Jim Doty - Photo Blog

Photography: Photos, News, and Tips
Monday, September 22, 2003
"BIG" Canon 10D Prints

So how big a print can you make from a digital file produced by a Canon 10D digital SLR? Good question.

The true but misleading answer is "As big as you want." You can "res up" (or resize) any digital photo file to any size you want, BUT the quality may not be what you want since every digital file begins to fall apart at some degree of printed enlargement.

With my Canon 10D at the "large - fine" jpeg setting, I can regularly produce photo files that can be printed out at sizes up to 12x18 inches with excellent quality. I have sold exhibition prints at this size that are just as good as enlargements from a 35 mm slide. 12x18 inches has been my self imposed limit since that is the biggest size I can produce on my Epson 2200 printer. But I have always wondered how much larger my 2 MB jpeg camera files could be enlarged.

When I open one of the 2 MB jpeg files from the Canon 10D in Adobe Photoshop, or Photoshop Elements, it becomes an 18 MB uncompressed file. Without resizing (at 300 dpi), this prints out at about 6.75 x 10.25 inches. With resizing, I can go up to 12x18 inches with excellent print quality.

Friday, I walked into The Camera Trader on Hampden Ave in southwest Denver, Colorado. This is one of my favorite Denver photo haunts. I found out they have a new Epson 7600 printer which prints on paper up to 24 inches wide. I asked if we could go play. Dave said yes. I happened to have a photo of a zebra with me on a flash card. I popped the zebra file into their computer, resized the file up to a print size of 20x30 inches and we printed it out. I was really surprised at the high quality. Eyes, eyelashes, hair on the head, and chin whiskers all looked sharp. Very impressive. I really wasn't expecting the print to look this good. All this from a 6.3 megapixel sensor and a 2 MB jpeg file. Kudos to Canon for the quality of the CMOS camera sensor and the "DIGIC" digital image processing.

I am not sure I really want to know that I can make prints this large. I will be tempted to make more really big prints. Bob, my brother-in-law and Colorado photo buddy (see a previous post at this site), said to me "You just got me in trouble." "Why" I asked. "Because now I will be down here making big prints" he said. Such is life!

If you have a Canon 10D, go ahead and try a really big print. I should add that the original file has to be of excellent quality. You need to do everything right photographically, just as you would when producing an excellent quality image on film (see my article on getting Maximum Sharpness).

You need to know what you are doing when you edit and resize an image in Photoshop or your favorite image editing software. You also need to know what you are doing when you use "unsharp mask" to sharpen your image. Your unsharpened image well not look good when printed at large sizes. An oversharpened image will look just as bad or worse. Learning to use unsharp mask takes a little time and experience, but the high quality prints are well worth the time and effort.

By the way, the price for this 20x30 print at the Camera Trader was $17.00.

If you are in Denver, stop in at The Camera Trader and ask for Dave, Kristen, or Frank. Tell them Jim and Bob sent you.

Info on the Epson 2200 printer is here.

More information on the 10D is here and here.

Information on digital photography is here.


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