How Many Pixels Do I Need

One of the common questions asked of us at FinerWorks.com is, “How many pixels do I need for printing photos?” This is an important question if you are photographing your artwork so you can print it or you want to produce large photo prints.

If you are a non-professional, or just getting started, you may be confused about the concept of pixels and image resolution. First it’s important to understand the terminology that relates to image size and resolution: PPI,  DPI, and Megapixels.

Pixels Per Inch (ppi)

PPI is a measurement of image file resolution. It defines the size an image will print. The higher the ppi value, the better quality print you will get – but only up to a point. 300 PPI is generally considered the point of diminishing returns when it comes to digital printing.

Dots Per Inch (dpi)

DPI is a measurement of print resolution. It defines how many dots of ink are placed on the page when the image is printed. Today’s photo-quality ink jet printers have dpi resolution in the thousands (1200 to 4800 dpi) and will give you fair to acceptable quality prints if your image is within a range of 70-150 PPI resolution, and higher quality prints when the file ranges from 150-300 PPI.

Megapixels (MP)

With the birth of digital photography, photographers usually sought out the highest number in MP they could afford. One million pixels, though this number is often rounded when describing digital camera resolution.

MP seems to have become less important to people over time since everyone has a camera on their phone and these cameras produce incredible pictures. But if you are using a camera to capture your artwork or are printing your photography larger than an 8×10, how powerful your camera is can still be a factor.

When determining how many pixels you need, it all depends on how you will be using the photo and what size print you want.

Below are some examples of a more recent iPhone pixels you need for printing standard size photos through an online printing service like FinerWorks.com.

iPhone X, iPhone 8

12 MP = 4032 x 3024 pixels
Recommended Print Size: 12 x 8 up to 20 x 30

Note the larger you go, the resolution starts to decrease therefore as you print larger, the image will appear less crisp and sharp.

Greater than 12 megapixels

Today very few cameras you find at the store shoot less than this so the good news is you can usually print very big now. In situations where images need to be aggressively cropped, you won’t have to worry so much about losing image quality. Just keep in mind that the higher the MP the larger the file, and that means less hard drive space.

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