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////Lightroom Myth Buster: When Resolution Matters and When It Doesn’t

Lightroom Myth Buster: When Resolution Matters and When It Doesn’t

Lightroom pixel detail As I monitor forums, I see so much confusion about resolution and how to set it in Lightroom, that I thought it was time for a post on it.

Our photos are made up of pixels – squares of solid color that our camera sensor captures. For example, a photo from a 24 megapixel (MP) camera has 24 million pixels — 6,000 wide x 4,000 high:


Lightroom photo size pixels

When we export, we specify how large our copies should be made – reduced for online sharing, possibly increased for large prints, or left at the same size as our master photos. Lightroom is very intelligent in how it removes or adds pixels, to preserve the appearance of our photos. (On enlarging, this does have its limits – read my article, “How Large Can I Print My Photo?

Exporting for Printing

When we export to send something out to print, we are accustomed to specifying size in inches or centimeters rather than in pixels. Lightroom allows us to specify size this way, but for it to figure out how many pixels to output, we have to tell it how many pixels per inch (PPI) to include – this is called resolution.

Inches x Pixels per Inch = Pixels

Equivalently, Inches x Resolution (PPI) = Pixels

In this scenario, in the Resolution box in the Export dialog, we specify for resolution whatever resolution / PPI our printer (or printing service) prints at. Most printers print at 300; Epson printers print at 360 – but check your printer manual or your printing service’s website. This gives your printer the exact number of pixels it needs to print at its best:

Lightroom export resize for print

Lightroom will calculate and output size in pixels: 8”x 10” print at 300 PPI = 2,400 x 3,000 pixels.

If you are printing large and are afraid that you will be upsizing too much and the quality will be poor, don’t make the mistake of reducing resolution! The printer will still print at 300/360, and since you haven’t given it enough pixels, it will do the upsizing. Let Lightroom do it – it will do a better job. There are simply limits to how large you can print.

Printing in the Print Module

Similarly, when printing in the Print module, specify the resolution your printer prints at (i.e. its native resolution):

Lightroom print resolution

For more on the topic of resolution in printing, do read my article, “How Large Can I Print My Photo?

Exporting for Screen-Based Viewing

When we export photos to post online or to send by email for on-screen viewing, we customarily specify size in pixels, since monitor sizes are specified in pixels. For example, for Facebook, I export with the long edge at 960 pixels (vertical photos will be 960 pixels high, horizontal photos, 960 pixels wide):

Lightroom export resize for screen

This is really all we need – when specifying size in pixels, resolution doesn’t matter! Nevertheless, Lightroom won’t let you leave it blank, so go ahead and leave it at its default of 72.

If you have previously thought that the higher the resolution number you enter, the higher quality photo you get, try an experiment – export a photo sized in pixels with a resolution of 1 PPI, and the same photo again at 999 PPI, and compare them – they will be exactly the same! (For techies out there, yes, your file gets tagged with the resolution you set, but printers and monitors ignore it anyway. It could be useful if you plan to export and then open and print from Photoshop – in this case Photoshop will read and use this resolution, so you won’t have to set it there.)

Note that how large in inches your photo displays on someone’s monitor depends on what the monitor’s native resolution is – 72 and 96 PPI are common.

While resolution doesn’t matter when sizing in pixels, nevertheless, if you are submitting photos to an organization that gives you exact requirements – for example, “1024 x 768 pixels at a resolution of 72 PPI”, then give them exactly what they ask for. Either they don’t understand that resolution doesn’t matter here, or they don’t want to waste time explaining that any number will do. The last thing I want is for your photos to be disqualified because of something I wrote.

Exporting without Resizing

Even when you export without resizing, the Resolution box is still active. In this case it won’t affect the size or quality of your file at all. Nonetheless, if you are exporting to send to a printing service, go ahead and put 300 (or what they print at), to avoid any possible confusion at your printer’s. If you are meeting anyone else’s specifications, go ahead and put what they say. Otherwise I ignore this setting.

PPI versus DPI

These terms are often confused. DPI refers to how many dots of ink your printer prints per inch. For example, in my printer driver software, if I set Quality to its highest setting, my printer will print 2880×1440 DPI, so at 360 PPI, it will lay down 2880/360 x 1440/360 = 8×4 = 32 dots of ink for every pixel it prints. This is the only context in which DPI is relevant.

