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What is Image Resolution? How It Can Impact Your Photo Project?

Reading Time: 9 minutes read

It used to be that when you pressed the button on a camera an image would be captured on a film negative. That film was then developed and printed on special photo paper. Now, when anyone raises their dslr or camera phone, that image is captured in pixels. A pixel is a point of light measured by a minute area of illumination on a display screen. An image is comprised of many pixels. What you’re reading right now on this computer screen is comprised of pixels.  

If you’ve ever attempted to print photos, the resolution may have affected the quality of your output. Did any printed image appear a little blurry while others appeared crisp? The blurry was likely lower resolution and the crisp one higher resolution. This story talks in depth about image resolution and how it impacts your printed photo project. 

What is Image Resolution?

Image resolution or spatial resolution is the level of detail in an image. Raster images are comprised of a series of pixels, where resolution is the total number of pixels along an image’s width and height, expressed as pixels per inch (PPI). The greater the PPI, the more detail and the better the print quality.

How is image resolution stated?

Often, PPI and dots per inch (DPI) are used interchangeably. Yet, PPI and DPI are different. They are similar but PPI refers to the pixels per inch on your computer screen, while DPI refers to the ink dots per inch applied by a printer or printing press. In general, images should be 300 ppi to get 300 dpi print resolution. The higher the pixel count, the better quality print. 

How can I find out the resolution of my images?

Here are four easy ways to determine the pixel resolution of any digital image. Use them to check files for proper photo resolution and file size before printing.

1.How to check image resolution with Adobe Photoshop

  • Open your image file in Photoshop
  • On the menu go to Image then Image Size
  • View the resolution section

If the resolution is already set at 300 PPI, your artwork is print-ready.

2. How to check image resolution with Adobe Acrobat

  • Open your file in Acrobat
  • Set the view to 300%

If your artwork appears pixelated, it’s low resolution. If it appears crisp at 300 percent, then your artwork is print-ready.

3. How to check image resolution with Windows

  • Open Windows Explorer and browse to the folder that contains your image file
  • Right-click on the image file and select “Properties”
  • Click on the details tab

Your image resolution will display in the details tab.

4. How to check image resolution on a Mac

  • Browse to the folder that contains your image file
  • Right-click on the image file and click “Get Info”
  • Click on the “More Info” tab

Your image resolution will display in the More Info tab.

Megapixels and Photo Size

Technically, a megapixel is equal to 1,048,576 pixels. In reality, camera manufacturers round this number to 1,000,000.

Some digital cameras, for example, capture 14.6-megapixel images, which is around 14,600,000 pixels per image (14.6 x 1,000,000). This information tells you nothing about the actual pixel dimensions of the image – it only tells you the total number of pixels that make up the image.

Most DSLRs capture images with an aspect ratio of 1.5. So the ratio comparing the number of pixels along the long edge of the image to the short edge of the image is 3:2.

With some cameras, full-sized RAW images are 4672 x 3104 pixels in dimension. So by multiplying the number of pixels along the image width by those along the image height, we get the actual image dimensions (4672 x 3104 = 14,501,888). This looks like 14.5 MP, but camera manufacturers round this up and call it a 14.6 MP camera.

You can get the width and height or image dimensions of an image using your photo editing software. In Photoshop, open your image file, then choose File > File Info > Camera Data. The results appear in an image size dialog box. 

Why size is important when printing

When you take the time to print an image, you hope for a clear and crisp printout. Most printing services, and indeed your own printer, will require a certain pixel density in the image (PPI) to render a print that looks good. That means smooth color transitions so you can’t see each individual pixel.

What size image does my photo project need?

Senior woman and her adult daughter looking at photo album together on couch in living room, talking joyful discussing memories. Weekend with parents, family day, thanksgiving, mom's holiday.

It’s a great question, because sending a lower resolution image to print often results in a disappointing, low quality print. Images with lower screen resolution usually don’t print as well as those with higher resolution. Are you printing a simple image for an office party or is this a photo book you’re giving as a gift? 

