122 — How Big Can I print that Photo — Interview with Royce Howland

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #122 fea­tures an inter­view with Royce How­land where we dis­cuss how large we can print our pho­tos. These days cam­eras of all kinds are every­where and if we want to make big enlarge­ments from those cam­eras we need to know how big we can print the image before it starts to look bad. Royce offers up tips on how to make ‘the best enlarge­ment’, ‘a bet­ter enlarge­ment’ or ‘a good enlarge­ment’ based on the cam­era, the print­ing mate­r­ial, the sub­ject mat­ter and some other factors.

Thanks to The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  for spon­sor­ing the Photography.ca podcast!

To recap the math in this pod­cast the best images get 300 pix­els per inch. 200 pix­els per inch gets you bet­ter enlarge­ments and 100 pix­els per inch yields good results. To get an idea of the pos­si­ble enlarge­ment range, we divide the image pix­els of our cam­era by the PPI to get inches of print size.

Our the­o­ret­i­cal 6 megapixel cam­era pro­duced images of 3000 x 2000 pix­els. So a good enlarge­ment could be 30 x 20 inches, bet­ter could be 15 x 10 inches, and best 6.7 x 10 inches.

If we look at a 12 megapixel image (from a Canon 5D for exam­ple) the pix­els are 4000 x 2666.  So a good enlarge­ment could be 40 x 26.7 inches, bet­ter could be 20 x 13.3 inches, and best 13.3 x 8.9 inches.

If we look at a 24 megapixel cam­era the pix­els are 6000 x 4000 so we could have a good enlarge­ment of 60 x 40 inches, bet­ter one of 30 x 20 inches and best one of 20 x 13.3 inches.

7.5 megapixel camera phone shot by Royce Howland. This image could easily be printed 20 inches high.

7.5 megapixel cam­era phone shot by Royce How­land. This image could eas­ily be printed 20 inches high.


37 megapixel medium format image by Royce Howland. This image could easily be printed 45 inches high.

37 megapixel medium for­mat cam­era image by Royce How­land. This image could eas­ily be printed 45 inches high.

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

The Dig­i­tal Neg­a­tive by Jeff Schewe
Per­fect Resize
Qim­age Ulti­mate
Sep­tem­ber reg­u­lar assign­ment — Shoot from a high per­spec­tive
Sep­tem­ber level 2 assign­ment — Shoot into the light
Illu­mi­nite — Pho­tog­ra­phy exhi­bi­tion by Marko Kulik

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Thanks as well to every­one that sent com­ments by email about our last pod­cast. Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board. Most of the links to actual the prod­ucts are affil­i­ate links that help sup­port this site. Thanks in advance if you pur­chase through those links.

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You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player below.

Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!


  1. Enrique Waizel says:

    Marko & Royce thank you again for mak­ing all this knowl­edge pub­lic for all of us. As usual, this was very inspi­ra­tional.
    Marko I very much like the new pace you are tak­ing since the last 3 pod­casts. It feels like in the old days again when you started this; always some­thing inter­est­ing to listen.

  2. Thanks for the com­ments! We did our best to make the topic clear and use­ful. :)

    There are a lot of things to be con­cerned about in pho­tog­ra­phy, but the #1 pri­or­ity always is — is it a good pho­to­graph? Great pho­tog­ra­phy tran­scends the mere tech­ni­cals. When you real­ize the inter­play of the image itself and things like how much detail the eye sees at typ­i­cal view­ing dis­tances, this why we some­times have a bit more lat­i­tude to push a print than sim­ple tech­ni­cal con­cerns might suggest.

    We don’t want bad tech­ni­cals just out of being slack, or not under­stand­ing good crafts­man­ship. But great pho­tographs will impress peo­ple unless our craft exe­cu­tion becomes bad enough to detract from the imagery. :) The proof of the image I think really is in view­ing the print…

  3. This episode is a clas­sic, VERY good ! Not some­thing that seemed to be dis­cussed too often. And it re-assure me that ‘lov­ing’ to print my own pic­tures, is ok ! LOL !!!! Well done, keep up the excel­lent work Marko !

  4. Jason says:

    Marko, I always enjoy the inter­views! This was a great dis­cus­sion. After hear­ing Royce explain what the eye is actu­ally capa­ble of per­ceiv­ing, I’m a lit­tle more com­fort­able blow­ing up some of my older photos.

  5. Darnell B says:

    I so needed this type of expla­na­tion on how big I can print.
    Thanks Royce and Marko for another amaz­ing and clear interview.


  1. […] Over at Marko Kulik’s Photography.ca site, I’m happy to say there’s a new entry in his pod­cast series. It fea­tures an inter­view with yours truly, where Marko and I talk about how big dig­i­tal pho­tos can be printed, and some of the things that influ­ence that choice. If you’re new-ish to dig­i­tal print­ing and have some­times won­dered about mak­ing big­ger enlarge­ments of some of your work, you might have been held back if you’re ner­vous when con­sid­er­ing the cost and whether the final results will look good. There are some guide­lines that can give you a mea­sure for siz­ing a photo that you think deserves to be seen in a larger for­mat. Hit the link and have a lis­ten to Photography.ca pod­cast episode #122 — How Big Can I Print that Photo? […]

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