What size should my photos be?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by SoCalJeremy, May 19, 2008.

  1. SoCalJeremy

    SoCalJeremy TPF Noob!

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    Hi everyone,


    This is my first post here - thank you for everything I've already learned! I'm going to be printing/selling my photos in a 4" x 4" format (1:1 ratio acheived by cropping/trimming), primarily. The majority (90% or more) will be sepia toned. Using my new Canon Rebel XTi, is there a best size/resolution etc. at which to take pictures which will ultimately be printed only 4x4 in.? Here are some other details:
    • I'll want to take some of these same photos and print them 8x10 in color or b&w, possibly a little larger, too.
    • I realize 10.1mp is overkill for printing 4x4, but is there (ever?) any reason to record in any but the highest resolution? If storage capacity is not an issue, that is...
    • Has digital photography evolved past this being an issue? Maybe you can shrink the size without much degradation? (hope, hope)
    I hope this question isn't as confusing as it feels, and thank you in advance for your help!

    Jeremy
     
  2. dylj

    dylj TPF Noob!

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    4x4 sounds really small.

    There's no reason to shoot at anything less than max resolution. Also, shrinking tends to look fine most of the time. The algorithms are different for each photo-editing software suite. Try different ones out.
     
  3. TamiyaGuy

    TamiyaGuy No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Unless you're REALLY desperate for space, always shoot in the highest resolution at the highest JPG setting (or RAW, which is even better). You can always make a large image smaller, but you can't make a small image larger! :) Also, I agree with Dylj, 4x4 does seem quite small, the width of a 6x4 with a couple of inches chopped off. That's nearing wallet-sized photos.

    Well, I'm sure if your clients are happy, you've got no reason to change the size. Best of luck with your career!!!
     
  4. Alfred D.

    Alfred D. TPF Noob!

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    If space is an issue then – for archival purposes – convert RAWs to TIFFs and zip those for considerable space savings without image quality/data loss.
     
  5. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    ^^ please forgive the slight correction.

    You can make a small image larger, but the algorythm to do so will have to interpolate to pull it off. This basically means it's going to have to look at two adjoining pixels that were seperated by the process of enlargement, and then guess what came between them. This can have a somewhat ungood effect.

    However... go through an airport sometime and look at the ads on the walls. If you look really closely, you will notice many of them are comprised of huge blotchy dots that you didn't notice until you stared at them. You didn't notice because your brain kind of smooths them out for you. One of our very many nice tricks. Do you want this for a print on your wall? Maybe. Maybe not. That's kind of up to you.

    BTW, the process of shrinking an image will cause the image to get a bit softer... this is very similar to the process that occurs when you capture the image in the first place (well, on most cameras), as it must blur the picture a bit to get the right colors in the right areas as you shrink... so plan on sharpening the image when you're done.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. TamiyaGuy

    TamiyaGuy No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ah, yes, sorry about that. I guess what I meant to say was you can't make a small image larger without the image quality getting worse. Even if you have the best interpolation program in the world, the quality will get much worse than making a large image smaller. And I think that as far as printing goes, it won't soften the image if you print out a 10mp image at 6.6 x 10 as compared to 3.3 x 5. Well, perhaps...
     
  7. SoCalJeremy

    SoCalJeremy TPF Noob!

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    Thank you to everyone who responded - I am really encouraged to hear that I won't suffer a whole lot of degradation. This is exactly the type of information and reassurance I was seeking, so thank you again to each of you! I'll keep you posted, probably... :)
     
  8. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Raw is quite an efficient way to save the highest quality colour images. Only one channel is stored per pixel (the colour is calculated later) unlike TIFF which stores three channels per pixel (red, green and blue). I don't know about the XTi, but many cameras offer compressed Raw as an option.

    Best,
    Helen
     

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