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Resizing your Photos for Printing
Preparing a photo for print is something that is very important and often overlooked in this digital age. When we took photos with film, you simply handed over the film for processing and printing. With digital it is a little different - as you have more control over the whole process.
We will be discussing the requirements for typical small prints that most people get done of their digital images in the common print sizes.
In our Tutorials on Understanding Pixels and Understanding DPI and PPI we mentioned that a print should be around 300 PPI. At 300 PPI you get pretty good quality and having more PPI does not equate to seeing more detail in the print. On the other hand, having less than 300 PPI soon leads to an image that will start to lose some details. The limiting factor on this choice is how our eyes work and what we actually see.
With our eyes as the limiting factor, and the fact that most smaller prints are viewed from quite close, 300 PPI provides the best quality. You can probably get away with having between 240 and 300 PPI and still get good quality, 180-240 PPI will result in ok quality and with less than 180 PPI the quality very quickly drops off.
So, we will do all the maths for you to help you work out how many Pixels you need for various print sizes.
- 6x4 inch Prints (standard photo's) - 300 PPI = 1800 x 1200 Pixels
- 6x4 inch Prints (standard photo's) - 240 PPI = 1440 x 960 Pixels
- 6x4 inch Prints (standard photo's) - 180 PPI = 1080 x 720 Pixels
Do you remember in our Tutorial on Resizing Photos for the Web we recommended having 600px as the longest side? - well here is the reason. 600px in a 6" print only allows for 100 PPI in the print - and a print at 100 PPI will be pretty dreadful! So, a web-sized image at 600px is still pretty good for viewing on a computer but not good enough to print.
- 5x7 inch Prints - 300 PPI = 2100 x 1500 Pixels
- 5x7 inch Prints - 240 PPI = 1680 x 1200 Pixels
- 5x7 inch Prints - 180 PPI = 1260 x 900 Pixels
As you can see from these 2 examples, once you know what size prints you want to make, it is simple maths to work out how big you can actually print them and have an idea as to the quality of the finished photo. You will also realise that our free web tools to Resize Images is perfect for web images, but not suitable for resizing your photos ready to print.
When you need to resize more than 1 photo at a time we use and recommend BatchPhoto. This software is capable of not only resizing a batch of photos it can also do several other tasks to your batch of photos as well such as renaming.