DPP Home Software Image Processing The Facts About Upsizing Images

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Facts About Upsizing Images

How big can you go?

Get Back! Print Size And Viewing Distance
Taking a step back (literally and figuratively), many photographers seem to forget the issue of viewing distance when contemplating how large they can print a given image. In reality, there’s no limit to how large you can print an image, provided that print is then viewed at an appropriate distance relative to its size. This concept is what makes roadside billboards possible. If you put your nose against a billboard, you’ll find the image is incredibly coarse and the level of detail is surprisingly low considering the appearance of (at least relatively) high quality when passing on the highway at 60 mph.

The problem, of course, is that we can’t always put velvet ropes around an image to ensure viewers don’t get too close. That can be an issue when a photo is printed larger than the amount and quality of the information in the image are able to justify.

If a print will be displayed in a way that guarantees it won’t be examined too closely—a huge print hanging from the ceiling of New York’s Grand Central Station comes to mind—you can quite literally print as large as the printer is capable of. You could even assemble a larger print with “tiles” created from smaller prints.

But even if you can’t be completely assured that nobody will get close enough to scrutinize the print, it’s worth keeping in mind that in most cases those who are interested in truly enjoying a photographic print will stand back far enough to take in the full image. For a large print, that means they’ll generally not be close enough to notice the softness or lack of detail that can result from extreme enlargements. More importantly, it means you usually can count on a photograph being enjoyed even when it might have been enlarged more than your own close scrutiny suggested was wise, or even possible.

Output Size By Resolution
Megapixels Native Output Size Comfortable Enlargement Extreme Enlargement
10 8”x12” 16”x24” 24”x36”
15 10”x16” 20”x30” 30”x40”
20 13”x19” 30”x40” 40”x60”


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