The Correct Size Photo for Your Print

As a rule of thumb, a printed photo should have a resolution of about 300 dpi (though many printers can do a good job with 200 dpi) at the physical width and height of the print you want (such as 4"x6").

What is important to understand is that when a photo is brought into your computer, your software might see it not as 300 dpi, but as, say, 72 dpi. That doesn't mean it has a lower resolution, because it's still the same file that was represented by 1200 x 1800 pixels (to use the preceding example). It's simply that it's trying to spread the same pixels out in a different manner. In the case of the 4 "x46" 300 dpi photo, at 72 dpi, it would be 16.667 "x 25". It's still the same number of pixels. But if you just use the Print command without instructing the software how to spread the pixels out, your computer will either tell you that the photo is too large for your printer, or it will automatically cut the picture, printing only the inches that fit.

So, before you hit that print button, check the size of the photo in your program's Image Size command (which may also be called Resample, Resize, or some other name.)

See Chapter 15 for a full explanation on how to measure and resize your photos. By the way, this doesn't usually apply to the direct connect or memory card printers, which typically have the intelligence to read an image file and optimize it for the best print.

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