Pro Quality Photo Prints

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How Photo Enlargements are Produced from Digital Photos

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What you need to produce digital photo enlargements:

Enlarging and printing digital photos is all about the resolution, or pixel dimensions of the digital photo. The higher the resolution of the original digital photo, the larger the photo can be printed and still maintain the same image quality of the original digital photo.

Of course, there are a number of methods than can be used to increase the pixel dimensions of any digital photo to build resolution, but for the highest quality results, very advanced, professional software applications need to be used. The enlargement results from professional applications will yield image quality that is precisely the same as the original digital photo.

On the other hand, any digital image will have enlargement limits based on the original image resolution and even these advanced applications will have their processing limits. These limits will be explained further below.

What you really need for printing digital images is a final image file processed to it’s target print size with a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch (ppi). Why 300ppi? This value is based on what the human eye can detect. At 300ppi, the human eye can’t detect the image pixel lines where you would have what is called a pixelated image. At resolutions lower, the pixel lines may become evident, and the lower this value is, the more evident the pixel lines will be.Example of a pixelated photo –

Example of pixelated photo


How the resolution of a digital photo is increased:

As mentioned, there are many ways to increase the resolution of a digital photo, meaning a great many different software applications, and some do a much better job than others. The basic principal of building resolution involves increasing the number of image pixels by averaging the actual image data and colors and applying this processed image data to the newly added pixels to duplicate or build the image into the new pixels. But as you can imagine, this building process may not yield an exact duplicate when applying the image data, and the greater the pixel percentage increase, the more this building inaccuracy will be visible. Very large percentage increases will greatly degrade the original photo quality.

Standard, over the counter type applications like Photoshop can do a pretty good job of building image resolution up to a certain point. There are methods of building resolution using percentage “steps” and this process usually yields a little better quality. As a general rule of thumb, with any system used for photo enlargements, you should keep the enlargement percentage at a maximum of 400% (4Xs) of the original resolution. This means either the image actual size in inches or the image pixels per inch. This can be a bit of a stretch for many standard image editing applications if you want original photo quality, but usually for sure, at percentages over 400% you will notice obvious degrading of the original photo quality.

Using Photoshop, the example below is building the photo resolution from a low 1024×768 pixels at a target print size of 10.667×8 @ 96ppi, to a printable resolution of 300ppi. To print this image at 300ppi you need to increase the resolution to 300ppi. How much of an enlargement percentage would this be? Simply divide the 96ppi into 300ppi and you get 3.125 times or 313%. This is a larger increase, but considering the smaller print size of 10.667×8, the loss of image quality may not be too noticeable.

Original digital photo resolution

To make the resolution increase, be sure both check mark fields are checked, constrain proportions – to keep the photo aspect ratio the same, and resample image – this means the software will build the resolution, and apply a value of 300 in the resolution filed. When you click OK, the photo will be resampled and you will have a printable photo at 300ppi at a size of 10.667×8. Note that the pixel dimensions have gone from 1024×768 in the original photo to 3200×2400 in the processed photo. This photo will not be pixelated when printied.

Processed digital photo resolution


How professional quality photo enlargements are produced from digital photos:

In professional photo enlargement printing, the critical issue is making enlargements that will print with absolute original photo quality, and also creating very large print sizes. To produce very large prints usually requires processing the photo through a few steps using different professional grade photo processing applications, and still maintaining the rules of digital enlargement and printing. This means keeping any step in the enlargement process under the max recommended 400% resolution boost, and producing a final print resolution of 300ppi at the target print size.

The professional processing applications we use are cutting edge, and will produce photo enlargements that are much higher quality that typical image editing applications.

The example below is a project where the client wants a final wall size print of a digital photo sized to 36″w x 40″h for their clubhouse wall. The original digital photo has pixel dimensions of 2205×2448 which at a print resolution of 300ppi would produce a print size of 7.35w x 8.16h.

The first step in the enlargement process is to size the photo in Photoshop as seen in the example below. First we “uncheck” resample so the software does not resample or alter the original pixels values, and enter the target print height of 40″. This makes the photo width 36.029 at a resolution of 61.2ppi. This resolution needs to be increased to at least 300ppi to avoid having a print that is pixelated.

Professional Digital Photo Processing

The second step in the enlargement is to process this file through an intermediate application that uses sophisticated fractal technologies to build the resolution to 120ppi at the target print size of 36.029w x 40. This will be an enlargement percentage of about 196%, well within the digital enlargement percentage limits to maintain original photo quality. The resulting photo file is sized to the required 36w x 40h print at a resolution of 120ppi.

The third and last step in the photo enlargement and printing process is to run the photo file through our highly advanced Raster Image Processing software (RIP). This software is the most important part of the overall enlargement process. The application will take this file, and through a patented process, builds the image resolution to a printing resolution of 360ppi before sending to the printer for output. This resolution build is 300%, also well within the digital enlargement guidelines. The resulting photo will print with precisely the same image quality as the original photo file had before any digital enlargement processing. We guarantee it!

Talk in person with a REAL Photo Printing Expert!…
Customer Service: 719 314-7833