Enlargement Recommendations for 4:3 Format

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by leica_virgin, Oct 25, 2021.

  1. I've been a photo dot net member for 20+ years, but I'm still a relative newbie to the world of digital. So I'm posting this question under "Beginner":

    How large can I go with having a 4:3 image enlarged professionally? Although I purchased a Digital Rebel in 2003, I never liked it and I never shot anything with it that I considered worthy of enlarging. I purchased a Fuji X-T4 last spring and have finally gotten around to using it. I vacationed in the North Georgia mountains two weeks ago and my wife went gaga over one of my shots. I used my 16mm f2.8 lens and the image is pretty sharp. So how large can I get away with and still maintain decent resolution? I shot it in jpeg, not raw. Assuming that the print turns out nicely, I'll have it framed and give it to the Mrs for Christmas. I've had a number of fairly big enlargements made from 6x7 negatives and transparencies. But I just don't know what I can get away with using the X-T4.

    While we're at it, if someone could recommend a good lab, I'd appreciate that, also. I'm not looking for cheap. I don't mind paying good money for good quality. How about shipping an enlargement flat as opposed to having it rolled and shipped in a tube? I've been using the same frame shop for 20 years. So I'm sure that they can deal with a rolled print. And I'm sure that rolled is going to cost a whole lot less to ship.

    Lots of questions, I know. Thanks in advance!
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  2. AJG


    I've blown up images taken with a 16 mp Pentax K 5 and Sigma 70 mm macro lens to 20x24 and they have looked quite good to me and the clients. These were studio shots, taken with a heavy tripod and studio strobes at minimum ISO, so no camera shake issues, focusing problems or noise issues. I wouldn't worry about getting a print back rolled up--if you have it dry mounted it will be flat when it is framed. The lab that I used until last year for big prints like this has unfortunately closed, so I don't have a recommendation since I haven't needed a large print made recently.
    leica_virgin likes this.
  3. Thanks very much, AJG. Much appreciated!
  4. Size: "150ppi & do your own math" or print (bigger) billboards and keep people away from them.
    Flat shipping? Paper can get embossed. If you have a top box for your car and nothing else to haul, fine. Otherwise sandwich the print between 1/4" stacks of waste sheets and pallet lids. But why?
  5. Thanks. Most helpful.
  6. My first 'real' digital camera, a 12 megapixel Canon 5D, was easily capable of A3 prints - about 16" x 11" not counting the border. So your XT-4 with more than twice as many pixels ought to give good A2 prints - 16" x 22". And that's without any aid, like up-rezzing and applying smart sharpen, or using an AI upsampling program.

    However, you really should consider shooting RAW+Jpeg in future. That built-in halo from Jpeg default sharpening can look pretty nasty when enlarged a lot.
  7. I would ask the lab. They probably have the most experience of large format printing from digital files.

    I've never had enlarged prints done but from what I understand, it mostly depends on the dimensions of your photo in pixels and the 'viewing' distance of the print. 300 dpi seems to be the standard print quality for up to arm's length viewing distance. This can be reduced by up to 50% if the viewing distance is greater.

    The Fuji X-T4 has a maximum (3:2 format) image size of 6240 x 4160. pixels. At 300dpi quality, you could have prints made of about 21 x 14 inches in this format and image quality with any loss of resolution. You probably wouldn't notice much difference at 250 dpi.

    One tip is to use something like Photoshop to increase the (pixel) size of the photo. Photoshop won't add any 'resolution' in the larger photo but it very cleverly calculates the most likely values for the 'added pixels' based on the values of adjacent pixels. My guess is that the effectiveness of Photoshop's 'resizing algorithms' depends a lot on the content of the photo. It may not be as sharp for photos with lots of sharp details and contrasts.On the other hand, it may work very well for photos with large areas of fairly homogenous colors and luminosity and with softer edges.

    At least in NL, there are hundreds of websites that offer to print 'posters' from photos. You can choose the 'poster size' you want and upload your photo. The websites then tell you whether your photo has sufficient quality (pixel size) for that print size. For each website, you need to check the 'poster' print quality, but this may give you an indication.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  8. My first digital was a Panasonic FZ20 with a 1/2.5 sensor (2560x1920 pixels). That's 1/4 the size of my little fingernail. In spite of that, I made some decent wall posters maybe 2' wide and a few feet tall. You need to observe the old rule about viewing distance being no closer than the diagonal of the print size. Do that and you can print any size you want, including a roadside billboard. If you use a printing utility like Qimage it will do the correct interpolation and sharpening to get the best results more or less automatically. If providing files to somebody else, you may have to tweak them for best results.
  9. SCL


    If it is any help I've had 35mm negatives enlarged and printed up to 3x4 ft for in-home display. The ones I liked best were printed with latex prints on canvas (so grain wasn't an issue). You don't say where you live, but I've used canvasdiscount.com (in Florida) several times, the prints are delivered on wooden frames, and well packaged. I keep an eye open for when they have deals as I have about 6 shots sitting to order, and pricing deals are important. Never had one of their color or B&W prints I didn't like, and have given several large ones (16x20) as gfts.
  10. Shutterfly recommends at least 3MP for up to 20x30 inch prints.

    Shutterfly Help Center

    I believe that they will print them a little less than that, but too low they refuse.
    Since they will usually give credit when you don't like the results, they can't let you
    go too far down.

    I have used them up to 16x20, as sometimes they have an offer for a free 16x20
    print, just pay shipping. I have sent some pictures of our kids to my parents,
    I believe from a D70s, so about 6MP. I might have done some from scanned
    35mm slides or negatives.

    It is normal to view larger prints from a distance, such that resolution needs
    don't increase proportional to size. Printers will interpolate pixels, so that
    you don't see them getting bigger.
  11. I've posted these before, but I think they're pertinent here.

    Here's the full frame with crop inset - not a brilliant picture but sharp and holding plenty of detail.

    The pixels as viewed zoomed-in on a monitor.

    And how the same area looks in an A3 inkjet print at the same high magnification.
    See how the printer engine actually adds apparent detail and resolution? Because to me the enlarged print looks much better than the blocky pixels that were fed into the printer.

    And FWIW the above was taken with a 12 megapixel first issue Canon 5D.
  12. You might check out Cone Editions- a photo printing "lab" (I suppose one could call it that?) or studio, located up in Vermont. One thing to their credit- they invented Pieziography, and were very early in transitioning to digital printmaking back in 1980 or so...
    IMO for printing a digital image, they'd be hard to beat.

    jpg is handy for quick and "noisy", but having a RAW version is like having a negative (in film terms)

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