Question on Printing


No longer a newbie, moving up!
May 6, 2011
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Minnesota, South Dakota (for school)
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I have some pictures that I took yesterday, the ones at the Humane Society, and when I went to print them at the local camera shop, they came out looking horrible. They look like they were taken on a camera phone, very pixel-y and not sharp at all. My question: why the heck would that happen?! I have two thoughts, when I exported them from Lightroom, I selected to have them resized to 4x6 dimensions. My theory is that the compression is what took away the quality. Thoughts? My second theory I find far less likely, but its just that it was a crummy print job. I don't think this is the case because the colors all look fine and they are a fairly reputable shop. Thanks!
One more thing, I printed them at 5x7. I just realized that if I had them compressed to 4x6, stretching them to 5x7 would cause some quality issues. When you guys use Lightroom, do you have them compressed at all???
DUDE!!!! What format were you using? 3x2 or 16x9? If you had it in 3x2 then you could have printed 4x6 with no adjustments at all.

You actually hit it right on the head about why your print came out like dog poop (pun intended).
Always view your images at 100% before leaving for or sending to the lab
You do not have to resize your images to the print scale before the printer (in other words, give the lab the files at full resolution and shape and they will scale the ratio accordingly depending on the output size. I'm talking print shop (professional) and not Walmart automatic thing.

In a case like automatic print machine, sure I think they come out a little cleaner when I have resized and sharpened specifically for that particular output.

If you resize to 4x6 (or whatever) by accident and try to print at a larger ratio, then sure you'll get what happens.
DUDE!!!! What format were you using? 3x2 or 16x9? If you had it in 3x2 then you could have printed 4x6 with no adjustments at all.

Huh? I'm not sure what 3x2 or 16x9 means. I've been thinking about this, and it just makes sense. If you have a file that is 4288x2848 and compress it to 1440x956, OF COURSE you're going to lose quality...I feel really quite dumb now...Well, I guess this is another one of those so called learning experiences...
What he's saying is if you are shooting 2:3 format (most SLR's), you don't need to adjust the size to print 4x6 because 4x6 is 2:3 aspect ratio already. Just submit at full size. If you are printing 5x7, you just need to crop to the appropriate 5:7 aspect ratio, no need to resize. This will take a little off the top and/or bottom, but shouldn't affect the width of the picture (unless you want a tighter crop anyway).
Do the 5th grade math.

4288 divided by 2848 = 1.5. the long side is 1.5 times longer than the short side. 6 divided by 4 = 1.5 (by the way that is a 3:2 aspect ratio).Aspect ratio = the shape of the rectangle. Your camera's native aspect ratio is 3:2. If you want a 5x7, an 8x10, or some other aspect ratio print, some portion of your original will have to be cropped away.

7 divided by 5 = 1.4 (7:5 aspect ratio)

10 x 8 = 1.25 (5:4 aspect ratio)

A 5:4, 8x10 is a lot closer to being a sqaure, than a 3:2, 8x12 is.

The resolution you assign (pixels-per-inch, PPI) determines the print size.


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It's unlikely that they would 'stretch' the image to change the ratio. If you send them 2:3 images for 5x7 prints, they will either crops some off the sides, or leave some white space (if you don't mention it, they almost always crop the sides).

That's why you should crop your own photos before sending to the lab.

As for 'compression', that is a function of saving the image as a JPEG. I highly doubt that is your problem. You can usually set the compression pretty high (low quality) before an ill effects show up in the prints....and it's typically not going to be jagged edges.

So if your prints look pixely, it's most likely that you didn't send enough resolution (image size). Rule of thumb is 300 or 360 pixels per linear inch of print. So for a 4x6, you send a file that is 1200x1800. For a 5x7, you send 1500x2100.

If you send 400x600 pixels, it might tend to look pixely.
I sent them a 1385x960 and a 1440x956 for a 5x7 print. This is where the problem came956 from. I reprinted them and sent them a 3921x2722 and a 3940x2461 for a 5x7 and they look much better!

As I said, learning experience! Next time, I'll crop them to the 1500x2100 though for the 5x7.

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