Why do most of the third party prints I've seen from the past 15-20 years look a little pixelated?

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RJDG14 Forum Member • Posts: 93
Why do most of the third party prints I've seen from the past 15-20 years look a little pixelated?

I've found that most of the 6x4 inch prints from high street stores, whether based on a negative or digital photo, since about the early to mid 2000s have looked a little pixelated, whereas older pre-digital prints didn't - they tended to be smoother looking and slightly sharper in the case of in-focus photos. This time period roughly coincides with when places probably switched to using digital technology to process their prints. Do high street photo outlets simply not put much effort on the quality control of their prints anymore, or is this a natural artifact of digital printers? 300dpi is generally seen as a "good" digital print but at the same time most of the prints I've seen look less than this, including some professional ones. Most of the pixellated prints I've encountered from the past 10 years were of photos taken on cameras capable of resolutions of 500-1000dpi at 6x4".

This still seems to be a problem in 2021, and in addition I've noticed that photographic paper seems to have on average become thinner in the past 5 years or so, at least in the UK. Does anyone know what some places in the UK are which still produce high quality prints that are as good as prints from the pre-digital era? Many places claim that they print at 300dpi but I can still see pixelation on their prints which was absent on prints up to about the early 2000s.

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