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Customer Discussions > Digital SLR forum

Frame-able prints possible from a Nikon D5100 ?

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Showing 1-19 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 9, 2013 7:51:23 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 9, 2013 6:08:07 PM PST
Sisypha says:
I've just ordered (but not yet received) my first "non-film" SLR, a Nikon D5100 w/ an 18-105mm VR A-FS lens, plus a used 55-210 VR. After reading a lot of the postings on this forum and elsewhere, I'm worrying that a non-full frame camera won't give me prints that are good enough to enlarge to, say, a max. of ~14"x20". Now I'm panicking because the occasional "keeper" suitable for framing was my main reason for wanting a dSLR. My Canon PowerShot S100 had been serving most of my snapshot needs well enough, but then I got the yen to return to more serious shooting again.

Should I have saved up a while longer and gotten totally different equipment? If so, what would you recommend for a more artsy photographer who isn't interested in video and doesn't do sport-shots, whose main priority is quality images w/ mostly available light?

Oh, and final question: do I need to invest in Photoshop if I want to shoot in RAW? Thanks for reading all this!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2013 10:19:48 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 9, 2013 10:33:21 AM PST
®ichard says:

here is a resolution to pixel size chart:
another chart

All you need is 8 megapixel to hit that according on the first chart, little more on the second chart. But your image must be tack sharp with correct exposure. Noise don't look very good enlarged. The newer D5200 has a new 24mp toshiba sensor and the 3200 has a nikon sensor if you are a megapixel person. more megapixel will allow you to crop. I would use a d5100 andsave up for a d600 or its replacement in a few years. Get some good fx glass even on dx body, that is edge to edge sharper.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2013 10:46:42 AM PST
EdM says:
Don't worry about the "frame-ability" of enlargements with a modern DSLR.

There are various things about making high quality enlargements, first of which is that you did make a great, "keeper" shot. Next is the lens quality. Last is the body, or perhaps the sensor, more in a bit.

ON the lens - you mention a "55-105mm VR A-FS lens". This is either a typo, or someone foisted off a weak, aftermarket imitation on you. However, if you have a number of older Nikon lenses that you used with film cameras [and that are not AF-S lenses], I recommend that you consider instead the Nikon D7000 16.2MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR with 3.0-Inch LCD (Body Only).

The D7000 has a lens motor in the body, which the D5100 lacks. [The just out Nikon D5200 also lacks that lens motor.] With the lens motor you can shoot your old AF lenses or even AIS manual focus lenses, if you so desire.

Okay, now to print sizes, printing and software.

Throughout the world, pretty much, today's photo printers do an excellent job on blowups, and one common size for the paper for enlargements is 13" x 19". Epson Premium Photo Paper SEMI-GLOSS (13x19 Inches, 20 Sheets) (S041327), and there are many types of paper in this and other sizes; I often like Luster paper better, e.g. This easily prints a 12" x 18" photo with small borders. You can print 8x10 photos on letter size paper, provided you have a wide enough printer. There are scads of letter size photo printers and lots of high quality 13" wide printers, like the Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Wireless Wide-Format Color Inkjet Printer (C11CA86201).

There are even 17", 24" and even wider, more costly, printers. Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Color Inkjet Printer (CA61201-VM), e.g. There are other companies which make good printers also. So, if you print at home, you can print at whatever size your home printer is capable of printing at. A fair number of people actually have 13" wide printers, like the Epson R3000 above.

You can shoot jpegs or raw; either will allow you to print large. What shooting raw [I normally shoot raw] does is provide more data so you can adjust your photos to print better. This is a whole new thing from the days of film, where the photo finishing store would develop and print your exposed film. It appears that you haven't processed or printed at home, with a P/S which shoots jpegs, or you'd be more familiar with the back end of things.

