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PeterSchlicht

Printing large from M10 or SL (100cm x 150cm, 40" x 60")

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Ladies and gents,

 

I searched the net since quite some time for experiences and examples that demonstrate the performance and quality of Leica M10 or SL files for large printing. With large prints I mean sizes up to 150cm (60") on the long side. There are lots of comparisons and reviews between cameras of different makes, e.g. between SL and Hasselblad X1D, but they concentrate mainly on usability or spec-sheet resolution etc. They don't say anything about the final product, which is the print. Print quality from files of a particular camera is nearly never mentioned or discussed. I would like to ask the community here for experiences with printing large from Leica full frame cameras such as M10, SL, 240 or even M9. I know, many of the answers will state "quality is subjective", "depends on viewing distance" or "depends on expectation", etc. But maybe this thread is able to shed some more light on people's experience. I'm sure there must be some prints out there of such sizes. Did you send your SL or M images for example to services such as whitewall.com to produce such large prints? Do you print yourself? How do M or SL files hold up in a 40x60" print? Are they totally inferior to a print from digital medium format... ?

 

Cheers, Peter

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I've commented plenty on the sensor elsewhere in this forum, and it is in large part because I print quite often at sizes from 20x30 to 40x60. (The other reason is because I shoot in situations with strong lighting differentials, which the M10, frustratingly, cannot capture as well as other cameras I use.)

 

You can do it, but it's a stretch especially at 40x60 for most images. When it's work where I have any sort of foresight about printing larger than 20x30 I will use my Sony A7RII or Rx1RII - which for my purposes holds up to 40x60 comfortably enough so that I don't see the need for a 50 mp camera - though this is still pushing these cameras a bit. But yes, because I print this size on occasion I do see the need for a higher resolving camera than the M10 in my cabinet. Personally, I find between 22x33-28x42 to be about the limit of most good, sharp M10 files shot at iso 100-200, which is mostly okay, but does suck when that becomes the limit. This is if you are okay with printing at 200 dpi and the look that gives, instead of 300-360 where your limits will be even lower. 

 

In my experience, the Leica sensor is noticeably (though not significantly - maybe 15% if I had to give a number to my subjective impression) inferior at print sizes this large. It must be said, you can do it. Quality is subjective as you stated, and you can print a strong 40x60, but it really depends on the image. If it's the type of image where detail is important to the piece, I wouldn't really rely on it, however, if it's an image that's more compelling because of the intangible aspects, it could work. I also work with a large format epson printer and only print that large after doing test prints so I know what sort of rendering I'm looking at. I wouldn't just up res a file to that size and order one through a print service, it will probably be disappointing. 

 

I saw Lieko Shiga's work a few years ago - 35mm film - printed at around this size, and it was grainy as hell. Didn't look good by most standards close up - but for some reason it worked. The images printed, when you stood back and took it as a whole piece, were quite strong and compelling. The texture of the film probably helped, but it was the content of the images - just shattered any consideration to detail and the images themselves didn't rely on that sort of thing. I wish I could make those types of pictures, mine are different and often need a little bit more of that detail. 

Edited by pgh

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I have no experience with medium format cameras. The largest print I made from one of my photos is 120 cm on the long side, printed on an Epson printer by a friend. I am very satisfied with sharpness ands details. Camera? The old M9.

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I think the variety of answers you will get on this difficult topic will vary every bit as much as answers on "is this a good picture?".

 

I regularly print my M10 (and earlier Leicas) to A2 size. That is the limit of my printer. I would dearly love to go much larger but can't justify the cost of the printer. I'm a bad delegater so hesitate sending prints out. I'm also a control freak.

 

Personally I would be happy to print from the M10 at the size you say, dependent on the image aesthetics etc., which I think is what pgh said. I think the only real answer is you must try for yourself. It's bit like tasting wine. Nobody else can do it for you.

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As large prints do not have an attached EXIF file just say the camera was either a Nikon/Canon/Sony and nobody will question the awful quality.  But this serious question also begs another question, do your prints become obsolete every time a new camera with higher resolution is introduced? If a print is four years old instead of having a title does it come with an apology?

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As large prints do not have an attached EXIF file just say the camera was either a Nikon/Canon/Sony and nobody will question the awful quality.  But this serious question also begs another question, do your prints become obsolete every time a new camera with higher resolution is introduced? If a print is four years old instead of having a title does it come with an apology?

HA. What. This is bananas.

No observer cares what it was shot on, even though you're being sarcastic - the relative inferiority (certainly no one is saying 'awful') of the large prints from my M10 have nothing to do with the brand name slapped on it - but everything to do with the reduced range of light captured and reduced resolution. A print just as large from an A6000, A9, D5 or whatever would have the same rules apply, assuming technically competent capture. 

