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images downloaded for print purposes
what is the standard file size and format?

 9:51 am on Feb 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

i am about to develop a site for a photographer. the aim is to sell his images online. i will be using something like DPO or ImageFolio and will offer a search engine that returns small low res thumnails which link to a watermarked larger jpg.

does anyone know what the standards are for print download? from what i can gather, .tiff is the best format to store my archived copies, but will be waaaay to big to offer as downloads. it seems that most print outlets (newspapers and magazines) are accepting hi res jpgs.

is 300dpi the standard? do i need to think about pixels? or should i be saving in inches?

i've just started researching this and don't want my photographer to go ahead and start scanning in 20,000 images, only to have to re-do them all at a later stage!

very new at this side of things, would be very grateful for any help.



 1:36 pm on Feb 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Here is a great list of clip photo sites that have both print quality and web quality.


 2:13 pm on Feb 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld ;).

Unfortunately quality pics = big file size. You should see the image file sizes the professional digital cameras are producing (30 meg plus!).

This is a huge topic and my experience is towards the lower end market (high res JPEGs). It depends on your photographer and where he thinks the market for his work is. If it's billboards, high quality magazines or prints then image quality is more important. Papers or trade journals can cope with lesser quality and the web even less than that.

If the pictures are to be scanned from slide film, I would only scan a small sample for the web site as the cost of scanning will be high for high res scans of all of them (probably 50c per slide?). Check out Kodak's web site for scanning services.


 2:17 pm on Feb 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

You may also want to think about creating CDs to ship with selected images burned on them like photodisc. You will find that many print graphics will use 600 and even higher. I think 300 is almost bare minimium. The site will be very expensive bandwidth wise.


 6:43 pm on Feb 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'd go with TIFFs and offer the downloads in a compressed archive format... personally, if I'm actually buying a print-quality image online, I understand that quality=large file size, and I expect a bit of a wait on the download.


 11:36 pm on Feb 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

yikes! you guys rock, thank you all. very amazed at this forum business!

my guy has about 40,000 transparancies, 300 album covers and 500 magazine covers. i am going to try to get 2,000 images online to start and am thinking of hiring someone to scan them in over a couple of months in .tiff format. i will keep this somewhere safe as he currently keeps his originals in his house and i am paranoid that it may burn down one day and the lot will be lost.

he is prepared to spend a couple of thousand dollars for a good server to store them on.

at this stage after all my research i am thinking i will keep the archived copies in .tiffs - and some of them will be about 25-30mb each. the online offerings i think will be high res jpgs with special orders emailed to me to handle individually.

thinking 300dpi - not sure of the rest - do you save them in inches too (eg 5 x 7) and also not sure about .ppi...

once again thank you all heaps - very much obliged for your input.



 11:55 pm on Feb 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

jane, I wouldn't think in 'inches' at all.

Basically the physical image size in inches is dependent on the pixels that comprise the image and the DPI. Pixels define the on-screen resolution, DPI the print resolution (or pixels per inch in this case).

As a rough example, imagine an image that is 300 pixels high and wide. At 300 DPI the resultant physical print is 1 inch square. At 100 DPI the image is 3 inches square and would be more 'pixelated' with lesser quality.

If scanned professionally from 35 mm slides you should have enough pixels to produce 8x10 inch prints of good quality.


 11:58 pm on Feb 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

Personally, I find inches helpful in thinking about my files... for retail prints, for instance, if you want an exact-size copy of a 5x7 original, you'd want a 5x7 image with 600ppi or higher resolution.

Either way works, but I find it easier to think about image files in terms of both dimensions (inches) and resolution.


 12:27 am on Feb 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

groan - i think i need a crash course in design - (although these forums are a quick learning curve). wasn't aware of dots per inch vs pixels per inch...but i now see that both are relevant. i assume that 300dpi would be the same as 300ppi?

clearly i need to learn my dots, pixels, resolutions, and file sizes! i think the basic problem here is i don't know what all of these are and do.

this is all so helpful - i'm really grateful for the input.


 12:34 am on Feb 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

For your purposes, I think ppi is the only one you need to worry about. DPI technically is only something to be concerned with when your images need to be halftoned for web (as in a newsprint press, not as in World Wide Web) or offset press printing...

As long as you offer downloads at 600ppi or higher (perhaps 1200ppi per special request, at an extra fee...), your download clients can halftone the images if they need to.


 4:20 pm on Feb 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would put up PNGs since their quality is much better than jpegs, and they do have some compression to them. Lots of options when you save as a png,so you could play around with that and find something with good quality at a decent size.


 11:11 pm on Feb 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

mivox, would you say that 600ppi (no matter what size in inches) is just about the industry standard then? would i need to either choose ppi or dpi when saving?

also, i have Paint Shop Pro at the moment but am just about to buy a very expensive film scanner and have been told by several people i should use photoshop instead...is this the better option?


