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08-23-2012, 12:26 PM   #1
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OPTIMAL export settings in Lightroom 4, for prints ?

Im sorry if im posting this in the wrong section. Im having a really hard time figuring out the BEST export settings for prints @ a print lab ? Do I just adjust the pixel per inch density ? I tried exporting @ 300 ppi, but it doesnt appear to make a difference in file size. I tried ordering a large panoramic print today and it said my file size was too small. I shoot in raw, edit in lightroom 4, export to a folder on my desktop. the only thing that I adjust is the pixel density, and "sharpen for prints" button. any help on this would be greatly appreciated. and please break it down in dummy terms, im still new to the photography world. thanks in advance for your help.

08-23-2012, 02:56 PM   #2
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Here's an article that helps to explain ppi: PPI, DPI, resolution and print size | DigicamGuides.com

In very layman's term (the only term I understand), if you're trying to do a really large print but don't have a lot of megapixels, you may want to set your ppi lower. 300 ppi is ideal for professional printing. 250 ppi is ideal for home/amateur printing. If you're going to be viewing the image from far away, then you can get away with lower ppi's.

I remember reading once that large billboards can be printed as low as 10-40 ppi and get away with it because of how far away people view them from. You may want to take those things into consideration. If you want to go with a larger print, try something like 250 ppi to see if that allows you to go big enough. I've printed stuff at 250 ppi and it looks pretty good. Most people would never be able to tell the difference.

Edit: Lower ppi's will allow you to get larger images. Lower ppi's may also degrade the quality. 250 seems to be pretty safe. I doubt 99 percent of people out there would be able to tell the difference.

Also, I don't think there is one optimal setting. I think optimal is going to depend on the situation.

Last edited by reivax; 08-23-2012 at 03:00 PM. Reason: added a little bit of info.
08-23-2012, 03:16 PM   #3
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In the Export dialog, uncheck the File Sizing box. I export in ProPhoto colour space, but Adobe RGB works as well. I've attached a PDF with the export dialog in it.
Attached Images
File Type: pdf FileExport.pdf (27.7 KB, 1588 views)
08-23-2012, 03:31 PM   #4
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Thank you both so much for shedding light on this subject. I think im starting to catch a grasp on it. im understanding the whole ppi thing much better. The largest ill ever print is 8x10 or slightly larger, so i think 240-250 is the lowest ill ever need to go. Im curious to know what the standard export setting is, if you dont tell lightroom what ppi to export at ? Ive made a couple prints at CVS & walgreens, and they dont look very sharp. Im experimenting with a pro photo lab in town, i just sent them a few 8x10's @300ppi, so wish me luck. Thank you for all the help.

08-23-2012, 03:40 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Isnwm Quote
Thank you both so much for shedding light on this subject. I think im starting to catch a grasp on it. im understanding the whole ppi thing much better. The largest ill ever print is 8x10 or slightly larger, so i think 240-250 is the lowest ill ever need to go. Im curious to know what the standard export setting is, if you dont tell lightroom what ppi to export at ? Ive made a couple prints at CVS & walgreens, and they dont look very sharp. Im experimenting with a pro photo lab in town, i just sent them a few 8x10's @300ppi, so wish me luck. Thank you for all the help.
Where you print from is going to make a huge difference in how your pictures come out. I've printed the same image on the same type of paper with the exact same print settings and gotten completely different results. Sharpness, color, saturation, and even exposure seemed to vary depending on where I got them printed.

So far, I've printed from 4 different places. Here is how I rate them by quality (not selection or anything else, just quality).

1) Mpix.com
2) Wal-Mart
3) Shutterfly.com
4) Costco

Mpix was just the best overall. Wal-Mart is a little inconsistent. Sometimes pretty good, sometimes ok. Shutterfly I didn't like at all. Costco was terrible. They have a great selection, but way too much work to readjust my settings to get a good print from them.

I've never had an issue with 250. I'm sure if you had a picture printed at 250 and 300 ppi, you wouldn't really be able to tell the difference unless you really paid close attention. Maybe not even then.
08-23-2012, 09:46 PM   #6
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Here's a video from Mark Wallace that explains print size.



If you want to shoot large panoramas you may want to try putting your camera on a tripod and take several shots, rotating the tripod head after each shot, then stitch them together in Photoshop. This will turn a 16mp shot into maybe a 48mp shot. You can even turn your camera on it's side and shoot in portrait orientation and REALLY boost your MP count, because if in landscape orientation you were able to capture 180 degrees in 3 shots, now it may take 4 or 5 shots, but each shot is still 16mp. 16x5 = an 80mp pano; hope you have a lot of RAM.

Last edited by maxfield_photo; 08-23-2012 at 09:51 PM.
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