I’ll write more about sizing for export in future articles. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter below to hear about these and much more.

If this has helped demystify resolution for you, check out my Lightroom 5: Producing Great Output video series. In it I demystify many confusing output concepts, and then teach you how to print, and make photo books, slideshows and web galleries, all with Lightroom.

Have any questions or comments regarding this article? Share your thoughts below!

2018-09-27T15:10:31+00:00September 8th, 2014|78 Comments


  1. Luis Mederos September 8, 2014 at 11:42 am - Reply


    If you don’t tell it to resize but specify the PPI … Do you then get any benefit? Would it not export the image without upsizing yet at its best resolution?

    I had read this is the best way not to push interpolation.

    I guess I am trying to understand the check boxes or this option (‘resize’ and ‘don’t enlarge’ )


    • Laura Shoe September 8, 2014 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Luis,

      I just amended the post to address this. There is no benefit when not resizing – but if you are meeting someone’s specs (including a printing service), use their number.

      • Kenny October 10, 2016 at 5:44 pm - Reply

        Using Lightroom 6, when I export a file having the “resize to fit” checkbox unchecked, the size of the output file is different if I modify the resolution setting (and without changing any other setting). For example, I exported the same file twice, one with a resolution of 300 and a second time with resolution at 1000 (both times with the “resize to fit” checkbox unchecked). The 300 resolution file is actually larger than the 1000 resolution file. Do you know why the file would change at all when “resize to fit” is unchecked?

        * The reason I want to know is that my print lab wants me to send them the file “without resizing” so they can perform any mods required for the best print… so they don’t specify an optimal resolution.

        • Laura Shoe October 21, 2016 at 10:53 am - Reply

          Sorry for the delay, Kenny. This doesn’t make sense to me. Are you changing the metadata setting at the same time? Do they both have the same size in pixels?

          • Kenny October 21, 2016 at 11:58 am

            Disregard… can’t reproduce… I must have changed metadata. 😐 Feel free to delete my posts. Thanks!

  2. Maxine March 31, 2015 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Hi there

    If I wanted to give my clients the file size that they buy i.e. 5 x 7 or 8 x 12 how would this look in lightroom?


    • Laura Shoe April 15, 2015 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Maxine,

      In the Develop module, crop your photos to the specific proportions needed – click on the dropdown next to the padlock and choose this, then crop. Then when you export, specify the size in inches, and set the resolution to what your printing service uses (most likely 300 ppi). If you don’t know where they will have the photos printed, 300 is still a safe bet.

      • Kathie August 11, 2015 at 6:58 am - Reply

        I’m sorry to beat a dead horse, but I want to get this straight. If I crop the photo in the develop module to, say, an 8×10, then, when I export, I have to again indicate that 8×10 size (I’m already indicating the resolution) based on what the lab says? Recently, I’ve been sending in photos to new labs I’m trying – some indicate what size (in the exporting), while others do not. I’m still waiting for a set of evaluation photos from a lab, but ones I received last week from a different lab were great – and I cropped in the develop module to 8×10 but ONLY indicated resolution in that image size area during export. This has always been SO-O-O confusing to me.

        • Laura Shoe August 13, 2015 at 11:57 am - Reply

          Hi Kathie,

          Cropping in the Develop module sets the shape of the photo, not the size. So do crop there, but then in the Export dialog specify 8×10 inches at 300 ppi (if 300 is the resolution your lab uses.)

          When you set only resolution in the Export dialog, you are not doing any resizing of your photo, so you are sending a full size file to the lab, and they are doing the resizing to 8×10 inches @ 300. This is also fine for many labs (though some pro labs do require that you do the resizing.)

          Note that my Producing Great Output series covers this topic in depth.

  3. Kim July 7, 2015 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura,

    You have cleared up the lightroom resolution questions I had brilliantly. I did notice that in the DPI and PPI explanation, that the dots per pixel formula divided 360 one too many times. It should be (2,880×1,440)/360 = 11,520 ink dots per pixel. 360 is a square inch number, the total number of pixels in the inch.
    Thanks for your post!

    • Kevin July 28, 2015 at 2:06 am - Reply

      Actually, DPI and PPI are measurements of the number of pixels or ink dots per inch of line, not square, so the author’s math holds up.