Typical printing resolution requirements range from the industry standard resolution of 150 to 300 PPI, although some high-end magazines may require a higher resolution image that is 1200 PPI. Fewer pixels often leads to blurry or blocky printed images. Should you try to stretch your original image to print it larger, the same will occur. 

Does My Photo Project Need High-Resolution Images?

As previously mentioned, this all depends on the print quality you’re looking for. There are many  stock photo sites and images on the web. Simply clicking and saving any web image is possible. The resolution value is purposely low to allow for quick page loading. That low resolution image will not print all that well. Plus, it may be owned by someone and using it for promotional purposes could get you in legal trouble. Stock photo sites sell images at various resolution sizes. 

Regarding your own images, sizes can be determined by the settings on your dslr camera or camera phone. Getting familiar with adjusting image size will only improve your future photo projects.    

How is high-resolution defined?

Exhibition centre, a visitor visits an art exhibition and looks at artist's collection on the wall. Documentation on file for artwork.

Traditionally, this is expressed as a number. Anywhere from 150 to 300 DPI is considered high resolution. In some cases, publications will ask for 1200 DPI so it’s important to understand this before photos are even taken. Professional photographers will ask these questions beforehand. 

If you believe you take pretty good photos and are considering printing one to hang in your home or a gallery, adjust your iPhone camera highest resolution to ensure capturing a useful image. By doing so you’ll have the pixels to support that larger print size. Remember to return it to the former setting to avoid overloading your storage with large image files.  

Can You Use Facebook Images in Your Photo Project?

Typically, social media companies suggest posting lower resolution images as high resolution images would require larger server storage and loading times could slow your viewing experience. Facebook does allow uploading of full resolution images. If you posted a lower resolution image, the original with higher resolution is still available to include in your photo project. 

Most cameras create images in the jpeg file format. File formats like png and gif are also common. They’re ideal for sharing as they employ an image compression feature to create a smaller file size. 

How to make sure social media images print well

If you’re using a quality photo project app or platform, it should notify you before you print if any images in your project are low resolution. If it doesn’t, be prepared for the potential of blurry images.

How to Increase the Resolution of an Image

People who love taking photos also love image quality, including maximum sharpness, detail, and resolution. They’ve also wondered at some point how to take higher-resolution photos, or increase the resolution of images they already have. There are a few ways to increase resolution quickly and easily in common post-processing software. 

Change Iphone photo resolution

If you’re shooting pictures with the potential of printing in mind, iPhone’s built-in camera settings is the place to make resolution adjustments. Here’s a blog story to change iPhone photo resolution to help maximize your photo resolution. 


Powerful laptop computer isolated on white background. Sample graphic editor's interface
Laptop computer isolated on white background. Sample graphic editor’s interface is completely made up.

One of the more popular and powerful photo editing software available is Adobe Photoshop. If you find yourself editing photos often, it’s a great tool to have in your photography arsenal. 

To upsample an image in Photoshop, simply go to Image > Image Size, type your desired pixel dimensions in the image size dialog box, and select the upsampling method you prefer. If you have Photoshop CC, the new “Preserve Details 2.0” is what you should choose. After you’re done, consider sharpening the photo slightly depending upon the image.

Dedicated upsampling software

If you’re not a Photoshop fan there’s a number of dedicated options on the market specifically for image upsampling. The best-known of these is ON1 Resize. Try the free upsampling platform GIMP to see if it meets your needs. Check out this list for a host of other platforms. 

How Motif Can Help Your Photo Project?

As mentioned before, using the proper photo project app ensures your end result is exactly what you hoped it would be. Motif’s smart technology does a lot of work behind the scenes to make your photo project easy. Imagine not having to root through duplicates or move each placed image to the optimal position. Motif does that for you. And it lets you know beforehand if an image might not print as you’d like it to. 

Motif works exclusively and seamlessly with Apple Photos. And, your best photo project will be printed on the best quality paper by a printing industry leader with over a century of experience. 

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