What to say to this magazine photo editor

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Patrick L., Nov 18, 2003.

  1. Patrick L.

    Patrick L. Guest

    A magazine asks me if I can provide, with my digital camera, a 9x12 image at
    300 dpi

    My E-10 will give 9x12 at about 187 dpi. I would have to resample to get
    them 300 dpi.

    Am I okay if I say "yes" to the question? Or do I have to tell them
    (morally speaking), "Without resampling, my camera will give you close to
    200 dpi, but I can get you 300 if you allow me to resample".

    The issue is will the image be clear at print, and it will, I'm certain of
    it, since Shutterbug mag has published many images with Oly E-10.

    Patrick L., Nov 18, 2003
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  2. Patrick L.

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Are you so desperate to be in print that you are willing to lie about it?
    That's the real question. If so then don't ask others to give you an excuse
    for lying - just do it. It won't make it any less of a lie to have several
    people in on it.
    Tony Spadaro, Nov 18, 2003
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  3. Patrick L.

    Alan Browne Guest

    Recently Martin Francis asked a question about "honesty" in another context.

    Honesty (rather than morals in this case) is really replying about what
    you can actually deliver.

    What is in their "spec" (300) is what their layout graphics people are
    used to saying. They can _likely_ use your 187 dpi as is. Just ask.
    the problem is the people getting the artwork hardly know a dpi from a
    clapped out BMW.

    In any case, tell them specifically what you can deliver WITHOUT
    resampling above the data in the image. (offer the resample too, but
    they can probably deal better with the full size original).

    Alan Browne, Nov 18, 2003
  4. Patrick L.

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Bicubic, rather than Bilinear. The other trick is to upsample in several steps
    past what you need, then back down. Yes, this introduces some artefacts, no
    matter how you do it. Working at the highest bit depth can help, but if that is
    not possible, then inspect the image, and clone or smooth any bad spots.
    Not really. You are not telling a lie if you can provide the proper sized file
    on a CD-R. It would usually take a bit of time to figure out that an image was
    upsampled, unless it was done poorly. The other aspect is that they may not
    have enough time to really check over the image, and find out about any
    You could output separations on a laser printer, and view each individual
    sheet. Adobe Acrobat PDF creation is a way to soft proof, but would not tell
    you much beyond colour quality. If you are supplying an RGB file, then they
    will be adjusting for their CMYK output.

    Shutterbug uses paper with a lower total ink limit than many other
    publications. There registration seems to be off quite often as well. Also, I
    think their designer needs to take a colour accuracy eye exam, since everything
    looks too Magenta. Unless this is going to Shutterbug, that magazine should not
    be used to judge the quality of printing for any other magazine.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 18, 2003
  5. Patrick L.

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Tell them the truth. Tell them what you have and that you can either send them
    a resampled version at 300dpi or you can send them the origianl file at 187dpi
    which ever their preference is. Or, another way to go might be that you send
    them both files, a 187 dpi one and a 300 dpi upsampled one and tell them your
    situation and let them choose which suits them best.

    Either way, I don't think the big issue here is the quality of the file(s) but
    the honesty. Others are free to differ on this issue and will ;-).

    Unless somebody has a gun to your head (and I don't see any guns here), honesty
    is almost always the best policy. Lies have a habit of coming back and biting
    you in the ass. Better to lose a sale than your integrity, but if you tell the
    truth you may not lose either, or you might. Which is more important to you,
    the honesty or the sale? I would choose the honesty, but I'm not you, nor am I
    your judge. Either way its (obviously) your decision.

    Happy choosing :)


    Lewis Lang, Nov 18, 2003
  6. Patrick L.

    Mark M Guest

    I would take the assumptive, yet honest approach. -By assumptive, I simply
    mean that you take the attitude that "of course my original is sufficient,
    but here is a 300dpi version for your specific request."


    Send them both files--the original (187) and the skillfully up-sampled one.
    Then include the words, "Here are two versions of the file: The original,
    and the file which meets your 300dpi request. Feel free to use the file
    which most effectively suits your needs."

    For all you know, their 300dpi request may just simplify the **process** end
    of it for them. It may have less to do with some idea they have about bare
    minimums of "quality."

    By doing this, you have not only remained honest, but you have given them
    incentive (by your implied confidence of their satisfaction) to attempt use
    of the image.
    Mark M, Nov 18, 2003

  7. I should have rephrased the question to query about what the norm is
    regarding resampling. If this is something editors want to know about, or
    care about, then of course, it is something I should be upfront about, but
    if it (resampling) is the norm, and routine, then it is hardly worth
    mentioning. The point is I just don't know what is expected of me, and that
    is why I raise the question. It has nothing to do with attempting to
    rationalize a lie. I would never lie about anything, except maybe the size
    of my .....er, lens.

    Rudy Von Tschudi, Nov 18, 2003
  8. Patrick L.

    AJ Guest

    This thread has interested me.
    I sell digital photographs to magazines. The publishers always used to ask
    for 150 LPI (Lines per inch) images. Recently one asked for a RAW camera
    file! I published my own magazine for many years and I never had a dpi
    problem. I would just print a photograph, scan it at 150 LPI (dpi if you
    like) and send it to pre-press for separation. I don't ever recall having
    Nat Geo quality illustrations but many people remarked at how well the
    photos reproduced.

    300 DPI is awfully dense for a colour image intended for magazine art. I
    suspect that the request has come from the fact that 300 DPI is the
    resolution an image which will print true size on most digital photo
    printers. I might speculate further that the publisher probably assumes that
    by asking for such a file, they will at least get 'photographic quality'. I
    doubt any but the most specialised pre-press shops could use screen lines so
    dense IF the media is produced on an off-set printing press.

    If someone asked me for 300 dpi files, I would just select the size of the
    print in PhotoShop and then 300 dpi density. It works with photo printers
    when the source is 150 dpi and the lab asks for 300 dpi and I'll defy anyone
    to tell the difference with the naked eye. If you are paranoid you could
    always use 'Genuine Fractal's or a similar program.

    AJ, Nov 18, 2003
  9. Patrick L.

    Patrick L. Guest

    So is the truth something like the fact that because digital imagery is such
    a new thing, there is no standardized expectation from photographers
    regarding their output? The reason I asked in the first place was that I
    didn't understand what was what in publishing. If resampling was rarely an
    issue, so not mentioning it would not be a big deal. But if it was not the
    norm, then of course I would be obligated to query them about it.

    But I just don't know, and now, with your info, I can see that such things
    probably vary considerably from one publisher to the next, and so being
    upfront about it, or at least being able to reach a meeting of the mind
    about it, with the magazine, would be the best course, simply because they
    might be thinking of one thing, and I another, so it is a good idea to
    discuss exactly what the printers need.

    Patrick L., Nov 18, 2003
  10. Patrick L.

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    Of course they want to know. And yes - they might be completely
    unreasonable and refuse to even look at your re-sampled images - but they
    will know that you deal with them in a straight and honest manner, and
    that's a lot more important than the picture. If you lie, and they find out,
    there is a near 100% chance you'll never sell to them again. It's as simple
    as that. Start with the truth, say okay, even if that loses the sale, and
    know that they will continue to look at your work when you send it in.
    Tony Spadaro, Nov 18, 2003
  11. Patrick L.

    garryac Guest

    I'm a magazine art editor, and usually specify 300dpi, because that is
    waht gives best results with the screening used by our printers,
    however if I really want to use a pic I will compromise and use 200
    dpi, there is a little loss of quality , but to be honest unless
    everything is super calibrated in perfect register on high quality
    glossy art paper your average reader can't really tell the difference.

    I should send the guy your original file, pus a worked on up sampled
    file, and let him make his mind up


    Garry AC
    garryac, Nov 18, 2003
  12. Patrick L.

    Bob Hickey Guest

    Tell them the truth; they might fall for it. Bob Hickey
    Bob Hickey, Nov 18, 2003

  13. I would tell them your concerns, send them an example, and ask them
    what they would prefer. You might want to point out, carefully so you don't
    sound stuffy, that other mags have printed such files with no problems.

    The concern may be due to the halftone screen they'll be using, which
    differs from publication to publication. At certain levels of detail, the
    pixels in your image start to interact with the dots of the screen,
    producing moire patterns and/or seriously degrading quality. This effect
    varies considerably based on the size and orientation of the screen and the
    cropped/enlarged size of the image, so there's no easy solution.

    However, I can't imagine any typical screen having a problem with
    either of the files sizes you mention, so I'm inclined to agree with AJ in
    that the requirement is probably just a 'conventional size' that the
    publisher, or prepress techs, decided would be a simple answer to eliminate
    any problems. Which might also mean that they think this is gospel and
    won't settle for anything else, regardless of the actual affect on the
    final press image.

    They should also be able to upsample themselves, if they anticipate a
    screening problem. The question is, do they consider this 'too much work'?

    Be honest with them, see what they say. If they balk, upsample it and
    try again. The worst that could happen is the magazine decides you're not a
    viable source of images, and while losing a potential market isn't good,
    there are still a few others out there - not all publishers have the same

    Good luck!

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Nov 18, 2003
  14. Patrick L.

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Since both images will fit on a CD-R, this is probably the best option.
    While some people may consider it "dishonest", if you did not "volunteer"
    information, then it could be thought be some that no "dishonesty" was involved.
    However, if one is compelled to provide additional information, or some feeling of
    guilt are involved, by all means tell everything. I would never implore someone to
    lie, but I did look at the original question as a technical issue.

    As a technical matter, the final image delivered to the client could be at the
    specifications required. If there was a reason to state how that final image
    specification was met, then by all means volunteer that information when you
    deliver the CD-R. To answer the clients question of whether the specifications
    could be met, the answer is yes, and that is not a lie.
    I am also answering this on a technical level because upsampling images is a very
    common practice in graphic design. Sometimes it is really extreme, and obviously
    the image quality would be lower than an image that did not require upsampling.
    Lewis, you and others have pointed out another aspect of this. If Patrick feels
    that upsampling is "dishonest" then he should not do it.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 18, 2003
  15. Patrick L.

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Good morning Patrick,

    Given my years of experience with graphic design and printing, it should be
    noted that 300 ppi is a common specification. I will give some brief overviews.
    This is done as a rule of thumb to match a 150 lines per inch (lpi) screening
    commonly used in quality printing. In fact, more modern printing methods can
    use 200 lpi, or even screenless or frequency modulation screening.

    The images go into a layout program, such as Quark or InDesign. This converts
    everything to PostScript. Then a Postscript RIP creates another file that is
    output as separations. The actual individual separations can be output as
    Raster images, which are usually 2400 ppi or 2540 ppi, depending on the press.
    Each of the four CMYK outputs is done that way, and the screening varies the
    dot patterns for a continuous tone appearance. The angle of each line screen is
    also varied to create what are called rosettes. Getting the angles wrong would
    result in a moiré pattern.

    While it is possible to use lower dpi images, the end result would have a
    slightly softer look than using a higher dpi image. That is not the only issue
    though, since the paper and press type used can affect these choices. Newsprint
    cannot absorb much ink, so the total ink limit and saturation must be lower.
    Also, with newsprint, the line screens must be wider to distribute ink more,
    and avoid blurring the final printed image. Because of the lower line screen,
    there is little point in using a higher resolution file, because there would be
    little difference in the final print. With heavy paper stock, nice coated
    papers, and a good press set-up, higher line screen frequencies are possible,
    and correspondingly higher resolution images can produce better looking

    While I am not sure where AJ lives, printing places that do medium (150 lpi)
    and high (200 lpi, screenless, etc.) quality printing are actually fairly
    common, and not at all expensive. These are not the same places that do
    business cards (usually), so not every place will offer the same printing. If
    you are more interested in printing, there will be another printing show coming
    up in January/February 2004 at the San Diego Convention Center. Just going in
    to talk to representatives and get samples is free, and the printed samples are
    very nice.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Nov 18, 2003
  16. Patrick L.

    Patrick L. Guest

    Thanks for the info, very informative.

    Patrick L., Nov 18, 2003
  17. Patrick L.

    Patrick L. Guest

    Point duly noted.

    Patrick L., Nov 18, 2003
  18. Patrick L.

    Gregg Guest

    why do they want 300 dpi?

    Gregg, Nov 18, 2003
  19. Patrick L.

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: What to say to this magazine photo editor
    Hi Gordon:

    Whether the issue be technical or honesty or both, I, persoanlly, feel it is
    important to be open about all isues involved whether required to, implied or
    not. SOmetimes its hard to read others' minds at the magazine as to whether
    their 300ppi thing is a policy, a bendable suggestion or whatever and you and
    others have brought up excellent points (and tutorials, in your case) about the
    technical (and ethical) aspects of this issue.


    Lewis Lang, Nov 18, 2003
  20. Remember that a 187dpi pic will have only 39% of the pixels of a 300dpi pic.
    If you think in one dimension, it doesn't sound so bad, but when you square
    it, it does. I think the difference would be apparent.

    I've noticed pixellated and low-res shots appearing in magazines a lot more,
    probably due to digital cameras, and it doesn't go unnoticed. Nor do JPEG

    Kevin Neilson, Nov 18, 2003
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