Megapixels and photo books

A practical note for those who can count their megapixels.

Photobooks and megapixels

Photobooks and megapixels

During my practice, I printed about 500 different photo books. To create a photo book should prepare a layout. Photobooks come in different formats.

Most often I use the formats:

  • 20 x 30 - rectangle, portrait / vertical orientation
  • 30 x 20 - rectangle, landscape / horizontal orientation)
  • 20 x 20 - square
  • 30 x 30 - square

Most publishers print photobooks with a maximum size of 30 cm x 30 cm (in my practice I have not printed large format photo books).

The greatest demands on the size of photographs appear just in books 30 x 30.

Take a concrete example: a photobook 30 x 30 (took from here) To print, you need a prepared spread of the photo book. Typically, all photo labs require a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. In this case, the final image should have a size of 6614 x 3425 pixels, which is approximately equal to only 23 MP.

23 MP and no more needed :)

23 MP and no more needed :)

If we talk about photography, then 23 MP is an extreme case when the photo is printed on the whole spread. In reality, only 1 photo is rarely placed on a spread. Usually in my photo books I make 2-3 full large spreads from 1 photo to the whole spread. In all other cases, the spread contains many photos, and their size should be much less than 23 megapixels.

Important feature: a photobook 30 cm x 30 cm with a full spread creates an image size of 60 cm x 30 cm. As a result, the aspect ratio of the frame is 1: 2. Most modern digital cameras take pictures with an aspect ratio of 2: 3. To place such a photo on a 60 cm x 30 cm spread, you will have to crop part of the photo. As a result, there should be a margin of the image for cropping, and the original image for cropping should have at least 6614 pixels along the long side. In the aspect ratio of 2: 3, we get that a picture of 6614 x 4401 pixels is required, which is approximately equal to 29 MP.

Proportions 2: 3

Proportions 2: 3

A spread based on the original snapshot will look like this:

Proportion 1: 2

Proportion 1: 2

Considering that there will still be a bend in the center of the book, which should not 'cut' people's faces too much, then a small margin of the original photo is required to move the photo left / right / up / down. As a result, about 30-40 MP images are required for convenient operation. Now the presence of modern cameras with 36, 42 and 50 MP is fully justified.

I repeat, above I considered the extreme case of printing 1 photograph for the entire spread. Such a reversal for the client can make a wow effect. In general, the turns of a photo book are mounted from several photos, such as this:

many photos on 1 spread

many photos on 1 spread

In the example above, a photobook can be easily compiled with 6 MP shots.

Below I will show the ratio of the size of the spread 30 x 30 to megapixels (with the classic aspect ratio of the frame 2: 3):

6 MP

6 MP

12 MP

12 MP

24 MP (image height above template height):

24 MP

24 MP

I have long noticed that to create a photo book you can easily enlarge photographs and at the same time not really lose as a visual perception of the final product. Printing is not always as demanding on detail and sharpness as a computer monitor. A printed photo book does not have the function of viewing photos in 1: 1 mode, as is done on a computer. The visual perception of a photobook is different from that to which amateur photographers are accustomed at their computers. If you exaggerate, then I have never had any difficulties in creating a photo book, even if I made it from 2 megapixel photos (there were cases, it was necessary to make a photo book from client photos to the phone).

Comments on this post do not require registration. Anyone can leave a comment. Many different photographic equipment can be found on AliExpress.com.

Results

  • If the camera has more than 30 MP, you can easily print almost any photo book, even 30 x 30 with full spreads
  • If you approach the book wisely, then you can get by with 6 MP
  • For printing, you can use upscale (program image enlargement) without much loss in the visual perception of printing
  • I can mount photo books without any problems from any cameras of any size, the size of the source images very rarely prevents me from achieving the desired result

On the topic, you can also look at the section 'Photo Tricks: A Quick Way to Create U-Turn Photobooks'.
Material prepared Arkady Shapoval... Look for me on Youtube | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Telegram.

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Comments: 43, on the topic: Megapixels and photo books

  • Roman

    Thank you for the article. What are the criteria for choosing a laboratory for printing photo books? As I understand it, are you currently using the Lviv laboratory?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      I use many. The usual criterion is price / quality. So far, Lviv has the least number of defects, although the seal is not the best.

      • Roman

        Thanks for the reply.

