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How big a print can I get ?

BarryC123 9 43 25 Ireland
22 May 2010 11:14PM
Hi, I'm just wondering what would be the biggest print size I can get with my Nikon D40 ?
Example data - image size 1.36mb, 2905x1890pixels, 300dpi

I've yet to print anything bigger than A4 size, and am just wondering, as I've been asked to do some promotional shots for the place I work, what size I could reasonably hope to produce ?

Any help appreciated, thanks.

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strawman 14 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
22 May 2010 11:24PM
OK from memory its a 6mp camera. With a very good image I managed to get up to an 18' x 12' photo. But you get into all sorts of arguments about viewing distances etc and I find it varies with the image and subject content. Generally for A4 prints @ 6mp is as good as it gets. you get no more with more MP. and for A3 its 12mp.

try reading this as a guide by Thom Hogan

It sort of backs my view up that a well take 6mp file can do A3 size if you push.
davey_griffo 9 213 165 England
23 May 2010 6:56AM
Every article I've read usually says 240 PPI for a quality print (which I find strange, since every printer seems to work in multiples of 300), so it's a case of dividing your camera's pixel count by 240 (or as in Strawman's article, 288).

So at 240 dpi, you can print:
2905/240=12.1" x

Or at 288 dpi 10" x 6.6"

Or at 300 dpi 9.7" x 6.3"

It does depend upon the viewing distance too. At close range, you'll need a top quality print, but if it's only going to be viewed at a distance of more than a couple of metres, you can get away with a lower ppi count. You can print as low as 90ppi, if viewed from more than a few metres.

There's also interpolation to consider. If you resize in PS (and I assume any other software) to a size larger than the maximum for your Mp count (say A2 or A3 with your camera), the program with fill out the shot itself. The quality of the subsequent print probably depends upon how well your software does this. It's not a subject I know too much about though, so can't really say how it works.

Actually, your Mp count (2905x1890) = 5.49. But then it's often the case that the manufacturers don't use the whole chip. My Sony has a 14.6Mp chip, but churns out photo's at 14.2Mp. I think it's to do with the aspect ratio's. 14.6Mp doesn't fit a 3:2 shot, but 14.2 does. At 16:9, it gets worse, as the camera chops the top & bottom off the chip to give the widescreen shot, so the pixel count is lower again.

You'll often see 2 figures, actual & effective Mp. It's the latter that tells the real pixel count. So to use my example again, my actual pixel count is 14.6, my effective pixels are 14.2, as quoted in the manual.

Hope this all helps.

Anyway. That's enough maths, my head hurts. Sad
davey_griffo 9 213 165 England
23 May 2010 7:08AM
There's also media to consider. On a top quality, glossy paper, you'll notice the defects/artifacts when printing at lower resolution. On canvas or some other textured paper, you may get away with more, or can probably kid people on that you were going for an arty effect. Smile
KathyW 14 1.8k 12 Norfolk Island
23 May 2010 10:19AM
I sent some 6x4 (1800 x 1200 px) files to a pro print lab and they printed a few 12 x 8s with absolutely no loss of quality (I asked for some samples of their other papers, expecting a few 6x4s!)

However, If you're printing your own with an inkjet, it may be different. Try a few test prints of crops. Also, as said above, it's surprising what you can get away with on a canvas print.
BarryC123 9 43 25 Ireland
23 May 2010 1:13PM
Thanks, folks - a lot of help here.

I think what I'm going to be expected to produce will be A3 on canvas - this may be stretching things a bit - another reason to give the better half to justify a camera upgrade, I think !
thewilliam 9 6.1k
23 May 2010 2:12PM
I used to shoot with a Kodak DCS760 which has the same pixel count and frequently produced 30x24 inch prints, but these were portraits. Did you ever meet a portrait customer who wanted the ultimate in sharpness.

Kodak and Phase 1 seemed to make better use of the pixels, so I'd expect a D40 to give a similarly good 24x16 inch print.

A lot depends on the viewing distance. She-who-must-be-obeyed did a 15 foot wide canvas print from her D2Xs, to go on the wall above the meat counter in a farm shop and it looks fantastic from where the customers stand.
27 May 2010 2:15PM
I regularly print 36"x24" canvas using 6MP images both for myself and for customers, my answer to this one is give it a try you should be surprised. I would add that you should use a reputable canvas printer (if you are not doing it yourself) that will varnish the canvases as well as printing them. The varnish adds both protection and a vibrance that is not there with an un finished print.
John_Duckett 13 386 2 Norfolk Island
27 May 2010 4:48PM
It depends on who's printing them.... I had some 6mp 16bit tiffs printed to 43"x 30" by a customer and they looked superb.... I couldn't see much difference between them and my 12.8mp images on the same print run. They used Reflections if anyone lives Norwich way!!!

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