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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.

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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://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.