What's the upper limit of APS-C for printing
Old 02-15-2019   #1
nightfly
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What's the upper limit of APS-C for printing

This is a bit of a subjective question, but I'm wondering what people find are the upper limits of APS-C cameras like the Fuji X series and the Leica CL for quality output.

I've gotten 20 x 24 (cropped) prints from my M9 and feel like the quality holds up fairly well. Could probably go a little bigger if I wanted.

Wondering for those using these cameras where they find the limits are printing wise.

I'm not concerned with numbers as I'm functionally innumerate, but where does it feel like the prints start breaking down.
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Old 02-15-2019   #2
Godfrey
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Not subjective at all. How good a lens are you using? How many pixels do you have to work with? How are your skills at taking, rendering, and uprezzing image files?

I’ve seen crap work from medium format digital camera’s with 100 mpixels. And I’ve won exhibition competitions with 5 mpixel FourThirds images made in 20x24 inch exhibition prints.

It’s up to you. Good quality means lots of work and good understanding. Format is irrelevant.

G
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Old 02-15-2019   #3
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I can't answer your question directly because I don't have a camera with your sensor but its larger than you think if the print is mounted appropriately. The largest print from a 35mm negative that I have on my wall is 1 metre wide. It's mounted at the top of my stairwell so it can only be viewed from about 3-4 feet away i.e. the correct viewing distance for a print of that size. I'm pleased with it. My impression is that the image sharpness is most important around A4 size: much greater than A4 and you need to stand back to appreciate the print so its absolute sharpness is less important.
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Old 02-15-2019   #4
Phil_F_NM
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A billboard. Greater, even. It all depends upon the viewing distance. There were billboard sized promo photos for one of the Jurassic Park movies done with a Nikon Coolpix 990.
So it all depends on how far away your audience is.
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Old 02-15-2019   #5
ColSebastianMoran
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I am very pleased with 20x30 prints (both glossy on paper, and glossy on metal) from my 24MPx crop body Nikon and Sony cameras. And, I like a print that stands inspection when I bring my eyes in close.

I'm pleased at this size even with some crops from the full image.

I'm talking about good images in good light with good (but not exotic) lenses.
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Old 02-15-2019   #6
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I think the best answer is to try one. When I did so, I was pleasantly surprised.
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Old 02-15-2019   #7
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I have a 13x19 inch print made from 1/2 of an 8MP APS-C image that looks pretty decent to me. The photo also happens to be the first digital photograph I took that I really liked. It led me down the road to ruin because I eventually switched totally to digital.

But you're right, it is subjective. And it depends on many factors including lens quality, shutter speed, lighting, how steady the photographer held the camera, etc.
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Old 02-15-2019   #8
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Realize there's so much subjectivity I'm probably best off downloading a sample photo taken with a camera lens combo I'd be likely to use and sending it off to be printed the way I'd print it.

Just too many variables to really know otherwise.

Thanks for indulging my somewhat ridiculous question.
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Old 02-15-2019   #9
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I did what you are about to do: made prints from a variety of files, grotty-to-good light, low-to-high iso, 'scapes to portraits to events. I varied the sizes too, meaning I printed 16 mpx, low light/high iso file large as well as 24 mpx good light/low iso files, with some iterations between the two extremes. Generally, I didn't find anything you wouldn't expect. Low iso, good glass stopped down, on tripod aps-c files can print well to my eye to A1. High iso, good glass wide open, handheld aps-c files can print well to A3. Files in between the two extremes can do A2.
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Old 02-15-2019   #10
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I have some beautiful 16"X 20" prints made from my XE-1 and 18-55mm kit lens that ended my lust for a FF camera.
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Old 07-23-2019   #11
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I made a 1.5 metre print (diagonal) from a Leica m8 with a 28mm Zeiss and it looks great.
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Old 07-23-2019   #12
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A proper limit for the maximum print size from a digital APS-C-format capture cannot be given. When looking from always the same short distance then the apparent quality would gradually decrease with size—but there's no hard borderline that says, up to here is good, beyond is bad. What's considered good or bad depends on so many factors ... and as long as a half-way reasonable relation between print size and viewing distance is maintained then actually there's no limit at all.

With a modern digital camera and a really good lens, 1 1.5 m or 40 60 inch prints can be created in excellent quality, no matter what the camera's sensor format happens to be (well ... with the possible exception of smartphones and tiny-sensor superzoom cameras). This doesn't mean that was the limit. It just means the limit, if any, would be far beyond that.
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Old 07-23-2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ka7197 View Post
no matter what the camera's sensor format happens to be
Yeah, I don't think camera sensor size makes much of a direct* impact on print size.
Lens sharpness, ISO and accurate focus are all more important.


*Indirectly smaller sensor sizes will have impact as they're not as good at higher ISOs than cameras with larger sensor sizes. Shoot at base ISO and you're good across all sensor sizes.
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Old 07-23-2019   #14
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If you're sending a file off for printing, then all bets are off. Not having control over that most crucial step is a real issue. The quality of your printer, the manner in which it's printed, the type of paper, etc will all determine the overall print size and appearance. Appearance, as you said, is subjective and not qualitative.

I've been looking at huge, beautiful, glossy metal prints in a local gallery the last two years. All the digital photographers there say it's really a matter of finding the right workflow and getting the right online printer before one sees good images at large sizes.

Think of it like film. A 35mm Tri-X neg developed in Rodinal at 1:25 is not going to look nearly as sharp as a 100 speed film developed full strength in Mic-X. Same w/ digital. The source of your file, the manner in which it's edited, and the way that it's printed are all one thing. It all needs to work together optimally. The larger you go, the more small issues are magnified.
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Old 07-23-2019   #15
David Hughes
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The number of pixels comes into it; assuming a pixel is a dot when printed then 300 pixels or dots to the inch (dpi) is very high quality and 200 is OK. I've also printed at 100 dpi to see what happened and it worked nicely but I was using an excellent lens.

The real problem is where and how to display them; you soon run out of wall.

The subject matter also affects the quality that people will accept but that needs a lot more space and time to type. Here's an example; portraits of young ladies and their mothers and grandmothers should not be razor sharp and so can be quite big...

Regards, David
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Old 07-24-2019   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfly View Post
This is a bit of a subjective question, but I'm wondering what people find are the upper limits of APS-C cameras like the Fuji X series and the Leica CL for quality output.

Digital image format has nothing to do with this, at least directly. Pixel count does matter to a modest degree.


Quote:
...where does it feel like the prints start breaking down.

With both film and digital there is to "cliff" over which image quality begins to fail. Image quality slowly and smoothly degrades as appearant size (actual size relative to viewing distance) increases.
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