Tag Archives: inkjet printing

Printing Digital Images – matching image and print sizes

Sizing your Photographic prints from digital images

Ever lost part of an image when you had prints made?  Wondered why?

One of the challenges you may face when printing digital images is getting the right size print from the original image file.  Many (most?) digital cameras have an image sensor that captures images at a 2:3 ratio.  What this means is that one side of the RAW image is typically 1.5 times the other side.  How does this impact prints?  If you want a 4×6 print (or some even multiple of the 2:3 ratio like 8×12, 16×24, etc.) then you will get a ‘full frame’ image.  If you want an 8×10 print then some cropping will occur (you will have to discard ~17% of the original image, usually from the top and bottom and/or sides.)

The photographic film print business relied on standard sized prints for years (and most of us are already accustomed to these print & frame sizes) but the arrival of digital images is both creating new print sizes as well as bringing some possible confusion into the mix.  Since most prints are destined for framing (esp. larger prints) then it makes some sense to simplify the matching of print to frame by using standard sizes for both images and frame mats.  Some terms:

  • Full frame image:  all of the image data is used
  • Cropped image: only parts of the image data is used
  • Print image size: what are the actual dimensions of the printed image vs the dimensions of the paper on which the image is printed; sometimes these are the same

Standard frame sizes usually include standard mat openings – when you print then you need to consider the size of the opening (unless you intend to cut a custom mat for each print – lots of work.)  It is simpler to use standard sized prints for standard sized mat openings.  In general you should subtract .5″ from each side of the print size to reach a mat size that will cover your print & paper size.  Note that by including/adding an empty border to your print you have additional control/options for the size of the image.

Pre-cut Mat

Mat Opening

Size of Print Area

Print Paper Size **

















** Print paper sizes will vary for custom prints; print paper size for commercial prints is usually the same as the print size, i.e. the image size of a full-frame 4×6 print is 4×6.  It is common to print with large borders on ink-jet papers, i.e. an 8×10 image on 11×14 paper would have 1.5″ left and right borders with 2″ top and bottom borders.  For large prints this allows space for an artist signature or other print-related information.

My solution when printing from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is to increase the print size by 0.15″ based on the mat window opening.  So if the frame label in the store has a description like, ” 8 x 10 frame matted to 5 x 7″ I will:

  • start by cropping my original image to closely match my  destination print size, i.e. crop to 5×7 when printing 5×7, crop to 8×10 when printing 8×10, etc.)
  • size my print image layout to 5.15 x 7.15″ (or 8.15 x 10.15 when printing an 8×10)
  • select the ‘zoom to fill’ option (you will only ‘lose’ a very small portion of your image)
  • print on 8.5×11 photo paper
  • after printing, I will remove (cut) 0.25″ from each side of the print as well as removing 0.50″ from the top and bottom (make the print fit into the 8×10 frame.)
Image Print-SIZE & Matt Opening
Pre-cut Mat Mat Opening Size of Print Area Print Paper Size **
8×10 5×7 5.15 x 7.15 8.5×11
11×14 8×10 8.15 x 10.15 8.5×11
12×16 8×12 8.15 x 12.15 11×14
16×20 11×14 11.15 x 14.15 13×19

How does print size impact Image Capture & Editing?

As a photographer I consider the possible cropping scenarios when I capture images.  When working with a group I may add a fudge factor when framing the image in the camera (i.e. allow some space on the sides of the image so that a standard sized print can be easily cropped from the image.)  When I am preparing images for delivery to clients I may also crop the the images to standard sizes (i.e. creating full-frame image sizes of 5×7 or 8×10.)

Printing from Photoshop with Epson Printers (PC or Mac)

Having problems getting the right/correct colors when printing from Photoshop? or Adobe Lightroom?

[note – originally posted on  my Photography Services web.]

Digital Inkjet Printing from Photoshop to Epson Printer (PC or Mac) – The
Zany, goofy, eccentric, etc, etc, Dr. Brown explains printing from Photoshop – let
Photoshop manage the Color…  These steps should apply for Photoshop CS2-CS4 as well as to Adobe Lightroom.

Photoshop & Lightroom – Color Printing tutorial with Russell Brown (Adobe)

Quick Summary:

  1. Calibrate your monitor,
  2. download & install the latest drivers for your printer and version of Photoshop,
  3. in the Photoshop print dialog set Photoshop to ‘manage‘ the colors,
  4. in Photoshop print dialog set your ‘profile‘ (i.e. paper type like ‘Epson Premium Luster PK‘), and
  5. in your printer options dialog the printer should be set to ‘no color management’ (in other words, let Photoshop manage the color for the entire process.)

Dr. Brown also demonstrates using Photoshop ‘proofing preview’ (flip a switch and your image will change to ‘look’ like a paper print – typically darker.)  Side note: I set all my photo printer drivers to ‘Preview before Printing‘ – that way I will always see an on-screen preview before anything is sent to the printer.  I have found that (using the color management outlined above) Epson 2200 previews will have a reddish/magenta cast – the prints are fine; my guess is that this is a feature of the print driver.  I suggest that you experiment with small paper (i.e. glossy or matt 4×6 paper that is the same or has similar properties as your desired paper) and then use larger paper when things are working as desired…

More Videos from Adobe and Dr. Brown.

More information on digital inkjet printing – typical problems – double color management.

Due to the number of variables involved in inkjet printing it is quite easy to have printing problems like bad/wrong colors. The variables (things that affect the results OR things that you control) include:

  • software versions (photo editing software as well as operating system and printer drivers) – always use the correct and latest combinations for your environment
  • output medium choices (type of paper in combination with the printer)
  • the settings in your Photo software AND the settings for your printer; if both are set to manage color then expect to have problems; essentially you have to choose between having the Photo editing software control color OR having the printer driver control it – I suggest that you try both.  My experience is that using the approach discussed by Dr. Brown provides the most consistent results.