How Large Can I Print a Digital Image
How big you can print your digital image depends on the number of "pixels" in the image. Pixels are the "dots" of color that make up your image. The greater the number of pixels, the bigger you can print your image.
The first step is to determine the resolution of your image by looking at the pixel dimensions of your original file, or a file that has been manipulated with non-destructive editing (meaning you haven’t cropped it or changed it in any way that will affect the quality of the image.)
What is the resolution of my image?
You can find the resolution of your image by opening it in your favorite image viewer program and then finding the image properties in your program's menu structure. Alternately, you can also find your dimensions in these ways:
Windows 7 - Locate the image using Windows Explorer. Click your right mouse button on the image file name, and then choose "Properties" from the menu. Go to the "Details" tab. The dimensions will be listed there.
MAC - Use the finder to locate your image. Click on the image name in the finder. The image and information about it will display. The last line of the file information is the image dimensions.
Print Size Chart
Once you know the pixel count of your file, you can figure out how big it can go. This chart is set up so you can quickly find the basic range of sizes your image can be printed. Notice that as the print size doubles, the megapixels required increases geometrically.
Megapixels vs. Maximum Print Size Chart
|Megapixels||Pixel Resolution*||Full Resolution Print Size @ 300ppi||Print size @ 200ppi||Largest |
Print size @ 150ppi**
|3||2048 x 1536||6.82" x 5.12"||10.24" x 7.68"||13.65" x 10.24"|
|4||2464 x 1632||8.21" x 5.44"||12.32" x 8.16"||16.42" x 10.88"|
|6||3008 x 2000||10.02" x 6.67"||15.04" x 10.00"||20.05" x 13.34"|
|8||3264 x 2448||10.88" x 8.16"||16.32" x 12.24"||21.76" x 16.32"|
|10||3872 x 2592||12.91" x 8.64"||19.36" x 12.96"||25.81" x 17.28"|
|12||4290 x 2800||14.30" x 9.34"||21.45" x 14.00"||28.60" x 18.67"|
|16||4920 x 3264||16.40" x 10.88"||24.60" x 16.32"||32.80" x 21.76"|
|24||6000 x 4000||20.00” x 13.33”||30.00” x 20.00”||40.00” x 26.67”|
|36, Nikon D810||7360 x 4912||24.53" x 16.37"||36.80" x 24.56"||49.06" x 32.74"|
|45, Nikon D850||8256 x 5504||27.52” x 18.35”||41.28” x 27.52”||55.04” x 36.69”|
|61, Sony A7R IV||9504 x 6336||31.68” x 21.12”||47.52” x 31.68”||63.36” x 42.24”|
*Typical Resolution. Actual pixel dimensions vary from camera to camera.
**At 150ppi, printed images will have visible pixels and details will look "fuzzy" and is the largest print.
The Largest Print Possible
For the purposes of this chart, under “Largest Print” I’m listing the maximum size you can print the image without seeing hard-edged pixels, or little squares, in a print made on a typical printer. Some printers do a better job than others of printing files that are pushed to their maximum print size. You might not see actual pixels, but when you view the print up close you should expect to see:
• softness (the edges and details aren’t crisp)
• artifacts (weird anomalies in the areas that should be smooth)
• choppy transitions between tones
• any flaws that the lens captured will be magnified – you might see color fringing, distortion, spots, or any number of other flaws that wouldn’t be noticeable on a small print
A Full-Resolution Print
A full-resolution print is your ideal print size using the full image-reproduction capabilities of most printers. Printing at full resolution usually means printing at 300 pixels per inch (ppi), or sometimes 240 ppi. This file configuration gives you optimal quality on most printers. This isn’t to say that your print will necessarily be perfect. If the subject is out of focus or it has bad exposure (meaning the image is too dark or too light) the print may not look good printed to this size. Full resolution prints refer to the printer’s ability to render the information accurately. Having a good image to work with is a whole different post I will do later.
Can I Make Smaller Prints than a Full-resolution Print?
For any given image, you can almost always safely print smaller than the full-resolution print. However, sometime making a very large jump down in size can make an image slightly soft due to how the printer or print software interprets all that excess information. If this is a concern it can re-size the image with appropriate image manipulation software like Photoshop.