What is Resolution?

Resolution and File Size—two topics that can strike fear (and confusion!) in the hearts and minds of photogs. Not to worry, we’re gonna tackle these two mammoths and boil down their relationship over the course of two #filmtipfridays. (Spoiler alert: neither are as scary as you think.)

First off, what is resolution?

When it comes to digital images, the resolution is the amount of image information you have spread out across a given area, expressed as pixel dimensions.

But what is a pixel? Pixels are essentially the smallest unit of measurement used to describe a digital image.

So why do pixel dimensions matter?

Well, how many pixels you have in your image determines how much information is in your image, and how much information you have in your image is 1 of 2 determining factors in how big you can print (or how “continuous” your image appears).

Consider Viewing Distance

What’s the other factor in determining how big you can print (or how “continuous” your image will appear)? Viewing distance. Think about it—you hold a 4.5×6 print in your hand, perhaps 1 foot away from your face. Generally, you’ll need about 300 PPI (pixels per inch, not DPI or dots per inch) to make a good-looking print this size.

However, if you’d like to print your work as a 40×60, you need less PPI. (Wait, what?) Now stay with us—how close do you stand to a 40×60? Probably 6–7 feet at most? You only need 100 PPI to obtain a good-looking print this size.

How Resolution Relates to Film Scans

Let’s take a 120 film scan. The pixel dimensions for our normal scans (6×4.5 format) are 2700×3600. These scans contain enough information (e.g. their pixel dimensions are the right size) to make a good-looking 20×24 print.

Now, if you’d like to print larger than a 20×24 or need to crop, a Large Scan is your best bet. Their pixel dimensions are 3600×4800—large enough to easily grace a billboard! (Remember: viewing distance.).

You can find our pixel dimensions for all film formats here!

We know resolution can be tricky.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions via email info@photovisionprints.com or phone 503-588-3686.

Ready to learn about file size?

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📷 by Mät Kaeser with a Contax 645 on Fuji400H.