All photos are not created equal. Aside from any artistic or sentimental qualities they may possess, the image resolution may range from very low to extremely high.
Usually, the naked eye can tell the difference and you'll hear people throw around the terms "high-res" and "low-res," but there is a bit more to this concept and how it affects print quality when you go from a digital image to a framed photo or collage picture frame on the wall
The Cannon and Epson inkjet printers we use to produce your photos create prints by placing many, many individual dots of ink on paper.
When printed close together, our eyes perceive these tiny dots of archival pigment as one continuous image. So the more tightly together the dots are packed, the sharper your images look. "DPI" (dots per inch) is the measure of how many dots are contained inside a square inch of printed material.
But unlike prints with their ink dots, a digital image is a grid of tiny pixels, each representing a single color.
Think of a pixel like a square dot -- zooming in far enough on any image will reveal these individual squares with no gaps between them:
If you right click on 'Get Info' on one of your digital photos, you should be able to get its dimensions in pixels. Here's what that looks like on a Mac:
To translate this into another term you may recognize, multiply the horizontal and vertical pixels to calculate the number of megapixels.
So in the example above, 2,675 x 3,568 = 9,544,400 pixels, or ~9.5 megapixels.
Put simply, an image with a lot of pixels is called high resolution, and one with with a low number of pixels is considered low resolution.
Tying it together
Okay, so we know that more dots printed per square inch (a high DPI) results in a sharper, better looking photo. It follows that the more pixels you have available to cram into each square inch, the smaller they will appear until they blend together smoothly.
This is where print size comes into play.
A high resolution image will print beautifully at a small print size because you are cramming so many pixels into a limited area. But what happens when you make the print bigger?
As you increase the size of the paper, you have fewer and fewer pixels to pack into each square inch because while the image is expanding, the number of pixels stays constant. At some point those pixels become bigger than the tiny ink dots:
How we handle your photos
The vast majority of photos we see uploaded for printing and framing are of excellent quality. Any smart phone or point-and-shoot digital camera less than a few years old can produce images that print well up to 20" and sometimes higher, assuming a high degree of sharpness and focus in the photo.
This is where online custom framing makes things easier.
When you upload a photo for us to print and frame, we analyze the aspect ratio and resolution on the fly to generate a range of acceptable print sizes to choose from. Once a selection is made and your order placed, we use software to resample the image up to 300 DPI for a super high-quality print.
At this stage, we can see onscreen the exact print quality of each photo for the size ordered. If we spot any pixellation or noise, we will reach out immediately to request a higher resolution file or suggest a smaller print size. Once the photos are printed, they must pass a second eye test before getting custom framed as part of our quality control.
The end result
Whether its for artwork or a stunning digital image, we're going to hand-craft a beautiful custom frame to fit using all-wood profiles, museum-quality matting and crystal clear acrylic. We provide the same care and expert treatment of your photos when printing to make sure the combination of the two turns out perfectly.
We do the same for artists and photographers who need help selling prints and framed versions of their work. Through August 31st, we are powering a limited edition print sale featuring the works of over 30 Nikon Ambassadors.
Proceeds from the sale will benefit NYC Salt, a non-profit that creates opportunities in visual arts and pathways to college and careers for underserved New York City youth from diverse backgrounds.
So from an iPhone shot of your pet going up in a gallery wall, to an insanely high-res photo you're printing and framing as an oversize statement piece, to limited edition prints from the world's top photographers, we have you covered.
If you run into any issues uploading incredibly large files or want to submit other formats including PDF or TIFF, just get in touch and we so that we can assist.
If you have any questions about the resolution of your photo or which type of paper to select for your framed photo, please don't hesitate to reach out.
You can always contact us via the chat bubble at bottom right or by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.