A question about printing size and maximum resolution....


TPF Noob!
Sep 25, 2006
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Okay, before I start let's assume that I am using a good lens. Not the best lens, but a $1,500 zoom lens. A good one. I am shooting at 100ISO on a Nikon D200.

With that in mind, what is the largest size print I can have images PROFESSIONALLY printed before I start to lose quality?

I ask because I am working on the pre-production part of what I hope to be an art gallery worthy photo series. I have never worked on this side of things before. My work is pretty much left to the periodicals and 5x7s in a picture frame on someone's desk.

Also, what workflow would you use to touch these images up? I import images into Photoshop as Raw, but what would I export them as to take to the printers? I am guessing TIFF or something like that since they need to be uncompressed, and as far as I know JPEG compresses images.

Another note, when I say gallery size prints, I am talking like 24"across by 36"down. Or something close (I know that a 5x7 translates perfectly into a 25x35).

Thanks for the help in advance. There are a lot of knowledgable people on these forums so i expect to get some good advice back. Thanks.


TPF Noob!
May 3, 2006
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At 300 dpi, you're looking at about an 8x12.

240 dpi is a 10x16,

after that, your viewing distance better start to get further away than a few inches.

With good interpolation, I've printed excellent 20x30's off my 12MP body. That's my limit on my D700, I really don't like printing larger than that. And that's without cropping too.

If you want resolution though, for big prints, you need to be shooting at least medium format with slide film, preferably large format. That's what alot of fine artists use, simply because the acuity just murders digital.

I shot some pictures at the tulip festival here in Oregon on a Hasselblad with Velvia 50, and the slides are nothing short of incredible.


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Oct 26, 2003
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Brisbane, Australia
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Ignore it all.

I was at an art gallery this weekend "RAW Convergence", all the artists were showing off mounted and framed photos many as large as 20x30 just straight out of their D40s and D60s.

The idea behind the resolution is that at comfortable arms length 300DPI is a rule of thumb for someone with 20/20 vision not be able to visually resolve individual pixels. In practice the larger the print the less likely people are to stare at it at arms length, and ultimately it doesn't matter if the image is slightly fuzzy. If you see someone sticking their nose in your large print they are unlikely to care about your art at all.

How you export them to the printers is entirely up to the printing company. More often than not Q7 JPEGs are what is required since this pretty much causes no visible quality drop for a one off save (repeated saves are quite a different story). I haven't seen a printer ask me for TIFF or anything uncompressed, though I have seen them request different colour spaces like AdobeRGB before.

So in short, don't do anything you wouldn't normally do.

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