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Print size question

Discussion in 'Printing' started by DynaSport, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Ok, this may seem like a simple question, but I just ordered an 11x14 print of a photo I took on an APS-C and it brought this question to my mind. You see, I wanted a larger print than 11x14, but I had to crop the photo a good bit and to maintain a decent dpi, 11x14 was it. And then began to think about the relationship between dpi and pixels. Because the pixels on a 20mp full frame camera are bigger than a pixel on a 20mp aps-c camera which are bigger than a pixel on a 20mp m43 camera which are bigger than a pixel on a 20mp 1” sensor camera and so on. But can I print a photo larger from a 20mp full frame camera than I can a 20mp 1” sensor camera? And please, let’s not get into whether the smaller sensor is as capable. That’s not what I’m talking about. Let’s assume all were shot at a low iso so noise is not an issue and the subject does not require razor thin dof. I’m talking about having the dots there to make a print of a given size. Does pixel size matter when it comes to print size assuming the same number of pixels?
  2. dlentini

    dlentini Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 26, 2015
    Or a 20 mpixel crop from a 80 mega pixel high res shot?
    Or a 20 mpixel crop from a 47 mega pixel FF sensor?
    Or a 20 mpixel crop from a 100 mega pixel MF sensor?

    At the end you will have the same number of mega pixel and they will all print to the same size!
  3. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    I would say a pixel is a single point of data (information) regardless of the pitch (width by height) of said pixel. A 20 MP image should print to the same size (same detail available) regardless of what size sensor it's pulled from.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  4. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    When you zoom in to 100% on the computer, you will notice that not all pixels are created equal. I would probably print a 20mp crop from highrez or an image from a FF image larger than a straight up mu43 shot. But there is no exact science and you would have to experiment yourself.

    Personally, I just print my images at whatever size I want them to be. I've printed mu43 shots at 60x40cm. No idea what dpi I got, but the prints look amazing. One of the shots was cropped a fair bit and if you stand really close to the wall you might notice, but none of my visitors (even those that did take a close up look) ever did. I also printed a panoramic 140cm wide and it is just pin sharp. So if you want to go larger, just do!
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Andrewmap

    Andrewmap Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 5, 2018
    Derby, United Kingdom
  6. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    I would say max print size all depends on the final position and use of the image plus content, things like bilboards require hardlt any resolution as they are made to be seen briefly and from far away. On the other hand if you want to create some massive print where the viewer is looking at many fine details then you may want and need a lot of information. Genereraly you do not need so much resolution per square inch/CM the larger you go as people will tend to view from further away. I have printed very large from smaller cameras and they have turned out fine, you can go quite far with enlarging in software but you can not create information that is not there and it helps a lot to have a very well exposed file.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  7. magIBIS

    magIBIS Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 8, 2016
    Central Europe
    I am not that experienced in printing, but I'll add the lens into equation. A low resolving legacy lens will give you far less details for an enlargement, than a modern mft glass.
    Another thing is the printer and process. The low resolution budget print can be printed bigger, as you won't get more detail than what it can produce. A high quality print will require more information to make it reasonable, so you won't want to overstress it. If you have a portrait with reduced micro contrast, you will have much more latitude than a detailed landscape, of course.
    And there is something like psychology - if you order cheap, you will be checking the print with a different attitude than ordered at a fine print service. I know people that ordered at the local photo store and were proud of the product, not knowing that the owner sends it to the same laboratory as any of the local supermarkets do and there is no difference at all other than the price for his service. People usually don't put different prints of the same file next to each other to realize the difference. But a good laboratory can make an impact pushing the boundaries.
    So I think you can only really get a proof print and decide, if you like it. A 20mp exposure of a full frame is less demanding than on a 1" sensor, of course, as the bigger pixels are more forgiving on shake, glass densities and so on. A sharper lens shows slight unsharpness much earlier than a worse one. But if the light was enough and you really have a file no where pushed too much, then there will be no difference.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
  8. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job asking the question. I am NOT talking about the potential of image quality based on sensor size. I am talking about pixel size impacting dpi.
  9. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    So the size of the pixel has no impact on the dpi?
    • Agree Agree x 5
  10. magIBIS

    magIBIS Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 8, 2016
    Central Europe
    You are right: In theory the size of the pixel has no impact, as it is just a single piece of information that is translated from a rgb system into a (mostly CMYK) print color and tonality system.

