Chatterley Whitfield Colliery Stoke on Trent April 2019. The crop has enhanced the triangular compostion (bike, Chimmney & telegraph post) and lost some of the dead space on the left. I feel the original composition was ok but made sronger by the applied crop.

Shoot Loose Crop Tight Part 1

In the first part of this two-part series, I will initially answer the elephant in the room question “How many pixels do I actually need?” My Fujifilm X-H1 produces a file size of 6000px x 4000px = 24,000,000 px. Is 24Mp too many, about right or not enough? The feature picture above used just 2% of the pixels available from the original raw file.


In the second part of the Shoot Loose Crop Tight series, I will discuss five aspects of cropping

  • Reasons to a re-crop a picture
  • The Lightroom Crop Tool
  • Shoot Loose Crop Tight
  • Good Crop Bad Crop
  • Shoot Tight Crop Tighter


“How many pixels do I actually need?”

Generally, all photographers take pictures to share what they have seen or created with others.

As an aside – the obvious case against this argument is Vivian Maier who did not show her body of work to anybody during her lifetime. Her amazing portfolio of street photography prints and negatives were only found by accident after her death. See

The internet has allowed anybody to share their digital pictures to everybody else with a connected screen where ever they are. Answers on a postcard on how you feel about that?

Camera sensors are now effectively in most cases the equivalent size of a large glass plate negative compared to the number of pixels required for internet posting. From the examples given below of different output environments and devices, the photographer has many choices to make depending on where their pictures are to be displayed.


The Internet @72ppi

The Internet is a many-tentacled beast where the same picture on a website could be viewed on a Phone, Tablet, Laptop, PC, TV or projected on to screen metres in width. 

The internet usually requires pictures up to 1920 x 1267px. (This very large size of 3:2 picture file may be suitable for a full-screen picture). A 1920 x 1267px picture file is only using 10.1% of the captured pixel in a camera with a 24Mp sensor. There are many variables that affect the size and therefore the speed that pictures appear on the internet. For a photographer’s website, the number and size of picture files will affect the speed at which pages load and therefore the rating of the website.


So, the quicker your webpages load the better. To get pictures to load quickly they must be no bigger than needed. That would normally be the largest any picture could be. Any site will have the option to have huge and tiny images on the same page.


For me, the answer has been to Export all internet pictures for whatever use from Lightroom at 850px on the long side. After that I let the Smush Plugin working in the background of my website do the work of making pictures smaller when required.


You will see that there is plenty of scope for cropping when the final standardised picture size for the internet is only 850px x 561px = 476,850px just 2% from an original raw file of 24Mp.


Below are examples of a full-frame shot without cropping (Left), (Centre) a crop equivalent to 1920 x 1267px and (Right) a crop equivalent to an 850 x 561px.

Wells-next-the-Sea – North Norfolk January 2019

Inkjet Print Media @240ppi

The size of your camera sensor only really matters when and if you want to print your pictures. A fine art print is a beautiful object in its own right. If you want to preserve your memories print them for posterity.


All prints are made to a specific size but how do you decide what size is correct for your particular picture? For me, the answer lies in where the print will be displayed in a frame, book, or gallery. The smaller the print the closer the viewer will come. If your prints are of an intimate nature then small can be a very good option. The size a picture ends up will be a product of your vision for the image.

“Photos don’t get better when they’re bigger”

Hellen van Meene – Photographer 


From a technical point of view, the smaller a picture is can hide a catalogue of minor faults. Also, a small print in a large frame tends to add an air of grandeur over an unmounted print. To me, an unmounted print looks unfinished.

“Just because you can, does not mean you have to”

Andy Beel

The reason I generally make A2 size prints is that the sole purpose as a Fotospeed Ambassador Photographer is to highlight the quality of their inks and papers to camera club audiences. In a typical camera club, some members could easily be 15m away from the illuminated print. Therefore, the bigger the print, the better for the audience.


