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printing photos, needed megapixels
I am in the process of getting a new dSLR camera and am not sure about the megapixels. I am probably going to get a used Nikon D50, which has 6.0 megapixels. Will I be okay with that size if I want to blow up pictures to 11x17 or larger? I have some big trips planned and am hoping to get some great photos out of them..

Thanks for the help...

Comments (9)

Cindy Long wrote:.

I am in the process of getting a new dSLR camera and am not sureabout the megapixels. I am probably going to get a used Nikon D50,which has 6.0 megapixels. Will I be okay with that size if I want toblow up pictures to 11x17 or larger? I have some big trips plannedand am hoping to get some great photos out of them..

Thanks for the help..

"Okey" ??? ... yes.

But I would have to also state that a 10 or 12mpx would be sharper..

6mpx will produce about a 180 dpi image at 11x17. That is indeed considered "okay", (to repeat your question). 180 dpi is very close to 200-240 which is usually considered the minimum for a "good" photo..

BTW ... 300 is usually considered the "ultimate" as the eye can't discern sharper than that anyway..

So 6mps will produce and EXCELLENT 8"x10" @ 280dpi ... BUT ... it would actually require 16mpx to produce a 300dpi at 11x17..

BUT ... 6mpx was considered the "standard" sensor density for about three years ... and many even larger prints were made from those because larger images than 8x10 are not usually looked at close so 300dpi is NOT NECESSARY anyway..

So we are back to the original answer ... 6 mpx is OKEY, (adequate) ... but 10 or 12 is better..

Thanks for reading .... JoePhoto.

( Do You Ever STOP to THINK and FORGET to START Again ??? )..

Comment #1

Over at the left side of the screen is a heading called Sample Galleries..

Go to the Nikon D50 and pick a picture that is similar to what you'd take. Download the original..

Have it printed at the largest size that you think that you'll frame or hang. Ignore how it looks when you unroll it from the tube, you're too close. Frame it and hang it and look. Is that good enough? Only you will know..

So much depends on taking a good picture to start off and then careful sharpening. Don't go too cheap on the printing either. You could also download a similar picture from a 10Mpixel Nikon as well and print them both and compare..

Additional thoughts:.

6Mpixel camera with a good lens will outperform a 10Mpixel with a mediocre lens. Ie, your better off spending your money in the glass than the body (a generalization that has many exceptions ask about glass over on the Nikon forum).

6Mpixel can be successfully printed up to 16X24 (or larger) if the picture is far enough away when viewed, (like above a mantle). I project 2Mpixel pictures at dimensions of greater than 6ft that look great because you can't get closer than 20ft to the picture. Presentation is everything.A member of the rabble in good standing..

Comment #2

JoePhoto wrote:.

"Okey" ??? ... yes.

But I would have to also state that a 10 or 12mpx would be sharper..

I actually think there are very few people here who would agree with that. Well, they might agree that in theory a 10-12 MP source would be better for a 11x17 print, but not that the difference is all that noticeable..

6 megapixels should be fine for 11x17" prints..

6mpx will produce about a 180 dpi image at 11x17. That is indeedconsidered "okay", (to repeat your question). 180 dpi is very closeto 200-240 which is usually considered the minimum for a "good" photo..

BTW ... 300 is usually considered the "ultimate" as the eye can'tdiscern sharper than that anyway..

So 6mps will produce and EXCELLENT 8"x10" @ 280dpi ... BUT ... itwould actually require 16mpx to produce a 300dpi at 11x17..

All of this is true EXCEPT that Joe has omitted to point out that:.

When you have your photos printed by a lab (and I will assume you will be using a lab, for 11x17 prints) the lab machine upsizes the image to 300dpi (or whatever the required resolution is, 300dpi is common) before printing anyway..

The lab machine does this by "interpolating" - inventing new pixels to "fill in the gaps"..

So it doesn't "require" 16 MP to produce a 300dpi 11x17 print at all..

Now, it is true that the upsizing / interpolation process is inventing pixels, and that the result may be not as sharp as a truly 300dpi original, but - well, all I can say is, print it, stand back and look from a normal viewing distance, and see if you can tell..

(Remember - there's a difference between printing at 180 dpi - where the individual pixels will be just about visible to the naked eye, and the print will be soft - and upsizing an image from 180 dpi to 300dpi - in which case the you won't be able to detect any individual pixels.).

My lab has a 16x20 inch print on the wall, produced from a THREE MEGAPIXEL camera. And while it's never going to win prizes, it's a darn good print considering the source..

6MP will get you 11x17 prints quite comfortably..

BUT ... 6mpx was considered the "standard" sensor density for aboutthree years ... and many even larger prints were made from thosebecause larger images than 8x10 are not usually looked at close so300dpi is NOT NECESSARY anyway..

As I said above - most (all, probably) lab prints are made at 300dpi. Regardless of the source..

So we are back to the original answer ... 6 mpx is OKEY, (adequate)... but 10 or 12 is better..

I would say more than "adequate". And if 10 or 12 is "better" and as Joe said earlier, 16 megpixels is ideal for an 11x17 print - ask yourself this:.

How do professional photographers manage to produce poster size prints from 10 megapixel cameras like the D200? Hmmm?.

