It’s All About the Image: From your digital camera to our digital printing process. Part 2
Choosing a Digital Camera
Newer multi-mega pixel cameras offer high enough resolution to preserve image quality in offset printing for most image sizes (except oversized posters). To take high quality pictures for print, you’ll need at least a 2-megapixel camera. A 2-megapixel camera has an image resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels. (By comparison, 35 mm film has an image resolution of about 3600 x 2500.)
Cameras with resolutions of only 1024 x 768 pixels or 1280 x 1024 pixels can be used, but such photos must be printed much smaller than images from higher resolution cameras.
Set your camera for the highest resolution possible. Many cameras have settings such as “Standard,” “Normal,” “High Quality” or “Super High Quality.” Check your manual to determine the specific resolutions these terms represent. Depending on your camera, the resolution settings could range from 72 dpi to 300 dpi. A 72 dpi image is fine for viewing on a computer monitor; 300 dpi is the resolution required if an image is headed for a printing press.
Another way to understand resolution is in its relationship to image size. If a 72 dpi image is 17.7 x 14.2 inches on your monitor, it will be just 4.3 x 3.4 inches when sized for printing at 300 dpi. So, if you submit a 72 dpi image to use in a publication, the largest size at which it can be printed will be about one-fourth of its original size.
Creative Tip: With digital photography it’s important to move in close to your subject. Trying to crop the important feature from an already small image further reduces the usability of the image.
Pre press Tip: Adjust your camera’s setting prior to taking the picture, rather than trying to fix it afterwards. The wrong camera settings might result in a large image with very low dpi.
File Type and Compression
Although the preferred image type for offset printing is TIF, we can also accept uncompressed JPEG type images.Avoid saving images as JPEGs if possible. JPEG is a compressed image format. Saving an image as a JPEG reduces the size of the file, which is convenient in terms of storage space. However, compressing also degrades the image. The more times you open a JPEG, make changes, and resave it as a JPEG, the more the image deteriorates. If you must use the JPEG file type, take photos at the highest possible resolution and then do not open your images or manipulate them in any way. Simply copy them to your computer (or a disk or CD) and then forward the files to our prepress department along with your layout files. (If corrections are needed, get them all done at once.)
A TIF file can be edited without losing data. Uncompressed PICT files and EPS files also are acceptable. Certain kinds of graphics cannot be used in the editing, typesetting and graphic design programs used to create files for an offset press. These include PowerPoint, Harvard Graphics, WordPerfect Graphics, Corel Presentation, etc. Never embed graphics in a manuscript file, such as a WordPerfect or Word document.