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How to Limit customer printing sizes

Charles H (Oregon) , Dec 19, 2009; 08:31 p.m.

I have recently started using a new photo shopping cart that allows me to sell the digital file and i would like to offer the customer 3 options,
1)small-web res image for emails, posting on the web (facebook and such)
2)medium-larger web posting and small printing 4x6 & 5x7
3)Large-print file up to 8x10
I have been reading all sorts of forums and trying to grasp the relativity between DPI,PPI pixel dimensions etc.
What i ultimately want is to upload the 3 images to the website so the customer can choose what size they want to download and have that file size limit there print abilities.
In photoshop what demensions and resolution (dpi) should i process my images so that the medium can not be printed larger then a 5x7 without starting to look bad and a large limited to 8x10
72dpi,150dpi,300dpi, what pixel dimensions, it really is overwelming to me trying to understand all the relationships here.. just trying to understand it better and figure out the magical number combination's for the 3 sizes to upload to the site.
Any input?

Responses


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Joseph Wisniewski , Dec 19, 2009; 09:22 p.m.

Sure.

You can't. You might as well drop the idea of selling files at all those different sizes right now.

You don't say what field you're working in, but with your very small print sizes (4x6, 5x7, 8x10) and your general lack of experience, I'm guessing something like youth sports. Now, a photographer is concerned with the file size and DPI when he prints, or sends a file off for printing, but the typical "soccer mom" isn't. They will take your "web size" file and print an 8x10 for the fridge. The jaggies and pixels won't matter. If they notice them, they won't blame themselves for buying too small a file: they will blame you for your poor photography.

David Thomasson , Dec 19, 2009; 09:34 p.m.

In photoshop what demensions and resolution (dpi) should i process my images so that the medium can not be printed larger then a 5x7 without starting to look bad and a large limited to 8x10

Do the math. Suppose you offer a 5x7 at 300 ppi. A buyer could crop that to 8x10 at 187 ppi -- enough to get a decent print. The only way I can see for you to control what customers receive is to offer prints rather than digital images for download.

David Henderson , Dec 19, 2009; 09:39 p.m.

Joseph has written what I was going to write.

Charles H (Oregon) , Dec 19, 2009; 09:53 p.m.

Joseph,
Thanks for the feedback. However I don't feel the idea and notion of offering this option to the "soccer mom" is a poor one. Your right as far as a photographer, the concern is with file size and DPI and the average soccer mom knows little about this. SO my point being that if these options are offered to them with the explanations that each size is designed for specific uses and the soccer mom understands that a small size file is indented for web use (emails and social networking sites) and tried to print it at an 8x10 then sees a poor print then she realizes "oh i should have purchased the large size file" if its clear to the customers what file type they are purchasing and for what uses they intend to use them, then i fail to see how this is a bad idea for offering to my customers.
Instead of "drop your idea of selling different files sizes right now" I would LOVE to have some constructive feedback on this topic as to HOW i can make this work well.. I appologize Joseph but i find your comments on my "lack of experiance" and the ASSumption to what area of photography work I'm associated with rather offensive. I have often come to this forum for various questions and concerns. Although some of my questions may have been lower level (wee all have to start somewhere) i have always been met with constructive feedback and helpful tips.. Your advice to just drop the idea all together only fuels my motivation to make it work that much more....
Would anyone ELSE like to put for some advice on this my questions.

Charles H (Oregon) , Dec 19, 2009; 10:01 p.m.

But suppose the 5x7 (medium file) was set at 150DPI or (maybe lower)? now the customer very well could not get a good 8x10 out of that would they? And with them choosing the option of purchasing the medium file (not the large) set to 5x7 and they still try for the 8x10 then they understand that it will not be as good of a print.

Ben Bangerter , Dec 19, 2009; 10:50 p.m.

Joseph's reply is spot on - candid, direct, and a bit blunt. You take offense rather easily, it seems. You are trying to split hairs with your analysis of final image size and ppi. What you really need to do is sell prints.

Bob Sunley , Dec 19, 2009; 11:19 p.m.

They won't get a good 5x7 at 150ppi if the print is done on glossy stock by a Frontier minilab RA4 printer either.
4x6, 5x7 and 8x10 are not very far apart in surface area, 2x linear spans all three, so to limit a print to a decent 5x7 and not print well at 8x10 means the 5x7 is going to have be compromised as well. 1x1.5k or 250ppi images make decent 4x6 RA4 glossy prints.

If you decide to give them options on file sizes, almost everyone will buy the smallest, print an 8x10 at the photo kiosk and then complain about your poor photography and not buy any more.

Charles H (Oregon) , Dec 20, 2009; 12:27 a.m.

I do appreciate everyone's input and in no way stating that your wrong in any of your feedback, (bob i appreciate your image specifications, its the closest answer i received to my original questions) however in the time of my first posting till now i have managed to find a very well established photographer that utilizes the same photo shopping cart that i do and he to has had much success with his (3 files size) download options. He has since given me some very useful file size specifications that have worked very well for his business and also stated that has not yet had a single complaint from his customers or any reflections on his photography because his customers are well aware of what they are purchasing and the uses and criteria for the 3 options.
Ben, in regards to your comment of "sell more prints" i had a look at your work (beautiful i might add) and i agree with what your saying there but in regards to personal, family, and general customer portraiture one of the first questions I'm asked in my consultation sessions is "do you offer the digital images" your scenic photos are amazing and well worth purchasing prints but my input and view on personal portraiture is that times are changing. The every day "soccer mom" (thanks Joesph) wants the digital file more so then a print. She wants to be able to print her own and hang it on her fridge, or make a scrap book print, or order her Christmas cards with the photo. So think on this, would you rather try for high priced prints that the average consumer knows was didn't cost that much to print or will a (personal licensed) digital image with no overhead make the same amount of profit if not more? FYI, All my sessions include a print package and they still want to up sell to purchase the digital files.
Thanks again everyone for the feedback it was insightful.
Have a very merry Christmas.

Steve Marcantonio , Dec 20, 2009; 08:30 a.m.

Charles,
I unfortunately concur with the general directions of the responses you've received. In fact, some people will follow your guidelines and buy an appropriate size file from you, but many won't. But selling prints is no solution either. Many people have scanners now and will take your print (or proof if your a wedding photographer), scan them (badly), print them (very badly) and then send those to family and friends. I have a colleague who was doing very high end wedding and portrait work for very high end clients. She was stunned and dismayed one evening when she walked into a clients $3M home for a party to see on the den wall a large picture which had been scanned from an 8x10 she had provided the client as a proof from their wedding shoot. It looked horrible and beyond being irked by the fact that the person with the $3M home was apparently too cheap to pay for a large print, she was actually horrified to think that other potential clients had been told that she had taken what was now a terrible looking picture.


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