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Viewing Distance: The Overlooked Aspect of Print Size

Viewing Distance: The Overlooked Aspect of Print Size – photo.net

A while back, on The Online Photographer, I linked to a video segment from a British television show called The Gadget Show. It documents a not-so-rigorous test of film vs. digital in which the two hosts dress up as the main characters from the old “Avengers” TV show, get their pictures shot with a film 35mm camera (a Nikon F5) and a digital 12 MP camera (a Nikon D700), and then have 17-meter-high prints made from both, which they hang up on the side of a building to evaluate. Not the best test (not to mention the fact that the whole film vs. digital thing is sort of a “who cares” issue these days), but I was impressed by their budget!

After I posted the link, several TOP readers posted comments along the lines of, “Well, I’m never going to worry about the enlargeability of 12 MP digital files again.”

Really? Not so fast.

One thing those commenters might have been forgetting is that print size scales with viewing distance. Looking at a print that covers the side of a building from 200 feet away might be little different than looking at a 6×9” print placed eight inches from your nose.