      360 DPI doesn’t mean 360 dots of ink per square inch, it means 360 dots of ink per linear inch. Just as 360 PPI would refer to the same.

      They’re linear expressions, not square.

  4. Brisse July 22, 2015 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura,
    I’m having an issue after cropping an image from an image and when exporting from LR my image changes from MB to KB, in size.
    If I export as 300ppi, will the cropped image make a good quality print? Maybe at only 4 x 6 sz? OR, would you advise me to change the width numbers in pixels under the resize box?

    • Laura Shoe July 30, 2015 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Brisse,

      First, set the JPEG quality to 90-100 for prints (or use the TIFF format, but your file size in MB will be higher). Set the width and height to what you want, and the resolution to 300 ppi because that is most likely what your printing service uses. Now to your question – will this give you a good print? Not necessarily – it depends on how many pixels you had left after cropping, and how much more Lightroom has to “invent” to get up to the size you want to print. Read my article, “How Large Can I Print My Photo?”

  5. Ed August 14, 2015 at 2:04 am - Reply

    I am still confused. I have Nikon D7100, shoot in raw and process in LR. Consequently photos are typically 6000 x 4000 pixels, even after processing and/or cropping. If I send a photo as an attachment, I get a nice sharp photo on my (2013) MacBook Pro and on my ipad. If I use the export function, to send a JPEG, no matter how big, in pixels, I make the width and height, I get a very blurry photo on both the MacBook and ipad. No matter what I try I can’t get the export function to work. Can you help please as I can’t believe that LR is the problem – it must be me.

    • Laura Shoe August 22, 2015 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      Check your Quality setting in the Export dialog, Ed. If for printing, 90-100, for email and web sharing, 60-70.

    • scotty January 8, 2016 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      i am having this exact problem.. but thank you to a few pros.
      it seems my export settings in lr were wrong… very wrong…
      hopefully it’s fixed now..

  6. Sue September 3, 2015 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    I’ve been reading responses to your “Exporting images for printing from Lightroom 6” – I’ve just done exactly what you’ve described but still the JPEG images I’ve exported are so super small – I’m using the Fuji XT1 Images are big and yet they appear to compress to around 2 – 2.3 MB when I export. Help would be really appreciated – I cannot work this out – used to have no probs exporting from previous programme.
    Thank you for your help in advance And obviously I realise I’m doing something incorrectly.

    • Laura Shoe September 10, 2015 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Hi Sue,

      JPEGs will always be smaller than raw files in terms of megabytes because they are compressed. This is fine. Just be sure that for printing you use a quality setting of 90-100, and uncheck Resize to Fit to export a full-size copy (in terms of pixels).

      • Sue Kallman September 10, 2015 at 3:36 pm - Reply

        Laura – it worked thank you – soon as I unticked “resize to fit” I got 7 plus megabyte images on export- so thank you so much for your help.

  7. Rocky December 24, 2015 at 5:22 am - Reply

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks for the very detailed explanation. There is one thing I’m still not sure about is the “pixels”, I shoot RAW with my Canon 5D Mark II, so it usually comes with >5500 pixels on the long edge. My primary use of photos post Lightroom exporting is for printing in small scale plus online sharing, in this case, what shall I set for the pixels in the long-edge under export session? I generally set it to 3600, but I have no clue about whether it is about right or wrong. Appreciate your thoughts.

    • Laura Shoe February 10, 2016 at 3:06 pm - Reply

      Sorry for the delay, Rocky. First, export only when you are ready to share a photo with the outside world, then size for the specific purpose. For web use, either check with the site you plan to share your photo on, or more generally, I think Long Edge = 960 or 1200 is sufficient for most uses. You certainly can use 3600, but do you want people to be able to download your photo and get an outstanding 3600 px / 300 ppi = 10.6″ print of it (and an OK 18″ print)?

  8. Susan Molnar January 2, 2016 at 9:06 am - Reply

    I post my images for sale on my website hosted by (FAA) and they handle all the printing and shipping. FAA specifically says that images should NEVER be resized or the final prints made for the customer could be blurry.

    So, if I understand what you’ve taught in this post, that means my export from LR COULD be cropped within LR (for instance, to achieve a specific shape that would fit standard frames), but when I export, I should make sure the Resize box is UNchecked and set the Quality to 100.

