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Author Topic: How Important is Picture Print Size?  (Read 5536 times)
Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2010, 06:09:10 AM »
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Divide the horizontal pixel count (the number of pixels across) by the desired resolution. The result gives you the maximum print width (in inches).
So 9,000 pixels at 360 ppi gives you 25 inches... very useful if you use 24" roll paper!
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John R Smith
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« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2010, 07:11:48 AM »
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Jimís original point about the problems of making small inkjet prints was a perfectly valid one, and I for one will be very interested to know how he gets on with dye-sub printing as an alternative. Yesterday, though, I had a kind of Road to Damascus moment which will not entirely solve the problem but does make me re-think the whole issue.

I realised that I, like everybody else, have been trotting out this mantra that native resolution is 300 dpi for HP printers and 360 dpi for Epson. But then I remembered reading on Eric Chanís site that resolution for the Epson 3800 can be either 360 or 720 dpi, depending on the ďFinest DetailĒ switch. And somewhere else, I canít think where, I seem to remember a discussion which came to the conclusion that all the modern Epson photo printers are 720 dpi. So did that mean that even my good old R2400 actually had a potential output quality which I had never previously tapped into?

Now that Lightroom 3x has the ability to re-sample and output to print at 720 dpi, I could easily set up a quick trial. Remember that all my work is B/W, printed via the Epson ABW mode using Eric Chanís paper profiles. Whether that affects the results, I donít know. It shouldnít. For the test, I needed to create a situation where LR and the printer would be discarding information from the file, at least at 360 dpi, so I set up a small 5x4 ins print of a very detailed subject which was technically perfect (lighting, exposure, focus, no camera-shake). I then printed two versions at the highest-quality settings on the 2400, one from LR at 360 dpi and the other at 720.

Superficially, they look identical. But under an 8x loupe there is a clear difference, with more fine detail, smoother transitions and sharper edges on the 720 dpi version. In fact, I can even see the difference with the naked eye, because I have very short-sight and I can focus without my spectacles at around 6 inches. So the R2400 definitely does print at 720 dpi, otherwise it would simply have re-sampled the file to 360 and the prints would have been identical. Which presumably means that the 3880, 2880, 4880, etc can also do so.

Obviously, for most people printing large colour or B/W prints this is all pretty academic. At any sensible viewing distance, 360 dpi (or even 300 dpi for that matter) is quite enough. And as others have noted, you donít normally view your prints under a loupe. But for printing small prints it does make a difference. As I mentioned before, to include all the detail from my 39MP files at 360 dpi I would have to print at (more or less) 20x16 ins, or A2. But at 720 dpi I can print at 10x8 ins without losing any of the detail in my file. And below that, at 7x5 or 5x4 there is still a gain compared to using 360 dpi. Small prints are viewed at much closer viewing distances, and that little bit of extra smoothness is noticeable to me.

John
« Last Edit: September 21, 2010, 07:14:13 AM by John R Smith » Logged

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NikoJorj
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« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2010, 01:33:38 PM »
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On this kind of experiment, there is a (very good as usual) Ctein post on TOP :
http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/01/how-sharp-is-your-printer-how-sharp-are-your-eyes.html
with interesting developments in
http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/05/more-on-printer-sharpness.html
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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JimAscher
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« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2010, 11:26:49 PM »
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I ran Ctein's experiment, printing contact sheets in both 360 dpi and 720 dpi and examining them closely with both an 8x and 10x loupe.  And yes, the 720 is slightly moire finely defined than the 360.  But how AWFUL they both looked under a loupe!  I hadn't realized what the naked eye doesn't see (and how fortunate it doesn't) to preserve an illusion of detail.  My dye-sub printer doesn't arrive until this weekend, although I'm entertaining few expectations that it'll prove to be significantly better.  Tones possibly smoother, but edge detail less.  But for me anyway it should prove interesting.  Will report back.
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John R Smith
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« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2010, 03:11:27 AM »
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Nicolas

Thanks for those useful links. I had read the articles, but had forgotten where they were. I do take issue with Ctein in one respect, though. There surely must be only one "sweet spot" for the best possible print resolution, which is where we send the printer a file at its native ppi so that the printer driver is not forced to resample the file again. If the Epsons use 720 ppi, then that must be it. Adding more ppi in our editing software should not produce greater quality of output, because the printer simply cannot make use of it.

For any branch of photography, we must be aware of the inherent limitations of the technology we are using. Once one moves out of the wet (chemical) darkroom, we are of necessity embracing a new world of photo-mechanical reproduction, which is essentially based on using a screen, just as it always was. And to date, there is no way any screen-based process can equal the smoothness of tone and quality of detail which (unenlarged) fine-grain film and silver printing paper can deliver. It just can't be done. This has nothing to do with the sensor in your camera or MF DB. Even if you had 1,000 MP in your sensor, you are still limited by the same old output quality of your printer at 7x5 ins or 10x8, or at any size below a 1 to 1 print at printer output resolution.

