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Do you really know how to export your photos?

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich, RLC Design, Wide Format Printing 7 Comments

Last week I ran across a problem that I’ve been seeing more and more. One of my regular clients (and new friend as well) showed up with a few images for me to print. He needed a few 24×36″ photo floats.

I started looking at his images and noted something.  They were all 72dpi.  Uh….how the heck did that happen?

We looked at each image, I made a face, and asked him if he could re-export all of the images.  And this time, lets get them 300dpi instead of 72.  See, 72dpi is great for presenting online, but it’s lousy for printing.  You really want to put your best foot forward when printing, and it’s a good idea to get full sized files to your printer.  If you provide them with low resolution images guess what you’ll see in your prints…….

Interestingly enough, I have noticed a trend with customers showing up with 72 dpi files.  They either use IPhoto or Aperture to manage their photos.  So, I asked my friend to check out his setup.  Sure enough, somewhere in his preferences he had 72 dpi sneaking around.

As a Lightroom user I’ve set up many export preferences.  Some for web, some for print, and some for reasons I can’t remember.  But I know when exporting exactly what I’m going to get.  It’s all on the screen before I export.

One final note.  Whatever program you’re using, check all of your preferences.  I say that because your export dialog isn’t the only way you control your image’s resolution.  In both Lightroom and Aperture you can send images to an external editor.  And when sending out to edit you can in fact alter your image’s resolution!  Better check that, right?

My friend found his issue in Aperture and a day later we were all set to run his prints.  I’m thinking that over the next few weeks I’ll refer to him as “Mr. 72 dpi” just for fun!  😉

Comments 7

  1. Hey Rich, my Photoshop elements has two settings. One is set at 300dpi for prints, the other is 72dpi for screen. Is that good? Or should they both be 300dpi?

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  3. thanks for the thumbs up. Is there any dofference in sendng a jpeg at 300dpi vs a tiff @ 300dpi as far as the print quality goes?

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    Oh, you know a printer Jason….

    Alistair, on smaller images that are staying small haven’t seen a noticeable difference. When I’m doing large upsamples I stick with tiff.

  5. Plus…if it is for web use, make sure that your color space setting is sRGB.

    If you are using other programs for editing and/or printing, make sure that your color space setting is consistent throughout the workflow. Otherwise you get those color shift surprises at printing time.
    .-= Adolfo Isassi´s last blog ..Yellowstone late winter… =-.

  6. Okay, I’m glad you posted this, Rich, as I’ve been unclear about this whole issue for awhile. My understanding has always been that it doesn’t really matter what the dpi is as long as you have enough pixels. For example, if I wanted to get an 8X10 done, I thought it doesn’t matter if I export it at 72 dpi or 300 dpi as long as the image size is at least 2400 pixels by 3000 pixels… is that wrong? I’ve never really found a clear answer yet… if the saved dpi is important, can you give a technical explanation that’ll help me remember and understand?

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