PHOTO RESOLUTION AND MEGAPIXELS

How Large Can You Enlarge Different Photo Files?

Many people who use digital cameras want to know how large they can blow up or enlarge their photographs based the megapixel size of the file. Note that I said “file” (more on that later). This article is aimed at teaching you how much you can enlarge your photographs, especially for clients who decide that they want to print pictures on an inkjet printer.  

 

What if I only want a portion of the photo?

When adding items to your cart, you will be given the option to color correct and crop the photo yourself. Upon checkout, click on EDIT and you can zoom-in and center the print on any part of the photo. Note that cropping and zooming in will decrease the resolution of the resulting print. I recommend only cropping the photo to align the image size to the print size ratio. For example, when printing an original image on an 8x10” aspect ratio, you will have three options:

  • Do nothing and the photo will be centered, excluding the top and bottom on portrait-oriented images and the left and right of landscape-oriented images
  • Enlarge the crop to get the entire image printed. Any extra areas will print as white and can be trimmed with scissors
  • Reduce the crop to zoom in 

 

Why do you only offer 4 choices of resolution for digital downloads?

A: For simplicity. If you...

  • Don’t need to print and only need photos for online use or proofing, the web resolution is sufficient for online profiles, social media, online albums, and website use. 
  • Will only be printing photos up to 4x6” get the low resolution (4MP) file. 
    Most people should purchase this.
  • Wlll be printing photos up to 11x14” get the high resolution (8MP) file.
    I recommend this option also for actors, models, & entertainers who need to print headshot at home.
  • If you want the original image in the resolution that it was taken, then opt for the “Original Photo” resolution. (15-22 MP)
    This will give you the best options for enlarging your photos, or zooming in and cropping the photo for print.
    • For example, if you wish to zoom in on your child's football team photo and print an 8x10 of just him and the 2 guys next to him, this would be your best option.

 

What is a Megapixel?

A Megapixel (MP) is simply a unit of graphic resolution equivalent to one million. Or more precisely 1,048,576 (220) pixels (dots). Megapixels are often used in marketing new camera sales because people always assume bigger is better. It's good for sales! Not only for cameras but for digital media (SD & CF cards, USB sticks, storage drives, etc.). But when deciding what photos to print, it’s not the camera resolution that is important. It is the file size and resolution. Resolution is measured in Megapixels (MP) In reality, most people will print no more than 8.5x11" photos at home, so it may surprise you to know that the minimum file size to print a photo quality 8’x10” photo is… only 7MP! 

That said, if you have a photo and you want to figure out the Megapixel count of that image this is what you have to do. Simply multiply the resolution of the image then divide by 1 million.

 

How many megapixels do you shoot in?

A: Our primary cameras are Canon 5D Mark III's. They have a maximum resolution of 22 MP.  We always shoot between 15-22 MP depending on the type of event and purpose of the images.

 

Can you tell what I can print given a file's resolution?

Sure! Below is a chart I put together if you are a gear head and/or wish to know what MP settings you can set on your own personal camera without wasting space.

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 12.31.46 PMScreen Shot 2017-02-11 at 12.31.46 PM

When I have my pictures printed, parts get cut off. Why?

A. This is due to the difference between the aspect ratio of your digital photo and the paper size of the print. The aspect ratio is the horizonal dimension of a photo related to its vertical dimension. For instance, a 6" by 4" photo has an aspect ratio of 1.5:1 (or 3:2 in whole numbers). A 7" x 5" photo has a ratio of 1.4:1. With a digital photo the aspect ratio is calculated using its pixel dimensions. A 2048 x 1536 pixel size photo has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. One with a 3504 x 2336 dimension has a ratio of 1.5:1 (which, not coincidently, is the ratio of 35mm film). If an image with a ratio of 1.33:1 is printed on 6" x 4" paper (1.5:1), to fill the 6" x 4" paper the printer can either add whitespace around the photo, or crop (cut off parts) of the photo to make it fit. Most printing services do the latter. 

If you are printing from home, you will need to crop the photo to the same aspect ration of the paper, this can be done with the photo printing software that came with the printer when you opened the box. Alternatively, there should be an option to “Fit” or “Fill” the image to the photo paper you specify.

 

How many pixels per inch (ppi) do I really need for photographic quality?

A. This is completely in the eye of the beholder, its a subjective figure. Magazines usually ask for 300 ppi, I think that 200 ppi is generally fine, you may find that 100 ppi is okay for you. It's affected by your perception of quality and viewing distance (a poster, which is viewed from a distance of 6 feet doesn't need as many ppi as a magazine photo that is viewed at a distance of 1 foot). Quality is not linear, 300 ppi is not "twice as good" as 150 ppi. For the professional, quality includes shadow details and native file level of detail (resolving power) - these demand higher ppi. The ppi discussion includes other factors such as the quality of the recording device (your camera's optics & sensor or a scanner's sensor); the size (in pixels) of the digital image; the digital format it is stored in (lossless vs lossy compression); and the technical proficiency and the "eye" of the photographer. But even with those factors at their best, determining a required ppi is not cut and dried.