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iPhone photo prints: How big can you go?

Submitted by on August 25, 2010 – 1:34 am 35 Comments

iphone photo print enlargement iphoneography

 

It’s not if the iPhone camera can make large prints, it’s how big….

(UPDATED 08.10.13)

Whether to mount and frame as gifts, for sale or for gallery exhibition, more and more prints are being made from iPhones. Prints and enlargements can be made from any iPhone camera. How big an enlargement you can make depends on a number of factors — the iPhone model you use, the resolution of the apps you use, and if, how and where you are willing to resample your images.

iPhone Photo Print Sizes and Resolutions

Picture Size (in pixels)
Good, 150 ppi
Better, 200 ppi
Best/Press Quality, 300 ppi
800 x 600 px, 0.5MP5.33" x 4"
(13.5cm x 10.2cm)
4" x 3"
(10.2cm x 7.6cm)
2.67" x 2"
(6.75cm x 5cm)
612 x 612 px,
Instagram web, 0.375MP
4.08" x 4.08"
(10.36cm x 10.36cm)
3.06" x 3.06"
(7.77cm x 7.77cm)
2.04" x 2.04"
(5.18cm x 5.18cm)
640 x 640 px,
Instagram-friendly, 0.41MP
4.27" x 4.27"
(10.85cm x 10.85cm)
3.20" x 3.20"
(8.13cm x 8.13cm)
2.13" x 2.13"
(5.41cm x 5.41cm)
1024 x 768 px, 0.75MP6.83" x 5.12"
(17.35cm x 13cm)
5.12" x 3.84"
(13cm x 9.75cm)
3.41" x 2.56"
(8.65cm x 6.5cm)
1224 x 1224 px, 1.5MP8.16" x 8.16"
(20.73cm x 20.730cm)
6.12" x 6.12"
(15.55cm x 15.55cm)
4.08" x 4.08"
(10.36cm x 10.36cm)
1600 x 1200 px, 2MP
iPhone 3G, Original iPhone
10.67" x 8"
(27cm x 20.3cm)
8" x 6"
(20.3cm x 15.25cm)
5.33" x 4"
(13.5cm x 10.2cm)
2048 x 1536 px, 3.15MP
iPhone 3GS
13.65" x 10.24"
(34.65cm x 26cm)
10.24" x 7.68"
(26cm x 19.5cm
6.83" x 5.12"
(17.35cm x 13cm)
2592 x 1936 px, 5MP
iPhone 4, iPad 3
17.28" x 12.9"
(43.9cm x 32.75cm
12.96" x 9.68"
(32.75cm x 24.6cm)
8.64" x 6.45"
(22cm x 16.4cm)
3264 x 2448 px, 8MP
iPhone 5, 4S
21.76" x 16.32"
(55.27cm x 41.45cm)
16.32" x 12.24"
(41.45cm x 31.09cm)
10.88" x 8.16"
(27.64cm x 20.73cm)
4000 x 3000 px, 12MP
iPhone 5S?
26.67" x 20"
(67.74cm x 50.80cm)
20" x 15"
(50.80cm x 38.10cm)
13.33" x 10"
(33.86cm x 25.40cm)
5416 x 4062 px, 22MP36.11" x 27.08"
(91.72cm x 68.78cm)
27.08" x 20.31"
(68.78cm x 51.59cm)
18.05" x 13.54"
(45.85cm x 34.39cm)
~10800 x ~2500, ~27MP,
iPhone 5/4S Panorama
72.00" x 16.67"54.00" x 12.50"36.00" x 8.33"

This table and content ©2013 LifeInLoFi.com. You may use this content, but please include an attribute and a link back to this page.

Printing iPhone Photos

You can get good quality prints from any iPhone. While most photo sharing is done online these days, all iPhones have very print-friendly resolutions, including the early 2 megapixel cameras of the 2G and 3G. Of course, you’ll get the best results from the 8 MP camera of the iPhone 5 and 4S or the 5 MP camera of the iPhone 4. I’ve also updated this graphic to reflect the 12 megapixel output of the new smartphones, including the upcoming new iPhones.

One of the most important factors in printing phtos is image size — the number of pixels in your image — how they are used differently for screen and print. An image that looks great on your screen may not have enough data or pixels to print as well. That’s why it’s always best to work with the largest image and the most pixels possible.

