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06-19-2017, 06:04 PM   #1
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is 300 ppi really recommended for printing?

Hi all,

I'd like to print a 20" x 30" on acrylic because those prints usually look great and it's for a bathroom wall (resistant to humidity). Problem is the resolution.

I read that it's best to have a 300ppi resolution minimum, but my camera doesn't go above 200 for that size (Pentax K-3), plus I screwed up when taking the picture and took it in medium res jpg instead of RAW by mistake, so my resolution would be something like 150 ppi.
I still tried to do my best, used the clear IQZ algo (supposed to be a really good algo) in ACDsee to upscale my photo, adjusted the sharpness...

I'd like a second opinion before I spend about 150 CAD on a print that might look bad.
What do you think, is the resolution good enough?
What about the contrast, brightness, too dark?
I mean it looks okay on my screen, which just happens to be 20" wide, but I have no experience printing at that format.

Any other recommendations for a large acrylic print?

Dropbox - IMGP7701-2iqzs2.JPG

thanks a lot

06-19-2017, 06:25 PM   #2
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My understanding is that on larger prints that are intended to be viewed from a greater distance, you can go down to 240ppi or so. That said, you still need to "res up" the file. For a number of large prints, I have successfully used Genuine Fractals (a very old version) which was a plugin that works with Photoshop and Elements to do the job. (For example, I have a 20x30 print from a K-10 on canvas hanging on my living room wall--it looks great.) It is now known as "Perfect Resize". I don't know whether it works with other image processing programs, but there is a trial version. I believe there are other such programs but I haven't tried them.
06-19-2017, 07:02 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
Thanks, I'll check it out if I manage to get the plugin to work with ACDsee Ultimate 9.

---------- Post added 06-19-17 at 10:11 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by mechmike10 Quote
My understanding is that on larger prints that are intended to be viewed from a greater distance, you can go down to 240ppi or so. That said, you still need to "res up" the file. For a number of large prints, I have successfully used Genuine Fractals (a very old version) which was a plugin that works with Photoshop and Elements to do the job. (For example, I have a 20x30 print from a K-10 on canvas hanging on my living room wall--it looks great.) It is now known as "Perfect Resize". I don't know whether it works with other image processing programs, but there is a trial version. I believe there are other such programs but I haven't tried them.
The K-10 outputs a max res of 2592 x 3872 if I'm not mistaken (10.2 megapixels), which corresponds to 129ppi at 20" x 30" if my calculation is correct. The fact that you managed to get good results is encouraging. I'll check out Perfect Resize for sure. Did you check out my picture? What do you think?

Also, am I wrong in thinking that such a software is always needed when printing this kind of format? I mean even a 36 megapixel camera wouldn't be nearly enough to reach 300ppi on a 20x30...
06-19-2017, 07:34 PM - 1 Like   #4
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There is no one number for an acceptable print, it depends on viewing distance, print medium, printer, intended audience, among other things. A billboard will rarely be higher than 100dpi, usually much less...the same for a newsprinted image...both perfectly acceptable. A gallery print on a fine paper for close viewing in good light might benefit from higher than 300dpi if the printer can handle it.

Personally I would ask the print lab for advice. The place I use will use their own software to upres a file if necessary, or might print at lower res if they believe it will be acceptable quality.

06-19-2017, 08:05 PM - 1 Like   #5
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I thought this tool was pretty handy for determining print resolution needed for any particular installation: Print Resolution Calculator - Points in Focus Photography

Though I haven't used it extensively, so I can't speak much to its results, sadly, but it seems to agree with most conventional wisdom.
06-19-2017, 08:08 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by victormeldrew Quote
There is no one number for an acceptable print, it depends on viewing distance, print medium, printer, intended audience, among other things. A billboard will rarely be higher than 100dpi, usually much less...the same for a newsprinted image...both perfectly acceptable. A gallery print on a fine paper for close viewing in good light might benefit from higher than 300dpi if the printer can handle it.

Personally I would ask the print lab for advice. The place I use will use their own software to upres a file if necessary, or might print at lower res if they believe it will be acceptable quality.
I already asked the print shop, they told me 300 to 350 ppi is recommended. They don't do any upscaling though so it's up to me to find how to do it properly I guess (which is why I'm currently hanging out on this forum).
It's for a bathroom, not an art gallery, and I don't think we're going to look at it from extremely close (it's going to be above the bathtub so you won't even be able to really stand right in front of it).
06-19-2017, 08:08 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by fehknt Quote
Though I haven't used it extensively, so I can't speak much to its results, sadly, but it seems to agree with most conventional wisdom.
Awesome sharing! - many thanks
06-19-2017, 08:10 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by fehknt Quote
I thought this tool was pretty handy for determining print resolution needed for any particular installation: Print Resolution Calculator - Points in Focus Photography

Though I haven't used it extensively, so I can't speak much to its results, sadly, but it seems to agree with most conventional wisdom.
fantastic tool! I'm totally bookmarking that one.

