I'm hoping to use an image taken with an iPhone camera for a 12" vinyl record cover. The image is an uncompressed TIFF, taken with the iPhone 5s 8mp camera at 3264×2448, using the 645 Pro app for an approximate file size of 24MB.

Sniffing around tells me the recommended max print size at 300 dpi for a photo at this resolution is 10.8" X 8.1". However, if I go slightly beyond that (i.e., enlarging to 12"x12" in Photoshop for the album cover), is it going to look like garbage? With the presumption, that is, of a well-taken, in-focus photograph.

Thanks for any advice/recommendations! I am very much an amateur and new to many aspects of print production.


3 Answers 3


Assuming all is well technically with the image, most people won't notice such a difference. 12"x12" at 300DPI would be 3600x3600.

You can't just increase the size of the image in photoshop; that's not how this works. What you end up with is an image that is approximately 200DPI (2448/12"). While not ideal, it'll work and be okay.

What you can do if you're concerned is have the image printed at 12" high and see for yourself.

  • Thanks -- as you suggest, only way to really know is have a printer run a test and see for myself.
    – RBV
    Nov 17, 2015 at 20:13

Yes you can just bump up the image in PS a little, in my experience if the enlargement is up to only 20% more, you'd have to be a real image quality connoisseur to notice any loss.

Just remember to set the resampling mode to "Bicubic Smoother" like bellow, so you get the best results.

enter image description here

Of course it will never look like the photo was taken with pro camera but then the client should have the notion that a phone image would not get him a skin pores photo on a cover...

  • 1
    You can, but you're artificially inflating the pixel count. The end result isn't really any better than just printing at the existing size.
    – AMontpetit
    Nov 18, 2015 at 14:07
  • 1
    It's good you mention that "up to 20%". I rarely see this, people usually apply the rigid rule of keep-same-pixels but I have been taught the same rule as you and used it as well. Considering it's an iPhone picture, that's not a huge "pixel crime" and it's always possible to see if the "distortion" is acceptable or not (usually it is.) In some situations, you need that 20% to be able to pass some automated file reviewer such as the one in CreateSpace. I upvoted both your answer and @AMontpetit's because they're right.
    – go-junta
    Nov 18, 2015 at 14:13
  • @AMontpetit yes you're kind of right, except that PS actually generates more pixels using an interpolation algorithm, if the guess work is small (thus the 20% rule of thumb) it actually does a good job on "filling in the blanks"... If you print using actual size but put the image in 12x12 what happens is that this resampling will be done automatically by the software and you risk getting worse results. Nov 18, 2015 at 14:48
  • The few times I've sent under-sized images to be printed, the printer software actually did a better job. Personal experience, perhaps, and anecdotes definitely don't mean it's perfect. YMMV
    – AMontpetit
    Nov 18, 2015 at 15:20

300 dpi is what printers generally say to motivate clients to provide images in the highest resolution possible and avoid being liable for a print looking pixelated. The image is certainly printed at a far lower resolution and downsampled. You will not see the difference between a source image at 300px/inch compared to a 240px/inch. 200px/inch will likely do as well.

If you're working with a small shop they will be able to tell you what is the printer's output resolution. But in most case the people you talk to don't even know what really happens in the shop. You'll end up by increasing the size of your picture which will then be reduced to fit the output settings. I would advice to just import the picture in the layout as it is and export the .pdf with your layout and the let them do their job.

I'm old school (or just old) and resolution really mattered in the 90's when films or prints were scanned to the printer' specs and according to the printing devive's output resolution.

But today you rarely have to scan, you just take pictures at the highest possible resolution and the printer will handle the downsampling without much loss. Your only limitation is the size of the final print when it's really huge or very finely printed. However most mid shelf cameras and an iphone 6 have enough resolution to print large billboards.

If you want to read on the topic here are two articles which explain resolution better than I could:

https://forums.adobe.com/thread/370714 https://99designs.com/designer-blog/2013/02/26/ppi-vs-dpi-whats-the-difference/

  • Your first afirmation has no sense. "300 dpi is what printers generally say to motivate clients to provide images in the highest resolution possible and avoid being liable for a print looking pixelated."
    – Rafael
    Nov 20, 2015 at 4:24

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