    In real life the circumstances when this information reaches the same value differs a lot, as debayering, pixel mapping, noise reduction and encounting for phase detection sites are needed to calculate the value. Diffraction limits, light angles and other optical factors add beforehand. So it might well be, that the result of a particular camera with a smaller sensor won't reach the same level of clean and clear information than a bigger sensor unit. The difference will mostly only occur visible when the information is stressed - f.e. when printing enlarged. The reason is the baked in prozessing of the information, as the engineers have to make sure that the average use case will produce satisfying results and optimize for that. In reality the use case when a smartphone raw picture with 20mp is as good for printing as a full frame 20mp output is reduced to a very defined situation, but the difference between a well exposed mft and full frame 20mp file is much less, so it will AFAIK hit the boundaries of things like the printer and paper resolution earlier than you will see differences resulting from the file.
  11. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    My experience is that pixel size influences high ISO performance.
    Print quality is pretty close to what you see on screen at 50% pixels
    Max print size can be determined by size at 150dpi dimensions
  12. Yes. Pixel size will influence signal to noise ratio directly. The larger pixel well (photosite) will have less SNR than the smaller one.
    I haven't seen this mentioned so I'll chime in. If you are sending your image to a professional lab, check their suggestions for sizing. Intended use also plays a big part. As does whether you are printing a target to be studied or a photo to be enjoyed.
    My lab suggests I send them images at 150dpi. I assume that is mostly to keep the size down. Their software is pretty clever.
    it does not take many pixels to make very large prints. The recent NatGeo show was mostly from early digital days. 6-12 mp files were most common. The show was large prints and transparencies, 3-4 feet as I recall. It really doesn't take much. That last 3-5% is where all the extra pixels, super autofocus, astounding DR, and extra cash go. 10-15 years ago, they were making amazing prints from much less capable digital files.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
  13. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    I use Mpix Pro and looking at those requirements it’s basically 1,000 pixels per 10 inches. For 40x30 they recommend a minimum file size of 4,000x3,000 pixels regardless of sensor size v
    • Informative Informative x 2
  14. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    I wouldn't overthink it. I printed 16x20s & 18x24s with 8mp camera (E500) files before I really knew what I was doing 100% and even up close look amazing. If I put them side by side vs 16mp (EM1, EM5), it's doubtful you could tell which one was which.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. davidzvi

    davidzvi Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    The largest I've printed was a 24" x 36" canvas wrap (so really about 28"-30" x 40"-42" on a 2" frame). The image was a crop from a Fuji S5 Pro and that was only 12mp to begin with.
  16. acnomad

    acnomad Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 5, 2016
    You could think of it arithmetically:

    Pixels captured by the E-M1.2 sensor:
    5184 x 3888

    Divide each dimension by the dpi your lab is capable of reproducing. If that is 300, then you can print aapproximately 17x13 with ZERO loss of resolution. Personally, I cannot see a loss of resolution if I enlarge to 200 dpi, unless I use a loupe, so IMO, 26x19 would be perfectly fine. Substitute whatever dpi you see fit to determine your max print size.
  17. Mountain

    Mountain Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 2, 2013
    The lab will upscale (interpolate) to fill in the needed information to maintain a good print, or you can do it yourself in lightroom/PS/etc. They obviously can't add detail that wasn't captured, but I've printed a number of large prints and have been satisfied (I'm not a pixel peeper). I've printed poster sized prints from my old Canon Super Zoom that looked good enough. I'll echo what was said above and just print what size you want, and decide for yourself based on the results. I use Bay Photo, but have gotten large prints from AdoramaPix and maybe some others as well. I think the more important thing to remember is that most screens are very bright. You may send off for a smaller print from the same lab first to check exposure and colors so that you don't end up with an expensive and underexposed image (been there).
  18. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    By that metric, all pixels are indeed the same.

    DPI is entirely unaffected. But DPI is only a useful measurement in the first place because it can often be used as an easy shorthand for printing limits.

    But the perceptual usefulness of all those pixels for the purposes of making good prints goes right back into the usual horrific technical morass. Bayer demosaicing interpolation, sensor signal-to-noise ratios, lens MTF values, aperture diffraction limits, shutter shock and motion blur, sharpening and noise reduction algorithms, upsampling and deconvolution algorithms, JPEG compression artifacts...

    All that terrible stuff. Not all pixels are created equal, but if you have an overwhelming amount of them, it can help minimize that. If everything else is just right, a few good pixels are worth a lot of bad pixels. But a lot of bad pixels are sometimes much easier to create.
  19. Mountain

    Mountain Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 2, 2013
  20. DPI (Dots Per Inch) = PPI (Pixels Per Inch)
    The quality of the dot, or the Pixel, is a separate consideration. a 50MP phone cam has more megapixels than a A7III. They are not as good quality pixels, but there are more of them to count.
    • Agree Agree x 1
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