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We’ve all been there: you have an awesome pic, you go print it, and you end up with a blocky, pixelated mess. Feels bad, man.

So what went wrong? Well, the truth is that it could have been a number of things… but that’s an unhelpful answer. So what was the most likely culprit? Most of the time, pixelation is due to a low-resolution image not playing nice with the printer.

How can you avoid the issue? It all comes down to resolution.

Resolution? What’s That?

Those beautiful images you snap are made up of pixels, millions and millions of pixels. Resolution is a measure of those pixels by their height and width. When printing, the quality of your print is dependent upon how many pixels per inch (PPI) you have available. Basically, the greater the PPI, the higher quality print you’ll get.

How many pixels per inch should you have? Well, 300 PPI is considered the sweet spot. While you can get a greater PPI, it’s hard for the human eye to discern any difference above that point. On the flip side, you can still get quality prints in the 140-250 PPI range.

Long story short: you’ll get the best prints when you use the highest resolution, or biggest, image.
Most phones are packing at least an 8 megapixel (MP) camera, though you’re more likely to have over 12 MP if your phone is from the year 2016 and beyond. That means you’re sitting pretty when it comes to getting crisp, professional-looking prints.

With just your 12MP phone camera, you can print professional or good quality pictures from 5”x5” all the way up to 16”x20” (Still to Reel sizes on FramedIt.com). Or you can even push the envelope and go up to 24”x36” (Series-sized), depending on your viewing distance, but you may begin noticing some pixelation on the print.

If you move into the Featurette (up to 32” x 40”), Feature (up to 40” x 60”), and Epic (up to 48” x 96”) sizes, you’ll want to consider a camera with at least 20 MP or even a professional photographer’s setup.

Check Yourself Before You Pixelate Yourself

Let’s say you want to get this print of these pretty clouds. How would you find out if the image has a high enough resolution? This is a relatively easy process.

First, locate your image on your PC and “right-click” on the file; this should bring up a menu with a bunch of options. You’re looking for the “Properties” link. Click it. On the “Details” tab, you’ll find the image dimensions, as well as loads of other details about the photo.

If you’re on a Mac, “control-click” on the image file to bring up the menu box. On the menu box, select the “Get Info” link. In the pop-up box, select “More Info” and look for the “Dimensions” line.

Finding your image properties on an Android device is simple enough, too. Just pull up the image you want to print in your gallery. Open the menu, usually indicated by three dots, and tap “Details”. You’ll find the image dimensions on the list.

The process is a little more involved for iOS. Find instructions here.

Ok, Now What?

Once you have your dimensions (2340 x 4160 in this case), you can find the maximum print size for your preferred quality by doing some simple math. To print at 300 PPI, just divide each dimension by 300.

For our pretty clouds, we want a 5” x 7” print at 300 PPI. So, we divide each dimension (2340 x 4160) by 300 to find the maximum image size we can print is 7.8” x 13.87.” If we drop to 150 PPI, we would lose some print quality but could get up to a 15.6” x 27.73” print.

Either way, this image works for our 5” x 7” Demo-sized print, and we can now head over to framedit.com and start framing!

Things to Remember

When you crop your image, you’re cutting out some of the pixels. Keep this in mind: if you drastically crop an image, you’ll be working with a much lower resolution and not be able to print crisp images at large sizes.

And as always, if you have any questions about printing your photos (or framing), the experts at FramedIt are always willing to help you out!

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