 11:15 pm on Feb 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

For high-end magazine work, I think 1200dpi halftoned files are standard... but for most purposes, 600ppi TIFF files would work fine. The designer who buys the image can sort it out from there. Offer 1200ppi TIFFs as an optional upgrade...

...and forget dpi ever existed, unless you're going to start printing paper catalogs. :)

If all you're doing with the images is scanning them for the site/digital archive in question, just make sure your scans have accurate color... since you won't be doing any extensive editing, PaintShopPro is more than good enough, I'm sure.


 3:13 pm on Feb 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

thought I'd add a few comments to this thoroughly confusing thread...

firstly, 300 dpi (or ppi, it pretty much amounts to the same thing) is absolutely fine for 99% of print jobs, a standard magazine will be fine with this (in fact they'll be somewhat relieved that you haven't sent in your 72dpi gif logo to blow up 500% to appear beside the article about your company ... 'but it looks fine on my computer!)
forget 1200dpi 'halftoned' images (halftoning is a printing technique and has nothing to do with scanned or digital images)! it's far too big, it would take about a week to download an image at this resolution.

secondly, tiff is the better format for printing simply because it holds onto the image information better than jpeg, it's compression retains more detail than jpeg but results in larger file sizes, jpeg compression is also less forgiving when an image is printed. There is a huge difference between how something appears on screen and how it will print. Because of it's excellent compression, jpeg has become the standard with any web based images but at the expense of image quality! This is why we have the present phenomenon of newspapers and magazines using jpegs in situations where they possibly shouldn't! A jpeg is easy to spot in this situation, the compression results in strange artifacts appearing on the image (usually visible as a grid effect throughout the image, with distortion appearing on areas of high contrast), this effect also occurs on digital television images (that have also been compressed badly). if the user wishes to use the image in a screen based application only, then a medium compressed 72dpi jpeg will probably do the job! you basically need to offer different image options, although this may result in a huge workload for you!

thirdly, I haven't used Paintshop Pro, but would absolutely recommend Photoshop, it is far and away the best graphics program I have ever used, if you are dealing with large amounts of photographic images it is absolutely indispensable. there is so much that it can do, and do well, after 8 years of using it I am still discovering things it can do. with a scanner attached you can achieve wonderful things. however if you are new to the graphics game it may take a while to get your head around this program. also if you're dealing with large amounts of hi res images you'll need a computer that can handle the work, something with a lot of ram and a lightspeed processor (maybe even a mac, yikes!).

anyway, that's my 5 cents!


 4:56 pm on Feb 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Very nice theonliest...

Paint Shop Pro should do what you need, unless youre going to go crazy with adjusting the colors, but even then Paint Shop Pro has a crapload of options.

The thing i would like to know is why people would to use TIFFs rather than PNGs? PNGs can hold all the colours, and are compressed a lot. Someone explain this please


 7:18 pm on Feb 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

You can also save TIFF files with compression, reducing the files sizes.

It was my impression that PNG's primary advantages were in replacing flat color gif-style images, and in introduing alpha transparency to web-format graphics... I've never before heard PNG suggested as a good option for photographic images.


 4:35 am on Feb 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

But PNGs can save as 24 bit or even 48bit colours.... i see them as compressed Bitmaps. They dont get meesed when you edit them, and they have an alpha channel which is great for putting 3d stuff onto 2d stuff..... i always use them for print.

Whats so good about a TIFF>?


 7:24 pm on Feb 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

TIFF is the industry standard lossless file format for print use of digital images. Anyone working in a print environment will be used to dealing with TIFFs.

When you get into photographic quality, I don't see any size advantage to PNG format, so why not stick with an established standard, if you're trying to sell to industry users? Makes for an easier sell when buyers are familiar with what they're getting.


 4:46 am on Feb 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yes but PNGs do have better compression by a wee bit in some cases), and an added alpha channel! Am i crazy to be using PNGs when i get stuff printed? dont see whats so special about tiffs. Does the same go for vector export?


 7:09 pm on Feb 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, you'll note the title of the thread: images downloaded for print purposes what is the standard file size and format?

PNG is not the "standard" file format... ;)

Yes but PNGs do have better compression by a wee bit in some cases), and an added alpha channel!

If you're selling photographs, you don't need an alpha channel. The slide will scan in a rectangular image, and you sell the rectangular image. And the wee bit of better compression is not, IMO, going to compensate for the 'buyer beware' angle of offering an unfamiliar file format on a commercial image sale site.

If you're using PNG for print format photographic images and it works well, go for it... I'm not saying don't use PNGs if you want. I do, however, strongly feel TIFF would be the best file format to use in jane's specific situation.

If you're trying to sell downloads of photographic images (like jane is), from a marketing perspective it's best to offer the most standard format so that non-PNG-savvy designers feel more comfortable knowing what they're getting for their money.

I suppose if jane wanted to go to the trouble, she could offer PNGs as an alternate download format... but why?


