Pixels and Print Resolution

Pixels and print resolution

The number of pixels and print resolution needs to be considered when determining if a file will support the print size that you want. The chart below will allow you to determine the pixel resolution required for various print sizes.

Many people think of resolution size as the “dpi” of a file, which is usually not an accurate description. The “native” resolution of your camera is usually expressed as 72 dpi. A Canon EOS D5 full-frame 12.8-megapixel sensor has a resolution of 4368 x 2912 pixels. At 72 dpi that is a very large canvas size of 60.66 inches x 40.44 inches. Expressed at 300 dpi the same file is only 14.56 inches by 9.71 inches.

A Nikon D850 sensor is effectively 45 megapixels with a resolution of 8256 x 5504 pixels. At 72 dpi thats a whopping 114.67 inches x 76.44 inches. But that’s 27.52 inches x 18.35 inches at 300 dpi for printing.

Therefore, the only “true” measure of size is the “pixel resolution”, which is expressed as the number of pixels in the length times the pixel width of the image.

How find file resolution in pixels

You can determine the pixel resolution (or actual size) by “hovering” the cursor over the file name or by right-clicking and selecting “file info” or “properties”. Some file types may have to be opened using an image editor like PhotoShop to see the pixel dimensions. It will probably be something like “3000 x 4500 pixels”. This description can be converted to various sizes at different output resolutions (see the chart below).

Print output resolution

Photo and inkjet printing typically requires the pixels resolution to be between 150 and 360 dpi at output print size. However, the limits of the camera sensor’s “native” resolution may require some additional special processing for optimum print quality. We use special software to optimize files for maximum quality.

Please let us handle this step as improperly re-sizing a file might actually decrease the quality of the final print.  In the chart below, if your file’s pixel resolution appears in or is lower than that specified in the “pink” column below, please check with us before ordering.

Guide to pixel resolution and output sizes

BEST GOOD ACCEPTABLE POOR
Output Size 300 dpi 200 dpi 150 dpi 100 dpi
4x6 1200x1800 800x1200 600x900 400x600
5x7 1500x2100 1000x1400 750x1050 500x700
8x10 2400x3000 1600x2000 1200x1500 800x1000
11x14 3300x4200 2200x2800 1650x2100 1100x1400
12x18 3600x5400 2400x3600 1800x2700 1200x1800
16x20 4800x6000 3200x4000 2400x3000 1600x2000
20x24 6000x7200 4000x4800 3000x3600 2000x2400
20x30 6000x9000 4000x6000 3000x4500 2000x3000
24x30 7200x9000 4800x6000 3600x4500 2400x3000
24x36 7200x10800 4800x7200 3600x5400 2400x3600
30x40 9000x12000 6000x8000 4500x6000 3000x4000
40x60 12000x18000 8000x12000 6000x9000 4000x6000
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