Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

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Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 1:34 pm

If i want to ensure the best possible results when printing using an online printing service, what steps do i need to take? Whats the deal with resizing/resampling images prior to uploading? And what pixels per inch values should you use? The more im trying to understand it, the more confused im getting!!! If its of any use, THIS is the camera i'm using.
Tech
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:12 pm

Have you looked for guidance at the place(s) you're considering sending the photos for printing?
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:14 pm

It depends on what service you're using, how anal you are about having things 'just so', how large you're printing, and plenty of other things.
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:18 pm

mattsteg wrote:It depends on ... how anal you are about having things 'just so' ... and plenty of other things.


This is why I print pictures myself. :)
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:28 pm

FireGryphon wrote:
mattsteg wrote:It depends on ... how anal you are about having things 'just so' ... and plenty of other things.


This is why I print pictures myself. :)

I find the investment in equipment to do that well and the maintenance of such equipment to be too much of a pain. I use a professional photo printer that lets you know what they do, doesn't screw with your photos, provides color profiles, and understands color management. They're located across town, so stuff always arrives the day after shipping, and shipping is as fast as humanly possible. Their printing and finishing options are far in excess of what I could ever hope to have in-house, their output is stellar in both print and material quality, and I don't have to babysit a big, expensive, potentially temperamental printer or pay the big bucks for ink use. If I really need a proof right now I can print it at home or go with somewhere like costco (who also provides profiles and the ability to get stuff run without adjustments) that's located 5 minutes away.

Other than quick proofs I'm generally not too interested in printing at home. The investment to do so properly is so great that I'd have to print way more one-off big stuff than I do for it to be worthwhile.
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:30 pm

Ok. The scenario that led me to ask the questions is this. I've bought a 12MP point and shoot digital camera. The photos are 4000 x 3000 resolution which i downsized (resampled??) to 1024 x 768 to reduce the filesize for uploading and left the ppi at 72 in photoshop. I wasnt overly impressed with the results once printed at 7 x 5 and was wondering if i could have done anything differently to improve the picture quality after printing.
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:38 pm

Tech wrote:Ok. The scenario that led me to ask the questions is this. I've bought a 12MP point and shoot digital camera. The photos are 4000 x 3000 resolution which i downsized (resampled??) to 1024 x 768 to reduce the filesize for uploading and left the ppi at 72 in photoshop. I wasnt overly impressed with the results once printed at 7 x 5 and was wondering if i could have done anything differently to improve the picture quality after printing.

1024x768 is way too small for printing a good 5x7 - only about 150dpi. 300 is what you would normally want for high quality printing, absent doing anything exotic. Places will suggest 150 or other lower than ideal values to speed up their throughput with the assumption that it's :good enough" for most people. In some cases, they'll even resize down to that size and hope you don't notice it. Avoid such places. The photoshop ppi setting is meaningless when you're providing a file to print at a certain size, by the way - the real dpi is going to be whatever pixel dimensions you have divided by whatever size you're printing at. Also, your file wasn't the same shape as a 5x7, so they would have had to crop some.

Who is printing your photos?

The reason I didn't provide a more complete answer earlier is that the answer can range from "provide the file cropped and resized to 300dpi at your desired output size" to something like the steps lister here.

So the short version: crop your photo to the right shape (5x7 in this case) and resize it to 300dpi at that size before uploading.
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:52 pm

mattsteg wrote:
Tech wrote:Ok. The scenario that led me to ask the questions is this. I've bought a 12MP point and shoot digital camera. The photos are 4000 x 3000 resolution which i downsized (resampled??) to 1024 x 768 to reduce the filesize for uploading and left the ppi at 72 in photoshop. I wasnt overly impressed with the results once printed at 7 x 5 and was wondering if i could have done anything differently to improve the picture quality after printing.

