need photography advice

Old 12-07-2006, 07:39 AM
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Default need photography advice

I've taken a bunch of pictures over the past six months and I would like to develop into larger prints. Camera used was a Sony 4.1 Mega Pixel Cyber Shot. What are the largest prints that I can make that will still look good? Where/how should I do this?
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Old 12-07-2006, 07:45 AM
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Default Re: need photography advice

This digital stuff really isn't my area, but I'd say with a 4.1 you are probably fine with 8 x 10 tops. ???

As for where and how, I would just take your chip over to one of the many photo lab type of places and have them run it off for you.
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Old 12-07-2006, 08:03 AM
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As a professional stringer photog for college and pro sports (sportsshooter), I can say that this has come up numerous times over my career. How many pixels do you need for a print, such as an 8x10 inch print, an 11x14 inch print, or a larger poster size? Well, with a little trial and error and some hardcore math (heh), you can figure it out for yourself!

The dpi (dots per inch) of a printout helps determine the image quality and how many megapixels you may need. Garbage in, garbage out.... You cannot PRINT high resolution (generally) than what your camera can save into the image. Generally, the greater the dpi, the clearer and cripser the printout (up to a point). While you can print larger images from smaller digital photos by decreasing the dpi, the results may not be as impressive as if the original image were larger and printed with a larger dpi.

To factor how many pixels you need, multiple the dpi by the size of the photo. Thus an 11x14 image at 150 dpi will need 11*150 by 14*150 pixels, or 1,650 by 2,100 pixels (3.465 million pixels).

Now, with this size, you would think that a 3.5 megapixel camera would handle it. Not so fast! Some of these cameras produce problems with actual pixel resolution and quality of those pixels. That is why some people still use the Nikon D1x
and D1h type cameras and still make magazine covers around the world. Again, it is the QUALITY of tool and not always the # of megapixels that make the difference.

Digital camera megapixels and actual resolution (note these can differ depending on the camera):
2 megapixels: 1600 x 1200
3 megapixels: 2048 x 1536
4 megapixels: 2274 x 1704
5 megapixels: 2560 x 1920
6 megapixels: 2816 x 2112 - 3032 x 2008
7 megapixels: 3072 x 2304
8 megapixels: 3264 x 2,468

Pixels needed for a 150 DPI image (fair to good image quality)
8x10: 1,200 X 1,500 pixels - most 2-megapixel cameras
11x14: 1,650 X 2,100 pixels - most 4-megapixel cameras
16x20: 2,400 X 3,000 pixels - most 8-megapixel cameras, maybe some 7-megapixel cameras

Pixels needed for a 200 DPI (good image quality)
8x10: 1,600 X 2,000 pixels - most 4-megapixel cameras, maybe some 3-megapixel cameras
11x14: 2,200 X 2,800 pixels - 7-megapixel cameras, though most 6-megapixels cameras should be close enough
16x20: 3,200 X 4,000 pixels - although this is only 12.8 megapixels, most cameras won't have the same aspect ratio (width versus height), thus you may need a camera with a greater number of megapixels

Again, these numbers are just provided as the results of mathematical formulas. Just realize that the image quality may not be optimum, though it may be sufficient for your needs. As far as printing, either do it online or go the easy and relatively inexpensive route and do it yourself at a local SAM'S, PRICECLUB, etc type of store. Great prices and very good quality. I have actually sold my fair share of printed photos from places like that in the 11x14 and higher sizes!

Conclusion: I would stick to 8x10s max for your camera. Still really nice and large photos nearly perfect for anyone needs. Too much larger and not only does the cost go up dramatically for processing, but noticible defects and pixelization (grainyness) can occur and make your stuff look OK at 10 feet but amateurish close-up.

Let me know,

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Old 12-07-2006, 09:03 AM
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Default Re: need photography advice

As for how to make these, if you have a laser color printer, use that with photo paper. Turns out quite nice, much better than the inkjet colors.
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:15 AM
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Default RE: need photography advice

Thank you for the all of the advice, especially Andy's response-wow!
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:38 AM
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Default RE: need photography advice

striper97 - 12/7/2006 9:15 AM

especially Andy's response-wow!
I printed it off for my future reference. Thanks Andy!

BTW, like Garrett sugested, before you try and print 8X10's on your home printer, check costs with the local CVS's, Wally World, Eckerds, etc. If the cost isn't too bad get them to do it because the quality will definitely be better. Just a thought.
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Old 12-07-2006, 11:59 AM
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Default Re: need photography advice

That said, I've taken my 5 meg images up to 20x24 without getting too much pixellation.

If you hit one of the cheap print/enlargement places (WalMart, Costco, or on-line services such as Shutterfly or O-Foto), you can experiment, and see what works for you.

If your pictures look OK on your computer screen, you'll probably be OK going a bit larger than Andy's guide suggests (a 17" computer screen at 1024/768 is about 80pixels per inch.)

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Old 12-07-2006, 12:58 PM
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Default Re: need photography advice

Good point, jky. It does depend though on the camera being used and the CCD.

pixels are pixels and DPI is DPI, no guesswork or magic there, but it does matter on the QUALITY of those pixels being captured. That is ultimately determined by the CCD on the camera. I only use high-end digital SLR cameras with excellent CCD and optics. If you need more resolution for enlargements, you can use a program called fractals to improve the quality and make your images go farther, other than that....I have made tons of 20x30 prints from a 6MP (Fuji S2) camera and even that size from a 4+MP D1X camera for several years. I don't really think I need to use my D2HS or even the D2X to produce quality shots for enlargements but since most of my shots are used for the AP wire, magazine press or newspapers and are usually cropped anywho, it doesn't really matter.

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