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Author Topic: Cameras for shooting billboards  (Read 4734 times)
Wayne Lorentz
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« on: November 06, 2006, 09:43:44 AM »
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Recently one of my clients asked me how big an image I could produce for her.  Based on my current equipment my answer was not satisfactory.  It turns out that she was looking for something that could be blown up into the size of a billboard.

I could have rented some equipment, but having never done anything that size before I didn't want to do a poor job, so I recommended her to someone else I thought might be able to help.

So, now I'm wondering what people use to shoot billboard-sized images.  I don't even know what DPI billboards need.  I imagine it can be quite low since they're viewed from a distance.  But then again a city bus is about the same size and the pictures I see on the bus wraps are pretty clean.

I guess my question is two fold:

What equipment should I look at for shooting billboards (I prefer digital, if possible)?

What output resolution are companies looking for in billboard-sized prints?
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John.Murray
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2006, 11:22:30 AM »
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I've got several on billboards taken with a Hasselblad 2000F/CM scanned on a Microtek Artixscan 120TF.

I'd reccommend talking with the people involved with producing the billboard media; in my case (Ackerly Media - Seattle, WA) I found them very friendly and easy to work with.  Their recommendations for minimum (at the time, 3 years ago) were 4x5.

hope this helps - John
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Pete JF
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2006, 11:47:29 AM »
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Wayne,

Billboard repro dpi is quite low and ranges from as low as 16 dpi up to 72 dpi but usually less than 30 dpi. There are lots of clients out there that think they need giant sized files to meet the demands of a billboard. I've recently been shooting a series of multi use images that have been used in a series of full size billboard placements (20' x 40'-50'). I've been providing 100 meg files from medium format scans, for all uses (magazine ads, posters, billboards, coffee mugs and toliet seat covers). With some good uprezzing and sharpening they have reproduced beautifully for the largest of uses...20 x 50 feet-ish.

I have friend who had an image purchased...shot with a canon 20d. The file was used for a highway billboard and he said it looked fine. It also depends on whether or not the image is going to occupy the entire dimension of the board.

The file size for a billboard is much less important because you have to factor in viewing distance and viewing time...5 to 8 seconds).

Are the billboards you are shooting for of the roadside variety? huge and not approachable, designed to be driven past at automobile speeds? no biggy

If they are approachable and smaller such as kiosk or bus shelter types...then you have to provide some pretty good res. 260 dpi on up at final dimensions... Those are the ones you have to worry about because people are standing around, looking at them and drawing mustaches and blacking out the teeth on them and such.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2006, 11:49:45 AM by Pete JF » Logged
Wolfman
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2006, 11:49:53 AM »
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I've got several on billboards taken with a Hasselblad 2000F/CM scanned on a Microtek Artixscan 120TF.

I'd reccommend talking with the people involved with producing the billboard media; in my case (Ackerly Media - Seattle, WA) I found them very friendly and easy to work with.  Their recommendations for minimum (at the time, 3 years ago) were 4x5.

hope this helps - John
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=83830\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I shot a watch ad with a Canon D60 ( 6 megapixels ) and it was used on a full sized billboard and looked very good.

Talking to the billboard people will help a lot.
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David R. Gurtcheff
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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2006, 10:00:58 AM »
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I shot a watch ad with a Canon D60 ( 6 megapixels ) and it was used on a full sized billboard and looked very good.

Talking to the billboard people will help a lot.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=83833\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I shot a 10'x55' billboard. I used a 1DSII and 24mm tilt shift lens, and stitched together two shots. The TS lens is great for this, as you do not move the camera, you shift the lens right and left. Mirror lock up used and EI 100. I provided a finished file to the client who was dealing with their own billboard/ad agency, so I do not know what dpi they up-sampled to.
Dave
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jimhuber
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2006, 09:16:05 AM »
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Somewhere I remember seeing a calculation that accounted for human visual acuity and viewing distance that showed that if you could see the whole image at once (larger size equals equivalently longer viewing distance), all you would ever need is 12 megapixels. It was even mentioned that posters are commonly only 100 to 150 PPI and billboards as low as 10-ish PPI (we're talking about pixels per inch here, not printed dots).

Now where was that... Uwe Steinmueller at OutbackPhoto, Norman Koren, Strobist... sorry, I can't remember.
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Adem
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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2006, 12:25:58 PM »
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Somewhere I remember seeing a calculation that accounted for human visual acuity and viewing distance that showed that if you could see the whole image at once (larger size equals equivalently longer viewing distance), all you would ever need is 12 megapixels. It was even mentioned that posters are commonly only 100 to 150 PPI and billboards as low as 10-ish PPI (we're talking about pixels per inch here, not printed dots).

Now where was that... Uwe Steinmueller at OutbackPhoto, Norman Koren, Strobist... sorry, I can't remember.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=84146\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


We do quite a few billboards every year that reproduce very well.(can post pictures if requested) . There is a simple working. Convert the actual file size into inches. If the viewing distance will never be close, use 300dpi file. If its by an intersection or a road wher you feel ppl might stop by or can come closer, use 600 dpi. Hope this helps
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indianavince
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« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2006, 09:49:13 AM »
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The bilboard professional I know and have worked with for years always asked for sharp 8x10" glossies. When digital came along all they want again is 8x10" at 300 dpi... no more or no less!

A blurry out-of focus badly composed images will still looke blurry out-of-focus etc. at a 39MP resolution.

The billboard large format guys have equipment that do the magic.


Funny story I had a novice art director say they wanted me to provide files 6x9 foot at 300dpi with no interpolation or upsampling!!! I told em I don't have the Hasselblad 39 MP back, and even if we came up with the $39,000 I don't think it would come close!  This was for a trade show image, I didn't get the job.... not sure if anyone got it.  Their budget was about $500.!>!>!
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Wayne Lorentz
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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2006, 12:03:11 AM »
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Thanks everyone for the great answers.  They give me lots of hope.  I probably could have pulled it off with my equipment, and next time I'll at least try instead of passing.  

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Funny story I had a novice art director say they wanted me to provide files 6x9 foot at 300dpi with no interpolation or upsampling!!! I told em I don't have the Hasselblad 39 MP back, and even if we came up with the $39,000 I don't think it would come close!  This was for a trade show image, I didn't get the job.... not sure if anyone got it.  Their budget was about $500.!>!>!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=84487\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yeah, I'm running into a lot of people like that, too.  People on the other side of the process who have not successfully made the transition from print to digital are the worst.  The other day someone insisted I needed to provide them with a 1200dpi file for a business card because, "more numbers is better."

And in line with your experience, these tend to be the people either fresh out of college, or with very small budgets.
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dlashier
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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2006, 01:17:31 AM »
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And in line with your experience, these tend to be the people either fresh out of college, or with very small budgets.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=85354\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
...or very small brains.

A few years back some very high-end billboards and semi-truck trailer sides were shot with 2mp or 3mp Nikon Coolpixs including a 65 foot by 43 foot Jurassic Park in Times Square. The only guy who'll notice any deficiency is the guy on the scallold pasting it up.

- DL
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