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Thread: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

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    Senior Member Jamgolf's Avatar
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    Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    The maximum possible print sizes at 300dpi for common MF sensor sizes are:
    • 60MP => 29.9 x 22.4 inches
    • 80MP => 34.4 x 25.8 inches
    • 100MP => 38.5 x 28.8 inches

    Clearly at 300dpi a 60 inch wide print can not be made even with the mighty 100MP.

    I understand the role of viewing distance in relation to print sizes, however the question is how to get a print that looks great at close distances.

    So what are the steps to get a fine-art quality 60 inch wide print that stands up to close inspection?
    a. Using lower dpi?
    b. Up-scaling and then using 300dpi?
    c. Output at native 100% size and let the printing-shop take care of everything?
    d. none of the above?

    Thanks in advance for the inputs/education.
    Much appreciated.
    Last edited by Jamgolf; 20th May 2016 at 22:18.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    For context, I wanted to add that my motivation behind this question is to understand whether getting a 80MP or 100MP back would be of significant advantage for 60" prints, if compared to 60MP db.
    Clearly there will be an advantage but as I see, even the 100MP at 300 dpi is limited to 38.5 inches.

    My plan is to run some experiments by generating a Credo 60 file with output size 60" wide, then print a 100% crop of that file to see what the output looks like and how much detail it holds in comparison to another crop based on native 29.9" wide output file.

    I have not yet printed the aforementioned crops, but on the monitor the 60" wide output file looks rather underwhelming at 100%.
    Last edited by Jamgolf; 20th May 2016 at 11:40.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Personally, I don't feel the step from 60 to 100 MP will change the appearance of a print of that size more than a better lens or shooting technique will. Just as with getting the most from your camera can be a challenge, getting a good print from a file is also depending on good technique. But even if all the technical stuff was carried out perfectly every time, the difference between 150 and 190 dpi is not huge, and both are quite low when printing for nose-to-the-print kind of quality. Although the more pliable files from the CMOS might help with correcting small problem areas easier.

    But why not make some test prints at different resolutions and see what you find acceptable and then see if the step up will make the difference for you. You don't have to prin them all a 60 inches, you could just make test strips. Although that way you do run a greater risk of falling in the pixel peeping trap.

    If it is for just one project (I don't know many photographers selling those size prints on a revular basis) I'd suggest to try another method of increasing resolution, like stitching or shooting 8x10 film or something.
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    Senior Member Jamgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeRuFo View Post
    Personally, I don't feel the step from 60 to 100 MP will change the appearance of a print of that size more than a better lens or shooting technique will. Just as with getting the most from your camera can be a challenge, getting a good print from a file is also depending on good technique. But even if all the technical stuff was carried out perfectly every time, the difference between 150 and 190 dpi is not huge, and both are quite low when printing for nose-to-the-print kind of quality. Although the more pliable files from the CMOS might help with correcting small problem areas easier.

    But why not make some test prints at different resolutions and see what you find acceptable and then see if the step up will make the difference for you. You don't have to prin them all a 60 inches, you could just make test strips. Although that way you do run a greater risk of falling in the pixel peeping trap.

    If it is for just one project (I don't know many photographers selling those size prints on a revular basis) I'd suggest to try another method of increasing resolution, like stitching or shooting 8x10 film or something.
    I am not a pro and will not be selling any 60" prints.
    The question is more on an academic level and for understanding the possibilities and capabilities of these DBs.

    You are right, I think printing 100% crops at different resolutions is what I should do.
    But even for that I am not exactly sure how to properly generate 40", 50", 60" wide output files.
    Because when I do it from CaptureOne, the 60" file viewed at 100%, looks mushy - maybe the print will not be mushy??
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamgolf View Post
    I am not a pro and will not be selling any 60" prints.
    The question is more on an academic level and for understanding the possibilities and capabilities of these DBs.

    You are right, I think printing 100% crops at different resolutions is what I should do.
    But even for that I am not exactly sure how to properly generate 40", 50", 60" wide output files.
    Because when I do it from CaptureOne, the 60" file viewed at 100%, looks mushy - maybe the print will not be mushy??
    Why not stitch if you need 300 DPI? Lenses like your 90HRSW would be perfect with the 60MP DB. I also love love the look of a longer lens like the 90 for a WA FoV. You should be able to 2-3 images at 300DPI at 60".
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    There's really really nothing wrong with res-ing up. The 'engine' in Photoshop offers more options now (you'd presumably want Bicubic Smoother); or you might want to use a more sophisticated tool, for example Perfect Resize.

