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I just got my senior pictures back and want to print them professionally. They were shot with a Canon EOS Rebel T5 and specs are 2400 x 3600, 240 dpi. My photographer uploaded them to her website and I saved them as JPGs, then did some mild teeth whitening in Photoshop and saved them as TIFs. I know nothing about photography, but would I be able to get a nice quality 16x20 print with these specifications? Keep in mind it will hang on the wall and people likely won't go up close to view them, however I still want them to look relatively nice at a close distance.

Also, if I order straight from my photographer will the quality be better because she has the original files?

My question has been marked as a duplicate but I've already viewed that question and it didn't help me enough. Plus I want to know if printing online vs with my photographer will make a difference.

  • Thank you for the reply, but I viewed that question before posting mine. It just confused me honestly. Plus I posted mine because I've yet to see 240 dpi, only 300. – Haley Sep 22 '17 at 20:24
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    "dpi" means dots per inch -- it's a printing measurement. If you read the dupe, you should be able to plug your own numbers into the formula there, e.g. an image that's 2400 pixels across, printed at 240 dpi, would be 2400px/240dpi = 10 inches. If you're willing to print at lower resolution, say 100dpi, then you could enlarge the image to 2400px/100dpi = 24 inches. Do similar math for the other dimension. – Caleb Sep 22 '17 at 21:04
  • Are you trying to print from an image with reduced resolution intended as a web preview, or was it cropped by the photographer? A full resolution file as pointed out by @WayneF has more than twice the pixels and would be more useful when trying to print large sizes. This maybe the photographers method of making you buy the print of the original file through them. – dmkonlinux Sep 23 '17 at 7:27
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    @haley What does the contract with the photographer say about printing? Does it give you permission to print or have the images printed? – Michael C Sep 23 '17 at 11:00
  • The duplicate marked totally ignores the issues raised in the question with regard to licensing and possible copyright infringement, as well as the issue of whether the original photographer would print from the 3600x2400 pixel images posted on the photog's website or larger resolution images up to The T5's 5184x3456 resolution. – Michael C Sep 23 '17 at 21:41
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The aspect ratio of your 3600x2400 is 3:2 (meaning, longest dimension is 1.5x more than shortest dimension). 3600/2400 = 1.5.

The aspect ratio of 16x20 paper is 4:5 (longest is 1.25x more than the shortest). 20/16 = 1.25.

Not the same shape. 16x20 is a bit "more square" than your image, which is a longer rectangle.

Slight cropping of the long dimension is necessary to fit image shape to the shape of 16x20 paper. The photo printer will do this cropping, it is not a choice if it is to fit the shape of the paper. The printer (the automatic printing device) cannot judge, for example, it could cut off a bit of the head.

But HOW it is cropped is a choice, from which end, or some from both ends? If you would prefer to first see and approve the cropped result, it is advised that you could crop it yourself first to 2400x3000. 3000/2400 = 1.25. Or your photographer could choose a pleasing crop.

Or instead, you could print 16x24 inches, and include all of the image (same shape).

2400x3600 will print 16x24 at 150 dpi (2400/16), which is a little low, but adequate for a 16x24 viewed from at least a couple of feet. Viewed at one foot could be a little low. The 24 vs 20 inches is not a factor in this, the 16 is the factor.

Or printing 12x18 will print at 200 dpi (2400/12), to be more adequate viewed at one foot. The price of printing the prints is not that great, you could try both sizes and decide.

Other 3:2 shapes of paper are 4x6, 8x12, 12x18, 16x24, 20x30, etc.

2400x3600 is 8.6 megapixels. The T5 takes 18 megapixel images, so it might be possible for your photographer to furnish you with a larger image copy for the large printing (and cropped for 16x20 shape).

  • I don't mind cropping. If I went with 16x20 and cropped it, how would the quality look? – Haley Sep 22 '17 at 20:26
  • 16x20 is as was explained, not bad from at least a couple of feet, less so from one foot. Costco will print a good 16x20 for only $7, and that try would be the very best answer to the question. – WayneF Sep 22 '17 at 20:36
  • Costco will also use automatic "color correction" which may or may not result in better or worse color than the digital image supplied them. All commercial printing paper and processes are not the same either. – Michael C Sep 23 '17 at 10:58
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There are several issues here that could better be addressed separately. Most of them probably have been addressed in different questions here. It would make it easier to answer your question(s) if we knew the purpose of wanting to have images printed yourself rather than letting the photographer supply the finished images. Are you more concerned about getting the highest quality possible? Or are you concerned about the lowest price? Something else?

As others have pointed out, the camera that you say took the images has significantly higher resolution than that which you've been supplied. I guess it is possible that every image in the package was cropped to the same size, it is far more likely that the photographer chose to limit the resolution of the digital images supplied to you for one of several possible reasons:

  • The digital images provided you at 3600x2400 are for digital use only. That is, for posting on social media and other web based places, for displaying in digital picture frames, or using in a video slideshow of images, etc.
  • The photographer wishes to supply you with the ability to print smaller versions of the images (or have them commercially printed) while restricting your ability to make larger prints apart from the photographer.
  • The photographer may be attempting to enforce a clause in the agreement between them and you regarding who controls the printing process of large prints of these images. Quality of commercial prints can vary wildly. Many photographers are protective of their work and desire to maintain control of the artistic process involved with producing a print.

My photographer uploaded them to her website and I saved them as JPGs

Did you have the photographer's permission (preferably in writing) to do so? Otherwise you may have committed copyright infringement of the photographer's intellectual property. Unless a photographer specifically assigns someone else the rights, the photographers own the copyright and other rights to an image. Just because it is on the internet does not mean it is in the public domain.

Would I be able to get a nice quality 16x20 print with these specifications?

That depends on how you define quality. 20x16 is a different aspect ratio than the photos in question. You would only be able to print 3000x2400 of the pixels in the image. That would give you a resolution of 150 pixels per inch (ppi). That's half the standard 300 ppi used by many imaging professionals as the minimum resolution for viewing a printed image from about one foot away.

Keep in mind it will hang on the wall and people likely won't go up close to view them, however I still want them to look relatively nice at a close distance.

Please define relatively nice and close distance. How much difference is there between up close and close distance?

If I order straight from my photographer will the quality be better because she has the original files?

Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on how the photographer would make the prints or have the prints made versus how you would have the prints made. It also depend upon whether the 3600x2400 pixel images you've seen were cropped from the camera's full field of view or resized from the camera's full resolution of 5184x3456. With the camera's full resolution, at 300 ppi you could print 17.25x11.5. At 200 ppi you could print 26x17.25. To print a 20x16 you would print 4320x3456 at 216 ppi which will look better than 150 ppi by a noticeable margin.

Personally, I've yet to see an automated drugstore printer or other discount store printing service equal the quality I get from a major national photo lab that prints exactly what I sent them without doing any auto correction or other alterations to the images before they are printed. YMMV, but if you are happy with the appearance of the preview image you have seen at the photographer's website, the best you can do is match it.

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