Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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A printing job requires a 72x72" image. I shoot with a D700. Is there any way to get a quality print at that size from a D700?

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The first question you have to ask yourself is "What is quality?" The second question you need to ask yourself is "How will it be viewed?" Those two questions go hand-in-hand, and ultimately the answer to your question is probably a resounding "Yes" assuming you'll be viewing from an appropriate distance. See my "article": Generating High Quality Ink Jet Prints. –  jrista Sep 12 '12 at 3:13
    
This should help, too: Is there a general formula for image size vs. print size? –  mattdm Sep 12 '12 at 10:58

2 Answers 2

It depends on a few factors - primarily the print technology that is going to be used, and secondly what the print is to be used for.

The D700 shoots at 4256 × 2832 (12.1 MP), so the largest Square frame you can print at 1:1 pixel ratio would be 2832 x 2832 pixels.

Lets say the print is to be at 600 DPI, which is a fairly standard high quality signage dpi, that would equate to only a 4.72 inch square print. at 300DPI a 9.44 inch print.

so the immediately the answer "No" comes to mind... However...

If you were to print a 2832 pixel width image at 72", each pixel would be printed at 0.645mm width, which is perfectly good for viewing at anything over a couple of meters away. I would suggest that the image is up-scaled 2x or 3x before printing - this will not increase quality but will smooth out the pixels (by making them smaller at print time)

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600 dpi isn't 600 pixels per inch, but 600 ink dots per inch (per colour). Printing at 600 ppi on a 600 dpi printer would limit you to a 4-bit colour depth (16 colours), although you might be able to get 64 or 128 colours on some printers with variable dot sizes. 600 dpi is typical for 75-150 ppi images, which will usually look okay from more than a meter or so away. A 300 dpi print of a square crop from a D700, at a hair under 40 ppi for a 72" square, would be perfectly reasonable for signage. –  user2719 Sep 12 '12 at 15:36
    
Can you explain why you think the PPI / DPI of a printer limits it's output colour depth??? I print for a living and i can say without any doubt that my 64" printer, which prints up to 600 DPI is capable for FAR more than 16, 64, or 128 colours................ –  Darkcat Studios Sep 12 '12 at 19:05
    
if you print at both 600 dpi and 600 ppi, your printer will have to do some fancy dithering to print what looks like full colour. Think about how many colour values are available in a 1/600" square. Okay, maybe you're using a larger colour set than the standard CMYK (not typical for signage, but I'll give you that for thhe sake of argument). You only get one dot per ink colour for that square (pixel), and that dot may be on/off, big/small/off, big/medium/small/off, or big/medium-big/medium-small/small/off, depending on the hardware. (cont'd) –  user2719 Sep 12 '12 at 19:42
    
I've never come across a printer that has more than four dot sizes available. So you have a limited number of inks, and a limited range of intensities for each ink at a given location. That means a limited colour depth, no matter how you choose to look at it. If you print a 300 PPI image at 600 PPI, you quadruple the colours available per pixel. Make it 150 PPI, and you quadruple it again. There's a reason why desktop photo printers have such a high DPI resolution, and it's got nothing to do with detail -- it's all about the gamut. –  user2719 Sep 12 '12 at 19:47
    
I definitely see what you are saying but im sure the Epson systems i use, use dot overlap as well as dot size to exppand the available gamut. for example in B&W images they often use overlayed colour to create grey tones. –  Darkcat Studios Sep 12 '12 at 20:48

If the raw resolution of your camera is not enough for the intended viewing distance of the 72" x 72" enlargement, and your subject is static, you can apply panoramic photo tools and techniques to stitch together a image of virtually unlimited resolution.

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