 9:31 pm on Feb 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well i mainly suggested PNG because i thought she wanted the image to actually be shown on the page. Another advantage to PNGs.

Lets just agree that JPEGs are bad ;)


 7:33 pm on Feb 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

JPEGs aren't perfect, I'll give you that.... hehehe. I don't know what format she'll be using to actually display the photos on the site itself.



 2:06 am on Mar 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

well it seems complicated but i am thinking of:

1. two libraries of hi res .tiffs as backups in case of a disaster. one kept with me and one locked up somewhere safe. all future scans will get copies to these libraries and these would be my source files for the site.

2. from these i will do a batch conversion to 300dpi 8 x 10 inch jpgs. these are the files i will offer for download from the site. i know that my photographer has been selling hi res jpgs to magazines for about a year now. for mag covers or album covers they usually request that he posts them the trannies - so instead of this i would offer to ftp the original .tiff file. and it seems as though .tiff can be converted to anything without loss of quality.

3. of course i will also need a thumbnail on site and a low res watermarked bigger image. my software (ImageFolio) does this for me and i believe they are 72dpi jpg.

4. oh yes, i also need a working database for my photographer to replace his filing cabinet. his filing is atrocious and he has so many images lying around i want to make a searchable database instead. i think these would possibly be the high res jpgs.

based on everything i have read so far it sounds like .tiff chews space but is worth investing in for backup. but hhi res jpg is going to be okay for most site downloads and best in terms of bandwidth. and the low res thumbnails/watermarked larger images is best in terms of quick download and protecting images from being stolen. images pages are dynamically created from cgi bin, by the way. so more protected from theft.

i also need so many different databases for different reasons that i guess i wanted to settle on as few formats as possible and the ones with the greatest flexibility. my costs are going to be huge just for storage and backup, let alone download from the site!

i learned all of this (plus more) from webmasterworld! what a joy!


 2:58 am on Mar 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

:) Sounds like a solid plan. What an exciting project!

I assume you've already done this to a certain extent, but it would be worth the time to really spend some hours browsing through Corbis.com and PhotoDisc.com and other large image sale sites to get other ideas for the site interface you may not have thought of yet...


 9:44 pm on Mar 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

actual 35mm slide/negative: 1.5" x1"
scan at 4800dpi(optical res)
at 300dpi this prints at 24" x16"
at 600dpi this prints at 12"x8"

scan at 4000dpi
300dpi is 20x13.333
600dpi is 10x6.666

Here is what i suggest:
Scan the negatives/slides at the highest possible OPTICAL(4800 is the highest i have seen in consumer/prosumer neg scanners) resolution that the scanner offers. Do not use the interpolated res or you will get false image data.

Save these scans as UNCOMPRESSED TIFF files.
archive and backup x2

This will give you the "purest" file you can get.

As for deliver of the images, the site I have purchased from before offer like 7 formats. Smaller jpgs for use on the web to full size TIFF for print, and a few things in between.

It was a membership fee and unlimited stock photo usage.

Hope it helps.


 2:36 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Uncompressed TIFFs- Are they much larger than than the compressed ones? Is the quality of compressed much much less? Do TIFFs lose any data everytime you edit them (like jpegs?)


 4:01 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

and how do you uncompress them? do you just click on them or are they zipped up?


 6:01 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

well i know in photoshop there is a setting when you save as a tif to use lzw(i think) compression.

they open up just like a regular tiff. they just use some sort of compression to save space.

tiffs are supposedly "lossless" as opposed to jpgs which are "lossy"

As far as i know tiffs do not loose any info when you edit them. and i was unaware that jpgs did. but i guess that depends on which settings you are using for the jpg.


 6:56 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Do TIFFs lose any data everytime you edit them (like jpegs?)

Nope. TIFF is a lossless image format, which is why it is so highly recommended for professional purposes. The compressed TIFFs seem to behave the same as uncompressed ones, as LZW (the format Photoshop gives you the option of using) is a lossless compression format also.

<added>JPG, being a "lossy" compression format, will lose some data every time you open and re-save a file in JPG format, no matter what your settings are. The best thing to do with a JPG you need to edit is save a copy as a TIFF or PSD file (assuming you're using photoshop), and use the TIFF/PSD version for your editing. Then save JPGs out of that file. Always return to the TIFF/PSD for any further editing, and generate a new JPG each time.</added>


 9:13 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

JPEG definitely is definitely a "loser":-) my client is constantly moaning that magazines, newspapers, etc "muck up" his images and they don't look as good as they should in print.

i have spoken to several of his clients in the past day and they all tell me (in frustration) that it's because he will insist on sending JPEGs and they would much rather have something such as .TIFF or even .EPS. Not only for quality, but the ability to manipulate layers.

all of them indicated that they would happily pay an extra AU$5 to have a TIFF or similar ftp'd to them. they also indicated to me that they have chosen other images over his in the past because of this so i definitely need the highest possible quality image as the source image. from there i can covert easily to other formats...

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