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Photo Guidelines

Easy Formulas to calculate camera resolution for printing

Photo #9519 | Photo GuidelinesMost digital cameras have multiple resolution settings. Set your camera to the highest setting and determine the number of pixels for width and height. On most Sony cameras this number is shown on the LCD screen. For example a 3.14 megapixel camera will produce an image with a max resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. Remember, we are talking about pixels contained in the IMAGE, not megapixels of the CAMERA. If you have photo editing software, like Photoshop, you can easily find the number of pixels in an image.

In the printing industry, 300 dots per inch is considered the standard for sharp image resolution. Most every magazine, calendar, brochure and poster you encounter has a print resolution of 300 dots per inch. The math below use the number "300" in the calculation. These formulas have been taken from leading photography magazines, written by experts in the business.

What is your present camera's output?

Let's assume that your camera can output a JPEG or TIFF image at 2048 x 1536 pixels. Divide both numbers by 300:

  • 2048 divided by 300 equals 6.82
  • 1536 divided by 300 equals 5.12
  • A 2048 x 1536 pixel image will reproduce in a magazine at 6.82 x 5.12 inches.
  • Minor enlargement is possible with software like Photoshop, utilizing filters to sharpen the image.

A word about megapixels

Shooting magazine covers and images for calendars takes megapixels.....there's no getting around it. Most magazine covers are roughly 11 inches tall x 8.5 inches wide. To calculate the number of megapixels needed (in case your looking for a new camera), follow this formula:

  • 11 inches multiplied by 300 equals 3300
  • 8.5 inches multiplied by 300 equals 2550
  • 3300 multiplied by 2550 equals 8415000, or 8.41 megapixels

Calendars and Centerspreads

Shooting digital at this size takes top-of-the-line equipment. Soaring Calendars currently measure 11 inches tall x 14 inches wide. Full-bleed centerspreads measure 17 inches x 10.875 inches:

  • 11 inches multiplied by 300 equals 3300
  • 14 inches multiplied by 300 equals 4200
  • 3300 multiplied by 4200 equals 13860000, or 13 megapixels
  • 17 inches multiplied by 300 equals 5100
  • 10.875 inches multiplied by 300 equals 3262.5
  • 5100 multiplied by 3262.5 equals 16638750, or 16 megapixels

A 13 or 14 megapixel camera, like the Kodak DCS Pro SLR can produce images suitable for magazine centerspreads with software enhancement by skilled Photoshop users. The SSA prefers that all Photoshop work be produced at Craftsman Printers, Inc. (printers of Soaring) because of their exacting print standards.

Posted: 3/5/2013