    Just using PS Bicubic Smoother, you can double the width of your print without visible degradation, even viewing from a close distance. (And the larger print will be viewed from a greater distance anyway.)

    For Epson printers you'll want 360 ppi resolution to print at 1440 dpi (or 720 for 2880, if you're that patient and fussy); for Canon, 300 if working through the printer driver, or 600 through the PS plug-in.

    Two cautions about modest/reasonable res-ing up are that you shouldn't sharpen beforehand, and don't over-sharpen – that doesn't make a 'better' large print.

    Kirk
    Last edited by thompsonkirk; 20th May 2016 at 13:27.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamgolf View Post
    Because when I do it from CaptureOne, the 60" file viewed at 100%, looks mushy - maybe the print will not be mushy??
    I have found the detail quality of the view produced and seen in capture one is not an accurate representation of the actual output, seen in Photoshop, for example, which seems to produce better screening.
    Not sure about the printing result
    Jm
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    Senior Member etrump's Avatar
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?


    I understand the role of viewing distance in relation to print sizes, however the question is how to get a print that looks great at close distances.
    So what are the steps to get a fine-art quality 60 inch wide print that stands up to close inspection?
    a. Using lower dpi?
    b. Up-scaling and then using 300dpi?
    c. Output at native 100% size and let the printing-shop take care of the everything?
    d. non of the above?

    Maybe all of the above options under different circumstances.

    First off, the raw dpi is only part of the story. The technical quality of the capture is the most important factor followed by the processing techniques even before you get to sizing for output.

    Current printers do a fantastic job of getting great output with a lower DPI so that is a good option. You can see the difference in a 200 dpi compared to a 300 dpi when the prints are right next to each other but I serious doubt if in separate rooms most people would be able to tell the difference. If the source file did not have 300dpi it would be even more difficult to see a difference. Current printers are just that good at upsizing and sharpening for optimal output.

    Basically, the more resolution you have the better the print will look at large sizes which includes detail and tonality. If you routinely print over 60" you will be better served with the higher dpi and have more room to crop as well.

    I know for myself and most professional print makers I am aware of, they will size the print to the native resolution of the output device so they can control the whole process. If you are using a fine art shop then send it to them in native size and let them do the prep if you are unsure.
    Ed Cooley Fine Art Photography
     
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Ed, John, Kirk, Jag and JeRuFo
    I appreciate your inputs. Thank you.

    I am going to experiment with up-sampling and printing some crops myself. I just downloaded Photoshop CC for the first time ever for my personal account, even though I developed Photoshop plugins for 4 years - crazy I know.

    But as Ed said, the current printers are good at upsizing so I ought to let a fine art shop print a 60” wide print for me allowing them to do the prep work, since they would know what the heck they’re doing and I do not.

    Its silly of me to doubt the print size for a 60MP back when I am sitting next to this 10 year old print in my room, from a 6MP (six MP) Nikon D50.
    Last edited by Jamgolf; 20th May 2016 at 17:57.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by etrump View Post
    The technical quality of the capture is the most important factor followed by the processing techniques even before you get to sizing for output.
    Quote Originally Posted by JeRuFo View Post
    Just as with getting the most from your camera can be a challenge, getting a good print from a file is also depending on good technique.
    This may sound rather elementary, but I'd rather ask and learn...
    What constitutes "technical quality of the capture" and "good technique" with the goal of achieving best print quality?
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    Senior Member etrump's Avatar
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamgolf View Post
    This may sound rather elementary, but I'd rather ask and learn...
    What constitutes "technical quality of the capture" and "good technique" with the goal of achieving best print quality?
    If the image is exposed properly with low ISO/noise, no camera shake, properly focused with aperture in the sweet spot of the lens, and decent light you can print almost any size image much larger than you would first expect.

    Just like anything else, preparing files for large prints takes knowledge and/or experience. For me, I had no mentor so everything was trial and error.
    Ed Cooley Fine Art Photography
     
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamgolf View Post
    This may sound rather elementary, but I'd rather ask and learn...
    What constitutes "technical quality of the capture" and "good technique" with the goal of achieving best print quality?
    A look at your website suggests you're in good shape on both scores.