I have printed excellent photo prints on 13" wide paper [e.g. image size 12" x 18" or a bit larger] and even 16x20 or 16x24 on larger printers, using my 10 MPx Nikon D200 or my 12 MPx Nikon D700. So, the size of the sensor in the D5100 or D7000 is even better, and easily allows printing high quality enlargements of your keepers. You can send out printing, but you then need to know what formats they will print from, if you do not print at home.

On software - you do NOT need to invest in Photoshop to shoot raw. Photoshop has a steep learning curve, and there is a somewhat similar working GIMP program which is basically free, but still has a steep learning curve. With today's computers, there is lots of software that can print excellent photos. There is something of a divide between Mac and Windows software, but many good programs are available for both. Consider Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 [Download], which is a fine program, and even Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 [Download] will do for many people. To some extent, operating systems have built in raw conversion. For example, iPhoto on Mac can print and converts raw fine using the OS raw conversion built in. There is also Aperture on the Mac, which competes with Lightroom.

These days, it's quite easy to do basic raw processing using any of a number of programs or even raw converter programs. Doing this at home does imply consideration on the speed and power of your home computer, as well as storage requirements since raw files are significantly larger. Plus, you will save your keepers as .tiff or .psd files, which can easily be 50 megs to 100 megs and larger for one photo, with a few layers.

For printing large purposes, the D5100 is well qualified. If you have older Nikon lenses, though, the D7000 can use your old lenses with no problems. I do use my fine old Nikkor AIS lenses on occasion, although the high quality and ease of using today's fine AF-S lenses is undeniable.

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 10:57:58 AM PST
JCUKNZ says:
I was making 14x11 winning exhibition prints off a 3.3Mp P&S after it passed through my Paint Shop Pro editor ... these days we have it easy with current cameras. You have 16Mp coming and will have a ball if you know how to take good photos.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 9:46:26 AM PST
I could have sworn I'd posted a rather large harangue last night...

Warning: lots of numbers and ancient technology mentioned <G>

I tend to be somewhat old-school, and use 300 pixels per inch (PPI) as my target for printing photos. This number is derived from commercial press practices using half-tone screens. High-quality half tone screens were 150 lines per inch (LPI) and custom was that the source image PPI should be 2X LPI (so 150LPI*2 => 300PPI). (Newspapers tend to run 37.5LPI for the Sunday Color Comics <G>). 2X is the custom, but the range that is often acceptable runs from 1.5X to 2.5X -- over 2.5X and most of the image detail (sharpening) is lost in compressing multiple pixels into one half-tone cell.

On a CMYK (four-color) inkjet printer, one needs to use a 16x16 block of ink dots (emulating a half-tone cell) to produce 256-level (per primary) tones. 150LPI * 16 dots leads to a printer requirement of 2400 dots per inch (DPI).

At 300PPI, a 4x6" print uses 2MP of data. An 8x12" will use 8MP of data, so any modern camera should have enough pixels to support 8x12" prints even with some cropping. If you use 225PPI (150*1.5) a 12x18" print (the larger "home/pro" inkjet printers can take 13x19" paper, so with 1/2" margins for mounting, 12x18" is the largest likely print) only needs 11MP of data.

On the other side of the coin -- modern inkjets, with more than CMYK primaries, may be able to emulate even finer "half-tone line screens"... Instead of needing an alternating pattern of white and Magenta to produce a half intensity pastel magenta tone, a CcMmYK printer can directly produce the half intensity pastel using a single dot of the "m" ink. Other photo printers have added true blue, red, or orange (or some combination thereof) to improve rendering of landscapes (blue, green) or flesh tones (red, orange).

So on that basis, and combined with the top resolutions going up to 4800DPI or higher, a modern photo printer could use larger MP files for smaller prints without losing quite as much detail.

On the other hand, large prints may not need to be at such fine detail.

A 300PPI 4x6" print is commonly viewed from 12-18" distance (ie; in the hand, held before one's face). For simplicity, let's call it 18" (1.5 feet).

