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Help: Enlarging Photos w/o Losing Quality


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Hello There,

I need some advice about a project I have been working on at my job.
I was asked to find art for our newly renovated office and I found great photos on Unsplash. 
Problems occurred when it came to printing...the project manager said he wanted the prints to be 24x36 inches. 
I'm not sure I can print these photos that big without losing quality or the pictures printing blurry/pixelated.
I think I need the file to be 7200x10800 to print that large, am I correct? I'm very confused. 

I have Affinity Photo, is there a way to enlarge these photos without loss of quality?

I've included links to two pictures so you can see what I'm working with:

https://unsplash.com/photos/wYy3rvvgjAU 

https://unsplash.com/photos/2nx1Z70CT8I

Any help would be appreciated, I'm not too knowledgeable when it comes to printing from the web. 

Thanks,

Chelly

 



 

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Hi @bk_chelly welcome to the forums,

You can Resample an image to increase it's overall size whilst simultaneously increasing the number of pixels contained within the image however there's always going to be some form of quality loss when upscaling an image. There are a few different methods of resampling with various degrees of quality and processing times, I've linked the help guide below which details these.

https://affinity.help/photo/English.lproj/pages/SizeTransform/imageSize.html 

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I use a method based on small subsequent size increases while resampling. It is a shame APhoto's macro system doesn't allow recording percentage increments, and only records the absolute target size, making the macro useless for this type of task.

Paolo

 

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One additional factor you need to consider is the typical viewing distance for your prints once hanging on the wall, whilst this isn't something you can 100% guarantee, as in some people may take a close up and personal look, this is a very useful resource and will hopefully assist...

https://www.omnicalculator.com/other/pixels-to-print-size

As mentioned on the page, it allows you to do the folloing:

  1. determine the maximum print dimensions of an image file if you know its pixel density,
  2. calculate the required image pixel dimensions for a specific print size to be viewed at a certain distance, and
  3. solve the pixel density of a photo print if you know both its dimensions in pixels and its print dimensions.

In addition to @NathanC's link also take a look at this link which covers Pixel Art Resizing in Affinity Photo...

https://affinity.help/photo/English.lproj/index.html?page=pages/SizeTransform/imageSize.html?title=Changing image size

Your Leopard image is currently 2,559 px x 3,303 px @72dpi
Your Lion image is currently 8,192 px x 5,464 px @ 72dpi

You should be able to calculate to what degree, if any, you need to resample the images based on the final print dimensions and anticipated viewing distance and also using the links above determine the most appropriate method for resampling...

Affinity Designer 2.0.0 (.52), Affinity Photo 2.0.0 (.307), Affinity Publisher 2.0.0 (.1604) | Affinity Designer 1.7.3, Affinity Photo 1.7.3
MacBook Pro 16GB, macOS Monterey 12.6.1

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For wall prints, you should always consider the viewing distance. The standard resolution of 300 DPI is intended for close-up viewing, e.g. when reading a magazine or a book, while the distance increases with size and makes details "disappear". The human eye can never zoom, only focus. For this reason, billboards have a much lower resolution, which is further reduced in fabric prints for building facades.

That means for your 24x36 inches a resolution of e.g. 250 DPI can appear sufficient. It helps to make a test print of an image detail on a letter sheet + look at it from the average distance in your new office.

To achieve perfection you could try the image scaling software "Topaz Gigapixel AI" which uses a database of hundreds image samples to adjust details like hair, eyes etc. when scaling.

EDIT: crosspost, didn't see hangman's post while typing

Edited by thomaso

macOS 10.14.6, MacBookPro Retina 15" + Eizo 27"

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3 hours ago, Hangman said:

One additional factor you need to consider is the typical viewing distance for your prints once hanging on the wall, whilst this isn't something you can 100% guarantee, as in some people may take a close up and personal look, this is a very useful resource and will hopefully assist...

https://www.omnicalculator.com/other/pixels-to-print-size

As mentioned on the page, it allows you to do the folloing:

  1. determine the maximum print dimensions of an image file if you know its pixel density,
  2. calculate the required image pixel dimensions for a specific print size to be viewed at a certain distance, and
  3. solve the pixel density of a photo print if you know both its dimensions in pixels and its print dimensions.

