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Category: All About Photography : Digital Photographic Discussions - Imaging Basics : Printing Digital Pictures

Photography Question 
Jess Griffin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2008

Printing Images - Crop Factor

I am just starting out, and I have run into a problem with getting my images developed. I have a Nikon D300, and it takes awesome shots that are so clear they could be developed into large prints. My problem occurs after I edit some of my photos and try to send them to a local one-hour photo place in my town just to print 4x6s ... I get prints with heads chopped off. I don't what I can do to get these images to be able to print in not only 8x10s but 4x6s as well. Help!

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3/21/2008 8:03:32 AM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi Jess,
The D300 produces an image that is almost an exact match to the 4x6 print. This is what we call a 1.5 ratio meaning the length is 1.5 times the height. Now, your photofinisher is slightly over magnifying the image when they produce a 4x6 print. You should ask them to print using a lower magnification. Tell them you do not like your prints cropped i.e. you want as much as the frame is possible.
They are doing this because their printer has a pre-set magnification. Set to avoid borders. If they will not accommodate or lack the skills to do so, change to a different lab.
The 8x10 format is more square than the 4x6. Its ratio is 1.25. Having the lab make 8x10 wills likely make the problem worse.
You need to always compose and then back up or zoom out a little to give yourself more space around the principal subject. You are discovering that common print sizes are not always a good match for the cameras format.
Alan Marcus

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3/21/2008 8:28:40 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
Even the cheap 1-hour labs have a crop and position setting when you either upload locally at the store or use the internet.
The aspect ratio Alan is speaking of is well known to digital shooters using APS sized sensors. Because of this, with time, you will have to learn to leave enough head room when shooting a photo if you plan to enlarge it later - especially 8x10. For example, if you are shooting a sweeping landscape with subject matter filling your viewfinder totally from side to side and top to bottom? There is no way an 8x10 will you get all the image printed that you see. Leave space ... lots of it if you plan to make 8x10s or larger. Even 5x7s will crop heavily.
All your images should be "pre-cropped" before you send them to any photo finisher ... even the 4x6 so you can position the slightest change.
All the best,

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3/21/2008 9:38:51 AM

Sherry King   Another suggestion (if you are printing many 4x6 photos), purchase a small printer that specializes in 4x6 prints. We used the Epson Picturemate for years and recently purchase the HP Photosmart A717, which does both 4x6 and 5x7. Both are inexpensive, create good small prints, and allow you more control over what is printed.

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3/25/2008 4:55:40 AM

Allison W. Laster   i am finding that I am having the same problem. would you also suggest to get a printer, say an epson r800, to print my own prints or continue to use an online printer such as bay photo or mpix? would using my own printer solve the croping problem? thanks.

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3/25/2008 5:37:40 AM

Mary Iacofano
at one time I experienced the same problem. When I asked the clerk at the quick lab, this is what she explained to me and how to correct.
Before the final upload to the lab, there was an edit button. When I clicked on this, an imaginary crop box layered over my image. I had to drag & drop the box over my image to adjust the labs cropping. Thus, dragging the box so the heads were not cut off. Hopefully your issue will be as easy to correct. see if the website has an edit button and go from there.

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3/25/2008 6:18:39 AM

Mark Groves   My guess is that you are cropping these to a incorrect size at the start. In the editing program that you use check image size when you are done if you want a 4x6 your edited photo should be this size to ge the the best results. you must crop each photo size for each print size desired.your editing program should give you size choice before you crop Grover

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3/25/2008 6:23:05 AM

Allison W. Laster   thank you for the tip about the editing box. I guess I am still confused about printing out my own images. would the picture be cropped if I printed the image on my own printer? (i don't have a printer to work with, I have been thinking of buying one.)thanks.

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3/25/2008 7:33:54 AM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi all

Taking pictures and then viewing them is what photography is all about. As you progress in this hobby, you will need to procure editing software. Once you load imaging editing software, a whole new world awaits. You will be able to enhance your images as to color and contrast and crop to an exact size. In essence, such software will give you the control you want.

Why not download free trial software?
I suggest Paint Shop Pro

Others will also suggest. I find Paint Shop Pro and its cousin Corel Photo Album, very nice for what you want.

Best regards,

Alan Marcus

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3/25/2008 8:25:23 AM

Allison W. Laster   thanks everyone for you help.

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3/25/2008 8:59:38 AM

Jill Odice
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/1/2005
Contact Jill
Jill's Gallery
  I always get my images printed in either 8 x 12 or 12 x 18. This gets your entire image in the frame without anything getting cropped.

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3/25/2008 11:01:17 AM

Robert F. Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/24/2002
  Hello Jess, I don't know if you have a Sam's Club near, but they do a good job for people just starting out and they give out a free software disc so that you can upload your images and then make adjustments to the image(crop,red eye,etc.)then print whatever size,pay for them and pick them up at the nearest Sam's Club. If you get to know the lab well enough, if you don't like the final product, they may reprint it for free.
Thanks, Robert F. Wilson

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3/25/2008 12:59:53 PM

Sherry King   I can't say if you should buy a printer or stay with the 1-hour labs or use the online labs. I have not used the 1-hour labs in years -- we have multiple photo printers. I think it really comes down to how many photos are you printing, how much control do you want, and just personal preference.


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3/25/2008 7:21:00 PM

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