Is there anything more frustrating than finding a perfect photo on the web, only to see it prints blurry and pixellated? We don’t think so! Finding the best image resolution for printing can be pretty tough. The pretty picture on your computer screen often looks way different on paper. #Catfished
That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide. In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about image resolution. Whether you’re printing a bus wrap or a postcard, we’re experts at ensuring your print quality is exceptional. Now you can too!
Ready to become a master of high-resolution printing too? Then Let’s dive in!
Getting Your Image Pixel Perfect
If you want to understand image quality (and why some pictures look shabbier the bigger they get), then you’ll need to understand pixels first.
Q: What is a pixel?
A: A pixel is a tiny tile of light and color. Thousands of pixels together form an image.
So basically, any digital image is made up of tiny tiles in different colors and light that form an image together. Lower resolution images have fewer pixels, which means there are fewer areas of vibrant color, light, and shadow.
If you print out a picture from the internet and it looks like something out of Minecraft, then you’ve got a low-resolution image file with few pixels. Make sense?
In contrast, top of the line digital cameras take pictures with a TON of pixels. In fact, you can tell at a glance how many pixels the image a camera will produce by looking at the megapixels.
Megapixels are a massive number of pixels – 1,048, 576 to be exact. When there are more megapixels in a camera, then there are more millions of tiny tiles of information in the photos that the camera produces.
That doesn’t mean a digital camera will automatically produce higher quality prints with more megapixels, though. There are other factors like lenses, light sensors and low-light conditions that also impact your image.
Now that you understand what pixels are, allow us to connect the dots to how these little tiles impact photo resolution.
The Perfect Resolution
Okay, so here’s a hard and fast rule to remember when it comes to pixels: the higher the count of pixels, the higher the image resolution.
Image Resolution- Image resolution is basically image quality. The higher the resolution of an image, the more detail, sharpness, and definition.
That high-resolution detail is especially important when you want to expand the file size of your pic (like if you’re putting your photo on the side of a truck or bus, for example). The more detail, sharpness, and definition stored in image pixels, the easier it will be to blow up that file size without losing too much detail.
If a photo doesn’t have very many pixels, to begin with, then the more blurriness, blockiness and pixelated it will appear when you make the image larger. Pictures that you find around the web are notorious for this!
Q: Why do web pictures usually have small pixel dimensions?
A: The pictures you find on websites are usually compressed – in other words, squished together with fewer pixels. This is because large photo files with tons of pixels take a while for sites to download, slowing browser speed and frustrating visitors to the site.
To address this common problem, most photographers will provide two versions of a photo set to their clients – smaller files optimized for web quality (smaller image sizes with fewer pixels) and print size files (full-size, high-quality images with much higher resolutions.)
Taking a peek at the image size of a digital photo will give you some clues as to whether it’s up to print resolution standards. Let’s decode the notorious DPI, PPI and image dimensions next!
Understanding Sizes and Measurements for the Best Image Resolution for Printing Possible
If you’ve ever opened a photo editor and attempted to resize your picture, you might be familiar with the factors: dimensions, width, height, and resolution. If not, that’s okay. After all, that’s why we penned this guide — glance over the screengrab of our Adobe Photoshop editor below (click here if you’re looking for a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop).
What Photoshop is telling us is that if we hit print on this current image right this minute, the image would print out at about 68 inches by 38.333 inches. Sounds pretty big right? Great –we’re all done here.
The image dimensions don’t actually matter as much as the resolution we’ve selected. At 72 pixels per inch or ppi, this is going to be a pretty blurry photo if we blow it up. Here’s why:
Look at the image details again. This photo is 4896 pixels x 2760 pixels, right? Well, when we select 72 ppi, we’re saying that of the 4896 pixels in width of this photo, 72 of them will print in each inch of paper from left to right. Same for the 2760 pixels (height) — 72 of those pixels will be printed in each inch of paper (or other material) from top to bottom.
That’s actually where the document size we looked at early before comes from. 4896 pixels divided by 72 PPI =68 inches, and 2760 pixels divided by 72 PPI = 38.333. However, the actual size of this print matters a lot less than the fact that you simply can’t get a quality image from only 72 PPI. No matter how large or small you make this print, the only good quality product that will come from 72 PPI is perhaps a postage stamp.
That’s not to say a 72ppi image won’t look great on your computer monitor, but it will certainly look a completely different way fresh out of one of our inkjet printers.
Q: What pixels per inch resolution is necessary for the highest quality prints?
A: For the best image resolution for printing, your photo should be at least 240 PPI.
Most online printing sites or brick-and-mortar printing services will request images with 300 PPI. that means there are tons of pixels squeezed into each inch of the photo, and no details will be lost when resizing the image. 240 is a good size for standard quality photos and ones that won’t be plastered on the side of a train.
What if I plan to print a ton of large-scale products?
Most commercial cameras on the market will pack enough megapixels to ensure you have print-quality photos for smaller signs, brochures, posters, and point-of-sale displays. However, if you believe in the old saying, “the bigger the better” (and here at Nonstop Signs, we do!), then you’ll want to ensure you work with a photographer with a high powered, high MP camera to capture the best images for your product.
Or you could invest in a high MP camera yourself. The Canon 5DS line packs 50 megapixels – which means your photo image resolution will be perfect for large scale products like our building wraps and more! Here’s a list of our favorite photo printers for photographers, while you’re stocking up on photo equipment!
Our Team Will Help You Select the Best Image for Your Project
If you’re still a little stumped on the best image resolution for printing, we’re here to help. Our graphic design team is incredibly knowledgeable and can let you know the specifics of image resolution. We also work with you to find the perfect picture for your project. Give us a call, send us an email or even shoot a message through the chat feature to get started today!