What is the biggest print I can make from my camera?

This example is based on the Fujifilm X-H 1 with a 24Mp sensor (6000px x 4000px).

To calculate the maximum length of a print, divide the number of pixels on each edge of the camera sensor by 240 pixels per inch (ppi). The Adobe native resolution for Inkjet printing is 240ppi in Lightroom (300ppi is used by professional printing machines that are not Inkjet based).

The maximum print length on the long side = 6000px/240ppi=25”, Short side = 4000px/240ppi= 16.6”.

The largest print I can make at a native printer resolution of 240ppi is 25”x16.6” (635 x 421mm).

A sheet of A2 printing paper (x 4 the area of A4) is 23” x 16 ½” (594 x 420mm) therefore the Fujifilm sensor in the X-H1 will easily make a file large enough to make an A2 print at 240ppi.


I have an Epson SureColor P800 A2 Printer

A big difference between printing with Lightroom over Photoshop is Lightroom will automatically do the file size interpolation for you. In Photoshop you will need to choose which method of the file size reduction or increase is to be used.


Street Photography Workshop In Bristol With Dave Mason 

Street Photography Workshop In Bristol

What if I want to print files that are from an older camera with a small sensor?

Canon 20D Camera Sensor 3504px x 2336px = 8.1Mp – Circa 2005

I still use a 20D that has been converted to Infrared and occasionally make prints. With this camera, I need to get the crop right in-camera as there is little room for cropping in Lightroom.

From the calculations below the print size, the 20D was capable of producing at native resolution was limited.

A4 print – sensor 3504px/11.5” = 304ppi on the long side – Well above the accepted norm of 240ppi.

A3 print – sensor 3504px/16.5” = 212ppi on the long side – Quite acceptable for most purposes. If the print has a 1” white border around it this will make the picture smaller on the paper and increase the ppi figure to 241.

A2 print – sensor 3504px/23” = 152ppi on the long side – Well below the accepted norm of 240ppi. As the pixels per inch become fewer there is a greater chance the eye will detect pixelation creeping in. The Lightroom Export Dialog (see the screengrab below) can be used to increase the pixels in a file up to a usable printing size. This situation may arise when you are using a commercial printer.


Lightroom Export Dialogue

The norm is to Export pictures out of Lightroom in an acceptable file format for the intended destination. In a former life in Photoshop, the same effect was gained with the Save – As option.

The Screen Grab above is the Export Dialogue I always use to get pictures out of Lightroom and on to my website, blog or Instagram feed.

The important bit to note is the File Settings and Image Size sections. All pictures files on the internet are usually Jpg in sRGB color space. The image size of the jpg copy file is controlled from here.

Lightroom gives you the option to reduce the copy jpg file size in the following ways by dictating the: Width & Height, Dimensions, Long Edge, Short Edge, Megapixels and Percentage.

If you want to make prints at home from a file that is less than an optimum size the Lightroom Print module will automatically sort out the number crunching. A few thoughts making prints from a small file. Firstly don’t be too ambitious about the scale of the enlargement, secondly, reduce the PPI figure in the Lightroom Printing Module to say 180ppi and thirdly make a slightly smaller print on the same size paper with a larger border.

The conclusion I draw from the above post is that all modern digital cameras and probably most phones as well have the capability to make prints up to at least A3 size. In the time that I last blogged about this subject some years ago, technology has moved on making the image quality better. Also, alternative and easier workflows have been introduced particularly with the Lightroom Print Module.


Next time in this series of 2

I will look at four artistic and technical reasons to re-crop a picture.

  • Reasons to a re-crop a picture
  • The Lightroom Crop Tool
  • Shoot Loose Crop Tight
  • Good Crop Bad Crop
  • Shoot Tight Crop Tighter


Note – for simplicity I have exclusively used the pixels per Inch (ppi). I am fully aware that when discussing printer outputs it is normal to talk about dots per inch (dpi).