It should be noted, I think, that right now digital cameras really are pushing the limits of scale compare to what we're used to - historically - when dealing with handheld, quick shoot type of cameras. So no, a certain print size will not become obsolete, but one of the evolutions in the art of photography right now is that larger scales using smaller cameras are now much more common than before. It's not the case that you're seeing 3, 4, 5 foot prints only from 6x7 or 4x5/8x10 negatives anymore, and this necessarily opens up the type of imagery printed at large scale. It's freeing. 

Edited by pgh

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Typically, Leicas and other 35mm cameras are most commonly used hand held, spontaneously and in sometimes poor lighting conditions. This sort of scenario is not technically conducive to large blowups. However, the better lighting conditions, frequent use of tripods and well stopped down lenses, so suitable to big enlargements, are not often conducive to 'good spontaneous' images.

 

So really one's photography, on that basis, should be divided into two categories. Good blow ups or good images!

I know that is preposterous but I hope it illustrates the futility of seeking a formula for big blowups.

My view is, if you really like the image, for any reason at all, ignore the other criteria and just blow it up! (sorry that was not intended as a terrorist joke).

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I'm a creative director for a live event production company. We often work with very large prints, massive LED screens, etc. If I were producing an 40" x 60" print piece, I'd aim for an image size of 12,000 x 18,000 pixels — in other words, 300 dpi. Depending on the printer and viewing distance, you could possibly get away with less — even down to 150 dpi (6000 x 9000) — but I'm aim higher if at all possible. 

 

FWIW, the images I'm working with on my current project are 17,000 x 34,000 — but they're 3D rendered images, not photos.

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I believe that different images often require different print sizes for best effect. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, particularly when a picture reveals its best geometry when viewed in its entirety, without eyes wandering from place to place when viewing from a meter or so away. Some images work at 8x10 (or much smaller), and some in meters. I tend to prefer smaller prints, especially for b/w, and often in series.

 

But of course it’s the photographer’s prerogative.

 

In any case, a great image deserves meticulous print quality, no matter the size. And that’s not plug and play; the history of photography includes many more accomplished photographers than printers. The common characteristic is a good eye and good judgment, not any specific gear.

 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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Typically, Leicas and other 35mm cameras are most commonly used hand held, spontaneously and in sometimes poor lighting conditions. This sort of scenario is not technically conducive to large blowups. However, the better lighting conditions, frequent use of tripods and well stopped down lenses, so suitable to big enlargements, are not often conducive to 'good spontaneous' images.

 

So really one's photography, on that basis, should be divided into two categories. Good blow ups or good images!

I know that is preposterous but I hope it illustrates the futility of seeking a formula for big blowups.

My view is, if you really like the image, for any reason at all, ignore the other criteria and just blow it up! (sorry that was not intended as a terrorist joke).

This is the traditional approach, yes, but as I've tried to state in a few places, this is slowly changing. Current cameras actually make it possible to shoot spontaneously, hand held and make large blow ups. You can't be sloppy, but if you are photographing in decent light with a fast enough shutter speed you CAN achieve large prints at this point, that actually function at a relatively high quality, especially when compared to 35mm format cameras of the past. This is the breakthrough that some of the new cameras offer. 

 

Also, I think we can take for granted that the vast majority of images deserve no such treatment, but this thread assumes that the image in question does - it's not really a question of should or shouldn't here. It's assumed that the print will be made - now - how will it hold up? From an M10...at best it will likely be...okayish...especially if your viewers can stand to keep a meter or two of viewing distance, which should be the case at that size anyways. 

Edited by pgh

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I accept and agree with your comment pgh, with the rider that (I believe) you using 'technical quality' as the prime criteria. This case can be (to some extent) be eliminated IF one considers aesthetic quality to be the prime criteria. Even more so, we all tend to have varying positions on the 'scale' with which quality is measured.

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I accept and agree with your comment pgh, with the rider that (I believe) you using 'technical quality' as the prime criteria. This case can be (to some extent) be eliminated IF one considers aesthetic quality to be the prime criteria. Even more so, we all tend to have varying positions on the 'scale' with which quality is measured.

Only using resolution (detail, accuracy of rending) as one criteria. It's importance, it seems we agree - depends entirely on the type of imager you're making and what sorts of things you're concerned about - but it's really the only one we can speak about fairly objectively in a question like this. Whether a print 'holds up' and whether the image is good at a given size are two different discussions. I'm addressing the issue of how well it holds up. I do believe an image can not 'hold up' well but still be a great large print.  

 

My example regarding Lieko Shiga is one example where the image itself was greater than the sum of all technical parts, so to speak.

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Some years ago, the general mantra on the Photonet Leica forum and the old CompuServe Photo forum was that you could print 35mm negatives "at most 11x14 inches" — larger than that "needed medium format." That was nonsense considering that many people, including Ralph Gibson, were printing 35mm Tri-X at 16x20 inches. Then in 2006 or 2007, I think, I saw at the Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney a Moriyama Daido exhibition that had sixty 60x40 inch (150 x 100 cm) prints made from 35mm Tri-X on an Epson wide-format inkjet printer. Breathtaking prints. 