Mostly, this simply doesn't matter. The convenience and control which digital printing offers more than make up for the losses. And my own tests show that at normal viewing distance, a 10x8 B/W print from my Epson holds its own against the best I could do in the darkroom fom MF film. As far as really big prints go, there is no contest. The inkjet printers can roll out fabulous 20x16 and larger prints consistently time after time while I would still have been desperately trying to focus the damn enlarger on a piece of paper pinned on the wall six feet away.

But for small prints, amusingly enough, you will still get a better result by loading up your camera with Kodak Gold and taking the film down to your local Jessops for D & P.

John
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« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2010, 05:46:49 AM »
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There surely must be only one "sweet spot" for the best possible print resolution, which is where we send the printer a file at its native ppi
This is more or less addressed in the second link I gave... Seems that driver interpolation is done well enough for this not to be very significant.

Quote
But for small prints, amusingly enough, you will still get a better result by loading up your camera with Kodak Gold and taking the film down to your local Jessops for D & P.
I thought these people used now some Frontier or Noritsu digital minilabs? And therefore limited to 300 or 400ppi...
For me, it's only with contact print that film could have that an edge.
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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John R Smith
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« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2010, 06:28:52 AM »
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I thought these people used now some Frontier or Noritsu digital minilabs? And therefore limited to 300 or 400ppi...
For me, it's only with contact print that film could have that an edge.

Nicolas

I think you are right. I am somewhat behind the times. And another useful link, thank you.

So for any real progress on this issue, perhaps we should expect (or hope for) -

* Printers with a dot size of less than 1 pico-litre

* Variable dot size over a wider range

* Papers with minimal or zero dot-gain

* And a native printer resolution of 1440 ppi or better

* With 16-bit capability for colour and B/W

Don't hold your breath.

John
« Last Edit: September 22, 2010, 07:14:06 AM by John R Smith » Logged

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« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2010, 09:49:33 AM »
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The lesson I am (with regret, if not actual dismay) learning from all the enlightenment I am receiving from others in this thread is that it apparently has benefited me naught (or very little, anyway) by "upgrading" from my wonderful little Panasonic Lumix LX1 to such larger-sensor cameras as a Sony DSC-R1 and Lumix DMC-GF1.  (Although I am taking advantage of the ability with the GF1 of being able to utilize my Nikkor lenses from my old discarded 35mm Nikon F2.)  My aesthetic preference for intimate, small-sized prints in this digital age to date is an apparently quixotic quest.  (Hope I'm not becoming too literary.)  Oh, well......
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Jim Ascher

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John R Smith
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« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2010, 03:51:11 AM »
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Jim

Without wishing to labour the point, but as a further thought Ė

If you would really wish to revise your notions of photographic quality, take the opportunity to examine historic prints made with a fine lens on a large field camera (10x8 or bigger), and contact-printed from glass plates (heavy and perfectly flat) on old-fashioned printing-out paper (POP, which holds detail in the shadows and allows extended development in the highlight areas). For B/W photography they define the ultimate in fine detail and perfect smooth tonality, and make our efforts now (100 years later) seem rather cheap.

John
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Paul Roark
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« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2010, 12:19:24 PM »
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I thought I'd contribute a few observations to this very interesting thread.

I think the 1.5 picoliter 1400 is about as sharp as any digital output device we have available to us for  home use.  It should be able to make a cleaner looking edge than the 3.5 pl printers.  The printer's native resolution for the input image is 720 ppi, which is the same as all Epson desktop printers, I believe. Nonetheless, the drop size  can make a slightly sharper looking image.

However, I have seen no inkjet that can match a contact silver print.  The highest print resolution I've been able to get on the paper, using standard resolution charts, is  about 15 lp/mm with the inkjet printers, versus about 25 lp/mm for silver prints.

Incidently, the best matte papers are often sharper than the glossy papers.

With respect to grayscale steps, etc., using the lightest 2% ink in the Eboni/carbon-6 inkset will help.  A standard LLK is about the same as the 6% Eb6 dilution.

With the 2%, using the Epson driver with an ICC that contains a curve that  uses the light inks to the max, you'll get lots of separation.   With this workflow you have a  high bit pipeline all the way to the pirnt, not the 8 bit pipeline ofthte ABW approach.
 


Paul
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JimAscher
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« Reply #30 on: September 25, 2010, 09:33:07 PM »
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I suspect that my comments now regarding my Kodak 1400 Dye Sub printer really belong at this point under another forum category, that  dealing with Printers, Papers and Inks.  Anyway, the printer arrived today and after an easy built-in calibration of it to achieve the most neutral gray tone, I printed off one of my .tif photos with pronounced gradation aspects.  As a first run-through I was greatly relieved.  No color cast to the gray tones at all.  I printed on the same (fairly dear, i.e., costly) page one of my wife's color jpeg photos, which came out in a very close match with the color tones she had intended when initially processing it in Photoshop.  I examined my black-and-white with a loupe and saw, as I had only somewhat expected (and hoped for), no ink jet pixel dots, but photo textures emanating principally from the textures of the objects I had photographed, but also with a surface texture mildly representative of the crystal grain one gets from wet photography.  I believe my description here is likely rather vague, imprecise -- and inadequate -- but with my limited technical background, it's only what I'm really capable of conveying.   So, there you have it, for what's worth.  Regards to all.     
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Jim Ascher

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