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I'm going to print some photos for an exhibition at 50x70 cm (or maybe 40x46 cm). My photos are taken with a Nikon D7000, 18-105 lens which has a slightly wider crop (800x530 or 906x400 if I scale it, keeping the ratio). I understand that considering a print that should fit a standard frame, the aspect ratio should match; however it's usually the case that you end up cutting some millimeters from each side of the print to fit it into the frame or MDF, whatever.

I googled and searched the questions here and this was the closest I could get: What and how to crop? I did check all answers but there's just some information about the cropping aspect ratio and it doesn't quite explain the issue in my question.

So, shall I always stick with 800x600 [ratio] crops if I'm printing a standard size image, not a panorama nor a square?

P.S. I just updated my post, as I mean 4:3 ratio, but I also think I'm pretty much confused on how to prepare a photo for printing... Sorry for the confusion anyways.

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    Based on the answers so far, I think we're all confused by why you're using 800x600. Do you really just mean that aspect ratio of 4:3, or are you literally scaling to 800x600 pixels for some reason? – mattdm Mar 3 '15 at 15:35
  • Right @mattdm I'm a bit confused as well. I updated the question anyways. – Neeku Mar 3 '15 at 15:40
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800×600 pixels is both far too small for printing at 70×50 cm, and also the wrong aspect ratio - 800×600 is a 1.33:1 ratio, but 70×50 is a 1.4:1 ratio.

Your D7000 has a native resolution of 4928×3264; from that you can make a 1.4:1 crop of 4570×3264. You should be aiming to use as much of the pixel data you have as possible when printing - attempting to print an 800×600 crop at sizes around 50cm will just look completely horrible as each pixel will be very, very obvious.

  • Uh... I seem to be totally confused about the print-preparation process. Any quick guide on this you may know of? – Neeku Mar 3 '15 at 15:37
  • @Neeku Check out this question and its answers. – mattdm Mar 3 '15 at 17:17
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Your camera takes pictures with 4928×3264px, 800x530 is a severely reduced size, which loses a huge amount of data.

For printing, you should aim at ~300dpi, or at least 150dpi for a decent picture. 50/2.54~=19.69, so the full resolution width 4928 would yield about 250dpi, which is certainly ok. an 800x530px picture will come out terribly at this print size.

You should always only crop to the ratio, ie. the relation of width and height, you want to achive, while retaining the highest possible pixel count! Never reduce your image size, if you can avoid it.

  • I mentioned that the ratio will be 800x530 if I scale it, so that's when I enter 800 for the width, keeping the aspect ratio, and getting 530 accordingly. – Neeku Mar 3 '15 at 15:20
  • ah, the "if I scale it" could also only apply to the second set of dimensions, that's how i interpreted it. – ths Mar 3 '15 at 15:23
  • Uh... Right, I seem to be totally confused about the print-preparation process. Any quick guide on this you may know of? – Neeku Mar 3 '15 at 15:37
  • i guess if it's more general than the cropping, it would be suited for its own question. – ths Mar 3 '15 at 17:06
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Be aware that it's the proportion that is important here, rather than the dimensions. If you crop to 800x600px as you specify, then your image will only print at around 8.5cm across by about 6cm tall if you print at 240ppi resolution. I think it is the ratio of the long edge to the short edge that you need to remember, so 800x600px is a ratio of 4:3.

In answer to your question, I think it is important that you don't lose the composition of your image in trying to get an image to be at a particular proportion, eg 4:3. Unless there are specific rules set out by the exhibition that say the images need to be a particular proportion, then I would avoid cropping altogether. I realise that you mention fitting them into a standard frame, but I would suggest getting frames/mounts made to match the images. If this is being done by a good professional framer, then when they cut the mount board, the depth of the board as you look at the image on the top, left and right edges will be the same, and the bottom edge will be somewhere around 10% deeper. It creates a more pleasing way of looking at a mounted image.

Other advantages to getting each image frame/mount made are that a good framer will be able to make recommendations on the framing material, colour, size etc, and on the mount board colour, and these factors can really enhance the way an image is perceived by viewers.

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