How Large Can You Enlarge Different Megapixels?

Many people who use digital cameras want to know how large they can blow up or enlarge their photographs based the megapixel count of their camera. This article is aimed at teaching you how much you can enlarge your photographs depending on what type of digital camera you're using and what the pixel settings are on your camera.

If you require more comprehensive information on photography considering enrolling in our online photography course. The course is comprehensive and interactive. Click here to learn more.

Here are some concepts you should understand before to fully understand the chart below:

This chart outlines how big you can blow up your digital pictures.
This chart was created and sent to us by one of our students. To use this chart find the resolution of your image and multiply it to find out how many megapixels the image is. For example a 1024 pixel by 1024 pixel image would be a 1MP (1 Megapixel) image because 1024X1024 is ~1 million pixels.

Color Quality Comments PPI Range
Just about the finest quality possible.
200+ PPI
The casual photographer will see no difference to a slight difference when compared to Superb.
150-199 PPI
Better than Good, but not as good as Excellent. The typical photographer will be very happy with prints of this quality.
100-149 PPI
Quality that your typical photographer will be happy with.
80-99 PPI
Quality will depend on the individual picture. For larger size prints the typical photographer will find them acceptable, but the sharpness will not be as high as a Good quality print. Compelling subject matter may trump the loss of sharpness. But doesn't it always?!
79 PPI or less

What is the difference between DPI and PPI?

It should be noted that the image enlargement size recommendations above are on the conservative size and will allow for optimal enlargement capabilities with the best and crispest possible picture.

However, you can still blow your photographs up further if you don't mind loosing a little bit of crispness.

For example you can enlarge a 6-7 megapixel print to 16.20 or an 8 megapixel print to 17x22. Better yet, you can blow up a 10 megapixel print to 20x30 for a good quality print.

If you're interested in learning more about this. Have a look at our online course.

(The chart on this page is entirely subjective!)

Which Company Makes The Best Prints?
How To Display Large Prints On Your Walls.
More photography resources.
Photography Glossary.


  1. Scott says:

    Um, I have no idea what the top chart is supposed to be. What do the numbers in the colored boxes mean? Where did they come from? Is a high number good or bad?

  2. Jim says:

    Whilst the information here is generally correct, it does have one glaring error. My biggest gripe about your page is the totally incorrect use of dpi. Dpi is a PRINTING term – it measures the number of dots of ink/toner etc. placed on the print itself. Dots have a physical being. They exist.

    Your printer determines the dpi of your print based on the machines they use and you have no control over dpi. If you print at howme you do have that control and you set it based on the quyality you want. Epson offer Maximumn Quality, Best Quality etc and that is in effect amending the dpi of the print.

    However what you are talking about here are digital images and digital images are measured in PIXELS and the term you should be using is PPI PIXELS PER INCH. Pixels are the smallest part of a digital image and how close you place them will determine only the size of the print.

    PPI and DPI are not the same. Photoshop gets it right. Wikipedia gets it, so why do so many (decent) web sites providing good information like this get it wrong? All it does is add further to the confusion.

    Anyway other than that, the information here is good. You can easily get a 20″ print at pretty decent (good) quality from a 2Mp image. That may surprise many but it’s true.

    I generally don’t go lower tha 100ppi but have a very large print sent at 75ppi that was printed at 3m x 1m! Looked amazing

    So I do like the page…. Just needs correcting :)


  3. Jason says:

    I think DPI is relevant. It’s just another number to be concerned with.
    The highest pixel counts will be rendered moot by a low DPI print.

  4. Paul says:

    I am looking to make a 20×30 print from an image that is 2331×3496 pixels. My Top Gear maths estimate that to be ~140 ppi. The photo printing website recommended 300 dpi for a high quality print. (Should they have specified ppi instead?)

    Here is my question: My photo editing software allows me to increase the resolution to 300 ppi for a 20×30 image. Will doing so make a difference in the quality of the print?


  5. ed says:

    I have a Canon full frame nearly 25mp…my understanding is this larger cmos results in a better enlargement than the cmos of a phone camera Or camera of 25mp with small cmos. Is this correct? As such it seems the larger cmos would be an even enlargement And different considerations on the chart. Thanks.

  6. Ian says:

    Hi guys i do a lot of photography but currently only have an iPhone 4s and some apps for editing, however i produce fairly decent pictures that some people would like to buy from me. They transfer me money via paypal then i email them an un-watermarked/un-cropped version of the image they desire, however when it comes to them asking what size canvas or photo they can print up to i’m not sure. I’ve printed one at 14″X14″ before and it come out perfect but i have no idea what the maximum would be, also i have seen huge posters of high quality images, probably 8ft high by 5 ft wide and the image claims to be shot with an iPhone 6 which also has an 8mp camera? I’m no professional on the matter but i feel sure that cannot be achieved with an 8 megapixel camera? Any answers on this would be greatly appreciated.

