Printing billboard size and megapixels

Started Jun 29, 2007 | Discussions
dv8or Regular Member • Posts: 373
Printing billboard size and megapixels

I am just wondering if anyone here has had photos used for billboards or large posters such as those one would find in large city store windows - I am guessing 10 metre height. If anyone has I am trying to asscertain what the minimum megapixel camera one could use for this type of work. Even a 30 megapixel back technically should not be able to print a 10 metre poster successfully and a friend of mine apparently had something of this size printed from a 6 megapixel camera (I did not see this particular shot so cant verify it.) It would seem the upsizin software/techniques used are critical to the outcome - more so than the megapixels?
Marc

Richt2000 Senior Member • Posts: 2,900
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

Don't claim to have any experience in this, just observations.

Bill boards are for viewing from a distance. If you look at detail close up, they are usually very very low quality. I wouldn't see a problem with a 16mp 1DsII image being fractal interpolated up to this size.

Would love to know if I'm wrong.... do tell.

dv8or wrote:

I am just wondering if anyone here has had photos used for
billboards or large posters such as those one would find in large
city store windows - I am guessing 10 metre height. If anyone has I
am trying to asscertain what the minimum megapixel camera one could
use for this type of work. Even a 30 megapixel back technically
should not be able to print a 10 metre poster successfully and a
friend of mine apparently had something of this size printed from a
6 megapixel camera (I did not see this particular shot so cant
verify it.) It would seem the upsizin software/techniques used are
critical to the outcome - more so than the megapixels?
Marc

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Marcos G. Meider Forum Member • Posts: 85
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

Actually one of my pictures, which I shot for a building company, used in one of their catalogs went into a road billboard and it was done with a 6 MP camera some years back. It was about 6 m long and honestly I was surprised when I saw it while driving. It didn't look bad and you could see a clear image, just as any other billboard.

AdrianGB Contributing Member • Posts: 593
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

I'm not going to give you the technical answer - I bet there will people who will say how they produced photography for a 48-sheet using there old Canon 10D or whatever.

What I would say is I see advertising campaigns shot all the time. The photographers almost always are shooting with medium format or canon 1ds mk 2 or film.

It is more about going for the maximum acheivable IQ, rather than trying to 'get away' with any minimum requirement.

(That is of course if you are serious about shooting for advertising)

OP dv8or Regular Member • Posts: 373
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

Thanks for the responses so far - appreciate the info - if anyone else has experience in this area it would be interesting to hear some other opinions.
Marc

LiveM Veteran Member • Posts: 3,835
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

You can print any size with a DSLR. One they stop being hand-held prints, as they get larger you view them from farther and farther away.

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BaZ555 Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

Billboards and store posters have very different requirments.

A billboard can and mostly is riped from an A3 ie. double page spread magazine size.

( ± 3969x 2806 pixels ) This is easily within the range of a 6 MP camera. ( Note, I am not saying that MF will not be better.)

An instore poster on the other hand is ± 240dpi at A1 or A0. That size ( 7937x 5613 pixels for an A1 ) it is a strech for 6 or 10 MP cameras and involves some up resing even for MF backs.

That said, it can be done with up resing, but the difference in MP will be aparent.

Regards,
Barry

BTW I have done A1's from the D1x that looked fine in store.

JohnSavage Regular Member • Posts: 297
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

An un-interpolated A3 file at 300dpi and you’re good to go for just about anything. 22mp will do it with a little cropping and bleed - art directors and designers want more mp because they like the flexibility to crop as they like.

Larry Berman
Larry Berman Veteran Member • Posts: 3,857
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

I had a 17 x 13 foot image done from a scan of one of my 8x10 prints:
http://bermansports.com/converse2.htm

Joe McNally did a shoot for Nikon using the three megapixel CoolPix 990 which was reproduced 64 feet on the wall of building in New York:
http://www.dpreview.com/news/0011/00110205coolpix990bigprint.asp

As for resolution, you are so far away from something that size that you can't see how far apart the pixels are.

Large posters are different than billboards in that people would stand up close so it would require more resolution.

dv8or wrote:

I am just wondering if anyone here has had photos used for
billboards or large posters such as those one would find in large
city store windows - I am guessing 10 metre height. If anyone has I
am trying to asscertain what the minimum megapixel camera one could
use for this type of work. Even a 30 megapixel back technically
should not be able to print a 10 metre poster successfully and a
friend of mine apparently had something of this size printed from a
6 megapixel camera (I did not see this particular shot so cant
verify it.) It would seem the upsizin software/techniques used are
critical to the outcome - more so than the megapixels?