An 8x12" print is likely to be hanging on a wall and viewed from a few feet away. At a viewing distance of 3 feet, that 8x12" print subtends the same visual arc as the 4x6 at 1.5 feet. An 8x12" printed, therefore, at a mere 150PPI and viewed from 3 feet will have the SAME detail/sharpness as the 300PPI 4x6" print held in the hand.

The extreme example of this is the graphics on "coke machines"... Look fine from across the room, but when you get up close you can see that they have a half-tone line screen of maybe only 10LPI (20PPI source).

So... a 12x18" viewed from around 4.5 feet may only need 100PPI.

Posted on Jan 10, 2013 11:49:34 AM PST
JCUKNZ says:
If the camera doesn't produce 300 dpi then you get it by interpolation with your editor which is the companion tool to the camera in the digital age. You cannot make silk purses out of sow's ears but if you only have enough pixels for 200 dpi it is quite satisfactory to interpolate for the 300dpi with the computer inventing extra pixels based on what you already have. It cannot create detail but if the photo itself is big and bold it works well.
I would never make a print with less than 300dpi whatever the viewing distance.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 12:32:56 PM PST
carl says:
you don't need 300dpi actually - i have 30x40 prints from a D200 10megapixel camera and they are awesome looking it's about the image and what kind of edge resolution it needs - everything else can be interpolated

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 1:12:52 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2013 1:15:25 PM PST
Sisypha says:
Thanks JCUKNZ!
So by "my editor" I'm assuming you mean software like Photoshop or Elements, since it's hard to imagine anything so complex as interpolating pixels to be possible within the camera. Am I right? Can this be done with the proprietary software that's bundled with some camera brands?

Posted on Jan 11, 2013 10:24:16 AM PST
JCUKNZ says:
No I do not mean Photoshop or Elements but Paint Shop Pro, or Irfanview or Paint.Net :-)

The last two don't cost anything to download and PSP is quite reasonably priced for the top line programme you are getting. You don't need the latest version either

Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3

That copy is $46 and they have open box versions for a little under $9 :-)

I guess I was lucky since I bought a copy for my notebook for just $15 last September Paint Net is a little clunky compared to PSP but every time I have done something with it to compare with PSP I have got the result AOK. So just as I prefer PSP over PS or PSE so also I prefer PSP over PN as my tool.

How good a print looks largely depends on from what distance you look at it. If you maintain a minimum distance of the diagonal of the print you can get away with less than 300dpi but 300dpi has been the industry standard for quality printing.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 12:45:20 PM PST
EdM says:
The issue of specific print size from a given image is quite complex. A great many programs can do this in some form, but to do it _well_ is the question. I have been doing it in Photoshop for as long as I have been digital, although I only pushed my 6 MPx D70 to ~ 8x10 size enlargements. In any event, here is one exemplary article that is more thorough on this subject:

IN it, you will note the sizes and quality that you can print from a D90 12 MPx image:

"Nikon D90 12.2Mp 300 DPI (Highest Quality) - 14.3″ x 9.5″
"Nikon D90 12.2Mp 240 DPI (Good Quality) - 17.9″ x 11.9″ "

So, for many people, 240 dpi will be a fine print [from an un-cropped original]. Only you can determine if this is good enough for you or your living room walls. For a gallery quality print, 300 dpi is generally assumed to be "proper". Actually when printing larger than that, many experts recommend that 240 dpi is fine, considering the expected viewing distance for such a larger print.

Various software is better or worse at this task of enlarging the image size, as stated in the article. Photoshop does a fine job, and the Genuine Fractals PRo program is also quite good. Enlarging image size for printing can most likely be done with bundled [free] software, BUT the quality of the job may reflect the price you paid for it. The latest versions of Adobe Lightroom are generally as good in printing as Photoshop itself is.

"Can this be done..."? Yes, BUT you probably won't like the results. Not to mention that it is a poor assumption that all bundled software has equal abilities, with all printers, and with all photo papers, with all photo printing inks, etc. There are so many variables between the digital image [raw file recommended] and the finished print, that your question must be qualified on the details before it can be knowledgeably answered.

