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by Hoan K. Trinh

December 31, 2011

I always dreamt of having my favorite photos enlarged to at least the size of 16in x 24in and try to imagine what it would look on large sheet of photo paper.  For some odd reasons, I always found that a photo print on a piece of paper far more interesting than a photo on a computer screen.  However, there was always a fear of pixelation and I was always a little reserve when it comes to large print.  The fact that some of best photos were taken on my entry level Nikon D40 with only 6.1 megapixel did not help.  Now some quick math would tell you that a 16in x 24in photo would only have about 125 pixel per inch (ppi).  According to the photographic legend, prints in magazine spread are held to a standard of 300 ppi so I’m a a bit short of that.  I am not entirely sure how that number was derived but it is a number that is most often repeated in the printing world.  That said, the consumer division of Miller’s Lab, MPIX, have stated on their website that the human eyes cannot detect resolution beyond 250 ppi .  Also it should be noted that photos in the magazines are being view at a very close distant making it important for the print to be as detailed as possible versus a photo canvas being observe from a few feet away where minute details cannot be detected by the naked eyes.

Okay, okay, so enough of the technical details about the art of printing photo.  I recently ordered a few 20×30 in print of one my favorite photo taken on my 6.1 megapixel Nikon D40 camera.  Some quick math would tell you that the photo has just about 100 ppi, much less than the mythical 300ppi or the 250 ppi standard set by MPIX.  And this is the result:

Taken with a 35mm f1.8 len, standing just about 3-4 foot back.  Sorry for the reflection

The crop in of the image, this is not exactly scientific and I’m not sure what percentage the crop is but I walk up to the photo (about a 1.5 foot away with my 35mm f1.8 lens and clicked away:

I am quite happy with the image, the color rendition is great, the image is quite sharp.  If you stand less than foot away from the image, than you might notice some soft pixelated area where there is highlight and little contrast, but if you stand back at a normal viewing distant of three to four feet for such a large print, you eyes cannot pick up such imperfections.

If anyone want to know the exif data of this particular image:  1/30 shutter speed, F4 at 800 ISO….yes 800 ISO on a D40, and I actually don’t notice any noise in the print.  So as an aside, don’t be afraid to to up your ISO when necessary to get the correct exposure!

In conclusion, if you have a photo that you really love, don’t be afraid to enlarge it!!!


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