How big can I print my file?

Because every image file is different it’s difficult to determine how big it will print using generalised rules or guidelines. It’s essential to assess each image individually when enlarging.

The technical numbers, including megapixels, resolution and file size, aren’t always indicators of how large a file will print.

Unless a print file has been set up professionally by someone experienced in fine art printing, it’s worth having it proofed before creating large prints.

Below are a few common questions about file enlargement and printing:

How many megapixels do I need?

A camera’s megapixel number refers to how many pixels it is capable of capturing. It isn’t an indication of the size or quality an image file taken with it will print.

The size and quality of a print is a combination of the technical capability of the camera and lens used, the conditions the image was taken and the photographer’s knowledge and experience.

For example, a 12 MP phone camera is less likely to print a higher quality image than a 12 MP Nikon D700 or Sony A7S II, especially in low light conditions.

The megapixel count of an image doesn’t necessarily determine the print outcome. It is a combination of original capture and the process of editing an image file that will affect the final print result.

How much resolution do I need?

Resolution is a technical requirement of preparing a file for print, not a measure of print quality.

The recommended resolution for fine art printing is 300-600 PPI. However, a higher resolution doesn’t always translate to a higher quality print, nor does a lower resolution mean an image won’t print larger.

You can quickly turn your low-resolution file into a high-resolution file. Doing this without additional consideration will result in a higher resolution file but with a multiplication of the flaws in the low-resolution original.

How many megabytes does my file need to be?

If your image is blurry to begin with, it will be more noticeable when enlarged. It is very difficult to fix photos that are significantly out of focus. In extreme cases we recommend printing these kinds of images smaller to reduce the amount of blurriness able to be seen.

There are, however, editing techniques that can help reduce the effect of minor blurring in images where details are present.

Will my print be blurry at larger sizes?

If your image is blurry to begin with, it will be more noticeable when enlarged. It is very difficult to fix photos that are significantly out of focus. In extreme cases we recommend printing these kinds of images smaller to reduce the amount of blurriness able to be seen.

There are, however, editing techniques that can help reduce the effect of minor blurring in images where details are present.

Come for the generalised rules and guidelines?

The following table includes generalised rules and guidelines around high-quality fine art and photo printing.

These numbers are based on files set to 300PPI and printed at common fine art and photographic print sizes.

These guidelines aren’t definitive, for example, a 10 MP image may be able to be printed at 20×24″, which is much larger than specified. An experienced fine art printer will be able to advise you more accurately and discuss your project in detail.

Print SizeMegapixelsPixelsJPEG TIFF (24 bit)
8×10″7.2 MP2400×3000 px1.5 MB21.6 MB
8×12″8.6 MP2400×3600 px1.8 MB 26.0 MB
10×12″10.8 MP3000×3600 px 2.3 MB 32.4 MB
10×15″13.5 MP3000×4500 px 2.8 MB 40.5 MB
11×14″13.9 MP3300x4200px 2.9 MB 41.6 MB
12×16″17.3 MP3600×4800 px 3.6 MB 69.2 MB
12×18″19.4 MP3600×5400 px 4.0 MB58.4 MB
16×20″28.8 MP4800×6000 px5.9 MB86.4 MB
20×24″43.2 MP6000×7200 px8.8 MB129.6 MB
24×30″64.8 MP7200×9000 px13.3 MB194.4 MB

Technical requirements for printing

You can look at our article on creating print-ready files for the technical file requirements for fine art printing.

Updated on March 17, 2022

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