    Should I also specify 300ppi in the Image Sizing section (or does it even matter?), and would it matter whether or not I checked the Sharpen (for screen) check box?

    Also, would you know why posting a resized image would be likely to pose print quality issues for a printing site like FineArtAmerica?

    Thanks for any clarification you can provide and for all your great tutorials and posts. They are SOOOO helpful!!

    • Laura Shoe February 10, 2016 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Susan,

      If FAA allows buyers to choose size and crop online, then I would just upload a full size image. Alternatively, if you only plan to offer one size or aspect ratio, you could do this in the Develop module first. When you export, unchecking the Resize to Fit option, resolution does nothing. I don’t know if FAA does sharpening, so I can’t advise you on whether to do output sharpening (glossy or matte, not screen – look for my article on output sharpening).

      If someone resizes their image to, worst case, 100 pixels wide, uploaded it to FAA, and then a buyer tried to order an 8×10, which at 300 ppi is 2400×3000 pixels, an enormous amount of upsizing would be required, and the result would be so blurry you couldn’t recognize the image. FAA is simply keeping it simple – telling you to never resize at all, rather than trying to say how much resizing is OK. Look for my article, “How Large Can I Print My Photo?” for more on this question.

  9. Barbara Spindler February 1, 2016 at 12:37 am - Reply

    I have very specific export sizing I need to adhere to: 3000 x 2216 @300 DPI
    I’m new to lightroom and when I entered these in the cropping tool, it set the cropping ratio to 3:2.216. So on export how do I set the 3000 x 2216 pixels to export at 300 resolution and trust it will keep those pixels? It is so whomever buys the photos can print poster sized prints. And do I check or uncheck resize?

    • Laura Shoe February 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm - Reply

      Hi Barbara,

      If you need your photos to be exactly 3000×2216 pixels, then you are correct to crop to the correct shape/aspect ratio (3:2.216) in the Develop module, and then export at that number of pixels, assuming that your photos need to be exactly that size. Because you already set the shape in the Develop module, you can just check Resize to Fit, Long Edge = 3000.

      When sizing in pixels, the resolution number has no effect at all. You certainly can put 300 PPI, but really any number would do. When sizing in inches rather than pixels, then specifying resolution is critical, so Lightroom can translate your size in inches * pixels/inch = pixels, where pixels/inch is resolution (ppi).

      • Barbara Spindler February 2, 2016 at 7:09 pm - Reply

        Thank you SO much! It seems I know just enough to get me totally confused! Hahaha! Thank you for your help and perfect explanation. 😀

  10. nancy February 3, 2016 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura,
    How did you choose 960 for your width for exporting for web?
    I want to export for web viewing but not sure how to determine what size in pixels I should make each side.Nancy

    • Laura Shoe February 10, 2016 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Facebook gives a few recommended sizes, Nancy, the smallest of which is 960. Unless a site tells you what they want, there isn’t a right answer. If you have my Producing Great Output series, watch the video on sizing for screen-based viewing – it gives you some considerations in making a decision. In short, make it large enough for people to enjoy, and small enough that people can’t get a good quality print from it (if you care about this). To tell if it is large enough to enjoy, export and open up the file and view it.

  11. Lindsay Strack February 5, 2016 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    I have a customer that wants their images in two resolutions one for website and one for Im printing advertising. they are asking for 300ppi and 72ppi but not giving me any sizing requirments what should i do

    • Laura Shoe February 10, 2016 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      I would ask them to tell you what size in pixels, width and height, they need for their website, and I would specify this. Resolution/ppi is irrelevant when specifying size in pixels. As for printing, I would just uncheck Resize to Fit and give them a full-size file.

  12. Jodi February 24, 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply


    Thank you for this post. I am spot on with my printing and web. However, I have recently been asked to download photos for a slideshow on a projector or large screen. I do not want my files to be 6-9MB because I do not want to slow down the sequence. Do you have a recommendation as to what size I should use and how to export for the end result being a large screen/projector? I have tried upping my web and lowering my print. Both are coming to to large or to small as a file size. I think I need to be in the 2-4 MB size? Any advice would be extremely helpful. Thank you!