Of course you can use your 6MP camera for 11x17 prints. Yes, 10 would be better I suppose, especially once you start cropping, but Joe is overstating the case bigtime..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #3

Joe is overstating things. 6.0 MP is more than enough to create quality prints at 11x17 and larger. I typically print images at this size and larger using a 5 MP camera and my clients have yet to not be wowed by the results. Another professional photog I know uses a Nikon D1X for shooting billboards, magazine ads, album covers, etc. He's not had any problems making large commercial prints from his 6 MP camera either..

Will more MP be better... sometimes. Do you need more in order to get a great photo print? Definitely not!.

TANK.

'Why is it everytime I need to get somewhere, we get waylaid by jackassery?' - Dr. Venturehttp://www.myspace.com/servantoflove.

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Comment #4

This is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye.

'For a human eye with excellent acuity, the maximum thoeretical resolution would be 50 CPD (1.2 minute of arc per line pair, or a 0.35 mm line pair, at 1 m). However, the eye can only resolve a contrast of 5%. Taking this into account, the eye can resolve a maximum resolution of 37 CPD, or 1.6 minute of arc per line pair (0.47 mm line pair, at 1 m).'.

So at a viewing distance of 1 metre a human eye 'with excellent acuity' can resolve one dark/light line-pair every 0.47mm. This makes (25.4 / 0.47) line pairs per inch, which is 54 line pairs per inch, equating to a linear resolution of 108 pixels per inch. That is about what you would get from a 6 MP picture printed at 30 x 20 inches (100 pixels per inch)..

This will scale linearly with distance. So at a viewing distance of one third of a meter, the eye could resolve 108 x 3 = 324 pixels per inch (call it 300). For a 6MP camera (3000 x 2000 pixels) this corresponds to 10 x 7 inch enlargement. Personally I do not look at prints this size from one foot away. At arm's length (two thirds of a metre) a good eye could resolve 200 pixels per inch, i.e. a 15 x 10 inch print would look completely sharp (subject to lens quality of course)..

So on the basis of 'normal' viewing distances (the bigger the print, the further back you stand from it to view it) 6MP is fine. It wouldn't be enough if you scrutinised a 30 x 20 inch poster print from a foot away, but do you do that?.

Assuming that you are on a fixed budget (and who isn't!) it makes more sense to get a 6MP camera with a good lens than a 10MP camera with a cheap kit lens. There are other advantahes to 6MP: assuming the same sensor size, a 6MP sensor (whose pixels are individually larger and collect more light) will give better low-light performance than a 10MP sensor, with less noise..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #5

Some may be blinded by the 300ppi hype, but the truth is that a 11x17" size print will probably be hung on a wall and viewed from a distance. A print of that size should be viewed from 20" or more (typically, wall-mounted pictures are supposed to be viewed from a distance equal to, or greater than, the diagonal)..

From this viewing distance, a properly focused photo at 11x17" size will look sharp even if it is taken with a camera whose pixel count is less than 6 million..

I once had a 30x40cm (12x16") print made from a photo taken with my 5mp d-SLR. It looked superb from any reasonable distance. Only when I leaned as close as 10cm (4") did I start to think a camera of double the pixel count may have captured more detail. But looking at a 12x16" print from 4" is not typical, is it?..

Comment #6

One thing that I don't think that anybody has mentioned yet is that how large you can print is also affected by other factors such as the nature of the subject and the quality, particularly the sharpness, of the image from the camera..

Subjects without a lot of detail, e.g. portraits, can normally be printed at a lower resolution than, say, a very detailed landscape..

Good quality, sharp images can be printed larger than poor quality images. Blowing up the image also blows up the defects.Chris R..

Comment #7

Hi,.

I think people like all this ppi nonsense because it gives them something firm to cling too. trouble is, reality is that people like pictures regardless of a lot of things we worry about. I mean, have you ever heard any one say something like "Wow, that's a great picture even though it's printed at 196 ppi!" or some other figure?.

Experience tells me that a good picture can be out of focus slightly and still please, simply because of the subject and composition - 'though I'm not sure what rules there are for composition, either..

Years ago when 3 megapixels was normal and (Wow!) 4 and 5 started appearing there were a lot of large camera companies saying 3 mp for A4 and 5 mp for A3. (In case you don't use the ISO paper sizes, A3 is about 12" by 16".).

My experience is that 5 mp will do 32" x 24" and no one will notice anything wrong, simply because, as has been pointed out, you have to stand back to look at it and no one counts the pixels and then gets out a ruler and their calculator..

If you want to try it out, then download a sample picture and cut it into two halves. Print both as large as the printer will go and use a pair of scissors and sticky tape to make a good mock up of a huge print. Look at it normally and decide for yourself. It's your opinion that's important here..

Or crop out half the picture and just print that, to save a sheet of paper and some ink..

Lastly, the lens is more important imo than the pixel count. And putting the camera on a tripod will improve the picture a lot..

Regards, David..

Comment #8

Thanks for all the great advice. It is good to know that I made a good decision. I purchased a used Nikon D50. It comes with a Nikkor 18-55 mm lenses and I have some lenses leftover from a Nikon N60. I'm not sure how they will work out, but it will be a good start and I can add new lenses from there. From what a lot of you say, the lens is where it's at..

I can't wait for the new camera to arrive and to get the opportunity to experiment..

Thanks again everyone!..

Comment #9

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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