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Marcos G. Meider Forum Member • Posts: 85
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

I agree with Barry.

When I shot those pictures for my client with a Nikon D100 (I did not have any other camera with higher MP) it was intented to be used in a brochure, but I guess that someone decided to use it also as a billboard.

About a year ago a friend of mine, who was shooting MF film, asked the same question as you have as he was comissioned to shoot for billboards. He wanted to plung into digital and asked about the D200, so he got one and did the shooting and it seems to be that his client was quite happy with the results.

Obviously there must be a big difference if you shoot with a 1Ds Mark II or even a D2x or a 5D. I'm quite confident on a good shooting and a good post-processing.

All the best,
Marcos

BaZ555 wrote:

Billboards and store posters have very different requirments.

A billboard can and mostly is riped from an A3 ie. double page
spread magazine size.
( ± 3969x 2806 pixels ) This is easily within the range of a 6 MP
camera. ( Note, I am not saying that MF will not be better.)

An instore poster on the other hand is ± 240dpi at A1 or A0. That
size ( 7937x 5613 pixels for an A1 ) it is a strech for 6 or 10 MP
cameras and involves some up resing even for MF backs.

That said, it can be done with up resing, but the difference in MP
will be aparent.

Regards,
Barry

BTW I have done A1's from the D1x that looked fine in store.

Marcos G. Meider Forum Member • Posts: 85
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

Impressive Larry your picture of Doctor "J"
Technology makes marvellous things.

Larry Berman wrote:
I had a 17 x 13 foot image done from a scan of one of my 8x10 prints:
http://bermansports.com/converse2.htm

Joe McNally did a shoot for Nikon using the three megapixel CoolPix
990 which was reproduced 64 feet on the wall of building in New
York:
http://www.dpreview.com/news/0011/00110205coolpix990bigprint.asp

As for resolution, you are so far away from something that size
that you can't see how far apart the pixels are.

Large posters are different than billboards in that people would
stand up close so it would require more resolution.

dv8or wrote:

I am just wondering if anyone here has had photos used for
billboards or large posters such as those one would find in large
city store windows - I am guessing 10 metre height. If anyone has I
am trying to asscertain what the minimum megapixel camera one could
use for this type of work. Even a 30 megapixel back technically
should not be able to print a 10 metre poster successfully and a
friend of mine apparently had something of this size printed from a
6 megapixel camera (I did not see this particular shot so cant
verify it.) It would seem the upsizin software/techniques used are
critical to the outcome - more so than the megapixels?

X-Sync Senior Member • Posts: 1,115
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

I have lots of work printed on billboards, it all comes from 12mp cameras. The thing about billboards is you don't see them up close, so the requirements are not as great as everyone thinks, just because they are big.

The difficult ones to shoot are point of sales stands, and those poster adverts you see on bus stops and in shops. Although they are not big compared to a billboard, they are viewed up close. For a lifesize reproduction of a model holding a product for a point of sales stand then you can do it with 22mp digital back. But most likely it would be done with a 30-39mp back these days, because they offer better quality and are easy to find. This doesn't mean you need to own a digital back, many photographers hire them when they need them.

Megapixels sell, whether thats selling images to a client or selling cameras. If a client has a choice between 8 or 10mp, they will go for 10 because of the perceived extra quality. In reality there is little difference and perhaps non at all between some models. In the same way some people with 6mp cameras rushed out to get 8mp camera when they came out, in reality they gained little or nothing.

Its quality of megapixel thats important. That said 12mp is as much as most people will ever need, but I bet 16-22mp bodies will still sell like hot cakes....