    Kirk
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    Senior Member DougDolde's Avatar
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    It sounds like you don't do your own printing. I think learning to print your own work is the other half of the equation. Capturing the image is of course the other half.

    But if you aren't doing your own printing it's just all theory to you.

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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Hi,

    Depending on screen, you probably view at around 100 PPI. So that would be something like 1.8X magnificaton of a print at 180 PPI.

    Nevertheless, an MFD image should be contour sharp at 1:1 view on screen if proper technique was used and correct sharpening applied.

    One thing to keep in mind is that what used to be called low to medium frequency detail dominates human vision, so proper sharpening of low frequency detail may be more important than sharpening tiny detail at actual pixels.

    Going from 80 to 100 MP is just a small improvement, around 11%, so with 100 MP you can make a print that is 11% larger than with 80 MP.

    The real benefit of 100 MP in MFD may be using CMOS instead of CCD, and CMOS comes recently in 50 MP or 100MP, unless you count the Leica S (typ 007).

    If you are shooting some subject at say 100 cm with an 80 MP back you could shout at 89 cm with the same back, the difference would be the same as moving from 80MP to 100MP.

    The smaller pixels on the 100 MP back would reduce aliasing somewhat, more important may be the (gapless?) microlenses on the CMOS back increasing the fill factor.

    It seems that late generation CMOS sensors suffer a lot with shifts on technical cameras using near symmetric lens designs, as these lenses have large beam angles. DSLR type MFD wouldn't have the same problems as they all use retrofocus lenses.

    To sum it up, I would say that proper technique probably plays a more important role than 100MP vs. 80MP regarding printability. Modern CMOS has some benefits over CCD:

    • Much lower readout noise from the sensor, resulting in cleaner darks and allowing for good images at high ISO.
    • Possibly or even probably modern CMOS can store more electrons and thus have lower shot noise.
    • CMOS allows good live view, and good live view may be essential for exact manual focusing


    The above factors may or may not be important, depending on the way the equipment is used. Proper technique is always important to make best use of equipment.

    Best regards
    Erik




    Quote Originally Posted by Jamgolf View Post
    I am not a pro and will not be selling any 60" prints.
    The question is more on an academic level and for understanding the possibilities and capabilities of these DBs.

    You are right, I think printing 100% crops at different resolutions is what I should do.
    But even for that I am not exactly sure how to properly generate 40", 50", 60" wide output files.
    Because when I do it from CaptureOne, the 60" file viewed at 100%, looks mushy - maybe the print will not be mushy??

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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by DougDolde View Post
    It sounds like you don't do your own printing. I think learning to print your own work is the other half of the equation. Capturing the image is of course the other half.

    But if you aren't doing your own printing it's just all theory to you.
    Absolutely - I don't do my own printing and actually have no interest in doing so, presently.
    But I do want to understand the realistic print size limits of my current equipment and those of other DBs.
    More importantly I want to know the pre-capture and post-capture steps involved in generating an output file yeilding the highest print quality.
    At that point I'd be content with handing it over to a printing pro.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    In all honesty, while there is certainly potential to capture more detail in the 80-100mpx backs over the 60, you'd be hard pressed to see the advantage of it when printing big unless technique is 100% (including using the best lenses etc,) and image content is of a certain type, i.e. containing highly detailed elements in the plane of focus across the whole frame. Of more bennifit for the new 100mpx would be consistency of results, especially with live view, extended DR and useable mid ISOs. That might make all the difference in a final, massive print than theoretical resolving power.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Hi,

    My take on the issue is:

    Pre capture:
    • Use a good tripod
    • Use mirror lock up
    • Focus exactly, using magnified live view
    • Use tilt for adjusting plane of focus (if possible)
    • Use low ISO and expose ETTR
    • Use optimum aperture. For truly great lenses that may be f/4 and not f/8. Don't stop down more than needed.
    • Use a remote release


    Post capture, keep in mind that there may be no single optimal solution.

    • Use a raw converter that gives good detail and little artefacts. Capture One may be a good candidate for that.
    • Don't sharpen in Capture One/LR or whatever you use. Sharpen with FocusMagic or something similar.
    • Don't oversharpen
    • Apply some extra sharpening with large rdaius (2-3) and low amount to enhance low frequency detail
    • Tools like Imatest may be beneficial in finding best sharpening workflow.


