Huge enlargements (printing)

Huge enlargements (printing)

21 posts
26 Feb 2014
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
Just curious if there's commercial photographers here who've sold massive enlargements of their prints (canvas or otherwise) and what sorts of sizes you were printing at for a given camera (final DPI would be handy to know)?  Also were there comments made when people scrutinised them up close?

I'm currently toying with ideas of enlarging images so the resolution would equate to around 50/100 DPI from my cameras (printing at around 60" long, or perhaps larger).  Obviously if I were printing like this this I'd use some interpolation software to smooth out the pixels for final printing, but am simply curious as to what is/isn't plausible (and no, I can't afford MF or to hire it).
Posted 26 Feb 2014
FrameworksMedia
Photographer
FrameworksMe..
I've had quite heavily cropped images from a D700 (12mp) blown up to 40" canvas on customer request and the results were excellent. I'd say the cropped image was around 3-4mp (it was a headshot cropped from a full length photo)

I think the main factors involved in the quality of the end result were:

-It was spot on focus wise and razor sharp.
-It was a studio shot so either ISO100 or 200.
-I prepped it and enlarged at full 1:1 resolution including sharpening on my computer before uploading the file.
-I used a good quality print house - unfortunately no longer with us as price overrules quality with much of customer demand these days.

If you check older versions of the GadgetShow, you'll actually find that they enlarged an image from a D700 to cover the side of an office block with great results, although they don't mention any interpolation software or printers used.

Posted 26 Feb 2014
scubie
Photographer
scubie
Most I've done was print for a shop sign, was 700meg at 300dpi 5ft x 4ft I think. Shot Olympus 5mg res, its still on shop front, been there for last 8/10yrs and still looks good. It was printed on some sort of plastic I think by a sign company.
Doug

Posted 26 Feb 2014
Pict
Photographer
Pict
I currently have a 4ft horizontal print of a model in the studio that was cropped from a portrait shot taken on my D800. No software involved other than LR. It is pin sharp. Not sure if that's of any value but there it is
Posted 26 Feb 2014
stolenfaces
Photographer
stolenfaces
I have a 30" x 40" print that I had done because of a 24 hour special £5 ish offer from Photobox.
The original photo was from a D700 and 4256 x 2832 px - so you can see that is of the order of 100dpi when printed to that size.

I didn't do anything special to the jpg (as it was pretty much spur of the momemt to get it done).
The result is very acceptable as a wall poster. There is some grain (being a Nikon rather than Canon noise) and hints of pixelation on lines.
I have just experimented and I think you get a fair representation of the result if you take what would be a 100 dpi photo and enlarge it in photoshop so that the result is 300dpi at the desired size.
(Just now) I took the original which I actually uploaded and upped the pixel dimensions to 9000 x 12000 px in a simple resize. This looks pretty similar to what I see when I look closely at the print.

I think you would be reasonably safe in creating a photo of the desired poster size at 300dpi, and viewing it at a 100%. Obviously in real life most people wouldn't look so closely at a large print.
Logically this would be the case as they are effectively printing at something like 300 dpi, so if you send them a photo at 300dpi at desired size you should get an accurate reproduction of what you send.

If you are concerned about the pixel-peeping detail of the enlargement you could create the full size photo at 300 dpi, then cut out a 6x4 or 10 X 12 section and order a fairly cheap test of quality.

Posted 26 Feb 2014
Crippen
Photographer
Crippen
The only piece of advice I would add, is, assuming you are getting your work printed by a third party (online or in a shop or something) make sure you speak to them before hand and download any suggested profiles. This will ensure that what you see on your (hopefully calibrated) screen, will match their printer.

Please forgive me if I'm teaching Granny how to suck eggs.
Dave

Posted 26 Feb 2014
anthonyh
Photographer
anthonyh
Easy to experiment if you have Photoshop. Use PS to exactly divide an A4 image into 4 quarters then print each quarter to A4 size.....tape them together and see what you think of your A2 equivalent print. If your printer won't do full A4 edge to edge prints then you will have to make each print area slightly smaller and trim the appropriate edges to match up. You can go larger with 16 A4 pages....so an A1 result. Or just pick one of the divisions with important detail and print that for assessment. This is a good way for people with smaller printers to get large prints....I have divided images into 3 A3 vertical strips and very carefully matched them up on a card base and even knowing how I did it, spotting the joint was difficult. I started experimenting with this process after visiting the Ansel Adams exhibition last year and saw that he had used the same technique....I did it rather better than him however..probably due to the better technology available to me.
Posted 26 Feb 2014
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
Doh!, I didn't think about producing cropped samples at the DPIs I'm worried about.  It's a good idea I may get a load of prints done (even at A2 being £1 a pop it's cheap enough to get a grid of 9 done in a 3x3 configuration to sample a full-size image)
Posted 26 Feb 2014
Edited by RedChecker 26 Feb 2014
OldMaster
Photographer
OldMaster
You could use an upsampler which is a common way of doing it. Photozoom does a good job up to around 600% they claim. Genuine Fractals actually didn't come off much better under test than the latest re-scalers in CS6.I haven't tried the Perfect Suite up-scaler so can't comment on that.