The table above shows recommended maximum print sizes at various resolutions. With current photo and inkjet printing methods, anything over 300 pixels per inch (ppi) will be overkill. Personal experience has taught me that you’ll still get great results with all but the most detailed, intricate images at 200 ppi. Depending on the photo, you’ll get good images at 150 ppi, but depending on the image, you may start to see a noticeable increase in blur in the details.

Keep in mind that large images are usually viewed from a few feet away. This will help to disguise any blurriness or artifacts that enlarging the images creates.

Although you can do it, I don’t recommend printing photos at resolutions lower than 150 ppi. Some photos will still look fine at that resolution, but you still run a high risk of fuzzy photos. Also at low resolution, pixelization can occur, where lines and curves don’t look smooth, but look stair-steppy and blocky (the “jaggies”).

Many apps, especially older apps, free apps and “lite” apps greatly reduce the resolution of your images, no matter which iPhone you use to shoot them. Most commercial apps have been updated to support at least 2048x1536px images. Life In LoFi’s Photo App Compatibility feature is a great resource and shows the maximum output resolution of over 300 600 popular (and some not-so-popular) apps. An excellent free app to keep tabs on what other photo apps are doing to your image resolution is PhotoSize ( ) by Danny Goodman.

If you’re outputting oversized prints — anything larger than 8-1/2″ x 11″ — be sure you have enough pixels to make a good looking enlargement. You may want to resample your images to add pixels for enlargement. You can’t add detail — if it isn’t in the original photo, it isn’t going to be in a larger, resampled one. But good and careful image resampling can help reduce image pixelization or jaggies.

To resample images on your iPhone, there are currently several good tools to do so. Currently, I found that Filterstorm ( ) and Big Photo ( ) both do a great job of resizing images on the iPhone and iPad. They can resample and resize iPhone 5 and 4S images up to 4690×4690 pixels — that’s a whopping 22 megapixels! Big Photo even larger, although I don’t recommend it. If you choose to use a desktop or laptop computer and have Photoshop or a similar image editing program, the Bicubic or Bicubic Smoother algorithms will give you the best results. If you do a lot of image enlargement on your desktop or laptop, I also recommend onOne Software’s Perfect Resize (formerly Genuine Fractals) plugin for Photoshop.

For best results, start with the largest image possible. The larger your original image is, the sharper your resampled image will be. Limit your upsampling to 200%. For printing, never downsample your master files — there is no good reason to.

Small iPhone Photo Print Sizes and Resolutions

Picture Size (in pixels)
Good, 150 ppi
Better, 200 ppi
Best/Press Quality, 300 ppi
450x520px, Polarize3" x 3.47"2.25" x 2.6"1.5" x 1.73"
480x320px, 0.15MP3.2" x 2.13"2.4" x 1.6"1.6" x 1.06"

It’s very difficult to get small images to enlarge and print well and it’s almost impossible to do with 320×480 output.

All iPhones produce images that enlarge well. Some iPhones create better images than others for enlargement, as do many apps. If you stay within suggested guidelines, you should be able to output — either at home or at a photo lab — a wide variety of print sizes that will look great.