In addition to @NathanC's link also take a look at this link which covers Pixel Art Resizing in Affinity Photo...

https://affinity.help/photo/English.lproj/index.html?page=pages/SizeTransform/imageSize.html?title=Changing image size

Your Leopard image is currently 2,559 px x 3,303 px @72dpi
Your Lion image is currently 8,192 px x 5,464 px @ 72dpi

You should be able to calculate to what degree, if any, you need to resample the images based on the final print dimensions and anticipated viewing distance and also using the links above determine the most appropriate method for resampling...

Thanks for info, based on the low dpi of the images, do you think if I exported them at 150dpi that would change the quality to print better?

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4 hours ago, thomaso said:

For wall prints, you should always consider the viewing distance. The standard resolution of 300 DPI is intended for close-up viewing, e.g. when reading a magazine or a book, while the distance increases with size and makes details "disappear". The human eye can never zoom, only focus. For this reason, billboards have a much lower resolution, which is further reduced in fabric prints for building facades.

That means for your 24x36 inches a resolution of e.g. 250 DPI can appear sufficient. It helps to make a test print of an image detail on a letter sheet + look at it from the average distance in your new office.

To achieve perfection you could try the image scaling software "Topaz Gigapixel AI" which uses a database of hundreds image samples to adjust details like hair, eyes etc. when scaling.

EDIT: crosspost, didn't see hangman's post while typing

Hello, thanks for the info, I was wondering if I changed the dpi to 150 DPI, would that help the quality of the print or keep it same (or make it worse)? I will look up the TOPAZ software as well. I know they won't be perfect but I just don't want my boss to say "Hey, those pictures seem blurry or not good quality". 

I've tried to look at stock photo sites (Abode, iStock) but I'm not sure I would be able to print them this large either.

 

Here is a screenshot of the printing lab that I'm using, these are their guidelines:


image.png.b7a506cf999eee6a804a63cff2f701c0.png

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At 100 DPI the 2559 px × 3303 px leopard image @ 100 PPI will yield a 25.59″ × 33.03″ print (i.e. not far off the target size of 24″ × 36″) which will be ‘retina’ from as little as 3 feet away. Increasing the print resolution to 150 PPI — by resampling to add 50% more pixels to each dimension — will reduce the minimum viewing distance to 2 feet.

https://www.designcompaniesranked.com/resources/is-this-retina

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Affinity Designer/Photo/Publisher for Windows 1.10 • Windows 10 Home/Pro
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16 minutes ago, bk_chelly said:

Thanks for info, based on the low dpi of the images, do you think if I exported them at 150dpi that would change the quality to print better?

The 'quality' of the Lion image is better than the Leopard image and it has a higher source pixel count. I think you would actually get away with resampling it to 120 dpi for the print size you want (36" x 24") so 150 dpi would work as well and give you added flexibility...

I also took the Lion Image and used Photo's Pixel Art resizing and it does a really good job, so you could very easily scale the image to give you a perfectly acceptable print at much larger print sizes... It is very easy to experiment with the different options, e.g.,

  1. Change the dpi to 150 dpi without resampling.
  2. Change the dpi to 150 dpi with resampling.
  3. Use the Pixel Art resizing option to resize the image x2, x3 or x4 (with both HQX and XBR methods, noting the differences with what each provide in the help file), whilst keeping it at 72 dpi.

I would then personally, as @thomaso also suggests, request a test print but include a sample using each of the methods on the same print, a bit like a contact sheet but with a small section of the image appearing at the size it would appear on the finished print so you can compare how each method influences the final print quality to best determine which method gives you the best results... I don't think you'll have any issues with the Lion at all...