 

If 35mm Tri-X can be printed at 60x40 inches, or somewhat larger, there should be no problem with M10 files, but there is the aesthetic issues, addressed by several posts above, of what size a particular image looks best. Also, as my experience of having a large print from an M10 file made by White Wall indicates, you need to be careful in files in which you've lifted shadows a few stops: White Wall were concerned whether the digital noise would show too much. It tuned out that in that particular night scene there was no problem.

_______________

Alone in Bangkok essay on BURN Magazine

Nowhereman Instagram

Edited by Nowhereman

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I think your problem breaks down to find a proper lab to do the print. The best is if you have one close to do discuss your needs with your files in hand. If this is no option upload your file to whitewall. They will tell you if the file size is sufficient and will deliver a reasonable good print.

 

Steve

 

 

Gesendet von iPhone mit Tapatalk Pro

Edited by Steve Ash

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Based on what I have read on the www (therefore it has got to be true), the desired DPI resolution of a print is determined by dividing the pixel dimensions of the sensor by the desired DPI of the print.

 

The M10, M240 and M-P240, M-M 246, etc. all have a sensor that measures 5976x3992 pixels.  Therefore

 

300 DPI print resolution = 19.92x13.30 inches

270 DPI print resolution = 22.13x14.78 inches

250 DPI print resolution = 23.90x15.96 inches

200 DPI print resolution = 29.88x19.96 inches

 

Keep in mind that pixels per inch (PPI) does not equate to dots per inch (DPI).  Apples and oranges.

 

A 60x40 inch print from an M10 would put the print resolution at roughly 100 DPI.  The image quality is going to suffer when a print is made that large from a 24 MP sensor camera. 

 

A lot of variables will influence perceived image quality, though.  Leica's legendary M lenses, the camera's sensor design as well as size, ISO used when making the image, shutter speed, handheld vs. monopod vs. tripod mounted when shot, print viewing distance, environmental illumination of the print, processing of the file and even the subject matter of the image. 

 

I have seen huge prints -  70x70 inches, give or take - made from a cell phone camera, hung in a fine art gallery and priced at thousands of dollars.  To be honest, they looked like hammered shit - but they were made by a "famous" photographer who holds an MFA degree.  By some bizarre mechanism of convoluted justification, the photographer's credentials, history and/or name made the complete and total absence of print quality acceptable in the minds of some folks.  To each his/her own, though.

 

Print quality is more important to me than print size; therefore I gravitate to printing at 300 DPI or 270 DPI.  I do have a set of abstract images that I had printed to 24x16 inches (250 DPI) that are of acceptable image quality to my eye.  These are abstracts, though.  Another subject matter may not print as well at 250 DPI. 

 

Viewing distance affects perceived image quality too.  Viewed at 10-15 feet, a 100 DPI print may look just fine.  Viewed at 3 feet, not so much.  When printing larger than 24x16 inches from a 24 MP digital M camera, it would be a good idea to make a smaller test print at 100 DPI first, say 11x14 inches in size to see if the image quality is acceptable to your own eye or to the eye of the gallery curator where you intend to display the print(s).

 

JMHO but print quality trumps print size.  Gigantic prints can be made from any camera; the fact that something can be done does not automatically mean it should be done, though. 

Edited by Herr Barnack

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All depends of the number of nozzles in printer or default resolution.

The default resolution of the printer in row divided by the ppi (an image) must be an integer. e.g. 2880/192=15

 

Using Epson 4900 to obtain max quality (default resolution is 2880 x 1440 dpi) you should convert resolution of any image in Photoshop to e.g.: 360, 300, 288, 240, 192 or 180 ppi. In Lightroom you can choose ppi while printing, but try to not upscale. In Photoshop you have better control with scaling.

 

 

By the way ...

You can not mix ppi with dpi!

Edited by olgierdc

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Answering the first question.

If someone wants to print a 60" x 40" photo of the highest possible quality on a given printer, should:

 

Save the image as .tiff.

Open the .tiff photo in Photoshop.

Open the Image / Image size Menu (Option + Command + I on Mac).

Turn off the Resample Image option.

For the Epson 4900 printer set the in Resolution field value 96 ppi (2880 / 96ppi = integer as described in the post above). For photos taken with the Leica M10 (5976 pixelx x 3984 pixels) we will get photo size 62.25 inch x 41.5 inch.

This is the only way to avoid deteriorating the quality of the photo. The printout will be made without artifacts. The driver of the printer will translate the given photo resolution expressed in ppi to the printer's dpi without dividing individual pixels.

Now we can admire the photo from a distance suitable for the 96 ppi resolution.

Edited by olgierdc

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A further factor is whether the image has been cropped > less pixels.

 

My images are seldom un-cropped so I have to be careful which I select for printing. 

 

Obvious but worth noting

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