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How big can I print my file?

Because every image file is different it’s difficult to determine how big it will print well 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:

Come for the generalised rules and guidelines?

The following table includes generalised rules and guidelines around high-quality fine art and photo printing at 300PPI.

These guidelines aren’t definitive and are very restrictive. We recommend getting professional advice to get the best outcome.

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
     

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 print size or quality.

The size and quality of a print is a combination of the technical capability of the camera and lens, and the photographer’s 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.

A combination of original capture quality and editing process will affect the final print result and maximum print size.

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?

Filesize or Megabytes is not an indication of file quality. We don’t use this as a measure in determining whether a photograph will print well. Generally speaking, bigger is better. 

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.

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 October 10, 2023

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We can help with professional print consulting, file setup and editing services. Get in touch with your requirements.

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