Digital Photography 101 – How to Best Print Digital Pictures

One of the highlights of learning digital photography is sharing your pictures with other people. With digital photography, there are lots of different ways to share your pictures (like email, websites, etc) but for those really important pictures they deserve to be printed and framed in stunning unique picture frames.

In addition to framing and displaying your best pictures in hanging wall frames, there are several other reasons that you may want to print your photos. Here are some of the ways you can use printed pictures:

  • Displayed in wood picture frames on the mantle, table and wall displays
  • Posters
  • Wallet pictures
  • Memory books
  • Greeting cards
  • Photo crafts
  • Photo competitions

Even in our digital day and age, we still have lots of interesting and beautiful things to do in print! Unfortunately, printing a picture isn't as simple as clicking the print button on your computer. Printing a high quality print is harder than just printing out a copy of an email or document. The following tips will make the process easier:

Digital Photography 101 – Pixels Matter

Before you resize a picture on your computer, figure out first if you may ever want to print it. If you do want to print it, always save the original. 

The first thing to understand is how many pixels are needed when taking a picture in order to get a high enough resolution to produce a quality print for the physical size you want. Below are some examples to help you know how many pixels are needed for different sizes of prints.

High Quality Picture: 10×13 inches
2592 x1944 pixels (a 5 mega pixel camera set for high resolution)

High Quality Picture: 9×12 inches
2272 x 1704 pixels ( a 4 mega pixel camera set for high resolution)

High Quality: 8 x 10 inches
2048 x 1536 pixels (3 megapixel camera set for high resolution)

High Quality: 4 x 6 inches, 5 x 7 inches
1600 x1200 pixels (a 2 mega pixel camera set for high resolution)

As you can see, you don't need a camera with tons of megapixels to get quality prints.

Using the proper settings on your printer is also important to getting a quality picture. Look at your camera manual or the manufacturers recommendations on their website. Then use a photo editor to resample the photos to the appropriate dpi. For those new to printing, dpi stands for “dots per inch”. The more dots per inch, the finer the grain of the picture and the better it looks. The ink jet printers on the market today that are used for quality photo prints often have dpi resolution of around 1200 to 4800. This range of dpi will make quality prints that have around 140 to 300 pixels per inch.

Please note that the ppi or pixels per inch is the measurement for the resolution of a photograph taken with a digital camera, not to be confused with the height and width of the photo. For example a 200 pixel x 300 pixel photograph would be quite small, while a photo with a 300 ppi needn't be small because ppi refers to the quality not the physical size of the picture.

Digital Photography 101 –  Paper for Picture Perfect Prints

Make sure to use photo printing paper and if possible, use paper that is recommended by your printer's manufacturer for best results. For projects like greetings cards, use special card stock paper. You can find them online or at craft stores or office supply stores.

If you're looking for an easier way to get high quality prints, say for a special event such as a contest or a large size photograph you want to frame and display, remember that a local or online printer is another option.

Have fun printing your digital images!