06-19-2017, 08:22 PM   #9
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Let us know if you use it and it works out! I'm in process of planning my first "installation" other than galleries for my mother in law, and spent a lot of time trying to figure out resolution needed before I came across that.
06-19-2017, 08:25 PM   #10
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Okay I'm trying On1 Perfect Resize 10 right now and I have to say I'm really impressed with the results. It's even better than the algorithm offered in ACDsee Ultimate Clear IQZ algo (which isn't half bad itself).
It's crazy how the result stands to scrutiny. I'm pixel peeping at max resolution on my monitor and can barely see any artifact.
I think I'm going to go with this one. The free trial lasts 60 days. If I still need it after that I'll think about buying it. It's a bit expensive for a software that does just one thing though, especially if you're an amateur like me.

If anybody is interested, I downloaded from here. It includes the free trial which I didn't find any mention of on the official website.
06-19-2017, 09:51 PM - 1 Like   #11
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I continually make my own LARGE prints. The key is to send images to your printer that are exact divisibles of the print head resolution. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned this yet.

300ppi is not a universal truth - it's nothing more than an over-simplied generalization that has been perpetuated by the uninformed. For example, my large format Epson printer prefers 180, 240, 288 and 360. Sent it anything else and it will interpolate your file (not a good thing). For example, my printer will do a better job printing 288ppi files than 300ppi files.

For more info check this out...

Last edited by Fenwoodian; 06-19-2017 at 10:01 PM.
06-20-2017, 01:42 AM   #12
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Have a look here, you can calculate the needed resolution for your need - for a normal viewer not for a pixelpeeper.

Print Resolution Calculator - Points in Focus Photography

I made 20x30" sized prints regularily for factory presentations, even pictures made with a K20D (14 Mpix) and crops of pictures taken with K20D, K5, K3, K1 are looking fine.
06-20-2017, 02:38 AM   #13
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My humble K-5II has produced 36" x 24" prints on gallery quality canvas without issue. Acrylic is nice for humidity so is printing on metal. I have a few 12" x 18" printed on metal sheets. It looks pretty spectacular. You can even get them done at Costco although mine were done by a local gallery.
06-20-2017, 02:47 AM   #14
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If you have a recent version of PS, CS6 onwards then you are most likely wasting effort trying to gain advantage resampling by third party as the algorithms employed are really extremely good and in most cases you will find negligible IQ improvement.

As already stated 300 ppi is pretty much overstated although it is based on calculations of human visual system.

Viewing distance does come into play of course, however the point may be somewhat moot as resampling is going to happen regardless.

You really need to resample to the ppi that the printer reports to the OS. Now for Canon/HP printers this just happens to be 300 ppi but there is a higher resolution of 600 ppi reported as well. Epson printers use 360/720.

As the printer requires an image at its declared ppi even a file with a native resolution of 80 ppi will be resampled by the print driver to 300 ppi or 360 ppi prior to printing.

Allowing the print driver to do the resampling is not necessarily optimal for highest IQ and it is considered better practice to use PS or LR to resample as the algorithms superior.

As you are going to a lab ask them what they require for their printer they may suggest you send the file as is. In this case it is hoped they will resample to printer requirements first. If not they should tell you exact ppi

Going from 200 ppi to 300/360 is a fairly trivial resampling requirement. Judging by the file you posted you have already run it through a resizing algorithm as it is 73.5MP or 7000 x 10500 pixels !

Last edited by TonyW; 06-20-2017 at 06:08 AM.
06-20-2017, 05:50 AM   #15
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Some good points above. Printer capabilities are important...my epson does indeed prefer factors/multiples of 300 (in fact 600 is best to use for mathematical reasons according to their support), but others do differ. You would hope your print lab understands their own, but their sticking to a flat "300 or more regardless" message makes me suspicious of a) whether there is any human involvement in the printing process and b) their understanding of the process at all.

Lightroom as well as Photoshop has excellent upsampling algos during export - it's a little known feature but extremely easy to use.

The sad, annoying fact about printing is that the best way to learn and discover is to try and try again. It's costly at first, but you soon find out what works and what doesn't. Getting a good printer and a sample pack of papers, and expending the first pack of ink on trial and error is not all that pricey overall. The costly bit is buying the next pack of ink, by which time you should be more informed.
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