Photography Information

The Truth About Pixels, Part 2-1: Printing 4x3 Inch Photos


Why is a 3 megapixel camera better than a 1 megapixel camera? It really depends on how you intend to reproduce the picture. The reason cameras produce pictures at 72 pixels per inch is that this format is standard in video uses such as television and DVD. So there is no noticeable difference in quality when viewing pictures on a TV or DVD. The difference appears when you are cropping and/or printing these pictures. If you are not familiar with the term cropping, I will explain it later. First, let's talk about printing.

Even the most inexpensive of printers these days are capable of printing at 300 dots per inch (dpi). Most are capable of printing at 600 dpi and you can buy relatively affordable printers that print at 1200 dpi and above. You may have noticed that with cameras it's called pixels per inch and with printers it is call dots per inch. The terms are hardware specific, but relate to the same principal. A printer prints a specific number of dots of ink per inch on the paper whereas a TV displays a specific number of pixels per inch on the screen. In either case, combining the dots or pixels creates the picture.

So how does this affect quality? If we're printing a picture that has 72 pixels per inch from a 1-megapixel camera on 4x3 printer paper we've got a problem. (Here is where I have to crunch some numbers, so please bear with me.) Let's figure it out. Four inches times 72 pixels (dots) per inch equals 288 pixels (dots) on the vertical line. Three inches times 72 pixels (dots) equals 216 pixels (dots) on the horizontal line. The total picture would have 288 times 216 or 62,208 pixels. That's way short of one million.

So where did the other pixels go? If you're printing this picture at a store or camera shop that has conversion capabilities, the machine that you are printing on actually crunches the picture down for you. The size of the picture taken by a 1-megapixel camera is approximately 16 inches x12 inches. (16x72=1152 and 12x72=864 and 864x1152=995,328 pixels). The machine makes this picture into a 4x3 by increasing the number of pixels per inch. The 4x3 picture is 1/4th the size of the 16x12 so there has to be four times as many pixels per inch to reduce this picture to 4x3. Four times seventy two equals two hundred eighty eight pixels (dots) per inch. With more pixels or dots per inch, the picture can be reproduced at a higher quality level making details sharper and more distinct. So a 1-megapixel camera can produce a reasonably good quality 4x3 inch picture on a 300 dpi printer. That's what most amateur photographers get with their snapshot cameras. If you try to get larger pictures, then the picture quality begins to deteriorate. Part 2-2 will deal with larger prints.

Conclusion: If you have a printer with more than 300 dpi capabilities and all you want is 4x3 inch prints, then you are not using all your printer's abilities. If you want prints larger than 4x3 inch, then you need a camera with a higher quality output capability. If all you want is 4x3 inch prints and video reproduction without cropping much, then a 1-megapixel camera and 300 dpi printer should serve you fine.

Note: Different printers produce different quality prints. Since this is a discussion of pixels and digital cameras, I do not get into choosing printers for the quality. Suffice it to say, if you have a reasonably good quality printer, then the information provided should work for you.

Note 2: There are ways to enlarge prints with lower dpi rates and size and still get quality results. This information will come in later discussions and is probably geared toward the more advanced photographers and digital dark room users.

Wayne Rockwell is a professional videographer at Legacy Pictures to Video and specializes in Video Montage creation and Photo Retouching.


MORE RESOURCES:
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news



The New Yorker

The Best New Yorker Photography of 2017
The New Yorker
This was a year of political upheaval and creative flourishing, of societal reckonings and moments of light relief, and The New Yorker's photographers were on hand to capture it all. Whether through on-the-ground coverage or finely crafted portraiture ...



USA TODAY

National Geographic 2017 Nature Photographer of the Year winners
USA TODAY
A photo of an orangutan crossing a river in Indonesia's Tanjung Puting National Park is the top image from National Geographic's 2017 Nature Photographer of the Year contest. The photo, titled “Face to face in a river in Borneo,” was captured by ...

and more »


The Independent

In Pictures: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2017
BBC News
An owl dangling precariously from a branch has scooped the overall prize of this year's Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. Out of the 3,500 entries, Tibor Kercz won the overall prize with his series of images showing an owl losing its footing and ...
Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2017: Little owl falling of branch beats amorous bears to top spotThe Independent
Comedy Wildlife Photography 2017 awards pictures are funnier than ...Metro
Animal Magic: 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography AwardsCBBC Newsround
Evening Standard -Mirror.co.uk
all 13 news articles »


New York Times

The Odd, Otherwordly Glow of Fred Herzog's Photography
New York Times
Just down the road from where I live, a store is trying out a new retail marriage: pricey eyewear and photography books. Its patron saint ought to be Ralph Eugene Meatyard, who was an optician and a photographer, but his books, as far as I could make ...



Race, gender, and flash photography
OUPblog (blog)
The cover of Flash! shows a smiling African-American woman, who holds a Graflex Speed Graphic camera. Clamped to the camera is a flash gun in the form of a thick column, topped by a flash bulb filled with crumpled aluminium foil, and a reflector shield ...



Washington Post

Photography series explores mothers and daughters, and their relationships around the world
Washington Post
Through photography, Rania Matar could see that her experience growing up as a woman was very similar to that of her daughters, despite their generational and cultural differences. She grew up in Lebanon during a civil war; she was raising her children ...



Fstoppers

Google Announces Three New Photography Apps | Fstoppers
Fstoppers
Have you ever wished that your phone would do more with the photos and videos you take? Google has announced the first installment of "appsperiments:" Storyboard (Android only), Selfissimo! (iOS and Android), and Scrubbies (iOS only). These ...

and more »


Digital Trends

EyeEm's new Custom platform connects you with photographers for ...
Digital Trends
The mobile photo app that mixes a social photo platform with stock photography is launching new ways to find the perfect photo and new options for photographers to earn some cash. On Friday, December 15, EyeEm launched Custom, a collective group of ...

and more »


Adorama

How to Use Graffiti Art to Improve Your Street Photography
Adorama
Before graffiti (or street art) was widely appreciated by onlookers and practiced by underground artists around the world, it was considered simple and thoughtless vandalism. Fortunately, majority of the world has caught on and taken notice of the ...


Google News

home | site map | Seashell Photography
© 2006