The Leopard source image has a smaller pixel count and is softer to start with so you may not get such good results with that one, once resampled, but again, follow the same methodology so you can see what works and what doesn't...

Another influencing factor of course is the printer used for making the final prints, do you know at this stage what that will be?

Affinity Designer 2.0.0 (.52), Affinity Photo 2.0.0 (.307), Affinity Publisher 2.0.0 (.1604) | Affinity Designer 1.7.3, Affinity Photo 1.7.3
MacBook Pro 16GB, macOS Monterey 12.6.1

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1 hour ago, Hangman said:

Another influencing factor of course is the printer used for making the final prints, do you know at this stage what that will be?

this is what Nations Photo Lab told me about their printing:

"For our Photo Prints, we do not use inkjet printers. Instead, we produce Chromogenic Prints, also known as Silver Halide Prints.  Our Photo Prints are made using a digital image and developed using a chemical process. Silver Halide Photographic Prints are composed of three layers of gelatin, each containing an emulsion of silver halide (used as a light-sensitive material). The photo paper is exposed to light and in turn, the image is infused into the paper through a chemical process.  The resulting prints have more depth, more vibrant colors, more details in highlights and shadows, are sharper, and are less susceptible to fading/damage as seen with Inkjet Photographic Prints. Inkjet Photographic Prints involve a process of applying ink to just the surface of the paper!"

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With that process I would want a higher pixel density. With that process I would aim for 300 to 400 ppi.

This is only my opinion.

Mac Pro (Late 2013) Mac OS 11.7.1 
Affinity Designer 2.0.0 | Affinity Photo 2.0.0 | Affinity Publisher 2.0.0 | Beta versions as they appear.

I have never mastered color management, period, so I cannot help with that.

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8 hours ago, bk_chelly said:

 

this is what Nations Photo Lab told me about their printing:

"For our Photo Prints, we do not use inkjet printers. Instead, we produce Chromogenic Prints, also known as Silver Halide Prints.  Our Photo Prints are made using a digital image and developed using a chemical process. Silver Halide Photographic Prints are composed of three layers of gelatin, each containing an emulsion of silver halide (used as a light-sensitive material). The photo paper is exposed to light and in turn, the image is infused into the paper through a chemical process.  The resulting prints have more depth, more vibrant colors, more details in highlights and shadows, are sharper, and are less susceptible to fading/damage as seen with Inkjet Photographic Prints. Inkjet Photographic Prints involve a process of applying ink to just the surface of the paper!"

 

I have no doubt that what they're saying is absolutely true, but can they do that on fine art paper? Giclée?

It's always a matter of context. If you look at gelatin silver prints at a museum, they're just stunning. (I'm assuming those are the same sort of thing.)

But inkjet prints can be equally stunning, just in different ways.

Also, my understanding is that the expensive pigment ink used in printers like mine (Canon Pro-1000) aren't going to fade anytime soon if you use the right paper and spray them with [whatever the protectant is called - I forget].

***

If you're going to use Gigapixel AI - as I do often - the time to use it is before bringing a picture into Affinity Photo to do a lot of manipulation - depending on what you're doing; if you plan to distort sections, etc., it's better to start with the higher-res picture.

That's my experience, anyway, not claiming that everyone has to obey me. :)

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You could try BenVista PhotoZoom. The classic version is cheaper than Topaz Gigapixel (the pro version is on a par in price). I have used Photozoom 7 and found it works as well as  Gigapixel for half the price.

John

Windows 10, Affinity Photo 1.10.5 Designer 1.10.5 and Publisher 1.10.5 (mainly Photo), now ex-Adobe CC

CPU: AMD A6-3670. RAM: 16 GB DDR3 @ 666MHz, Graphics: 2047MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 630

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On 8/13/2022 at 7:44 AM, John Rostron said:

You could try BenVista PhotoZoom. The classic version is cheaper than Topaz Gigapixel (the pro version is on a par in price). I have used Photozoom 7 and found it works as well as  Gigapixel for half the price.

