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printing sizes

Discussion in 'Digital Image Editing & Printing' started by Dan S, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. Dan S

    Dan S Well-Known Member

    I want to get some photos up on the wall at home, I've taken all the photos on a 3:2 ratio and am considering which size to get them printed. My thoughts are get all the ones I'm happiest with and then choose once they are printed which ones work best to print a bit larger. Not sure if this is a good plan or not?
    I'm intersted to know if you have some way of deciphering which photos will work best as prints, and if you have any preferences as to the size, for example, is 7.5x5 any good for the wall or do you think it needs to bigger?
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I've no idea how to tell what works as a print and what doesn't. When comparing prints with what you see on the screen you will find that lighting is everything. Bright daylight or direct sunlight will transform a print. I mostly print on A4 with borders, so the printed area can be quite small. When I go bigger, A3 say, the household reaction is often, "that's nice, can you do one 6x4? ". I've got boxes of prints waiting for me to buy some frames and mountboard.
  3. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    I tend to print A4 because paper and frames are easily available, and the Nikon DX sensor is roughly the right aspect ratio. Even better, when I go medium format, a 6x9 neg prints to near as dammit A4 without cropping, because the aspect ratio is 2:3 (even I can do that maths).

  4. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    Dan, it sounds as though you're hoping for a sort of 'standard formula' to make the decision for you, but I don't think there's any such thing. I think it would be better to take a different approach.

    I'd suggest that you start by deciding where on your walls that you want to locate the picture, decide what size of picture would be appropriate in that space, and then try to establish whether or not your shot will print at that size - with decent quality. (All just my opinion, of course - I don't claim to have any magic answers. ;))
  5. Dan S

    Dan S Well-Known Member

    You are right of course. I have some idea of what I want and how it will all look, but making decicions on size is throwing me somewhat. But I think you have a really good point, I need to approach it differently, I need to think of the space and print to that... Champion:)
    As with everything so far, I'm formulating ideas as I go but getting a bit unsure, so It's great to have some input, and it's really helping
    peterba likes this.
  6. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Starting with the frame and printing to fit is probably the best way! I like prints, even though I make too few, so I make them anyway. A box is more fun to look through than skipping through a computer folder.
    Dan S and peterba like this.
  7. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    I think you have to attempt to envisage how any given picture will look on a wall in the intended location. There are so many factors coming into play it isn't really possible to give definitive answers. Somebody once said that any given picture has an ideal print size, which of course means that you could have a number of pictures, all of which would look best printed at different sizes!
    Dan S likes this.
  8. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

    This is very true. At our club every year we have a competition in which every print must be either 6x4 or 7x5 and no larger.

    Subject wise, producing a good small print is extremely difficult.
  9. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I assume that 7.5 x 5 is inches, so I'll use them too.
    I love prints that are 15 x 10, 16 x 24 and 20 x 30, and now use the CEWE website for these (their A3 calendars look great too).
    They offer various image ratios, so you can get prints of images you have cropped to other formats.

    If mounting behind glass, make sure you choose a textured surface and not gloss because this will highlight any minute dust particles between the print and the glass.

    Also, if you have processed the image in any way, create a 'printing version' that is fractionally brighter than you need for viewing on your PC screen (assuming it is carefully adjusted with brightness and contrast at sensible levels). Upload this 'printing version' and choose the option to TURN OFF any automated 'enhancement'. Depending on how your PC monitor is adjusted, this advice may (or may not) help you. I'd try a smaller (9 x 6 or 12 x 8) print first, with and without the automated 'enhancement', before having larger print done.

    A final bit of advice: any faults with the image will become more obvious when printed large and viewed on your wall. I'm referring to sloping horizons, trees growing of of somebody's head, subject not in focus, etc. The larger the print, the more critical you need to be about things like this. Conversely, don't worry too much about digital 'noise' that you see on your PC screen when you magnify a small part of the image: it's surprising how little this shows on a large print when viewed from sensible distance. For example, I once had a chance to examine one of Canaletto's paintings of Venice that was about 8 feet wide. From 8 or 10 feet away it looked incredibly sharp
    and detailed, but very close inspection of the windows in some of the buildings revealed that they were just two brush strokes to indicate the shade at the top and one side of the window frame.
    Dan S likes this.
  10. Dan S

    Dan S Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that detailed and very helpful post Chester, there a lot of things in there I hadn't considered.
  11. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

    Another good point.
    It winds me up on club competition night when the judge examines a 16x12 print from 2 inches away and says its lost a bit of detail.......