I think this would be a better way of creating a large print than working only with the original file dimensions and just printing at much lower resolution unless you only intend to view them from several feet away! 180ppi is considered to be the minimum you can get away with as long as you view from "exhibition" distances...

As you say, you can print small areas and check for yourself!



Posted 26 Feb 2014
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
I've been recommended to look at Alien Skin Blow-Up, it's said to be better than Perfect Resize (which I believe is effectively Genuine Fractals re-badged).

That said, I'll only be scaling by 2-300% at the most I'd imagine so I could employ ladder scaling (I have CS4) and then add some noise back to mask the softness/blur that results from the scaling.
Posted 26 Feb 2014
Edited by RedChecker 26 Feb 2014
OldMaster
Photographer
OldMaster
Correct, I have just checked it, it is genuine fractals! It does have "perfect portrait" resize as well but I hear good things about Alien Skin also.

If you mean by ladder scaling upscaling in small increments it has been shown to make no difference at all to doing it in one process?

I have just created a 40" x 30" from a D300s file (TIFF) in both Perfect Resize (Genuine Fractals) and CS6 with the "Best for Enlargements" option on resize. Viewing actual pixels and scrolling around the screen I could detect virtually no difference between the two blown up versions. With the GF version I had applied their default sharpening and left CS6 to its own devices then by adding smart sharpening I could match the two files to be identical to all intents and purposes.

Posted 26 Feb 2014
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
OldMaster

If you mean by ladder scaling upscaling in small increments it has been shown to make no difference at all to doing it in one process?


It used to make a difference years ago (often done via a script) although Adobe's scaling routines have improved.  My problem is that I'm on CS4 so I'm not sure whether the improvements are there in that version so I'll have to have a play.
Posted 26 Feb 2014
riddell
Photographer
riddell

I've shot for plenty of large enlargements, posters, billboards, sides of buses etc.

For a start success depends hugely on what the subject is and how it was shot. At a basic level something that doesn't require a lot of detail like say a tight shot of a face will work a lot easier than a detailed landscape or interior. But then with a portrait if the hair is fundamental to the shot, every single last hair will be vary clearly seen and it needs to be absolutely perfect.

Of course it goes without saying it needs to be tack sharp, perfectly lit and exposed. Even the minorest of level changes when processing the RAW will potentially introduce noise, which you may never normally notice, but when its printed big it will be so obvious. Colour banding can also be very visibily seen if you have to make adjustments. From experience I've seen that these tiny adjustments make a large commercial print unusuable qualitywise.

Don't forget stitching is another technique you can use. I've stitched images up that are printed 14' wide, printed at 300dpi and not enlarged at all. You can put your nose next to them and its perfect every tiny detail can be seen.

I've also had some beauty headshots printed 14' high and trust me you could see every last detail. You need to really carefully edit every last hair on the head and every eyelash. Make up of course has to be flawless. Those shots took about 10 hours of editing to get perfect before print.

As to the actual enlarging process, I've used nothing more than regular PS in the past. Its all the about the quality of what you are starting with in the first place.

The fianl consideration is the actual printer / print house you are using. You need to communicate with them exactly so you are both on the same page. At these bigger sizes everything is so noticable and you need to understand their processes, sometimes it may be best to leave the enlargements to them, because they have printer specific software that does a perfect job.

Posted 26 Feb 2014
Edited by riddell 26 Feb 2014
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
If this goes ahead it'll be from the likes of Loxley so quality at the print-end shouldn't be an issue.

I'm confident of my work so that it's pixel-sharp, my biggest concern is simply pixellation and the effect of trying to hide it with insane enlargements. I'll probably order a load of test prints at various resolutions/enlargement methods just to see what looks best and have an idea of what I can get away with (my only experience of large format printing is 2m long advertising boards for my company but that was from 2000DPI drum scans of 10x10" transparencies from an aerial camera with a £1/2million Zeiss lens)
Posted 26 Feb 2014
Edited by RedChecker 26 Feb 2014
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
I've just had a go at a demo of Blow-Up and there's little between it and CS4's upscaling with the sorts of resizing I'm doing. I'm guessing it's more likely to show up better if producing something from much smaller resolutions for for the 300% I'm going to be scaling by it doesn't seem worth the cost.

Posted 26 Feb 2014
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