John

Gigapixel AI is $99, so the prices are comparable.

But I'm just downloading the demo of PhotoZoom just to test (I hadn't heard of it).

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Well, the demo crashed, so I guess the gods don't want me to try it.

It could be a system requirements issue, dunno, but that's moot (because I'm not in a position to install a newer macOS on this machine).

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Thank you all for your advice, I am trying out every method I received, including getting a test print of the leopard image from the printing lab. 

If all else fails, I may have to use a different image.

If any one knows some stock photo sites have great quality images that can be used for printing poster sizes please let me know :) 

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17 minutes ago, bk_chelly said:

If all else fails, I may have to use a different image.

From what I have seen both your cat images are sufficient for your needs, respectively would not require any special upscaling method for the wanted output size. If your test print fails it maybe worth to try another print provider, even if it does not use the special process it can be just for a comparison of resolution.

macOS 10.14.6, MacBookPro Retina 15" + Eizo 27"

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A bit of lateral thinking here!

Instead of spending time and/or money on trying to improve images you downloaded for free, why not just pop down to a gallery and buy a couple of ready made prints? 😁

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On 8/15/2022 at 10:44 AM, PaulEC said:

A bit of lateral thinking here!

Instead of spending time and/or money on trying to improve images you downloaded for free, why not just pop down to a gallery and buy a couple of ready made prints? 😁

Would love to. But don't know where to find one, lol. 

If you know any let me know or some sites I could buy from. I'm really new at this. I use Affinity to create web graphics and photo manipulation. Office art and quality printing isn't something I've touched base with. 

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4 hours ago, bk_chelly said:

@RichardMH Hi Richard, I don't know where your reply went, I don't see it here but I was emailed your post with the leopard photo and it looks really good!

You did this is with just Gigapixel?

Can you please repost here?

 

Thanks!! 

Hi. I saw it had some nasty banding so I took it down. I'll put it back later. 

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Here it is again. I took it down before once I noticed the banding. Haven't had time to try and sort it out. I'll try it in their beta version later.

An advantage of Gigapixel is it does do some tidying up of noise and a bit of sharpening. 

geran-de-klerk-wYy3rvvgjAU-unsplashgigapixel-low_res-width-8400px.jpg

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10 hours ago, RichardMH said:

This is from their new Photo AI. Handles it somewhat better.

I would argue still not as well as Affinity Photo itself... Overall, Gigapixel AI and Photo AI have made a good job of noise reduction in the sky, though the Photo AI image still shows some subtle banding (though that may just be in the exported/saved JPEG itself as I can also see it in the Affinity version as well when exported), albeit much improved compared to the Gigapixel AI version but both images show what effectively looks like chromatic aberration in the fur...

@RichardMHAre you able to upload the actual converted files so we can make a like for like comparison, I assume the uploaded images aren't the full resolution converted files themselves based on their pixel dimensions?

The Affinity Photo image has been resized to 10,236 px x 13,212 px at 300 dpi directly in Photo so would be more than adequate for a test strip print at 24" x 36".

Personally I don't feel the Leopard image is the best original image to use for the intended purpose, I would be inclined to source something else. The Lion image is far better as a source image.

1721451130_LeopardComparison.thumb.jpg.c9aedb84efb62e719e800885f18482eb.jpg

 

Resized Image  in Affinity Photo

499444583_Leopard4x16-bit300dpi.thumb.jpg.8f4c62fc3b244f0742675bf29d466c93.jpg

Leopard 4x 300dpi.afphoto

Affinity Designer 2.0.0 (.52), Affinity Photo 2.0.0 (.307), Affinity Publisher 2.0.0 (.1604) | Affinity Designer 1.7.3, Affinity Photo 1.7.3
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