    Large prints are meant to be looked at from a distance not examined in microscopic detail. I've printed a 15x10 print from a 3mp camera. True, from close up it isn't great, but up on the wall it's excellent.
    Dan S likes this.
  12. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Knowing what questions to ask is often the difficult part of any decision. The AP Forum regularly gets questions from beginners who are considering buying complex and expensive cameras without considering what they will do with the images, and I suspect they only want them for websites and social media where 1 or 2 megapixel images are adequate.

    It would be helpful to know what camera body you have - the 3 by 2 ratio suggests an APS-C or 'full frame' model. I have an APS-C model with a 16 megapixel sensor and when used with a decent lens I can get 16 x 24 or 20 x 30 inch prints that I am very happy with.

    If you don't work with RAW files and only use the JPG files the camera body produces, make sure that you haven't fiddled with the menu settings and set it for 'high contrast' or 'bold' colours. If you have a correctly exposed image with what I would call 'natural' contrast and colours, the first time you get prints try the default automatic 'enhancements' that the website offers. I think this usually adjusts the brightness and contrast a little to allow for the fact that images always look different on a screen because they are viewed by light from 'behind' (transmitted light) whereas prints are viewed by reflected light which reduces brightness and contrast.

    My advice about turning off any automated adjustment on the website is based upon my experience working with RAW files to produce an image that produces a print exactly as I expect.

    Few things in your room will attract attention like some large prints of your best pictures. If you buy some standard size frames that allow you to put prints in them yourself, you can also remove the print later and put another one in its place. I have some 24 x 16 and 16 x 12 inch frames that I use like this. Below is an example, and many retailers and photographic shops sell these in various sizes. They only have plastic frames with hardboard backs, but the frame is a small cross-section and does not dominate the print.
    If I want want a print with a border, I use my old copy of Photoshop Elements to make an image in the required ratio including the border.

    Beware frames with 'acrylic glass': these are popular for mail order, but the glazing often has a slight curve that catches the light, whereas real glass will be flat. Also beware 'clip frames' without which are usually a piece of glass and a piece of hardboard held together with a few metal clips: dust gets in them.

  13. Dan S

    Dan S Well-Known Member

    Again, really helpful Chester, thanks.
    I have a Sony a6000, 24 megapixels. I have recently started working with RAW but I have some that are taken as jpeg also.
    I notice that a lot of frames don't come in the 3:2 ratio, like the 16x12 example you linked to. How do you get around this if photos are 3:2?
  14. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Borders! The image part of the print doesn't have to fill the frame. Bought frames usually have pre-cut mounts with the frame aspect ratio. To use these you'd have to crop the image to fit. I print my own so it is trivial to do as the page layout is part of the process. If preparing an image for printing at an external service I assume that you have to add the borders and send the whole. I don't know if the LR print to jpg option adds borders or not, would be easy to check but it might need an attached printer to initate the printer setup (page size) and print layout (borders) dialogues.
  15. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    Your camera body has an APS-C sensor which is 3 x 2 ratio, so you should always have a 3 x 2 RAW or JPG file to work with. I use an old version of Photoshop Elements when I want to adjust a picture, and always start from the 3 x 2 file and crop it if I want to, depending on the subject and the frame I wish to use. Sometimes when looking at the shot later, I realise that it has stuff I don't want at one side so when cropped to 4 x 3 (for example) it looks better.

    AP has had lots of articles recently about various brands of photo editing software, after finally realising that there are more out there than Adobe Photoshop. If you asked the AP Forum for advice about which software to buy or which is the best value, you'l get lots of different answers. If you have any friends who use editing software, try asking them what they use and see if you can have a play with it.
  16. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I don't buy frames with pre-cut mounts, hence the careful addition of a border if I want one before uploading the file to the website for ordering the print. Also, this process avoids having to attach a print to the back of the mount before putting it in the frame. The frames I use are very basic and cheap.

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