    Best regards
    Erik






    Quote Originally Posted by tjv View Post
    In all honesty, while there is certainly potential to capture more detail in the 80-100mpx backs over the 60, you'd be hard pressed to see the advantage of it when printing big unless technique is 100% (including using the best lenses etc,) and image content is of a certain type, i.e. containing highly detailed elements in the plane of focus across the whole frame. Of more bennifit for the new 100mpx would be consistency of results, especially with live view, extended DR and useable mid ISOs. That might make all the difference in a final, massive print than theoretical resolving power.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    After years of testing and delivery of art reproductions; in my opinion resolution for inkjet prints does not need to be 300ppi at size. In fact, continuous tone images do not need to be 300ppi for offset either, but thats a different story. Its a throwback to the early days of digital/offset printing when most offset was done using AM screening at 150LPI and so initially we all thought (arbitrarily mind you) that to be safe, lets tell everyone they should dedicate 2pixels per LPI. It was wayyyy overkill as it turns out.

    Also, res'ing up in photoshop does not help and most often looks worse. Photoshop has no clue what type of printer you will be using, what type and size of ink droplet, AM or FM screening algorythm, substrate, dot gain...the list is endless. All photoshop (or any other program knows, is screen dot pitch and colorspace.
    Ever wonder why sometimes content aware fill looks ok and sometimes it like totally doesn't ? Well there you go!
    What does know all those characteristics and more? RIP's do! Let your RIP make those decisions.

    In any case, all that conjecture aside, we recently delivered a large format art reproduction job of a 14ft x 10ft canvas for a world renown gallery and collector.
    We shot it two ways:
    1:using a Credo80 and SK120 ASPH in a 6-panel stitch
    2. using Credo80/DF+/SK120makro single exposure

    Although the 6-panel stitch was crazy cool to zoom in and pixel peep all the details...it took hours to get the captures and LCC and color bars and stitching and on and on; the single pop image was actually slightly sharper and resulting full size print was virtually identical at any distance beyond 4 feet.

    Final image below shows our reproduction next to original after printing, stretching, framing...etc. Our reproduction was put in place of the original and for a brief moment in time at a very early hour, they were side by side. The entire swap operation took days to do because the original was 25feet up on a wall and weighed over 2000LBs. The entire front of the building had to be removed and rebuilt just to get them in and out of there. Isn't it nice when you have a client say "Just do it, money is no object!" and then really mean that!

    In any case, Credo60 for 60inch prints will look fantastic, imo. If it doesn't, it has nothing to do with the resolution of your camera.


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Long story short: forget about 360/300dpi. I've made great prints at 180 dpi, that have been sold to major museums of the world, for over $50,000, without any issues at all. I don't uprez, just send the printer a 180 dpi file and let it do the rest.

    Yes, the original files need be very good, clean with minimal processing. Sharpening is final thing. It's really not that difficult - if you start with a well exposed low ISO MF digital file, you'll be fine at 180dpi.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Naturally we all want to know who from dpi is selling their prints to museums for $50K

    Is your real-world name Wall or Liebowitz or Struh?

    Kirk

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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamgolf View Post
    Absolutely - I don't do my own printing and actually have no interest in doing so, presently.
    But I do want to understand the realistic print size limits of my current equipment and those of other DBs.
    More importantly I want to know the pre-capture and post-capture steps involved in generating an output file yeilding the highest print quality.
    At that point I'd be content with handing it over to a printing pro.
    What I meant though is I think you would love doing your own printing

    It's way cheaper than having a lab do it once you own the printer.

    I bought an HP Z5200 44" wide printer last summer and it's been great. Has a built in spectrophotometer for creating your own paper profiles. I mostly print on canvas using files from my IQ180. I haven't tested the limits yet though. Canvas however is more forgiving than paper due to the weave. That said I am amazed how much detail is there in the print. My biggest prints are 36x48 and that works out to 210 dpi. Plenty in my book.

    If I went to 60" wide, I would be down to 167 dpi which wouldn't look bad on canvas. One of these days I will try it.
    My Drytac vacuum/heat press has a capacity of 42x66 so it is doable. The hardest part will be making a frame that large. 36x48 frames are somewhat harder to make than 30x40. Will have to see.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    This is one of those issues where it doesn't matter what others say. You have to do your own testing and evaluating. There's no way around it. One man's "unacceptable" is another man's masterpiece.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Try not to confuse PPI (Pixels Per Inch) with DPI (Dots Per Inch)

    They are two completely different things.