    • Jodi February 24, 2016 at 10:58 am - Reply

      Okay so I just lowered the quality to 85 with a resolution of 200 and this got me to a 4.5 MB file size. I would still love advice on the idle size for the application. Thank you!

    • Laura Shoe February 29, 2016 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Jodi,

      Ideally you should find out the resolution of the projector (these all used to be 1024×768, but there are higher resolution projectors out now). This will be stated in pixels. Then in the Export dialog you can check Resize to Fit, and set width and height to these pixel dimensions. It won’t matter what resolution you set. Then to get a file under 4 MB, check the Limit File Size To box and put 4000k.

  13. bree March 17, 2016 at 10:06 am - Reply

    ALoha, I am working with a company right now and they are unhappy with the file sizes of my images. I Use lightroom 5, and I shot in JPEG format. My dimension size is 2736 × 1824, and I exported in JPEG at 100% quality. They are telling me that they want to put the images on their website, and want them to be full screen, but that my image quality (size) is not big enough. Im confused because every image on MY WEBSITE is from this format. So my question is; Can I make the file size bigger for them and make the dimensions bigger so they can use this images as “widescreen”. Or are they doing something wrong? Please help I’m lost. Thank you!

    Also, How do I change my image to a DPI? Is it a setting on my camera or something that can be changed through lightroom? Thank you!

    • Laura Shoe March 21, 2016 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Bree,

      Find out how large they need them (in pixels). In the Export dialog, check Resize to Fit, width and height, and put in those pixel dimensions. That said, there are limits to how much you can enlarge a file and still get a result that isn’t fuzzy. Open up the files after export and look at them to see if they look ok. (Be sure you are looking at them at 100% / Actual Size.)

      When you are specifying file size in pixels rather than inches (as I recommend in your situation), what you put for resolution (PPI) is not relevant – any number will do just fine. DPI stands for dots of ink per inch, and is not relevant either. (DPI is a printer Quality setting).

  14. Ted March 26, 2016 at 12:34 am - Reply

    An Lr plug-in (Google Nik RAW Presharpener) asks me to specify resolution before I can use it. It defaults to 240. I changed it to 120 once but didn’t notice any difference. ??? I mostly just look at my pics on my computer monitor. What should the resolution be?

    • Laura Shoe March 30, 2016 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      It doesn’t matter, Ted, unless you are specifying file size in inches.

  15. Amy May 12, 2016 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Is there a universal resize number of pixels that will print good for any size picture 4×6 to 8×10? Or do I have to crop and resize each photo individually?

    • Laura Shoe May 19, 2016 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      4×6 and 8×10 are not the same shape, Amy, so you’ll need to crop and export separately, unless you are using a printing service that allows you to upload and then order online different sizes and crop there for these sizes.

      300 pixels per inch would produce excellent quality prints (all else equal). If your printing service is as I mentioned, then I’d probably export Long Edge = 3000 (10″x300 pixels/inch = 3000 pixels).

  16. Maria Perpetua Naguit May 16, 2016 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    I have specific requirement on a certain website, it is 762 pixels x 1100 pixels, I set this specifics in the image size but after importing the photos, the image dimension turned out to be 732 pixels x 1100 pixels. Please help me with this. I appreciate it so much.

    • Laura Shoe May 19, 2016 at 2:50 pm - Reply

      Hi Maria,

      Specifying 762×1100 in the Export dialog sets the sized box that images need to fit into. For example, a square image would end up exported as 762×762, since that size fits within 762×1100. Images will only be exactly 762×1100 if they happen to be the exact same shape / proportions / aspect ratio as this. Therefore before export you’ll need to crop the images in the Develop module to 762×1100 proportions (same as 7.62×11.00). In the crop tool, click on the dropdown next to the padlock and choose Enter Custom, put in those dimensions, then crop.

  17. David June 2, 2016 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Hi, Laura – This was a good tutorial, and cleared up some things for me, but you didn’t say anything about the “Don’t Enlarge” check box. I have tried to figure out what this does exactly, but I am having no luck. Can you explain what this box does, when to use it, and what is the advantage? Thanks.

    • Laura Shoe June 7, 2016 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      Let’s say you have two photos, David, one that is 3000×5000 pixels and another 400×600 because you cropped aggressively. Say that you are resizing in the Export dialog to 2000×3000. Checking Don’t Enlarge means that the big one would be reduced to 2000×3000, but the small one would not be enlarged to it, it would be left at 400×600.

