How Big?

Recently, I had a client telephone me and ask me to make them an image file from a photograph of mine.  They wanted me to make the file for a road side poster.  Now, that’s fine, as far as it goes, but instead of leaving the nitty gritty to me (good idea), they insisted that the file should be 300dpi (bad idea).  Wouldn’t take no for an answer!

Isn’t it funny that when something becomes an industry standard like 300dpi for instance, then that’s it.  Everything has to be 300dpi.  300dpi solves everything.  The file could be terrible in every other way but no, if it’s 300dpi everything will be fine.

The fact that this standard is meant for looking at a print when held in the hand is forgotten completely when the number is summarily regurgitated in the ordering process.  Actually, this is, in the main, an unknown fact resulting in some really silly requests like the poster mentioned earlier.

In truth, the majority of our myopic population would be unlikely to be able to tell the difference between 300dpi and 200dpi when held in the hand, never mind when observing a roadside poster from the other side of the street or from a moving vehicle.

In fact, this standard is so ingrained in the minds of those office workers who make the orders, that even when I explained that 25dpi was a more appropriate figure for the said poster, she still insisted on 300dpi because that was what her boss instructed her to ask for.  Even when I told her the size of the resultant file would be larger than a Nimitz class aircraft carrier and clog up her computer like a bad day on the M25, she insisted on 300dpi.  Heh-ho.

Here’s another 300dpi bit of nonsensicalness.  ”Please would you send the image at 300dpi?”  Now, I’m in no way suggesting that 300dpi is wrong or right.  Indeed, that’s exactly what is needed for a high quality print viewed at close range, or for a glossy magazine (same thing, really).  No, it’s not that at all.  It’s just a meaningless request if it isn’t accompanied by image dimensions.

For goodness sake … it stands for ‘dots per inch’ … so how many inches would you like?

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