how to shoot for large prints?

drzman

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I guess this is a beginner question


If I plan to have outdoor/wildlife photos printed at 12 x 18 or 16 x 20, what are the factors that would allow for this, without having to use software to enlarge the picture?

I have a 12 M camera with an L series canon lens, normally shoot at 100 ISO.

1. what camera settings are optimal?

2. do I need a higher mega pixel camera?

3. what other factors would help me in my goal?
Thanks

Dave
 

Gavjenks

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How far away will the print be viewed from? Size alone doesn't matter. What matters is how much of your eyeball's visual field is taken up by the picture under normal viewing conditions.

If you have a largeish print, but it's hung over a big sofa where nobody can get within 3-4 feet of it, then it doesn't have to be as high of quality as a large print in a narrow hallway where people HAVE to pass within 1.5 feet of it, for instance.

A 3"x4" print, for instance, viewed from 2 inches away will need much higher resolution than a billboard sized print viewed from a car an eighth of a mile away...



Anyway: if you're viewing the photo from only inches away, then you need like 300DPI. If you're viewing if from a a yard away, maybe 100DPI. If nobody is ever going to get closer than across a room from it, then 25-50DPI is fine, etc.

A 12MP camera is about 4000x3000 pixels, so 300DPI would mean you can't print larger than about 10 inches on the short side if you are viewing from inches away. If viewing from a yard away, you could print up to 30" or so on the short side, though. if viewing from across a room, you can print up to 6-10 feet across on the short side, etc. (This is all assuming that your lens actually resolves at your sensor's resolution. Estimate smaller if not.)
 

Derrel

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I guess this is a beginner question


If I plan to have outdoor/wildlife photos printed at 12 x 18 or 16 x 20, what are the factors that would allow for this, without having to use software to enlarge the picture?

I have a 12 M camera with an L series canon lens, normally shoot at 100 ISO.

1. what camera settings are optimal?

2. do I need a higher mega pixel camera?

3. what other factors would help me in my goal?
Thanks

Dave

HERE YOU GO Dave!!!!!!!!!!!!

How Big Can I Print by Thom Hogan
 

Big Mike

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Welcome aboard Dave.

You shouldn't have any problems printing to that size. 10 years ago, professionals were printing to that size and larger, with 4-6 MP cameras.

But do keep in mind that when enlarging, you enlarge the bad along with the good. So it it's out of focus, or if it has unwanted motion blur, then the enlargement won't look as good.

1. what camera settings are optimal?
Lower ISO is optimal...but not if it costs you valuable shutter speed.
An aperture in the sweet spot of the lens's range would be optimal...usually in the F4-F8 range, but depends on the lens.
Shutter speed is probalby the most important if there is any movement involved (either camera or subject).

Here is a print (albeit on canvas) in my livingroom. The front is 50" x 30" with two extra inches all around for a galler wrap. The image was taken with an 8MP camera.
Canvas-01.jpg
 

KmH

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Viewing distance is normally 1.5x to 2x the diagonal of the print size, if there is no furniture between the viewer and the print.
12 MP is approx 4000 x 3000 pixels so at 180 ppi prints can be made as big as 22 x 16.
Note that a 12x18 has a 3:2 aspect ratio, and a 16x20 has a 5:4 aspect ratio.
Your Canon camera makes images that have a 3:2 aspect ratio and those images would have to be cropped or have blank canvas added to them to be printed as a 5:4 print.

Final image quality has a lot to do with how big a print can be made. To a degree, image content also affects print size.
Will you be making the prints or will you have a print lab make them for you?
Print making has a knowledge base about as large and complex as doing photography has.

The image has to be prepared for printing, and how the image is prepared is in large part determined by how, and on what substrate the print can/should be made.

If you want to learn about the details:
The Digital Negative: Raw Image Processing in Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop
The Digital Print: Preparing Images in Lightroom and Photoshop for Printing

AspectRatioChartv2-1.png


AspectRatiocopy.png
 
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bsinmich

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Since I use film I will give my advice on #3 of your questions. Use a tripod or even a Unipod for stability. I remember doing some bird pictures from slides for a DR. who thought I wasn't doing a good job. He said they looked good on the slide and my equipment must be bad because I couldn't get a sharp 11X14. He could not understand that he shook a small amount when he was taking a telephoto picturede at 1/500 sec. You are magnifying every little defect when you enlarge. If you are making a 20X enlargement the defects are also 20X enlarged. I have a 400mm lens that I can't hand hold anymore because at 75 it shake that much. I always have a little clamp pod in my case that will clamp onto a lot of things or even screw into a tree and it has a small ballhead for aligning the camera. Very handy and gets used more than the tripod.
 
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drzman

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Amazingly awesome helpful answers one and all! I think all aspects were covered... I often shoot from my kayak, from there I can go and see things that are relatively rare, so the tripod question is out, and when you factor in the wind rocking boat...nevertheless, I got some good pics here and there.
$eagle s.jpg
 

hirejn

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No recent DSLR will have a problem making prints of that size. Make the image as good as you can in camera. The more you have to fix in post, the more you degrade the image and the more apparent those mistakes will be when enlarged. I recommend only RAW shooting but for JPEG I would recommend leaving the image control settings on neutral so you can enhance the image in software rather than letting the camera decide. Leave the quality settings on max.
 

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