How big can I print my photos is a very common question. Even professional photographers happen to struggle with this topic.
To avoid any further confusion that we could inflict by technical calculations we put together the following practical matrix showing how many megapixels (M) you should set your camera to if you want to have your photo printed in one of the standard sizes. If your camera settings show width-to-height dimensions in pixels, the additional table below will come handy.
Note: The calculations are based on the printing standards requiring the resolution of 300 pixels per square inch (a.k.a. 300dpi). (A pixel is the smallest measurement of the picture size. 1 Megapixel = 1 Million Pixels.)
Can I stretch out an image for a bigger print?
Yes, you can, but the resolution will diminish resulting in a blurrier print. Let’s say you want your photo twice bigger. Then by stretching it out you impair the resolution to 150 pixels per square inch. You can still print your photo but you might not be happy with the result, especially if the image was not high quality to start with.
Can an image be enlarged for a bigger print?
Yes, PhotoHand provides this service – it is included in the price of Photo Retouching. The end result may be not as sharp as you want it to be, depending on the quality of the original shot.
Any defect in the original picture resulting from a bad focus, low quality lens, dim lighting, too much flash, camera shaking will only be magnified and might not be subject to effective correction. Keep in mind that even with the ideal shot, it’s not recommended to lower the resolution to less than 200 dpi.
How Do I Know How Many Megapixels There Are in My Images Once It Is Saved on My Computer?
The number of Kilobytes (KB) or Megabytes (MB) in your computer file roughly corresponds to the number of pixels and megapixels. For example, 2MB photo file will have about 2M (Megapixels) and is good to be printed as 6″x4″.
You don’t need Photoshop or any other editing software to check. Just find the icon for the file on your computer and do the following:
1. CTRL + click on the file (right click)
2. Select “Get Info” from the menu
3. Under “General” check the size of the file
1. Point the cursor to the icon of the file and do the right click
2. Select “Properties” in the opened window
3. The “General” tab in the opened window shows the “Size” of the file in Kilobytes (KB) or Megabytes (MB).
If you click on the “Details” tab you’ll see the file dimensions in pixels and the resolution it is formatted in.
In the illustration below:
Example 1 – The file is formatted in the resolution 72dpi (72 pixels per square inch) that is the standard resolution for the web but too small for print. If we change the resolution to 300, we will need to make the size smaller for density of pixels to be correct, otherwise the stretched out pixels will make the picture fuzzy and pixelated.
Example 2 – The photo is perfectly formatted to be printed as 5″x7″. The resolution is sharp – 300dpi and the height and width of pixels is enough (see the matrix above).
Example 3 – The file is setup in the low resolution of 72dpi but the the height and width of pixels are sufficient to re-format the file in 300 dpi and print it 8″x10″ without losing in quality.