The days of dropping off film at your local pharmacy or drive-through photo booth are long gone, as digital cameras and home printers have simplified photo processing. A few new challenges arise, such as knowing what size to print a picture from a family vacation you want to frame. Many standard sizes will allow you to find the right frame.
Pictures can be printed in all dimensions and sizes, but the easiest way to find a stock frame for your photo is to print it in one of the traditional standard sizes. These are, in inches:
3 1/2 by 5
4 by 6
5 by 7
6 by 8
8 by 10
11 by 14
16 by 20
Printing in these sizes allows you to find a frame in a photography, art or framing shop as well as department stores.
Suggestions for Sizes
The clearest, sharpest photos have the highest resolution. The more you increase the resolution, the more you improve the detail. Today, most digital cameras offer a choice for resolution in megapixels. The number of megapixels you use to shoot may help you decide on the best size. Some maximum size guidelines are:
2 megapixels: 4-by-6 prints;
3 megapixels: 5-by-7 prints;
5 or 6 megapixels: 11-by-14 prints;
8 megapixels: 16-by-20 prints.
Be careful when sizing photos to keep the aspect ratio of height and width. You can't just stretch a photo to make it wider without making an adjustment to the height, or your photo will look distorted. A square photo would have an aspect of 1 to 1, meaning the height and width are the same. Digital cameras produce an aspect of 1.33 to 1. A 6-by-4 print (commonly referred to as a 4-by-6 print) has an aspect of 1.5-to-1. Print with a white border around the photo or crop the picture to adjust a different aspect ratio.
When you download pictures from a digital camera, they will be in 72 pixels per inch (ppi). To print a quality picture you have to increase the ppi, but be careful not to enlarge the image too much or it will become distorted. For pictures up to 8 by 10 inches in size, follow these guidelines for quality:
100 ppi: Poor to fair;
150 ppi: Fair to good;
200 ppi: Good to very good;
300 ppi: Excellent.
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