages intended to be read close-up (read, not viewed as a whole). Nobody hangs these on a wall. Nobody photographs newspaper pages, and prints them out to hang on a wall.

Photography does not need such high print resolution. Well, it does for smaller prints intended to be viewed close-up. Say up to A4 size, the 300dpi rule is appropriate.

As prints get larger, depending on intended viewing distance and to some degree on subject, anything between 100 and 200 dpi may well be indistinguishable from a 300dpi print.

Of course, I always print with as high a resolution as practical. But sometime one has to crop a little more, and it is good to know that can still become a great print, perfectly fit for purpose.

I don't disagree, high contrast viewed up close is kind of a worst case scenario. I already admitted upthread that 200 dpi is probably sufficient for picture prints, and I believe that even at A4 size. More is always better, but it's not worth getting worried if you can't hit a particular arbitrary number.

I'll have to join in... if I have my photos processed commercially then the bureau asks for 300dpi, and I'm happy to have the images for 18" x 12" prints (on the standard sized mount of 20"x16") adjusted to that size, even where they are produced from a 1/3 crop of my 16Mp cameras. I reckon that a good quality image of 100dpi can produce an acceptable image at a 'proper' viewing distance.

However, what matters is the quality of the underlying image - if it's sharp, well exposed and good contrast range, then even a small crop can be sharpened and prove perfectly acceptable from a proper viewing distance.

For competition shots (where judges are apt to peer at the print), I've still had winners from 3mp cameras, (Fuji FZ6900 & Panny FX3) but then restricted the print size  to a max of 14" x10".

It's more about technique than absolute dot control!!


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Mike Davis
Photographing the public for over 60 years

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