  7. Fred Heany says:

    jim December 10, 2014 claimss to have hi quality photo 40 inches by 9 feet with
    75 pixels per inch. When the properties on your photo comes up at say at 2000 pixels tall by say 3264 wide x 2448 high pixels wide. I scale it up by a factor of 4 times (ie 8 in on my computer screen to 8 x 4 = 32 inches becomes 32 inches. do I divide the 2448 by 4 to get 612 pixels or Square root of 2448 and come up with 49.47 pixels?

    With my I phone 6 plus when I enlarge 4 times it diminishes the quality at 4 times, at 3 times its not bad. Attempting to blow up a nature photograph for the living room 4 feet high by 6 feet wide. Meeting with the image producer tomorrow

  8. Sonja says:

    Hello, thank you so much for this chart!
    I have an image of 3500 x 2329 pixels so this would come to just over 8MP. Just also about saving and changing the resolution, by how much is it safe to do so? For example if I save it as 300ppi/dpi at 20×30″ or 24×36″ would that be safe or a bit too much for good quality? Or what is a better way to save the image? Thanks! :)

    • BG Davis says:

      You will get better results with an image processing program. One great free program you can download is FastStone Image Viewer, which is actually a photo editing program. You can resize/resample your image using this program, which for this purpose performs just as well as PhotoShop or any other paid program.

    • BG Davis says:

      According the the spec sheet, the SX30 is 14mp, not 16mp.
      That said, a lot depends on the shot. If you shot in good light, with low ISO, at the optimal f/ stop (every camera/lens has a “sweet spot” aperture at which images will be the most clear) you should be able to get a decent print of 11×14 or perhaps larger. You have to realize that the physical size of the sensor is at least as important as the pixel count, and 14mp is a lot of pixels to cram onto a tiny 1/2.3in sensor.

  9. All I have to say is Optics, Optics, Optics! Why you may ask? Well real photographers will never let their children buy Nikon or Canon! Now for my explanation! Pop Photo last month, was showing off a 400mm Canon lens…$6,350.00…They just could not effectively B.S. their way around the fact that this piece of Junk was not capable of anything larger that 5 x 7 photo quality shots! Soooo…If you are suckered into buying one of the Canon 24 mp bodies, and place this 400mm piece of junk glass on it, you will get 24mp’s of High Resolution CRAP! I have to tell you that this is not the only lens that was that bad from the Junk yard factories of these two giants of the Photographic Flim-Flam industry! And because PopPhoto has Millions tossed at them every time NiCanon come out with a new piece of junk glass, they waltz their way through their explanation as to the Chromatic and Spherical abberations that may be present, and VOILA! Another happy but dumb NiCanon lens owner! Now mind you, they sell some pretty expensive and sharp lenses if you have 36K-69K in your bank account, and you will be happy…Broke…But Happy!

    • BG Davis says:

      It’s not terribly constructive to make wild accusations with zero evidence. DxOMark does scientific tests on cameras and lenses and this is a more reliable source of information. Although I don’t use Canon or Nikon anymore for various reasons, they both have produced excellent cameras and there is no doubt they will continue to do so. Again, DxOMark and similar sites will give rational analysis, which is far more useful. For more detailed analysis and evaluation of performance, ImagingResource also does excellent tests with rational conclusions.

  10. BG Davis says:

    The chart and commentary is great, but one key fact is missing: if you send your images out to be printed, the print shop will almost always insist on images that have a resolution of 300PPI. This means that the upper part of the chart (images below about 10mp) will not be acceptable at any of the sizes indicated. So either you need to resample prior to submission, or you need a camera with higher pixel count.

    Moreover, if one compares images taken with the same lens using two cameras with APS-C sensor, say, Pentax K-r (12mp) and Pentax K-5 (16mp), the sensor with higher resolution generates images that are noticeably more detailed. And of course if you do extensive cropping this effect becomes even more evident.

  11. Reacher says:

    i appreciate the information here I just have one question. Are these dimensions relative to the setting you capture pics with? IE: “fine” vs RAW?

    • @Reacher The best thing to do is shoot RAW at the highest quality your camera can shoot in. If you want to know where your camera fits on this chart find your camera’s megapixel count. And compare accordingly.

  12. Glenn says:

    Hi, all these comments are great and very helpful. What i want to know is: I have a Fuji S1 16mp. I want to be able to print off 24×30 prints. So do i shoot in 16 mp and in raw? or what should I put my camera setting on? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.

  13. Scott says:

    Thank you for the handy chart, and time you’ve invested. I’d like some clarification. The numbers in the coloured boxes are DPI? How is the resolution calculated on the film scans? A 4×5 could be scanned to great range of output resolutions, as could the other film sizes. Further, using just one example 16×20 prints w/ 6×6 & 6×7 film sizes the difference in dpi is only 8? If we crop a 6×6 to the same dimensions of 6×7 we lose about a third of the image area. I chose 6×7 and 16×20 because that format fits closely without cropping.

    Beyond that, the call on print appearances is subjective. Some will see things others won’t. But there are a few other criteria as well: optics, technique, subject matter, iso, scanning, post work.

    • Film scans could be scanned at any number of different resolutions. This chart just shows a rough subjective guide for taking the resolution you have in MP and checking roughly how it will look in a print. Honestly don’t read too much into it. It’s just a loose guide!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *