In fact, the use of this tool is a phenomenally bad idea and I personally know at least 50 photographers that still use it despite my attempts to talk them out of it. I am not talking about the plain old crop tool. I am talking about the re-size options you can use with it, labeled 1. (for aspect ratios) and 2. “Resolution” in the image above.
The reasons we want to do this in the first place comes back to the whole 2 x 3 aspect ratio of a sensor not lining up to a perfect 8 x 10 (
See the 8 x 10 Dilemma Post). Photographers want their images to fit on the media they are printing and this is a very intuitive way to go about “resizing” their images. In nearly all cases, the photographer will type in the dimensions of the print, AND the “resolution”, which is almost always 300, because they read somewhere that digital images print best at 300 dpi.
I recommend not doing it for the following reasons:
A. It’s huge waste of time. Instead- spend the extra few hours of your life you would spend doing this with your family.
B. It creates unnecessary additional files and work flow issues.
C. And most importantly, degrades the file.
Let’s address these each individually.
A- I know many photographers who will “crop to re-size” each and every single one of their images. Sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands. It takes hours to do. Why are they doing this in the first place? Well, they are burning a disk with the images for their client because they want their clients to be able to print them up at Walmart or other lab of their choice. While this is admirable, I don’t believe this is a good reason to do it. If your customer has purchased the CD or DVD and you are providing it to them, they should be savvy enough to figure out how to have them printed. Another reason is if they run into problems with prints, I dunno, say the quality they are getting, it just gives them another reason to purchase quality prints from you, which is what we want in the first place. I know there is a lot of debate over whether or not the client gets images. In the cases where I sell them to my clients, there is very little if any Photoshopping done to them, that takes a lot of extra time and my time is valuable to me.
B. Instead of having say 100 images from a shoot, you now have many more, I’ve seen cases where this 100 becomes 600, 100 originals, 100 4 x 6’s and 100 8 x 10’s, and then backup copies of each. Photographers who do this are creating many extra files that just aren’t necessary. You should have at minimum 2 copies of all the photos you plan to keep, and in some cases a third on a DVD archive. Resizing and re-saving takes up more space and more files on your HD.
C. The most important reason, it degrades the file. You remember when we talked about pixel dimensions of a Canon 7D were 5184 pixels x 3456 pixels? Well when we type in “300” for pixels, we are forcing Photoshop to make some decisions about how many pixels can fit in that space.
Check it out, when you crop to resize, say to 4 x 6 at 300 pixels what you get is: 6 x 300 = 1800 pixels & 4x 300 = 1,200 pixels, or new pixel dimensions of “1800 x 1200”, in these cases you would be throwing away about 65% of your image information.
If you were to just print at original pixel dimensions you would have closer to 864 dpi (because 5164/6 = 864), and yes, most professional printers CAN print at resolutions higher than 300 dpi. The same is true for 8 x 10s just not as severe, 10×300=3000 & 8×300= 2400, still throwing away about 43% of your pixels.
So, now you are probably wondering what the best way to do it?
What I recommend is to always deal with the original size image . If you are ordering prints for clients, I strongly recommend ordering 4×6’s (which are the original dimensions anyway) and 8 x 12’s. Most labs support them now and they are often the same price as 8 x 10’s. If you absolutely must have a print at 8 x 10 just use the “image to print” box that most professional online printers have and select from there. It is actually quicker than to do it in PS.
Common questions I get about this:
Michael, what if I am delivering a CD to my clients for 4×6 files only?
Well, what they are probably going to do is take those 4×6 images and print them up full size anyway and hang them all over their homes, yes, even at the lower quality. They will try this in different ways, either just printing to 8 x 10, or printing to 4×6, scanning and then reprinting. If you are providing your clients a disk with 4 x 6 sized images, you should rethink your delivery workflow. You are losing a lot of time in front of the computer and you are giving your client a sub-par product. In the end, you should absolutely be as concerned with your workflow as you are with product. The idea is to have more freedom and spend less time in front of a computer, not create more problems.
Michael, what if I myself am going to Walmart to print these myself and I have 200 images and I don’t want to stand there for an hour at the kiosk resizing them?
🙂 – First of all, why are you printing these things at Walmart? There are several VERY good online labs that can print better quality products, for less, and can get them delivered to you in 2-3 days. Mpix.com is very reasnoable. I would much rather have that, then a lower quality Walmart image sooner. Second, its going to take you about the same amount of time to do it on your computer as it would at the kiosk, not considering all the other issues I mentioned (extra files, space, etc).