How do I know if my photos are good enough to be printed?

Have you ever wanted to print some of your photos from Facebook, only to realize them the photo print out quality is less than what you have expected. You are left wondering why the print out is poor, when the photo actually looks great on your computer screen.

The issue is the image resolution.

The issue with most photos on the internet, or on social media is that they have low pixel dimensions, so they don’t take too long to load, and the fact that they don’t need to be very big to appear great on your computer screen. On the other hand, printers are considered high resolution devices, so it requires a lot more pixels per unit to make the image look good.

What is the minimum required resolution for a good photo?

Resolution of an image or photo don’t mean much without any context. If you ask, is my photo of resolution 1800 X 1200 good for printing? The answer is it depends. If you want to print it in 8R size, then it definitely too low. If you want to print in 4R size, then it is good. So it is always in relation to the size of the photo you wish to print. We measure the size of photos in inches.

There is a standard for the minimum resolution for printed photos. The magic number is 300 dots per inch, or in short 300 dpi. This means that within an inch (~2.5cm) of the photo paper, there is 300 pixels/ dots squeezed in that space. To our naked eye, the image looks good. You probably can get away with 250 dpi. Any higher than 300 dpi, the difference is pretty much negligible. Broadly speaking, the higher the DPI, the more dots there is in an image, so the more detail you can see and the crisper it looks.

Are my photos from Whatsapp suitable for printing?

When photos are sent from one device to another via Whatsapp, there is a certain level of compression on the images and higher resolution images are scaled down.

How about Facebook photos?

Downloading photos from your friend’s album on Facebook will result in lower quality images because Facebook compresses images when they are uploaded, unless your friend selected “upload in HD option”

Phone screenshots?

It’s not a good idea to use screenshots to print because your resolution will be limited by your device’s screen resolution.

The best option is to get the original photos, for example from the camera roll/ photo gallery or from the camera’s SD card.

Caveat

If you are just looking to print smaller sized photos, you can still use photos from FB or Whatsapp or phone screenshots.

Another point to note: The further away your photo print is from you (eg, hung on the wall), the more we can afford for the photo to be of lower resolution. Because from a distance, you won’t be able to tell if a photo is 300 dpi or 200 dpi.

Comparison of the same photo with different resolutions (below)

The photo on the left has half the number of pixels in width and in height to represent the image than the photo on the right. That is why it is blur.

400 x 300

blursotong

800 x 600

sotong

How to find out the resolution of your photos in your computer?

On Mac, right-click on your image and select “Get Info”. See below left: 2102 X 1290. I take both the width and height and divide them by 300, I get ~7 X 4 inches. That means, that the largest I should be printing is 7 X 4 inches, which effectively means 4R (4 X 6 inches)

On Windows, right-click on your image and select “Properties”. See below right: 1800 X 600. After taking both the width and height divided by 300, I get 6 X 2 inches. The resolution is not good enough for 4R.

Mac users

Mac users

Windows users

Windows users

General Guide for Photos from Different Sources

Print

Reference for the optimal resolution for Print For Fun print products

To make it easy for you to decide what size is suitable, we have come up with the table for optimal image resolution. It’s simple to use. If you decide to print 4R, you look at the column “Optimal Image Resolution”,  and see 1200 X 1800. So your photo should be at least of that resolution or higher. Hope this helps anyone who can’t get around the idea of image resolution!

List of Resolution for Print For Fun products
Print Type Print Out Size Image Size Optimal Image Resolution
4R 4 X 6 inches 4 X 6 inches 1200 X 1800
5R 5 X 7 inches 5 X 7 inches 1500 X 2100
8R 8 X 10 inches 8 X 10 inches 2400 X 3000
A4 8.5 X 11 inches 8.5 X 11 inches 2550 X 3300
Small Vintage 2.2 x 3.5 inches ~1.8 X 2.7 inches 540 X 810
Large Vintage 4 X 3 inches ~3 X 3 inches (image size) 900 X 900
3 inch squares w/ white border 3 X 3 inches ~3 X 3 inches 900 X 900
4 inch squares w/ white border 4 X 4 inches ~4 X 4 inches 1200 X 1200
Half 4R w/ white border 4 X 3 inches ~4 X 3inches 1200 X 900
Stickers 3 X 3 inches 3 X 3 inches 900 X 900

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