  • Rodion

    It would be interesting to see notes on the design of photo books.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      The whole science :)

  • zengarden

    Maybe I don’t understand something, but to make a U-turn with wedding photography, in my opinion, is a controversial decision. Even if the bend does not fall over the face, it still “cuts” the composition. Here is the landscape - you can.
    One more point. As I understand it, you just prepare a photo of the desired size / proportion and layout, and the final layout is done in the typography? because in the printing industry there is another work with color, there is CMYK.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Modern labs make the bend line of sufficient quality, the reversal looks good, the reversal line is not particularly annoying. An already laid out layout is submitted for printing. Perhaps the terminology layout and layout is not entirely correct when applied to modern photo books. In most cases, designer decorated sheets or spreads, covers and inserts are handed over. All this in the form of files. Most of them are regular JPEG files. When I started printing, for some reason I was also sure that there are difficulties with CMYG, sRGB, LAB color spaces and others. But for cheap, inexpensive and mid-range printing, this question is not worth it. The typography takes my JPEGs, which show how the book should look (taking into account departures, etc.) and makes the book the way I want. What are they doing there, how they are transforming - I am not interested. All I'm interested in is that the result matches my monitor and view of the book.

      Everything is easier than you think. In general, google, see how many online photo editors for quickly creating photobooks with “hearts and birds” from photos “on the phone”, while the print quality is at the level!
      I basically make up the book in Photoshop using 100500 tricks, because it’s just cheaper :)

      • zengarden

        Got it, thanks. I just ran into problems with layouts for printing, there are different requirements. But I haven't done this for a long time; I don't even know what is being done there now ...

        • anonym

          These are slightly different ways of printing. The production of printed materials can be carried out in two types of printing: digital and offset. Offset printing presupposes the presence of a printing plate (with all the ensuing consequences regarding its production: real layout of the layout in something like QuarkXpress, color separation, film output, etc.), which is subsequently placed in an offset printing machine. But, at the same time, you are not limited either by size (it only limits the size of the original paper and, in fact, the quality of the pictures) or creative possibilities :) For digital printing, there are no printing forms as such - the image is printed directly from the computer. This is, in fact, the most common photo printing, which is folded (folded), glued, trimmed and enriched with the cover by means of the same advanced digital typewriter (like Xerox). Why and the choice of sizes is fairly fixed - it's just what a machine can do.

      • anonym

        Arkady, handsome man, respect !!! here it is!!! practice of the master. Very useful information - from the category - the secrets of the master! that's what I understand! you can argue for a long time who prints how and all that, but this infa - the master's secrets, this is practically a manual !!! :) Arkady, can we still publish a book?

      • anonym

        “… I type a book in Photoshop, using 100500 tweaks” - this process can be called “layout”, in principle, but with a stretch. PS is essentially intended for editing raster images and is not a layout program in the classical sense. It would be more appropriate to use the term “collage”, “layout” or something similar in essence, referring to the placement and processing of several original JPG files in one, taking into account the fixed sizes for the photobook spread (6614 x 3425, etc.) and “ 100500 tweaks ":)

  • Victor

    Arkady, as I understand it, with a 24 megapixel camera, like Nikon 7100, you can freely set the size for a full turn in Photoshop. Yes, part will be cut off and the size of the initial image will have to be increased in size, but the quality should not be affected. Yes, and U-turns, as I understand it, two or three. And how many sheets you make in the approximate volume in the wedding book, in the source Pts. a lot of photos? It is clear that in other cases, birth, family, etc., it is more reasonable to make a smaller number of sheets. Yes, and it’s not entirely clear by reference, the number of pages is not a sheet, but a half of a full book’s spread? Intrigued. The paper version, of course, should produce a much greater effect. It’s not customary with us, everyone gives it on a flash drive. Maybe because of the price?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It's usually very simple. One spread - 2 sheets. Books are typeset either by pages / sheets or spreads. In the same tsifrolab it seems clear and understandable, where is the price for spreads, where for a page / sheet. U-turns are more convenient, you can immediately see what will be left and right. If you do it as pages, then you need to constantly take into account which template - left or right page is used.

      At the wedding, I try to do 20 turns. Then the little book is chubby, it looks great. If the budget is cut, I do 20X30 in portrait orientation (it looks more like a book, not an album).

      The book can be done quite freely with the Nikon D40 / Canon 300D.

      At first, photo books are a jungle, but then everything becomes extremely simple.

    • Dim

      It used to be unacceptable to be polite to the customer, to give him discounts, to supply packages, etc. etc. It was customary to be rude, cheat, close ahead of time ... And now you can clearly see how those who slow down with the service, recruiting unprofitable personnel instantly fly out of the market. As they say, there is only one step from love to hate. The move with the books is absolutely correct, and the flash drive is God knows what.