1024x768 is way too small for printing a good 5x7 - only about 150dpi. 300 is what you would normally want for high quality printing, absent doing anything exotic. Places will suggest 150 or other lower than ideal values to speed up their throughput with the assumption that it's :good enough" for most people. In some cases, they'll even resize down to that size and hope you don't notice it. Avoid such places. The photoshop ppi setting is meaningless when you're providing a file to print at a certain size, by the way - the real dpi is going to be whatever pixel dimensions you have divided by whatever size you're printing at. Also, your file wasn't the same shape as a 5x7, so they would have had to crop some.

Who is printing your photos?

The reason I didn't provide a more complete answer earlier is that the answer can range from "provide the file cropped and resized to 300dpi at your desired output size" to something like the steps lister here.

So the short version: crop your photo to the right shape (5x7 in this case) and resize it to 300dpi at that size before uploading.


Thanks Matt! My apologies for not explaining it more clearly in the first place. Can you explain/point me in the right direction as to how i'd crop and resize to 300dpi with ps?
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:58 pm

Tech wrote:
mattsteg wrote:
Tech wrote:Ok. The scenario that led me to ask the questions is this. I've bought a 12MP point and shoot digital camera. The photos are 4000 x 3000 resolution which i downsized (resampled??) to 1024 x 768 to reduce the filesize for uploading and left the ppi at 72 in photoshop. I wasnt overly impressed with the results once printed at 7 x 5 and was wondering if i could have done anything differently to improve the picture quality after printing.

1024x768 is way too small for printing a good 5x7 - only about 150dpi. 300 is what you would normally want for high quality printing, absent doing anything exotic. Places will suggest 150 or other lower than ideal values to speed up their throughput with the assumption that it's :good enough" for most people. In some cases, they'll even resize down to that size and hope you don't notice it. Avoid such places. The photoshop ppi setting is meaningless when you're providing a file to print at a certain size, by the way - the real dpi is going to be whatever pixel dimensions you have divided by whatever size you're printing at. Also, your file wasn't the same shape as a 5x7, so they would have had to crop some.

Who is printing your photos?

The reason I didn't provide a more complete answer earlier is that the answer can range from "provide the file cropped and resized to 300dpi at your desired output size" to something like the steps lister here.

So the short version: crop your photo to the right shape (5x7 in this case) and resize it to 300dpi at that size before uploading.


Thanks Matt! My apologies for not explaining it more clearly in the first place. Can you explain/point me in the right direction as to how i'd crop and resize to 300dpi with ps?
Quickest is to use the crop tool and set it to 5inx7in @ 300 dpi or whatever other size you want, then just crop what you want and the rest will b e taken care of automatically.

No worries, it's just a question that's asked by people with many different levels of experience that can mean many different things.
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:26 pm

Thanks again. One last thing:

mattsteg wrote:The photoshop ppi setting is meaningless when you're providing a file to print at a certain size, by the way - the real dpi is going to be whatever pixel dimensions you have divided by whatever size you're printing at.


How does the crop dpi setting differ from the dpi setting under the image resize menu option? Whats the difference between cropping and adjusting the document size?
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:32 pm

Tech wrote:Thanks again. One last thing:

mattsteg wrote:The photoshop ppi setting is meaningless when you're providing a file to print at a certain size, by the way - the real dpi is going to be whatever pixel dimensions you have divided by whatever size you're printing at.


How does the crop dpi setting differ from the dpi setting under the image resize menu option? Whats the difference between cropping and adjusting the document size?

Cropping cuts off parts of the document to change its shape. Setting a crop dpi just adds a resize to the act of cropping so you don't have to do both separately. Cropping with a set image size in inches and dpi crops the image to that shape and then resizes it to the proper resolution. It's the same setting.
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:44 pm

one more! If id just uploaded the original file at its full resolution but at 72 dpi, would i still have got poor results?
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Re: Preparing Photos for Online Printing Sites

Postposted on Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:15 pm

Tech wrote:one more! If id just uploaded the original file at its full resolution but at 72 dpi, would i still have got poor results?

Maybe. That 72dpi is meaningless. It's just a number that's ignored. It does nothing. The only potential issues are if the printer resizes it to print it and either does a poor job or resizes it too much in order to make their process run faster. Also, there aren't any standard print sizes that are the same shape as your camera's output so you're going to have to crop one way or other.
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