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Photography Question 
James E. McKinney

Print size

I own a Canon 10D and was wondering what the largest print size I can expect to get without "noticeably" losing quality? Thanks for your help.

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6/29/2004 9:04:37 AM

Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2004
  Hi James,

The answer to your question is a relative one. The 10D is a 6MP digital camera. The camera's captured images have been known to be printed up to sizes of 11"x14" and 13"x19" without noticable loss of quality.

Having said that, the conditions of the shoot, the sharpness of the image(any blurring, focus issues, shake, etc) and what ISO level and whether you shot in JPG or RAW will all work to degrade and thus reduce your max size.

The printer used or how the image is printed will also affect the quality of the output.

You should be able to make 8"x10" digital prints with no problems for most shots. To get sizes up to 11x14 and 13x19, you will benefit greatly from using RAW and the appropriate processing software.

To give you an idea... I had a 2.1MP digital camera. Made great 8x10 shots. I currently use a 5MP digital camera and it makes great shots as well, but has higher noise which is more noticable when I shoot in JPG. So I try to shoot in RAW and postprocess the files into TIFF/BMP and run NeatImage(noise removal tool) on the image before printing.

A good place to check out would be as they talk a good deal about printing high quality prints.


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6/29/2004 11:28:08 AM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  My problem with issues like this is that "quality" is subjective.

I know people who make 8.5x11 prints from 2 megapixel camera JPEG's and are absolutely thrilled with print quality. I look at the same print and think, "I would never show this to anybody; the quality is mediocre."

To my eye, a 13x19" print from an EOS 10D image (Raw, converted with PhaseOne software) is very nice from the typical viewing distance of five or six feet. But at closer observation, it does not quite satisfy me.

But I'll bet that 90% of people, including photo enthusiasts would be happy, especially because we do not view such large prints from a 6 to 12 inch distance.

Cheers! Peter Burian

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6/30/2004 6:25:34 AM

Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2004
  *grins* I wholeheartedly agree, Peter. :)

I have a duckling 8x10 print on my wall at work and it is from a 2.1MP digital camera(Olympus C2100UZ). To me, the picture is "okay", but most people think it's great as long as it is viewed from 3' or more away.

I think there is a formula for determining the resolution needed(print dpi) for a given print size and viewing distance. I think I found such a calculator on the web once, but haven't since.

I fall into the 10% group in that I see pixels in pictures and decide I need to redo them. Bear in mind I'm looking at the picture from about 6" - 12" away for an 8x10 print. I have found repeatedly that the quality and effort put in during the entire process from composition to printing will effect the final image.

I've seen great prints made on an Epson2200 from a 10D and have been impressed, even when viewed closely. However, these were photos taken by professions with L grade cannon glass and processed on a color calibrated system running high end profiling and RIP'ing software. Ie, not your typical users' setup.

I typically keep a photograph developed at a local 24H place and a print made by a nicer place around on my desk as reference to compare my prints to. Basically, if I can mix them up and easily mistaken the digital print with the chemical print, then I'm satisfied that it will pass muster with the 90% crowd.

James, assuming you use photoshop, you can usually look at the image's dpi in the image size->image resize option. Typically, you should get good prints when printing at 250 dpi. With the 10D's 6MP files, this should be smaller than 8x10. If you resample up so that you can get 8x10 at 250 dpi, you will start encountering "softness" in your image.

If you want, what you can do is try Genuine Fractals to scale up your image. I've used it before and it works okay with 2.1MP pictures... but it is meant to be used with 6MP+ images. You can get an additional 30-40% size increase without noticeable degredation. Just be sure to apply the correct amount of sharpening to counter the inevitable softness that will result.

Remember, what looks soft/sharp on the screen may not be on paper. You will need to do test prints.

Good luck!


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6/30/2004 8:09:58 AM

Peter K. Burian
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/8/2004
  Wing: Well, we agree on most aspects.

And yes, using pro lenses and a tripod certainly helps to maximize image quality, and hence, print quality. George Lepp (see ) often made prints larger than 13x19" from his best EOS 10D and Digital Rebel images.

I no longer use Genuine Fractals for increasing image file size. Photoshop CS is every bit as effective. Those who do not own that $700 program might want to consider a plug-in for Elements or for any versions of Photoshop.

Such as Stair Interpolation Pro, for increasing image file size while maintaining high quality. A bargain at $20.

Cheers! Peter Burian

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6/30/2004 8:51:22 AM

James E. McKinney   Thanks for all your help. In this July's issue of Outdoor Photographer there is an article on printing tips. It makes this statement regarding image size and resolution; "There will be no quality difference by selecting a different resoution as long as Resample isn't checked, but it will have an impact on image size." I have P/S Essentials and I went to try this but after I resized my image to 250, I went to print it and the resolution on the print screen was 72 which confused me a bit. Am I missing something?
Thanks again,

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6/30/2004 12:35:11 PM

Michael Kaplan   I also agree with the above. I have a 10D and have printed 13x19 on my Epson 1280. The lab that I brought the print to be mounted would swear it was from 35mm and not digital. The prints can be that good. I have heard of people printing 20x30 from a 10D and certainly they may be acceptable from a proper viewing distance but will not rival that same sized print from a 11MP Canon 1Ds for example.

Just remember; the better the original the better the end result will be.
Michael Kaplan
Canon EOS-10D

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7/1/2004 9:50:58 AM

Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/8/2004

I'll definitely need to take a look at the plugins if they are equiv/better than GF at resampling/resizing.


*smiles* Wish I had a 1Ds right about now.


Which print screen is this? I know that 72dpi is the display's typical resolution. Were you looking at the preferences or at the print-preview?

When you choose to perform an image resize, the resampling option allows you to rez up or rez down your image and actually make it larger or smaller... at respective cost to image quality.

When you resize without resampling, what you are doing is telling PS to not change the data, but just represent the image differently.

Let's say you have an image which has the following dimensions:

3000px x 2000px

When displayed on your screen, the image will have the following properties by default:

41.6" x 27.7" @ 72dpi

You can image resize without resampling to 250dpi and get:

12" x 8" @ 250dpi

Let's say you wanted to print at 19"x13" on a nice photo printer at home. You would need an image file with the following dimensions:

4750px x 3250px to print 19" x 13" @ 250dpi

This is when you need resampling for your resizing. PS, a plugin, or some third party software is used to rez up or resample your image to a larger size by filling in the blanks.

So image resize with resample, you tell it you want 19" x 13" and you set the dpi to 250. You will end up with a file whose dimensions are now 4750px x 3250px.

In all of the operations prior to this one, your image always remained 3000px x 2000px.

One warning/caveat. If you reize without resampling, so you end up with an 8"x10" print at 600dpi and the file is sent to the printer like that, the printer driver is used to resample the image down to the printer's resolution of 225-300dpi, depending on the printer. When this happens, your image may come out looking worse off as the print driver may not rez down/up as nicely as would PS. You typically want your output image file to be at a dpi close to the dpi of the output device. (Keeping an original image at the higher dpi that you are working on seperate from the output file...)

Wing. (Sorry, I ramble on for a bit. :)

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7/1/2004 10:11:09 AM

Michael Kaplan   There are many ways and programs for resizing a photo and to me the best are the ones that do the best jobs and are free :0.
Here is a link where you can get a free interpolation action for PS that does a great job. There are a few actions here with examples and is camera specific although you can use one for any camera. Take a look at the samples he has posted there to see what it can do.
Michael Kaplan

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7/1/2004 10:24:57 AM

Michael Kaplan   OOps, forgot to give you the link:
Michael Kaplan

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7/1/2004 10:25:42 AM

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