I want to blow up some old prints of my children. They were taken 15 years ago on a Nikon camera. I want to blow them up to 30x40" but the photo lab gives me the warning that the resolution is not high enough for a good quality print.

So I looked into maybe ordering the "blow up 3" app, which also means I need to get a subscription to Photoshop. I would be okay with all this investment if I were sure that it would result in good quality blow ups, but I'm not sure. Does anyone have any advice for me? I'm not a photographer at all, but I've taken some awesome photos in my past!

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    Amy, you need to provide some essential information... The 15-year-old photos, are they digital or film pictures? If they are film photos, do you have the original negatives (or slides if applicable)? Also, if film photos, how did you digitise them? Also, if film, what was the film size? 35mm? Did the originals appear sharp? Or are they marginal to begin with? – osullic Jan 1 '18 at 17:46
  • And how far away do you want to see them?... – Rolazaro Azeveires Jan 2 '18 at 21:27

I would ask the lab if they offer a scanning service. You want to make a high resolution scan of the print, ensuring it is as clean as possible so that you don't enlarge any dust specks.

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What size prints now?

IMO, this 30x40 inch from a small print is a seriously doomed effort. Print emulsion is only designed to be the "final viewing resolution" (only sufficient resolution that the eye can see), and are NOT designed to be enlarged more. In contrast, film is designed to be high resolution, designed to be enlarged, but prints are not. If you have the original negatives, they will be your best starting point for enlargement. Or if they were digital images, the original camera files will be your best try (but 15 years ago were probably small files).

Scanning and enlarging prints to 2x size will lose half of the resolution, but might be acceptable. 3x enlargement will be objectionably worse, and 4x is not even to be considered.

The idea is that to print 2x size at 300 dpi, you scan at 2x or 600 dpi, in order to have sufficient pixels. For 3x size, scan at 900 dpi. But the problem is that color prints only have maybe 300 dpi to give, so it becomes wishful thinking. Thus, such enlargement is only a blurring process. If viewed from enough distance, it could be acceptable.

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One would imagine that the photo lab's estimate of the chances of success are going to be pretty good - it's their job.

So, how about a different approach, one where the initial picture quality is far less important?

What about "painting" or "drawing" the picture using synthesis software? This could give you a very high resolution image from a low resolution original which would then be ideal for printing at a large size.

This is a [down-sized] example of what could be done using a tool such as Studio Artist [no affiliation & I'm sure there must be other apps out there that can do similar]
The full-size image is approx 24MP from a small crop of an original photo of less than 1MP.

enter image description here

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