You asked for a photo, my logo, etc. My software's asking me what resolution to save it as.

Three short answers:

1. "it depends."
2. "300 dpi at 100% size."
3. "as high as you can give us."

Long answer, because if you're reading this, "it depends" isn't a good enough answer. So here are some basic guidelines:

  1. DPI stands for "dots per inch." 200 dpi constitutes "photo quality," and most of the work we do is at least 300 dpi. That means if you were to zoom in far enough, each inch of your picture would be comprised of at least 300 dots. The dots will be different colors and different sizes, and without a microscope you probably can't see them, but together they would make up an print of such quality that most people would not be able to tell it from a photo.

  2. Most pros say the human eye can't see resolutions higher than 200-300 dpi. But there are enough people walking around who can correctly discern up to 600 dpi that most of Ram's machines can run many times that resolution.

  3. It also depends on how close the viewer is to the print. Up close, many people can discern a 300 dpi from a 200 dpi print. From 30 feet away, few can tell a 300 dpi from a 20 dpi print. There are big equations to tell us what a 20/20 eye can see from how many feet, but we'll generally always be printing far above what a human eye can see. Our banner printer can print up to 2400 dpi, 42" wide. That means most people can't see any imperfections with a magnifying glass, let alone from 30 or 300 feet away.

  4. The reason we say 300 dpi "at 100% size" is that if you increase the size, it lowers the resolution. So if you pull a 72 dpi square picture off the internet, it will be 1/4 the size by the time it's an usable 300 dpi. You only have 72 dots per inch to work with on that file, so it would have to be reduced 75% to find 300 dots to crowd into that inch.

  5. "Megapixel" on your camera means 1000 dots/pixels. So a 3.1 MP camera has dimensions that multiply out to roughly 3,100,000 dots if printed at 100% size on a really honest printer (normally 2048x1536, which actually equals 3,145,728).

  6. So if you take a picture on your camera and it saves it with dimensions of 3000x2000 dpi (6 MP), you can estimate that at 300 dpi, a 3000 pixel-wide picture can be printed at 10" wide. (3000/300=10") by (2000/300=6.67"), therefore a 10"x6.67" print.

  7. If you have a logo or illustration, it may already be in a .eps format. Simply put, that means it can be scaled to ANY size with ZERO loss in quality. That doesn't work with photos, but with illustrations and logos it's ideal.

Please call or email if you have any questions.


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