      • Dim

        "Now the availability of modern cameras at 36, 42 and 50 MP is fully justified." - I liked it very much, we need to sell the last pants and urgently run for 50 Mp Canon, I see no other way out.

        • Peter Sh.

          Do not. The difference in the spread between 12mr and 24 mr snapshot you can not even see with a magnifying glass.

          • Michael

            Here under a magnifying glass you just can, it's checked. 150 dpi already compares well to 300 on closer inspection. BUT this is under a magnifying glass ...

      • Andrei

        Nothing has changed and now it is customary to be rude, only smiling sweetly. The standard answers to all claims are “It's your right”.
        As a rule, all negotiations are conducted with hired personnel, they do not care that you never return to them, they are also not afraid of dismissal, because often, even directors' salaries are low. Firing is even a reward for them - they get a chance to find a new, higher-paying job.

  • Victor

    Thanks Arkady for the answer. Everything seems to be understandable, but it will be necessary to touch it, so to speak, in kind, everything. There should be, so to speak, advertising copies. The confusion here can only, for a beginner, consist in the correct selection, from a psychological point of view, of the correct format. But this is a business and everyone will have their own view. I have been reading your blog for several years, but I am writing it for the first time, so I want to express my deep gratitude to you for the information that you bring to your readers. Thus, they helped to avoid many mistakes, especially at the initial stages.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Thank you :)

  • Andrei

    Hi Arkady, I love photography since shift 8, I started in the distant 80 film tanks, sleepless nights and a bunch of spoiled films and frames at the beginning of experiments with color, in general, one positive ... right now, it seems like a number, but for some reason I stuck on the film so I sold my Nikon .. when in a closet in the dust I found a zenith TTL camera ... with a lens helios 44-2 .. then in the network I typed different lenses for it in the end .. left helios m44-7 and ms jupiter37 am. Yes ... what am I ..m ... to say thank you so much for your site I often come and ask

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Nice lenses.

  • Sergiy

    Photobooks Це цікаво. Ale є shche іnshe nutrition. Chi didn’t have you drukuvati photo trellis?

  • andrei2911

    I have been working with printing for many years and I know for sure that the quality of the source material is perfectly visible when printing. Yes, if you interpolate a photo by 10-20% it is practically not noticeable, but interpolation of more than 30% is already striking. So all this talk that photobooks can be printed from 6MP, or even from a photo from a phone, is for the poor. A quality product requires quality raw material.

  • Boris

    Thanks Arkady, this post only confirmed my impression that megapixels do not exist ... I can add to everything that I have written that all cameras with a Bayer matrix cannot produce per-pixel sharpness at their native resolution. Even if the frame was shot in ideal conditions with a sharp lens, you need to resize to half megapixels (for example, from 24MP to 12-23MP) so that the picture becomes pixel-by-pixel sharp.
    And more: IMHO 300 dpi is not enough for a high-quality perception of the picture; there are labs with print quality of 640 pixels;)) Thus, even 100 megapixels. the cameras do not look overkill and there is still room for progress!

    PS from personal experience: I printed a book 18 * 24 cm from files from D7100 in the same Tsifrolab; the spread is just 3: 2 (24 * 36cm) IMHO this format is max. size for high-quality printing with 24MP (with subsequent resize) at a print density of 300 dpi.

    • Andrei

      Can I talk about resizing in more detail?
      how to make 24-12 pixel ones out of 23 non-pixel ones, how is this ensured?

    • anonym

      maybe sharpness is pixel by pixel, but the colors are not always true?
      in the same lightroom, by default, Sharpness is 25% (obviously, the camera does the same for JPEG), which should bring sharpness back to normal.

      By the way, if you make the image black and white, will it become pixel by pixel sharp? I think. that no, the sharpness will remain the same. in general, I would not hammer my head in this nonsense)))

      • Boris

        I'll try to answer: pixel-by-pixel sharpness is needed to get “honest” 300 dpi when printing. Resolution can be best seen on small linear objects, eg. eyelashes or tree branches. Bayer's matrices of most cameras are not capable of transmitting a thin line in one row of pixels, but after resizing this is achieved and the sharpness can be considered per-pixel. Resizing is done by many programs, starting with converting RAW to JPEG of lower resolution (lightrum or native converters). Interesting: different converters give different results in the transfer of small details; conversion of the image into b / w does not increase the resolution. In any case, the self-converted RAW to JPEG has a resolution higher than the JPEG directly from the camera, Arkady already wrote about this in an article dated May 8.

        • anonym

          Is there a way in Lightroom to lower the resolution when importing from RAW? I thought that only during export did this happen. How can I do that?

