Can my digital image be blown up this big?

I am sure you have seen many mural size prints in shopping malls, outside buildings or in exhibitions. Most often, you are viewing them from a distance such that you can see the entire print.

Have you ever gone closer and see the details of the print? Let me use a mural size print in an exhibition as an illustration.

The size of the print is 5.6 x 3.6m!


The picture looks ‘clear’ from a distance. In this case, the viewer is about 5m from the print.

If you go closer to about book-reading distance, you would not be able to see clearly how this cute little animal looks like.


Is it a sheep or a cattle? But definitely not a dog…

You will probably wonder what mega-pixel digital camera was used to produce this mural size print.

The digital image was scanned from a 35mm slide.

After scanning, the pixel dimension of the digital image is about 2000 x 3000 pixels. This is approximately equivalent to an image captured using a 6 mega-pixel digital camera.

The digital image was further resized (or re-sampled, to be more accurate) by using Photoshop before being printed to mural size.

Now, you know how a mural size print looks like when being printed from a digital image captured using 6 mega-pixel digital camera. You can use this as a guide for your photo enlargement next time.

Viewers tend to stand further away from the print if the print size is large, so that they can see the entire print comfortably. Hence, they pay less attention to small details that require them to go closer to the print. Even if they do, generally they will accept that they cannot see the details clearly.

So what if you really want to see very sharp details of the sheep (or any part of the print) at a book-reading distance? Well… after some calculations, ideally, you need a 1250 mega-pixel camera!!! Where on earth can you find such digital camera?…..

If you like to learn the calculation, see “How many pixels are needed for a certain print size, without losing image quality?” at the Tips section. It’s quite simple anyway.