  18. Elena June 4, 2016 at 9:09 am - Reply


    I am trying to set up a preset for my print settings. What is the best export settings for exporting large files so, that my client can print at any lab. Do I have to specifically put in the size (example 8×10) or can I just export all of them in a large file where, the client can have their lab re-size. Does the meg have to be higher than 1 meg for larger prints. Is it better to individually re size the photos during export. I am exporting in jpg is that okay ?

    • Laura Shoe June 7, 2016 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      I would export full-size files, Elena – uncheck Resize to Fit. This gives them the most flexibility. A quality setting of 100 will give them the best quality for really large prints, but if the files are too big, then reduce it to 90. JPEGs are fine.

  19. DavidT June 9, 2016 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Very helpful article, thank you for your time to both post it and answer questions. My question relates to archiving photos. I bit of my workflow: I have two bins, one titled “Photo Import” (CR2 file photos I’ve taken on my Canon to later “Develop” in LR) and the other “Photos to Add” (once I have cleaned them up in LR, these get added to my Photos library on my Mac for archiving and get placed on FB and Flickr).

    After reading your article, I checked to see what the default setting was in LR and it was set to 240 PPI. I always leave “Resize to Fit” unchecked. So the RAW photos are left at 3264 x 2448 after being compressed to a JPEG file. If I can crop to 16:9, because I like how they look on my TV screen, the dimensions are 3888 x 2187. So far at 240 PPI, the pictures range from 1 MB to 7 MB in file size (JPEG).

    Interestingly FB recompresses my wide photos to 2048 x 1152 (so double what it used to be with 1024 wide screens). Flickr allows me to upload the original size – which is helpful for others to download that same quality.

    Please forgive so many details, seems like exporting at 240 PPI and 300 PPI produce the same file size photo (at least with the experiment I ran). Should I move up to 300 PPI because it gives me the better print option in the future if I want to print a copy? Any other input, having given you my workflow, would be helpful. For instance, should I export a different set of photos for FB specifically knowing that they recompress them (I believe that’s the term) to fit their current standard of 2048 pixels wide? Thanks for your input and time again. Looking forward to watching your videos.

    • DavidT June 9, 2016 at 10:49 am - Reply

      One more detail: I delete the CR2 originals to conserve space and keep only the JPEG I’ve exported with all the changes I’ve made to the original. With Photos on Apple, I like how it gets distributed to all my devices and on the Cloud.

      • Laura Shoe June 21, 2016 at 11:04 am - Reply

        Hi David, you are in the minority in keeping only the JPEGs and hard drive space is cheap these days, but if you’re happy keeping just the JPEGs and you don’t care about being able to go back and re-edit the raw files, then that is fine.

    • Laura Shoe June 21, 2016 at 11:02 am - Reply

      Hi David, since you’re not resizing with specifications in inches/cm, the PPI/resolution setting is meaningless and is not used.

      I don’t know what kind of algorithm Facebook uses to recompress, but if the photos look good when they do, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  20. Paul Sivley June 23, 2016 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    I’m not 100% sure I get what you wrote. I guess your point about resolution setting not mattering is that monitors reveal/show 72 or 96 ppi? But there are 4k monitors out there now… ? What am I not getting? I came to your post trying to figure out why an image a client loads on houzz looks sharp in their thumbnail viewing mode but blurry in the larger mode. I’ve given him 72 ppi with 2400 pixels on the long edge. Thanks!

    • Laura Shoe July 2, 2016 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      My major point, Paul, is that if you are sizing in pixels, it doesn’t matter what resolution setting you use – the setting is irrelevant.

      2400 pixels should be large enough – either he’s doing something wrong or there’s an issue on Houzz.

  21. Tom M July 9, 2016 at 1:14 am - Reply

    Thanks Laura!

  22. Dennis Lienhart July 19, 2016 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Pl’s help!
    My work flow is Raw >lightroom (LR)>export as jpeg to file>PS. I make final changes and print from PS, so I want the largest resolution sent from LR to PS. Since I do NOT crop in LR, what should my export LR settings be?

    Currently I shoot RAW & Jpeg. The jpeg photos are sharper than my above workflow Raw pics? This should not be the case.

