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Okay, let's get real pragmatic. The question I get asked the most is yeah, yeah, I don't want electron resolution, just tell me do I have enough information to make the print size that I want. There is an easy way to figure that out without a lot of mumbo-jumbo. Go to Image > Image Size. Image menu, choose Image Size. This is the file that you have opened and you just want to know, do I have enough information to get a decent looking say 8x10 print or a 20x30 print on the printer? Here is how you figure it out. First, turn off the Resample checkbox. Just make that go away, because whatever you do in this dialog box now is going to be non-destructive.
You can change the width. You can change the height. It's not actually going to change the amount of information in the file, so you have protected yourself here. What you are going to do is in the Resolution field you are going to click on the word Resolution that will highlight that field for you, and just type-in the target resolution for the output that you are going to. Try to make that even simpler. For an inkjet printer, type in 240. You can even go maybe to 300, but 240 is a great number for inkjet printing. All right! So I am going to type-in 240 and look what happened? It made the width and height scale down or change to the largest print you can make without resampling the image, because Resample is turned off, notice that we don't have that turned on right now.
So no resampling is going to occur. Type in the target resolution that we have done here, 240, and the result of width and height is now how big a print you can make without actually having Photoshop invent pixels that don't exist? So if you knew you wanted an 8x10, you have enough information, matter of fact you can even downsample the file and you're good to go. If you want a 20x30, well you are about half of where you want to be, because if you take a look at the height, that's 14. That's about half of almost 15, you want it to be 30. You don't have enough information to do a 20x30.
Now you can make a choice to have a lower resolution 20x30 print. It's worth trying. Go ahead and change it to 20x30 and print it out. Your resolution probably the half of what it is right now. It'd be more like 120 instead of 240. Put it up on a wall, step back 5 or 6 feet, and if it looks good enough, then you have enough resolution. What I'm talking right now though is just how big a print can you make with the resolution you currently have present in the file without asking Photoshop to up-sample or add pixels to the file in order to accomplish your goal? So if you knew you wanted an 8x10 back as a next example, and you are going to inkjet printer, you typed-in a resolution of 240, you are like okay, well that's bigger.
The resulting dimensions are bigger than 8x10. How do I resize this to back down to an 8x10? So now you turn on Resample and go change the width to 8 if you wanted an 8x10, 8 wide, since the vertical image. Note that when Resample is now turned on, it doesn't change the resolution that you have already set. It's going to stay at 240. What part two of this exercise has shown you is that this image isn't the same proportion as an 8x10. It's an 8x12 proportion. So I think that would be a 4x3 whereas an 8x10 is a 4x5 proportion.
So all this tells you is oh, okay, I will need to crop this image after I click the OK button. I will need to take off 2 inches either from the top or the bottom, and create an 8x10 crop before I actually send this to the printer. So there you have it, easy way to figure out, just how big a print can I make? You go to Image, Image Size and you turn off Resample Image first, you type-in the resolution you want. Let's say I want a 300 dpi file. The biggest print I can make at that native resolution is 6.4x9.6. If I wanted a 5x7 in this case, I am good.
If I wanted an 8x10 I'm probably close enough. I won't notice any difference in quality there probably. But if I wanted a 20x30, at that resolution, I am probably not going to get the result I am looking for. All right! Well now to dial-in the Dimensions again, turn in Resample, turn that on, change the width to what you want it. So in this case we want it to be 5. That gives you a 5x7.5 proportion. So in this case you would just have to crop out half-an-inch off the height. There you have it. Hopefully, you've now got a really easy way to figure out just how the bigger print you can make with the file you've got right off your camera.
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