Quick tips on getting better photo prints. Part 1: Image Resolution

Chicago by Juan Hernandez

On this day and age it is hard to think beyond the digital image, the one we share on our favorite social media channel. Not only that, but most of us only started getting serious about photography because our smartphones allowed us to carry a camera anywhere we went. We quickly learned to use image editing apps like Snapseed, VSCO, Mextures, Filtersorm, or ColorEffects to give our snaps a unique and professional look.

Fast forward a bit and now you have troves of images stored in your hard drive or in the cloud and have realized that some are good enough for printing. Where do we go? How will they look? How much will it cost? On this post we would like to address the Image Resolution question, because it is something we can and should control. So let’s get started!

Image Resolution

We’ve talked about resolution a bit on previous posts but to give you a refresher, in its simplest form, “resolution refers to the number of pixels in an image. It is sometimes identified by the width and height of the image as well as the total number of pixels in the image”. Jack / microbus 

Now that we clarified that, you may be asking yourself, so where do I find my image resolution? On a mac, right click on your image and select file info and you’ll see a new window open. As you sift through all the information available focus on one term… Dimensions. Learn more at PSPrint 

Mac Image File Window

In our case, the image we would like to print is 4288pixels wide x 2848pixels tall. So, how does this relate to printing? Well, its because the optimal resolution for paper prints is 300 pixels per inch or ppi.

Let’s take a look at the following table created by Design215

Pixel ResolutionAs per the chart and with some math you can tell that all they did was to divide the width and height dimensions of the image by 300 in order to get to the largest optimal print size given the amount of pixels in the image. In this example , our 4288x2848px digital image will yield a beautiful 14x9in  or smaller print. If we wanted a 16x20, well… we would have to significantly sacrifice our photo print quality.

In conclusion, image resolution plays a huge roll in determining the print quality of our digital images because it speaks to the amount of data or pixels available for printing. For optimal print quality you will want to have at least 300px per inch or 300ppi. 

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