    Thanks, Dennis

    • Laura Shoe July 19, 2016 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      I would not export to JPEG, Dennis – you’re losing information in exporting into a compressed file. Don’t go through Export at all – right-click on your raw file, choose Edit in > Photoshop, and let it pass a full-size PSD or TIFF file to Photoshop. That said, why are you printing in Photoshop rather than in Lightroom?

      • Dennis Lienhart July 20, 2016 at 7:15 am - Reply

        Thks Laura,
        When I edit in PS I notice that the embedded is ProPhoto RGB vs current Adobe RGB (1998), I assume I should set this in PS to be compatible? I notice that that my imported Tiff file is now 41m vs Jpeg of 20m, so it is bigger. Adjusting sharpness to “0” improves the LR image but I still perceive a greater sharpness with the Jpeg pic. Certainly, this has made a big improvement.
        Why print in PS…..I am more comfortable with crop function and print set up in PS.
        I really appreciate your fast response!

    • Laura Shoe July 19, 2016 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Your raw files are sharper, Dennis, because you are sharpening in-camera. In-camera settings don’t get applied to raw files. Use sharpening in the Detail panel to sharpen to taste.

      • Dennis Lienhart July 20, 2016 at 7:19 am - Reply

        Is there a preset I could use in LR that would start with a setting that would be equal to my camera’s JPEG setting? I have a Cannon 6D set to Standard. could then adjust from this base line to improve the picture.

        • Laura Shoe July 20, 2016 at 2:00 pm - Reply

          You can use a camera profile to start with color similar to your JPEG, but you’ll have to create your own preset that also sets contrast, saturation, sharpening and noise reduction.

      • Laura Shoe July 20, 2016 at 2:07 pm - Reply

        Dennis, I meant to say here that your JPEGs are sharper because you have sharpening turned on in-camera.

  23. Karrie Davis August 22, 2016 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    Great article!! I allow my clients to print up to a 8 x 10 but require them to buy bigger prints through my lab.

    How could I resize my photos so that the quality is great up to a 8 x 10 but not good quality for larger prints that way I know they would need to come to me?

  24. Jen October 16, 2016 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Hey Laura! I just read your article (and every persons comment) and I’m still a bit confused. I am fairly new to LR, but I’m wondering- I send client their photos, which I assume they are going to print) as well as displaying on Facebook. What setting would I use so that they can take the photos to get printed at whichever lab they choose, AND display on FB without looking “crunchy”. Is there such a thing? If not, what setting would be best for them to print whichever size they want at which we lab they want?

    • Laura Shoe October 21, 2016 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Hi Jen, if you want them to have ultimate flexibility, then export a full size file – uncheck Resize to Fit in the Export dialog. Ignore the resolution setting in this case.

      Some photographers give clients two sizes – full size, and a small version for social media. I might not be up on the latest Facebook recommendation for a “perfectly sized” photo for FB, but I export at long edge=960 for that.

  25. Felyppe November 24, 2016 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Hi Laura,
    First of all. Excelent job with your post. I am having problems with file size when exporting and your post was the most straightforward and informative one, but I still have one question

    I shoot with a Canon 6D at medium RAW quality (11mb). After editing the pictures and exporting them, the file sizes were around 200kb to 500kb. I set the quality to 100% and image resolution to 300ppi and the files ended up being slightly bigger, but the moment I unchecked resize to fit, there was a huge increase in size, 3mb to 5mb each file. Now my question, is it wise to uncheck resize to fit? By doing this, does image quality truly improve?


    • Laura Shoe December 5, 2016 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Felyppe,

      Presumably when you had Resize checked, you were reducing the size (in pixels) by a large amount. Whether that is a good idea depends on the final purpose for the file. If you’re going to post on social media or email to someone for on-screen viewing, you don’t need a large file. If you’re going to print very large, you do need one.

  26. Elena April 17, 2017 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Here is a question. I exported a RAW photo from Lightroom to Photoshop and accidentally I left the resolution at 72 ppi. So the file when to Photoshop and I did all the processing there. I then exported the photo as a JPG file which I ended up giving to a client. I did the same for around 60 photos. I only recently found out the 72 ppi issue. I should have given the client 300 ppi JPG files. My question is: if the client wants to do large prints, is there a way to change the ppi from 72 to 300 ppi or do I have to do all the processing from the start?

