Megapixels and print size

Suggested number of megapixels for high quality prints

If you print large photos and want to maintain fine detail, set your camera to it’s highest megapixel and quality settings.  You can always crop or reduce an image size after it’s taken. However, enlarging a low resolution image can result in a print that is pixelated  and individual pixels become visible.

Below are the suggested number of megapixels to use for common print sizes. If you crop images a lot, increase the minimum suggested megapixels. While it’s rare today to find a digital camera with less than eight megapixels, if you crop resolution will drop. Some cameras automatically reduce the size of an image if you switch to certain modes, such as high ISO.

Max Print SizeMinimum MPResolution
4 x 6″2 megapixels1600 x 1200
5 x 7″3 megapixels2048 x 1536
8 x1 0″5 megapixels2560 x 1920
11 x 14″6 megapixels2816 x 2112
16 x 20″8+ megapixels3264 x 2468

It’s important to point out that print quality depends on a number of factors, such as the visual quality of the original image and the type of printer, ink and paper used.

If you plan to do your own printing, get a photo printer and use high quality photo paper to obtain the best results.

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