Simon
--
http://www.sbphotography.org.uk

OP dv8or Regular Member • Posts: 373
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

Wow - there is really some great experience on this board. Thanks so much - clarified a lot for me - appreciated.
Marc

Jon Laye Senior Member • Posts: 2,485
6MP is typically enough

I have done dozens of billboards and fullwrap bus ads. Once printed and either up in the air, or driving by at 30MPH an old Canon D60 can match 4x5 chrome drum scanned

davidleegoerndt Regular Member • Posts: 348
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

I work for a specialty construction company and we do everything from 3D billboards to commercial sets and effects to museum exhibits. We recently had a job for a major US corp that was putting together a display of their company's history. The display consisted of four interactive kiosks with one major central image and two images on either side of the main image. We were initially given jpegs of the photos to be used as placeholders in our layouts. When it came time to send the images to print, we were told that the initial jpegs were all they had! The jpegs were approx 8"x10" at 150 ppi. The final size of the image was to be 96"x40" (main image) and viewed very from only inches. From the 8x10 image we were to crop the image and use only 1/3 of the 8x10 (horizontal cropped to vertical) When we told the company that the photos were unacceptable for print they tried to upsample the originals. This didn't work either and they finally canned the image in favor of a solid color bacground. They couldn't seem to understand the concept of file size and enlargement needs to get a quality final image. I believe the original jpegs were stock photos shot on film and converted to digital. You can never have too many pixels!!

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BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 25,842
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

Added to everything... the subject makes a difference.

MAke-up shots, with a very smooth face and some solid-color dress where you hjust see shoulders, can be enlarged very nicely from a file a lot smaller than you'd need for a shot of, say, a race track starting grid with a dozen cars all covered with small decals that people looking at the picture will be trying to read.

Similarly, a portrait of one person can be made from a smaller file (or negative) than a group shot of ten people.

I do see in big city stores very large prints -- 10 ten meters, though -- in store windows hanging near the glass, where people are looking at them from only three feet away. These need big files.

As a rule, there seems to be a relationship between budget and picture size; if a chain retailer wants a five meter high photo for store windows, there's enough money to cover the rental of a digital back.

But if a used car dealer wants a billboard, there's not much budget but the billboard is 30 meters from the road, and it all works out ok.

BAK

Canoe Sherpa Regular Member • Posts: 274
Six and a half feet on vinyl

I have a client that purchased some stock images from me for an open house. I had the benefit of being present to see the results. One image from a 6mp D70 and the other from a 10mp D200. Rezzed up to 6-1/2' and printed on vinyl as a hanging display. At 8 feet they looked awesome. At 3 feet, I was actually very surprised at how well they held up. The largest flaw was the sharpening which could have been managed better.

You can go big, just don't look at it with a critical eye from one or two feet away. However, images that big are not meant to be viewed from so close.

Aaron

jgavi Forum Member • Posts: 82
Resizing-resamplig

I have read from several sources that using advanced interporlation (resampling) algorithms, you can resize with high quality from a 6-7 Mp original image, always considering that not all images can be manipulated alike...I think you should go to the PhotoZoom Pro (S-Spline Pro before) site and check on this matter...their algorithms for resampling, as well as others (genuine fractals, etc.) can apparently produce very high quality large images, and are used by many...in fact, even with a 16 Mp full frame image, if your are going for monster billboards that should be inspected from short distance, there has to be some resampling done...and then it's better to use methods more advanced than the bicubic variants (Photoshop, etc.)....

good luck,

Jorge

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Havana, Cuba
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jgavi@yahoo.com

echelon2004 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,128
count on 40dpi,

which pretty much means any image with a good motive will do fine
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Anders

Some of my pictures can be seen at;
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event photography and photo journalism

visionhaus Forum Member • Posts: 50
Re: Printing billboard size and megapixels

I am a photographer because I love it , but during the day I am a college graphic design professor and design firm owner.

So here is the deal with billboards...but first i need to explain about how photos or any image for that matter is used for print.

The golden DPI (dots per inch or ppi - pixels per inch) is 300dpi. For instance, if I were to print an image in an 8.5" x 11" magazine its pixel size would be 2550 x 3300 @ 300dpi. 300dpi is the print standard for anything that would be viewed up close (like a magazine). Billboards are very different. They are viewed for many yards away, thus a lower dpi is needed to produce sharp images. Viewing for the web is very similar. For example all images shown on the web are 72dpi, but they still look good.

Billboards are printed at 96dpi. So that means if I take my 8.5" x 11" image and adjust the image from 300dpi to 96 dpi it has now grown to over 26" x 34" in physical size but has not lost any pixel information. You can try it in Photoshop if you like in the image size dialogue box. So with that information and a little know how, you can easily use a 6mp camera and produce great billboard ads. I have done it numerous times with just a D70...no need to break out the MF cameras. Save those for the magazines, where more detail is a must.

Also, this artcle by Ken Rockwell states the fact about the megapixel myth very well.
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/mpmyth.htm

Just my $0.02

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