    • Laura Shoe April 17, 2017 at 11:07 am - Reply

      The resolution setting makes no difference in this case, Elena – only the pixel dimensions.

  27. Crystal October 2, 2017 at 9:44 am - Reply

    I have a question. If i want a client to be able to print images 4×6 5×7 and 8×10 from lightroom. Is there a way to just export ONE file that will work for the client to be able to print all 3 sizes from? or does it have to be exported 3 times for each size.

    • Laura Shoe October 2, 2017 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Crystal, you could just export and share the largest you need. Long edge of 10×300=3000 pixels is perfect for a high quality 10″ and smaller print – or you could just export your fullsize file with no resizing, for maximum flexibility in print size. However, keep in mind that the three sizes you mention are all of different proportions/shapes, so they will need to be cropped differently. If YOU want to control how they are cropped, rather than having your client make that decision when they place the order, then you should crop to each one in the Develop module and then export that one – for example, crop to 4×6 proportions, export 4×6 inches at 300 ppi (or 1200×1800 pixels) with the file name including “4×6”; repeat.

  28. Minh November 9, 2017 at 3:25 am - Reply

    Hi Laura,

    Thank you so much for this article and the answers to readers. I learn a lot from it. I use a Nikon D800 shooting raw. May I ask, if I don’t resize, have it at 300ppi, and I check the box “Limit file size to: 8000 kb”, what does this do to my image when export? Or is there a limit to size I should keep at without losing quality of the image? I am taking images of products for a website and for printing flyers.


    • Laura Shoe November 9, 2017 at 5:17 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Minh. Limiting the file size: Lightroom will use reduce the Quality setting to fit within your file size limit. If you don’t want any deterioration in quality, keep Quality at 100 – this will still give you a much smaller file than the size of your raw file. That said, it’s OK to use Quality less than 100 – as you export resize your file for whatever purpose you need it, and after export view the file zoomed in to 100% / actual size, and look for any visual deterioratio, particularly in smooth areas like skies and faces – if it looks good, it is. Here’s an article on JPEG Quality.

  29. Ashley February 13, 2018 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Hi, Laura! I want to export to my website and social media.
    For some reason when I set my Quality to 75, Long Edge to 1,000 pixels, and Resolution to 72, my file size is still 221KB. But I keep reading that it should be a lot less than that. I’ve followed the tutorials but the size is still bigger than I read it should be for the web.
    What am I doing wrong?

    • Laura Shoe February 14, 2018 at 1:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Ashley, first, how large a file is at a given quality level depends on how much fine detail there is in the photo – so every different photo will be of a different size. Second, in the Export dialog, in the Metadata section, choose to include only your copyright and contact information. Including all metadata can increase the file size substantially.

      Note that your resolution of 72 has no effect on file size (or on anything, since you have specified size in pixels). That said, you can’t leave the field blank, so 72 is as good as any other number.

  30. Bob P May 30, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Hi, always enjoy your posts, thanks!
    My question: My camera takes 24MB pix. (as you say 6,000 X 4,000). When I open them in LR, it still says 6,000 X 4,000 but it says image size: 1.6MB. Where did the other 22.4MB go? What’s the relation between image size and pixel dimensions?
    Bob P

    • Laura Shoe June 11, 2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Bob, MB and MP are different. Your images have 6,000×4000 = 24 megapixels, 24 MP. Pixel dimensions are one factor that influences file size in megabytes (MB). Others are file type, how many color channels, bit depth, and JPEG compression. If you’re looking at a raw file and want to know the file size in megabytes, I’d right-click on it, choose Show in Explorer/Finder, and look out there.

  31. Bob P May 30, 2018 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    To continue,
    Then when I crop it and convert to BW I’m down to 320 KB. That’s barely enough for an 11 X 14 print.
    Is that normal? How can I maximize the resolution for a larger print?
    Start off with RAW files?

    • Laura Shoe June 11, 2018 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      It sounds like you’re exporting JPEGs at a very low quality level. Start shooting the largest files you can (large fine JPEGs or raw, not sraw (small raw) – preferably raw), get composition right in camera so you don’t have to crop much, then if you’re sending out to print and exporting JPEGs, choose quality in the 92-100 range. Also read this article, How Large Can I Print My Photo?

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