Photography Travel Tip 04: Give it 110%!babibubebo | 10 10 2006
Before my friends buy a new camera, many of them ask me “How many megapixels do I really need to make nice prints?” My answer has always been something along the lines of, “Unless you are making prints lager than 8 x 10 inches, 4MP or 5MP should do.” Which is more or less true.
Recently, I came across Design215’s megapixel comparison and maximum print size chart that talks about how big you can print your photos depending on how many megapixels your camera is. First, I am going to say it is a nice chart and is helpful; however, having said that, unless you are publishing a photography book I have to be honest and tell you that the chart isn’t exactly right. I mean, the chart stresses it is true if you want “true photo quality,” but who can really tell between “true photo quality” and slightly below that (whatever that is)?
For example, the above link says that using a 6MP camera that gives you pixel resolution of 3008 x 2000 and a maximum print size of 10.02 x 6.67 inches, but using a simple function in Photoshop (I used CS2 but pretty much any version is ok), you can easily go beyond that while loosing minimal quality. The trick is increasing the image size by 110% (multiple times). To do this just go to the “Image” menu, select “Image Size” and then configure the window so it looks like this one below:
The changes you will need to make are first checking “Constrain Proportions” and “Resample Image: Bicubic.” Then change the drop down box under “Pixel Dimensions” from “pixels” to “percent.” Finally type in “110%” in the width (and height of course) and then press “OK.” That is it! Depending on the photo you can repeat this 5-7 times before you start to notice any real loss of image quality. I have printed images that started at 10.02 x 6.67 inches and using this trick and got beautiful prints as large as 19.5 x 13 inches. I mean sure, if you do it 7 times and look at it real closely you can tell a little, but a print that is 19.5 x 13 inches (7 times) is not printed to be looked at closely. I printed the same print at 16.1 x 10.7 (5 times) inches and it was almost identical to the original sized print at close range. If you want, you can easily record an action in Photoshop to repeat these steps for you.
Of course, results will vary depending on the quality of the camera (if you have a 2 MP don’t expect to get great prints at any size really), the quality of your printer and the colors in your photograph (if you have a lot of blue in your photograph or a night photograph results will vary because most of the “noise” in digital photography is in the blue channel).
So in conclusion to the question, “How big can I print my digital photographs?” you can print them 110% (5-7 times) the original size!
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