Largest Print Size for Nikon D3s

Swans In The Mist PhotoI recently had a client from Switzerland request a large canvass print, we’re talking 9 feet on the longest side, of a swan image that was published in Digital SLR Photography Magazine in April 2012.

My first reaction of course was one of euphoria having made the sale but my second was one of horror.  The image that had been requested was taken with my Nikon D3s which is a 12 MP camera.  According to the charts as depicted below the biggest picture size is 9×14 inches which is a far cry from the 108 inches being requested.  Well I am writing this to let you know that the largest print size for a Nikon D3s or any other 12MP camera I expect can in fact be pushed to at least 9 feet.

Above is the canvass print proudly displayed in the clients home and they have reported that the quality is stunning.  Of course I am sure a well researched and knowledgeable printer is a mandatory part of this equation as one does need the facility in which to process this large print size.  I am sure that a sophisticated enlargement software was also used to extrapolate the image to the final size while still maintaining image quality.  Point here is it can be done, so don’t shy away from big picture sizes.

You may view the original “Five Swans In The Mist” image without the living room in our waterfowl gallery.

For reference sake the chart below provides suggested large print size by camera resolution.  Each colored box represents a certain number of megapixels. The numbers along the top and left side are print dimensions in inches at 300ppi (pixels per inch). Most books and magazines require 300ppi for photo quality. For example, the chart shows that you can make a 5″ x 7″ photo quality print from a 3 megapixel camera.

Megapixel for print size

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2 Comments

  1. egoi1 October 30, 2014 at 12:23 am #

    I have a D3100 @ 14.2 megapix and print 16×24 nicely.  What am I missing, can I print bigger? 🙂

  2. BillMaynard October 30, 2014 at 3:19 am #

    @egoi1 
    If you assume a 300dpi print resolution, then simply divide the pixel resolution of the height and width of your image by 300 to get the number of inches you can print.
    Resolution @300dpi @200dpi
    14MP 4600 x 3100 15×10″ 23×15″ 

    Here is how to calculate this yourself:
    To estimate the pixel dimensions for a number of megapixels, assuming a 3:2 aspect ratio, divide the megapixels by 6, take the square root, then multiply that result by 3 for your width, and by 2 for your height. For example, a 14MP camera. Divide 14 million by 6, which equals 2.3 million. Take square root of that, which equals about 1500. Multiply 1500 by 2 and by 3 to get your dimensions (3000 x 4500).
    Now divide 3000 and 4500 by the dpi (for example 300dpi to arrive at a print size of 10″ by 15″)

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