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I have a CD from our photographer with lots of pictures. I want to have one of the pictures enlarged 20 x 24. Any ideas of a good quality company do order the picture from?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Paul Cezanne, mattdm, Itai, MikeW, thomasrutter Sep 2 '13 at 7:59

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I used to supply this as a service (but no longer) - I would not recommend any online service as they tend to be "bulk" printers - instead look to local photographers or printers who personally process the print, and offer paper options. – Digital Lightcraft Aug 5 '13 at 19:15
You might want to change the question into a broader one, something like "What to look for when ordering a large print". You might want to add a bit more information about the picture you want to enlarge, is it jpeg, raw, does it need processing (already processed by the photographer? And why are you not using the photographers services? – Håkon K. Olafsen Aug 5 '13 at 19:19
Sorry, but I have to completely dispute Darkcat's notion that any online service is going to produce poor quality prints. Online labs often, maybe even usually, have employees who are just as nutty about print quality as any local lab. It is plain and simply false to call every one of them out as "just bulk and poorer quality than any local lab." See my comment on AJ's answer. – jrista Aug 6 '13 at 2:29
I have not yet come across a GOOD general online service... so in my experience i still back what i said... I gave up and bought a top end printer! – Digital Lightcraft Aug 6 '13 at 9:08
@DarkcatStudios: You probably just have a very keen eye for print, like myself (I too print from home unless its huge). But from the average consumer's standpoint, most of the reputable online labs will do a job they will most likely be more than happy with. Even with my critical eye, as I said before, the differences between an excellent shop and an average shop is usually fairly small...tonal quality, ink density differences, but subtle in a way someone without that keen eye wouldn't notice. – jrista Aug 6 '13 at 23:50

First, check to make sure the image is of sufficient resolution and quality to enlarge to 20 by 24. Ideally you would want a 43 megapixel image, though anything north of 11 megapixels may be just barely sufficient. (300ppi is the general recommendation for viewing up close, but for viewing from further away, 150ppi can be sufficient.)

Then, you'll want to find your local pro-lab. Checking in your phone book is probably still one of the easiest ways. They will have high end printers and produce high quality work in addition to being able to provide you with the necessary prep work to get the image ready for the best quality when printing.

It will cost quite a bit more than cheap online places, but the quality will make a difference. The cheap online places tend to use automated processing to get the image ready for printing and use larger, faster bulk printers where as the pro-labs use high end printers designed for gallery quality work and make careful adjustments to make sure the image fits the color gamut supported by your choice of media.

If you don't have a good local lab, then there are decent online labs, but the good ones won't be that much cheaper than a good local lab and you have to wait on shipping and can't get direct help at the lab.

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There ARE quality labs where you can order online and have the print shipped back. The notion that "ALL" online print labs are crap is completely inaccurate. I've ordered from both "cheap" online labs as well as very expensive online labs, and the differences, while there, are usually quite subtle. Unless you have a particularly critical eye, the OP could order from just about ANY online lab and get far more than acceptable results with a very short turnaround time for a very reasonable fee! (This goes for Darkcat's comment on the question too!!!) – jrista Aug 6 '13 at 2:28
@jrista agreed that there are quality online shops but most are closer to cost of local labs unless you don't have a good one local. And unless you know your way around labs, geting started with a good local lab will get the best results since they can work with you in person. Notice I didn't say all online is crap, just local pro lab is much better than cheap online. – AJ Henderson Aug 6 '13 at 5:31
Well, you may not have used the exact words, but "local pro lab is much better than cheap online" is certainly indicative. ;P You can find both expensive as well as cheap online. You can even find reasonably priced with great quality. Maybe not top notch best of the best tonality, color balance, and paper at every online lab. You aren't necessarily guaranteed to find that at a local lab either, though. I think it is just a poor assumption to think that every local lab is just always going to have more experienced printers...its a crap shoot either way. – jrista Aug 6 '13 at 23:53
@Jrista - that's fair about local being a crapshoot I suppose. I always forget that I'm lucky to have a top notch local lab. I still think the direct talking to them will get the best result though unless they are pretty marginal. My experience seems to be that online works best if you know what you are doing already, but I've also not had to deal with a crappy local lab before. – AJ Henderson Aug 7 '13 at 0:11

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