=M=

~~~~

Updated 12.02.11 @18:50: Updated the story for iPhone 4S, Genuine Fractals name change, and the greatness of Filterstorm.

Updated 6.19.12: Removed references to Resize Photo. The latest version just doesn’t work and is pretty horrible. Also removed references to Iris Photo Suite, which breaks on an iPhone 4S. It works fine on other iPhones.

Updated 11.25.12: Added iOS 6/iPhone 5 and 4S Panorama print sizes.

Updated 08.10.16: Added 12MP sizes and filled out most of the print sizes in metric.

Marty Yawnick

Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/fdviphone FDV

    Thanks for these info..very useful.

    Just a question: I use Hipstamatic with resolution 600×600 most of the time.

    How big did you think we can go (I mean can we print 30×30 cm with a good quality if I use Genuine Fractal)? I am resizing these shots 30×30 300dpi. Will I notice some good improvement on such a large print?

    Thanks a lot.

    • http://www.wanderingiphone.com/ Andrea Rees

      Thank you Marty, this is exactly the information I need for my mobile photography initiative. Great post.

  • http://flickr.com/mishobaranovic Misho Baranovic

    Great article Marty, really helpful to get the best possible print. I've printed up to 14"x11" and have had surprisingly good results. I adjusted in photoshop and interpolated up with bicubic smoother. It's also a good idea to work with a lab that works with you to output the best possible image.

    I would like to repeat to all the iPhoneographers out there to always have the highest resolution turned on for all apps, or use the standard camera and process after. You never know when you will take 'the' picture and you don't want to be caught short on pixels.

    Cheers,

    Misho

  • http://flickr.com/photos/paranee Miki

    excellent article! I've just begun printing out my own photos up to 8×10's and this article is definitely educational!

  • MartyNearDFW

    Hi, FDV,

    I suggest that you turn on the High Quality Prints option in Hipstamatic. This will give you 1200x1200px prints on a 2G/3G, 1530px square on a 3GS or 1936 on a 4. Settings app > Hipstamatic > High Quality Prints to "On" — it's not set that way by default.

    30cm x 30cm (11.8" square) seems a little large for my comfort zone for an image that's 600px. That's a resolution of about 51 pixels per inch. Doubling that using an app, Photoshop or Genuine Fractals still puts it around 100 ppi. Plus, there's a lot of data and detail that's missing in an image that small.

    The largest I would print an image that small is 20cm x 20cm — that's about 8" square — and that's after applying some image enlargement somewhere. No more than 10cm square without. Any more is pushing it.

    Good luck and let us know how they look!

    =M=

  • Tomba

    Great education as always.

    Could you update the numbers with metric numbers as well. You know the Europeans :-)

  • MartyNearDFW

    There you go, Tomba. My metric should be pretty close.

    =M=

  • Josh

    Really great info, thanks! Only suggestion I have is to add an 11.25MP entry in your table for those using ClearCam, although you can pretty much extrapolate from what's there already.

    Thanks!
    Josh

  • Tomba

    Thanks, now its much easier to read the numbers. But i hate you for that. It clearly shows that i have to upgrade my 3GS ;-)

    I have another question. Lets say i want to get a 6.83" x 5.12" print from my 3GS. If i saved it at 1600×1200 its clear that i should use Iris resize or Re-Size App. But will i get additional quality if i have a 3MB pix already and resize to 6MB. At same printsize? Did you made tests for that?

    As i write one more question rises. Did you make a comparison between Iris resize/Re-Size App and the quality mode of Clear Cam?

    Thanks again.

    Tomba

  • MartyNearDFW

    Tomba,

    Hahahahahaha! Sorry about that! I promise I'm not an Apple shill! Just a very happy user (for a long time).

    – If I understand your first question correctly, you want to rez up a 3MP image to 6MP, but print it at the same size that would be fine for 3MP? I haven't tested it specifically with the iPhone yet, but my years in prepress tell me that you wouldn't get any *significant or visible* gains by playing with the resolutions that way. But, I'll have to try it soon, just to be sure I'm not lying to you.

    – ClearCam does its magic by image averaging and will produce results that are much much better than rezzing up in Iris or Resize-Photo. Two completely different processes. With ClearCam, the additional data is actually there — it's just scattered across six images before being merged.

    Y'all are right. I need to get some ClearCam numbers in there (they'll work for a few other HD cameras as well.)

    =M=

  • http://maxsiphotos.tumblr.com Max Berkowitz

    Fantastic, thanks for posting this info Marty.

  • http://www.flickr.com/carmencabrera Carmen Cabrera

    A very interesting article Marty!. But I have a question: Resize-Photo app resample or resize image? Since both terms is not the same thing…

  • MartyNearDFW

    Hi, Carmen,

    Thank you!

