Printing Pictures – What size should my file be?

We print a lot of pictures!  When we print, we often get asked about file sizes relative to printing.  When printing, I like to have a good size JPG, 10MB plus!  Our website stores the original and many smaller sizes automatically.  When you print from IMG_4993_HDR.jpgtanglephotography.com, you print with some of the best print houses in the country, such as Bay Photo!  If you are going really big, you really should consider whether you need to print a proof first.  I like to do an 8×10 for prints that are going to be 16×20 or larger.

Here is a site that is great for learning more about this topic:  http://www.urban75.org/photos/print.html

Quality vs file size
This guide shows you the kind of quality you can expect when you’re printing out your photos.
 
Digital camera resolution vs print quality
Capture Resolution
Video Display
Print Size
2×3″
4×5″/4×6″
5×7″
8×10″
11×14″
16×20″
20×30″
320×240

OK

Good

OK

Crap

Crap

Crap

Crap

Crap

640×480
0.3Megapixel

Good

Excellent

Good

Crap

Crap

Crap

Crap

Crap

800×600

Excellent

Photo Quality

Very Good

Reasonable

Crap

Crap

Crap

Crap

1024×768

Excellent

Photo Quality

Excellent

Good

OK

Crap

Crap

Crap

1280×960
1 MP

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Very Good

Good

Crap

Crap

Crap

1536×1180

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Excellent

Very Good

OK

Crap

Crap

1600×1200
2MP

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Very Good

OK

OK

Crap

2048×1536
3 Megapixel

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Excellent

Good

OK

OK

2240×1680
4 Megapixel

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Very Good

Good

OK

2560×1920
5 Megapixel

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Excellent

Very Good

Very Good

3032×2008
6 Megapixel

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Excellent

Very Good

3072×2304
7 Megapixel

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Excellent

Excellent

3264×2448
8 Megapixel

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Excellent

10 Megapixel +

Excellent

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

Photo Quality

 

Crap Horribly pixelated blocky mess, like something out of 1987
OK Looks reasonable enough, but nowhere near photo quality
Good Pretty good all round, with a fair bit of detail
Very Good This will be fine for most uses, unless you get up reeeeal close
Excellent As good as a photo for most purposes
Photo Quality Woohoo! Fantastic quality print, full of detail and perfect for your picture frame or for your showing off your very best shots.

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