Rather than doing a poor enlargement, it would be far better to print at 240 dpi, IMO. If you really want high quality results in printing enlargements, I would suggest that you really should get quality training in photo-editing and printing, perhaps at a local community college or maybe in an well qualified seminar on printing, e.g.

Posted on Jan 13, 2013 11:37:43 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 13, 2013 11:44:14 AM PST
JCUKNZ says:
What a load of old cobblers ... have used Photoshop for since he started digital HUH! :-)
I have used ALL the mentioned programmes and rejected Photoshop, principly becuase I started with PSP because PS was too expensive .. eventually I got two copies v7 and CS and both have gone out of my current machine but I still have three versions of PSP, there are subtle differences which have a place in my workflow, Paint, Paint Net and Irfanview.
There is nothing wriong with Photoshop except it is too expensive for what the average photographer needs, unless you can wangle the 'student' price. It is different from PSP and I prefer the way PSP is laid out, it is a familiar freind :-) ... but if you start with PSE it is possible you wouldn't like PSP.
Interpolation is a standard process which is common to numerous if not all programmes.
I remember the days when Genuine Fractals was the 'only' programme and gradually PS and PSP apparently caught up and equalled it according to what I have read over the years.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 10:13:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 13, 2013 10:18:06 PM PST
EdM says:
"used Photoshop for since he started digital HUH!"

You have no knowledge of how long I resisted digital to stay with film. You have no idea when I started to learn and use Photoshop, nor when I started using a DSLR rather than my film SLRs. But then, many of your "facts" are made up or otherwise erroneous anyhow, so what can anyone expect?

"unless you can wangle the 'student' price."

The usual thing to do is to enroll in a school, take photography classes in digital photo-editing, as I did. No "wangling" involved, unless one's normal purchasing practices involve dishonesty.

It is the purpose of educational discounts from Adobe to enable students to learn the software and perhaps prepare for the professional quality work. I own Photoshop from CS2 through CS6, as it is excellent for professional quality work and has continued to improve sufficiently for my needs to be worth the version upgrade/upcharge, at least so far. Some were student versions, but others were/are regular versions. It is what the Photography section of my college taught students to use; now initial emphasis has shifted to Lightroom first, Photoshop later, as professional tools.

Photoshop Elements is actually quite good for an ordinary person, and normally found for under $100, which is much better than the full boat Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 [Download]

Plus, interpolation is too broad a term, as there are various ways to change image size, and some work better than others in various situations. The OP should not be fooled into thinking that there is only "one right way" to increase the size of an image for printing. OTOH, doing digital photo-editing properly means that if the results do not please, you can go back and make changes in another version of the photo, as long as you retain the original file and hopefully save your layer-containing intermediates to save time. Still, Genuine Fractals, now renamed Perfect Resize and in version 7.5, is generally a good solution, whether as plugin or standalone. Older version:
Genuine Fractals 6 1-user Full [Old Version] Newest version also $150:

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 11:49:42 AM PST
JCUKNZ says:
We are not talking abour how long it took EdM to arrive in the digital world but his inference tha Photoshop is the only programme of any value to do professional work which is a load of rubbish. It is the 'industry standard' not becuase it is a superior programme but becuase it was the 'first kid on the block' and got established while other such as PSP orginally started as freeware before being developed by JASC I believe.

"The OP should not be fooled into thinking there is only one way" is precisely the point of my reply to your assertions that there is Photoshop and inferior programmes .. and be careful you don't get one of them. PSE elements when it first came out was a pathetic immitation of an editing programme no better than earlier Adobe products which I had the misfortune to use when I started. It has finally with later versions become a very useful tool and important for MAc users who for some reason have difficulty in using PSP.

Why one should buy a programme when ones editing programme will do the job is beyond me except as an example of the foolish attitudes of many who waste their money on buying this and that programme as adjuncts to their basic tools. In any case with the proliferation of large Mp cameras the need for interpolation is less which is another argument against buying a special programme to do the job unless one is making huge prints.

