Standard Photo Print Sizes: A Complete Guide
From hobbyists to professional photographers and artists, understanding photo print sizes is a key element of every project or piece.
Although seemingly a simple topic, having a good grasp of proper dimensions can aid in avoiding pixelation or distortion, while also making frame choices a breeze.
Similarly, with the right photo print sizes in mind, you may even be able to plan your creations in advance, making sure to get the most out of your hard work.
In this guide, we’ll cover the most important (standard) photo print sizes used for various applications, as well as common aspect ratios and more.
Why Choosing the Right Image Size is So Important
In the realm of photography, photo prints, and print art, size really does matter. Proper sizing will ensure that your works are displayed and visible in a size that best compliments and brings out the best in your art or photos.
Choosing the correct image size may also reduce administrative work such as having to crop out elements of the piece to ‘make it fit’.
What is Aspect Ratio?
Aspect ratio is a term used to describe the ratio of an image’s width to its height. Expressed as ‘X:X’ where ‘X’ is a whole number.
Aspect ratios are not just useful for understanding the size of the photo or image, but also its shape, which is always some variation of a rectangle or square.
For example, aspect ratio of 1:1 means that both the height and the width are equal, resulting in a perfect square. On the other hand, an aspect ratio of, say, 3:2, would result in an image with a larger height as compared to the width, creating a rectangle-shaped image.
Common Aspect Ratios
This results in a square image where both the width and height are equal in length. A 1:1 ratio is most commonly used for social media profile pictures, thumbnails, and small to medium-sized photos or artwork.
An aspect ratio of 3:2 is a common size, used often in digital photography and film alike. Interestingly, 3:2 is also the aspect ratio used for 35 mm film.
Used frequently for various PC monitors, digital cameras, and TVs, 4:3 is often an ideal aspect ratio to use for film or shooting photos or print photography that will also be displayed digitally on screen.
You’ve likely come across this aspect when watching movies on screen. It is also a common one used with widescreen TVs and computer monitors. Rectangle in shape, this ratio results in a size that’s slightly longer than the 4:3 ratio.
What Are the Standard Photo Sizes Used for Prints?
Photo prints offer the opportunity to transform your digital work or creative art into a print that can be enjoyed by many. But get the sizing wrong, and you could end up losing resolution or end up with certain elements off print due to necessary cropping.
4 x 6 inches
Arguably the most popular size, the 4x6” photo print fits like a glove into a 3:2 aspect ratio, making it perfect for framed greeting cards, postcards, photos, and more. As for pixel length, shoot for 1200 x 1800 pixels for the highest quality resolution.
5 x 7 inches
Measuring slightly larger, the 5x7” is a great size for smaller photo prints and artwork. When using a digital camera to capture images, we suggest a 3.5:2.5 aspect ratio. As for pixels, 1500 x 2100 pixels is typically best.
8 x 10 inches
In the middle of the pack, we have the 8x10” sized photo print. For this size, an aspect ratio of 5:4 on your camera is usually the ideal setting. Although this may result in the need for minor cropping on the sides, it should be minimal. Because of this, you may want to position the art or photo such that there isn’t anything important at the top or bottom of the print to allow room for cropping.
8.5 x 11 inches
Ideal for large print frames or small posters, the best results for an 8.5” x 11” can be had with an aspect ratio of 4:3 and resizing the image to around 3400 x 4400 pixels.
12 x 18 inches
Ideal for larger photographs, pixel sizes of around 3600 x 5400 are ideal, as is an aspect ratio of 3.2 for optimal results.
18 x 24 inches
As we scale up in size, so should your desired image. For best results, aim for 5400 x 7200 pixels and an aspect ratio of 3:4.
24 x 36 inches
This extra-large print is sure to impress. But in order to ensure it is everything it can be, aim for an aspect ratio of 7200x10800 on your camera, and an aspect ratio of 3:2 for best results.
Photo Print Sizes – Not So Complicated After All
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the various photo print sizes most commonly used, you’ll have the tools and knowledge to ensure that your own photos and art turn out as good in print as they were in digital.
Written by Mark Rogers
Mark Rogers is the President and Co-Founder of Frame Destination. With over 20 years of experience in the field, Mark has become a leading authority on framing techniques and best practices, and has earned a reputation for his innovative approaches to custom framing and frame services for photographers and artists.