          • Boris

            RAW does not resize. Resizable JPEG converted.

            • Arkady Shapoval

              RAW is also resized, for example, Canon sRaw :)

  • Boris

    More on the topic of photo labs: if anyone knows where in Ukraine they print with a resolution higher than 300dpi, please, unsubscribe, pl. here, it will be interesting. And who has already printed with high resolution, what are the impressions? I think not the only one for whom 300dpi is not enough for high quality. Many “ancient” film prints are visually much sharper than digital 300dpi. I know that there is a Noritsu QSS 3702 HD photolab with a print density of 640dpi, but I don't know where to place an order on such a machine ...

  • David Hobby

    Good time of day!
    Sorry for my probably "inattention", but from the article I understood that, for example, with a nikon d5100 with 16 megapixels, I can't make a photobook with a photo for the entire spread, right?
    Thanks for the help!

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It will be possible to stretch a little, and everything will turn out)

      • David Hobby

        Thank you very much, Arkady! Your site helps me a lot! Thank you for your work!

  • Koba

    I will add a few points from my experience. I worked for many years in a publishing house, published magazines, including world-famous glossy ones, I will not name. There is an opinion that for printing it is necessary to use a file resolution of 300dpi. Yes, if it is supposed to print on special coated paper on machines with a lineature under 200, then you can still somehow justify such a file resolution. But in real life this happens very rarely. Without going into details, I will say briefly - the output resolution of photos in the region of 172 pixels per inch is 99% sufficient for any type of printing, if the final picture is supposed to be viewed from a distance of 35-40 centimeters with the naked eye. Hence, it turns out that frames from digital devices with a matrix resolution of 12 megapixels without interpolation can be piled up to a size of about 40x60cm, or a little less, but already with an output resolution of up to 200 pixels per inch. Moreover, in offset printing, files with a resolution of 170 pixels per inch will appear sharper if they contain regular objects of the same type, for example, grass, since the dot gain will be less due to the reduction of ink on the paper, and the grass or hair on horses will not turn into the same type of porridge. Personally, I have shown all this many times to those who sent ready-made layouts for publications. And he himself sent files to print many times with a specially lowered resolution. I repeat, this happened in magazines that I all know as the world's top glossy magazines. I mean, the resolution of 12 megapixels today and tomorrow will be sufficient for most tasks. The final detailing of images, in addition to the resolution of the matrix, strongly depends on the shooting conditions, the resolution of the optics, the exposure speed, microshock of the camera, the content of the frame itself, the size of the infrared filter in front of the matrix (it is removed already in new cameras and this is very good!), Etc. etc. Therefore, cameras such as D700 or Canon 5d are still snapped up in the secondary market, since with their help you can solve almost all tasks (especially with the D700, since it is at a high level in terms of functionality!), And it will always be so. Personally, instead of one camera for $ 3000, I will buy two old cameras for $ 2000 and leave the money for better or special optics and lighting fixtures.

  • Novel

    and if I'm a premium nerd that only responds to the words of a watering can and Carl Zeiss?
    and want to print my portrait on A0?
    what would you offer me?
    12mp and 40l / mm?
    guys, take iPhones or better xiaomi!)))

    • Onotole

      Are you going to look at your portrait on A0 like curls 10 * 15 from 30 cm ?? If not, then everything is in order, enough for you with your head and 12 megapixels.
      People do not complain that they can distinguish pixels on 65 inch (approximately A0 size) plasmas, although there are only 2 megapixels. And the answer is that they are watched from 2-3 meters.

  • Kirill

    Good afternoon. Yes, great guide. But all companies printing photo books have different conditions and layouts for printing, I print my photo books at Finebook.com.ua they have requirements there for the Indigo 5500.

  • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

    Advise company for printing photo albums and photos.
    The “studio form” was printed 2 times in Kharkov and both times some nuances arose.
    And for printing photos on the screen, a man in a dark blue sweater and on paper in black.
    Thank you very much

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Don't think of it as an advertisement - Lviv tsifrolab. I have tried a bunch of polygraphs in Ukraine, there are shoals everywhere, but in the pro-digital lab of about 200 photobooks, so far there is not a single joint.
      Also, the color matches what I see on the monitor. The only thing is, if the monitor is poor, on some kind of shit-matrix, then there will be no sense in color matching, neither with calibration, nor with anything else.

  • Alexey de Paris

    what a wonderful article! Everything is informative and understandable! Thanks !

  • garicus95

    As a rule, almost all publishers print books with a maximum size of 30 by 30 centimeters. To such books, the highest quality requirements are put forward.

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