    Resize-Photo and Iris both resample — larger and smaller. Resize-Photo uses an algorithm that looks like Photoshop's bicubic resampling. Resize-Photo will resample your images up to 3500x3500px with good results if you start off with a large, full-size image.

    Although Iris says it tops out at about 3100px, I was able to resample to over 5000 pixels starting with an iPhone 4 full-size image.

    Both do the same thing as Photoshop. They're good to use for iPhoneographers who prefer to do everything on their iPhone.

    =M=

  • http://www.flickr.com/carmencabrera Carmen Cabrera

    Thanks so much Marty for the info!

    It's great to have tools on the fly, to work with, from the iphone.

  • Deanna Cicchino

    Awesome info. Thank you!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gonzalovidalsoler/ gonzalo

    ¡¡ perfect ¡¡, thanks for the info Gonzalo.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mydigitalworldnweb/ thura

    thanks…great useful.

  • https://www.facebook.com/isabel.batteria Isabel Batteria

    I just had some 8×12 prints done at a professional photo lab. The iPhone 4 images were of maximum quality: 1936 x 2595 pixels. They came out wonderfully. The guy at the lab was amazed they had been taken with a camera phone.

    Also, I got a 1600 x 1600 Hipstamatic print done in 10 x 10 and it was equally great.

  • http://www.inologist.com Gordon, Inologist

    I just did a series of prints for a talk i'm doing on Monday. Some are A3 some are 12 x 12….From 4 and 4s. The 12 x 12 portraits from the 4s look cracking…..really good….I am happy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/KayakPaddlerScooterRider Phil Bishop

    Blow up by Alien Skin works really great for larget print sizes I did a 20×20 that came out crystal clear.

  • MomentsForZen

    Great resource – however the entry for 150 dpi / 8 MP has an error.

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      Well, 21.76" x 6.32" in Imperial measurements could have been a pano. Instead, it was a typo and has been fixed. Thanks for catching that!

      =M=

  • Steph Ott

    what is the best way to print a picture i took on my iphone 4s? i have tried emailing them to myself then saving them to my desktop and uploading to costco but when i try to make an 8×10 it says my resolution will be affected….im confused! i put it through a suggested app and it confirmed it is an 8mp picture. help?! anyone!?

    • https://www.facebook.com/nantho Nantho Noir

      Hi Steph !

      The best way to upload your pictures is to upload them into a folder of your desktop computer by plug-in your 4S to it (iTunes-style), then you just have to upload them to Costco. This is for sure the safest and the best way to go.

      Hope it helps :o)

      P.-S. – I apologize for my pretty bad english as I am a stupid French frog and I am not quite used to your rules, especially for punctuation marks…

  • http://www.buddhateas.com John

    I need something around 50inch x 60inch for a bathroom wall. I have some very nice photos from bali (tasteful pic of my girlfriend naked by a pool), that would good great on the wall… any suggestions?

  • http://www.buddhateas.com John

    I need something around 50inch x 60inch for a bathroom wall. I have some very nice photos from bali (tasteful pic of my girlfriend naked by a pool)

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      Hi, John,

      Try this lab http://www.elcocolor.net/ or CanvasPop. El-co Color comes highly recommended by Knox Bronson from Pixelsatanexhibition.com.

      =M=

  • Matt

    Super useful page!

    Thanks Marty.

  • Enrique

    Practical, useful, reliable information. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/tinrocket @tinrocket

    I saw some really huge (36"x36") Hipstamatic prints at Haus of Hipstamatic last year—I believe they were enlarged photographically (as opposed to digital prints) and used grain to good effect: there was no noticable pixelation.

  • Geri

    What a great post – Would it be possible for me to share your Print Sizes and Resolution table on my blog with a link back to this article? Thanks!

  • Mike

    Question: How many pixels would you need to make a photograph 18 feet high and 60 feet wide? That is what Kodak regularly did in Grand Central Station for over 30 years using their 35 mm film and their own cameras. These photographs were virtually grainless. So our we moving forward or backwards in our technology?

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      Surprisingly few. Oversize output has different file size requirements, due to the fact that it\’s normally viewed from a distance. I\’d bet that the digital file sizes required now are about 6480×10800 px (about 70 MP) to 12960×21600 px (about 280 MP). Probably doable on the iPhone 10.

      =M=

  • Fredrik

    Great! This is VERY helpful :o)
    Thanks !

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  • Carlos

    Here’s my 2 cents M.
    to make bigger prints as of May 2013

    http://www.alienskin.com/blowup/

    Will try doing some prints on aluminum. 20×24 Bay photo in SF seems to have experience with this process. I would call first and talk to somebody first before ordering.