Print Sizes and Mounting
For Club Competitions, images should be from at least 6x4 inches up to A4 in size and then mounted on black or white board with the image title and author's name written on the back.
Most members tend to print at A4 size as this is easier to look at and modern cameras have more than enough pixels to give a good quality print at this size.
The mount needs to be significantly larger than the print - for an A4 print, an A3 mount is ideal.
White is the more commonly-used mount colour, and mount-board is usually obtained as large A1 sheets which can be cut into four individual A3 mounts with a sharp knife and a steel ruler of at least 60cm.
Prints are often attached to the mount with special photo-mount spray adhesive - this can be expensive, and decent double-sided tape or "glue-dots" are much cheaper and work well if enough are used.
There are two main options - DIY (Do It Yourself) or GSETDIFY (Get Someone Else To Do It For You)!
It is quite easy and cost-effective to follow the DIY route - especially if you own a fairly modern printer.
The GSETDIFY method involves less work on your part, but it may not necessarily give better results.
- Ensure you have enough pixels to print at the required size - 300 PPI or greater is needed for good quality, down to 240 PPI is OK, anything below 240 PPI may give poor results - see below.
- For both methods, there is usually the option to print with or without a small border around the image - either is OK and down to personal preference.
- Choose the best proportioned paper to fit your image. For example, a 4000x3000 (4:3) pixel image would better suit an 8x6 inch paper and a 6000x4000 (3:2) pixel image would be more ideal on a 12x8 inch paper. If not an exact fit, print as large as you can in the longest dimension and expect to have to trim a bit off the other 2 sides so the borders are even.
- Don't assume you always have the full amount of pixels your camera gives you - if you have cropped or straightened your image, you will have lost some.
- Use a non-glossy paper for prints to be framed behind glass as this often looks better as it lessens any double reflections between the picture and glass.
DIY Printing Tips
- A modern decent £40 printer can give great results especially if a Canon, Epson or HP.
- Using a decent paper is important - such as a thick 290gsm "Premium Glossy" type.
- Always go to the printer's "Properties" or "Settings" and be sure to select the closest match of paper type and ensure that the quality is set to "Photo". ("Best Photo" takes a lot longer and you probably won't be able to see much difference)
- Original manufacturer's ink cartridges will guarantee quality, but there are some cheaper 3rd-party inks which are equally or almost as good - go by reviews or recommendations.
- Perform a "Nozzle Check" before printing images and run a cleaning-cycle if necessary - this is especially crucial if your printer hasn't been used for a while or you have put a new ink cartridge in it.
- You can either print to an exact size manually, or let the printer resize the image to fit the paper size - there isn't much difference as today's printers do a great job of scaling up or down.
- Note that what you get out of the printer doesn't always match what is on the screen - you may get better results by adding contrast or extra sharpening before printing, so experiment for best results.
GSETDIFY Printing Tips
- You can either upload images to a web-site and receive your prints by post, or you can take them on a memory-stick or card to a local photographic shop and usually collect them within an hour.
- Some outlets don't provide all sizes, or may charge extra to give you the exact size you want. If A4 print sizes aren't available, it may be cheaper to choose something like their 12x8 inch print instead.
- No matter which company you use, always get a test image done before a bulk order if you haven't used them before. This will let you know how they turn out compared to how they look on your computer, as you may need to adjust their brightness, contrast or colour before submitting them.
- Don't allow images to be stretched or severely-cropped to fit the whole paper.
When resizing or viewing images, you may have noticed a "PPI" or "DPI" value which refers to either Pixels-Per-Inch or Dots-Per-Inch. Technically, PPI should refer to images on a computer screen whilst DPI is the resolution at which a printer is capable of printing or a scanner can sample images.
PPI is irrelevant for displaying images on your screen - it is usually displayed to fit the screen. However, for printing, PPI is critical as it tells you how large you can print your image without compromising the quality.
You need to make sure you have sufficient pixels at 300 PPI for the size of print you require.
A typical 12MP camera may produce images of 4000x3000 pixels - in this case, you could print 13.3 x 10 inches at 300 PPI. Although you could print larger than this, it would have to be at a lower PPI value.
See below for the pixels necessary at various print sizes.
Below are some commonly-used sizes for reference.
Note that the longest side is considered as the width and the shortest is the height.
||Pixels at 300 PPI
|6 x 4
|7 x 5
|8 x 6
|12 x 8
|12 x 10