Further to my early comment the difference between 3.3Mp and A3 and 20x24 prints is an 8Mp camera .

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 10:57:19 PM PST
EdM says:
JCUKNZ "inference tha Photoshop is the only programme of any value to do professional work"

There you go again, attributing things to me that I never said. In the artistic world, desktop [WYSIWYG] abilities came to Macs when PCs still lacked windows. There is a long history of use of Photoshop [e.g.] on Macs in artistic departments, while the business part of business has continued to use PCs, from the get-go.

JCUKNZ "It has finally with later versions become a very useful tool and important for MAc users who for some reason have difficulty in using PSP."

If you only had a clue, PSP is PC ONLY. So there has long been a very good reason that Mac people could NOT use PSP on their Macs.

"System Requirements"

"Microsoft® Windows® 8, Windows® 7, Windows Vista® or Windows® XP with the latest service packs installed (32-bit or 64-bit editions)"

At National Geographic over in DC, e.g., they use Photoshop for editing images on their Macs. At least this was so the last time I talked to them. Likewise in the artistic departments of various other publications.

The ordinary photographer normally has no need for anything that extensive, expensive or having a difficult learning curve. And there are various useful tools as I said. You do not need to print in gallery-worthy quality to do enlargements for one's living room wall. However, at least here in the USA, Photoshop is often the tool of preference for high end, professional graphics shops. Macs and Photoshop sort of grew up together, and PS was Mac only, originally.

Likewise, about color managed workflows, from 2009, e.g.,

"David Barts , January 16, 2009; 02:15 P.M. ...

"Windows is broken because it doesn't color manage at all. It just blindly assumes things are in the sRGB color space. So images in any other color space won't display properly in a Windows browser."

Windows can work well today with Photoshop, but Internet Explorer, e.g., is still not color managed as Safari is, for when a client might be viewing product images or perhaps even photos in a browser window via the internet, e.g.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 2:31:02 AM PST
Why do you even bother to argue with a person who's idea of editing is underexposing then raising the exposure with levels? We've all seen how well that works out, I can still remember the mess called the cat 'photo'. I can hardly imagine that on a wall blown up to 20X24, but I'm sure he would consider that award winning. Some people might as well stick to crayons.

Posted on Jan 15, 2013 10:42:33 AM PST
JCUKNZ says:
Hi BIFMBN ... glad to see you are still adding your humour to the threads here :-)

Posted on Feb 4, 2013 7:21:33 AM PST
Matthew F. says:
After all that bickering did anyone answer the original question?
Yes, the 5100 is a great camera. Slightly less than pro model but way better than amateur models. Set your resolution to JPEG fine or if you choose to use raw you will require some form of photo editing software. Pick the brand you like, most have 30 day free trials available.

Posted on Feb 4, 2013 10:08:11 AM PST
JCUKNZ says:
Since with digital it is unlikely that you will have a lab to hold your hand you most definitely need an editor, a good one too to match the expenditure you put into the camera.
In the digital age they are companion tools towards the final product of mountable prints particularly. You will need to put just as much effort into mastering skills with it as learning to use the camera itself.

Posted on Feb 21, 2013 4:38:19 PM PST
Hark says:
With the D5100, you have the option to adjust the sharpness of its photos; however, if you raise it too high, it can add noise (the highest might be 9). I believe the default is set to either 3 or 4. Ken Rockwell sets his sharpening on the D5100 to 6. To adjust the D5100's settings, you access Picture Control through the Menu options. You should see several Picture Control options available such as 'Vivid', 'Neutral', and 'Standard.' EACH one requires its settings to be changed if you wish to sharpen your photos.

To read more about this from Ken Rockwell, go to the following link and scroll down a little more than halfway to 'Picture Control.'
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Initial post:  Jan 9, 2013
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