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Help System > About image resolution

About image resolution

We've been printing things for a long time, and we have this advice: Don't worry too much about pixels per inch and dots per inch. Follow these guidelines, and you'll be happy with your print.

1: Make sure the picture itself isn't blurry

Before you upload an image to print, zoom in to 100% (or "full size") to make sure it isn't blurry.

Here's a picture that looks good when you view it on your phone or monitor:

picture of a row of Russian stacking dolls

The picture looks OK because you're only viewing it at 10%, or 25% at the most on your phone or monitor.

But when you view it at 100%, or "full size", you'll see that the picture is blurry:

picture of a row of Russian stacking dolls close up

If you would print this picture on a large poster, you will be disappointed with the results.

2. Use the original image from the camera

Do not print pictures that have been texted to you or that you downloaded or screenshot from social media. When a picture is texted or posted to social media, it is made much, much smaller. The result will be a blurry, "soft" print.

Always print the original image you took with your camera. Or, if you can legally download the "original image" or the "high-resolution" version of the image without violating someone else's copyright, then use that high-resolution version. Caution: it is illegal for you to download images off the Internet and send them to us for printing without obtaining written permission from the copyright holder or paying for a license that permits you to reproduce the image.

3. Make sure your phone or camera is set to the highest resolution

Go into your phone camera's settings, or your camera's settings. Make sure that the highest resolution is set before taking images:

cell phone screenshot of camera resolution choices

4. Use the "Sharpness Checker"

Every time you upload a photo, in the middle of the page, you'll see the Sharpness Checker. It shows you what your print will look like up close, and it automatically adjusts based on the print size you select. Use the arrows to move around the image.

If it looks OK to you in the Sharpness Checker, you'll be happy with the sharpness of your print. If it doesn't look sharp enough in the Sharpness Checker, try to find a bigger and sharper image to print. Here's more info.

5. Read the print quality warning

Our smart ordering software will notify you if your print may be blurry, or will be blurry, by displaying an orange "poor print quality" notice at the bottom left of the print proof:

screenshot of blurriness warning

Click the "i" in the notice for more info. If you see this message, we recommend either finding a larger image, or selecting a smaller print size.

Note: The smart ordering software is only measuring resolution numbers. It doesn't have eyes and a brain. If your original image is blurry (see top of page), the Sharpness Checker won't know that.

5. A very large print will hardly ever (and does not need to) look tack-sharp up close

Let's say you're printing an 80" x 40" panorama.

In order to print it at a super-sharp 250 DPI (dots per inch), the image's dimensions would have to be:

Width: 250 DPI x 80 inches = 20,000 pixels wide, and
Height: 250 DPI x 40 inches = 10,000 pixels high, or:
20,000 x 10,000 = 200,000,000 pixels = 200 megapixels.

Very, very few people have a camera or scanner that can produce that kind of resolution.

You don't need that kind of resolution to create a gorgeous large-format print. People look at large-format prints from at least a few feet away. If you start with a sharp image with good color and balanced tones, a large format print can look fantastic as low as 40-50 DPI.

6. Not sure? Contact us!

We'll be very happy to give you our guidance on your print job before you pay for it and order it. Here's how:

  1. Upload the image and select the size and paper you want.
  2. Add it to your cart.
  3. View your cart and click "Check out."
  4. Click the words "question or request":

    image of special instructions screenshot

  5. Follow the instructions that appear. The print will stay in your cart while we communicate back and forth.
  6. Then, if you want us to print the job, simply check out and pay. If not, delete the print from your cart.


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