    Frequency Modulated screening means all dots are the exact same size and the distance between them changes to produce density, color and gradation.

    All inkjet printers use FM (Frequency Modulated) screening algorithms and there is no correlation between camera resolution (PPI) and print resolution (DPI).

    We fixate on numbers like 180PPI and 300PPI for arbitrary reasons like old AM offset printing techniques (don't apply) or multiples of DPI print resolution (180PPI is half the 360DPI so its an even number...but it doesn't apply again...its irrelevant)

    Whether your digital image is 1PPI or 1200PPI it is going to be interpolated into completely different values based on FM screening algorythms
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by thompsonkirk View Post
    Naturally we all want to know who from dpi is selling their prints to museums for $50K

    Is your real-world name Wall or Liebowitz or Struh?

    Kirk
    I said I made the prints, didn't say they were my works!

    Jeff Wall are $250,000 and up, Struth maybe start at $50k, and far higher for largest/ rare vintage. Leibowitz has made far too many prints at random of her work for them ever to be really worth collecting. Besides which she's really an editorial photographer, not in the same territory as the other two. But let's not go there!

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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by thompsonkirk View Post
    A look at your website suggests you're in good shape on both scores.

    Kirk
    This.

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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotohouse View Post
    This.
    Fotohouse, I see you quote someone and then post the word "this" occasionally.
    What does that mean?


    e

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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    "This", "+1", and "I couldn't agree more" are roughly synonyms.

    --Matt
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    that (no need to quote...)
    Last edited by jlm; 25th May 2016 at 08:33.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    that
    the other thing
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    wut a teem
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    I've seen some images at that size which I perceived, at close inspection, to be "pretty dang sharp" from ye old 5D classic. They were from a talented photographer friend and he was knowledgeable and owned his own large format Epson. So I would agree with the notion that it mostly comes down to technique and expectations. I would also agree that film (probably from 6x7+) is best for truly large prints. Deardorff and Kodak still win that round. If I NEEDED to shoot digital and NEEDED to print at 300dpi, I'd stitch, or upres.

    However that's only academic considering just how good all image making machines are these days. It's pretty astounding what someone can do with an RX1R2 and a tripod. A "Cybershot" for all love! I became quite pleased when MP counts out classed my 13x19 R3000. That's the largest anyone needs my photographs to be.
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by Egor View Post

    What does know all those characteristics and more? RIP's do! Let your RIP make those decisions.

    In any case, all that conjecture aside, we recently delivered a large format art reproduction job of a 14ft x 10ft canvas for a world renown gallery and collector.
    We shot it two ways:
    1:using a Credo80 and SK120 ASPH in a 6-panel stitch
    2. using Credo80/DF+/SK120makro single exposure

    Although the 6-panel stitch was crazy cool to zoom in and pixel peep all the details...it took hours to get the captures and LCC and color bars and stitching and on and on; the single pop image was actually slightly sharper and resulting full size print was virtually identical at any distance beyond 4 feet.


    In any case, Credo60 for 60inch prints will look fantastic, imo. If it doesn't, it has nothing to do with the resolution of your camera.
    Fascinating thread. Thanks Egor, for your post, it really drives the point home.

    Thus, if a well exposed and sharp image from a 60MP camera can produce a beautiful print that is 140 sq ft in size, then anything is possible with most of the gear we use today.

    It truly is a fascinating world, printing large - and even though I often don't know where to hang my prints, it gives me a thrill to see my images rolling off the big printer.

    In this context, size does matter
    Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........
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    Re: Fine art (museum) quality 60" wide prints?

    the best tool i know for printing and uprezing is qimage, it does everything and does it very well. this is a much better tool than photoshop when it comes to printing and uprezing,


    Quote Originally Posted by Jamgolf View Post
    Ed, John, Kirk, Jag and JeRuFo
    I appreciate your inputs. Thank you.

    I am going to experiment with up-sampling and printing some crops myself. I just downloaded Photoshop CC for the first time ever for my personal account, even though I developed Photoshop plugins for 4 years - crazy I know.

    But as Ed said, the current printers are good at upsizing so I ought to let a fine art shop print a 60” wide print for me allowing them to do the prep work, since they would know what the heck they’re doing and I do not.

    Its silly of me to doubt the print size for a 60MP back when I am sitting next to this 10 year old print in my room, from a 6MP (six MP) Nikon D50.
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