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So I shot this image with the Sigma 800 mm lens. This is as big and beefy a lens as you could reasonably carry around, and actually it's completely unreasonable to carry this lens around. Still, I had this tremendously long lens and I still couldn't get the reach that I wanted. It would have been nice to just frame his head, because he's got this great expression on his face. Actually, I don't know. Maybe that's what his face always looks like, but it looks like a great expression to me. It would be great to be framed and tied on it. Now, it's very tempting at this point to go, "Well, I have got a 22-megapixel camera. What do I care how far my lens can reach? I'll just crop it and enlarge it." In my course, Inkjet Printing for Photographers, we go into great detail on the process of sizing and sharpening, and what the benefits and trade-offs are.
So I want to give you just a very, very quick overview of why you can't always just crop and enlarge, why you do need to get things framed properly in camera, which is why you might actually need a super-telephoto lens. Right now, if I go to Image > Image Size, I see that I have, when set to 240 pixels per inch, a document width at 24x16. I'm going to be printing this on an Epson printer, which needs a resolution of 360 pixels per inch, which changes my document size to 16x10.
If you don't understand the relationship between resolution and print size, don't worry. That's all explained in Inkjet Printing for Photographers. I'm going to assume you're familiar with this idea. So I can print a 16x10 at my printer's native resolution. Now, I could scale up a little bit from there if I needed to and not suffer too much loss of detail. Well, watch what happens if I did what I wanted and cropped down to just his head. And I'm going to preserve a 2:3 aspect ratio so that it preserves the original aspect ratio of my shot, because maybe I want to fit it into a standard frame size of some kind.
So here is a nice shot of a very thoughtful-looking buffalo. This is the--a buffalo can run for office on this expression, I think. So I'm going to just take that. That is truly a buffalo with integrity there. Now, if I go up to Image > Image Size, and set again to 360, which is my printer's native resolution, I'm down to 3x5. Now, again, I can go up a little bit from there, but if I was hoping to get a nice big print from my cropped image, I'm not going to be able to do it.
Maybe I could pull an 8x10 out of this, maybe. That wasn't too soft, but probably I'm going to really regret having to crop this much. Now, I was using the longest lens that I had. What were my options? I could have put a tele-extender to go longer. I could try to get closer, but there was a fence in the way. Anyway, the point of this is just that cropping and enlarging is not always a substitute for a super-telephoto lens. And even with your super telephoto lens, if you're thinking you may want to do more, you do need to understand the limitations of how much things can be cropped and enlarged, if you're hoping to go to a particular print size.
And again, for more on that, check out Inkjet Printing for Photographers.
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