Print Shapes and Ratios


We're often asked if we can make prints that are odd sizes, for example 4"x5" or 11x13.5", and the simple answer is 'Yes' - we can print any size or shape, but it may take a litttle planning to ensure the result you expect at the best price.

Before looking at solutions, here's the two ways we make prints:

Digital Prints, are printed onto photographic paper from either film or digital files ( film is scanned as part of that process ). The paper is manufactured and supplied to us in rolls : 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12 inch widths and hence we can print various sizes, such as 4x4, 4x6, 4x7, 4x10 even 8x10 or 12x16 up to a maximum of 12x36.
In other words, one side remains fixed but the other can be varied to suit the shape of negative or file. Although we can produce various shapes the best solution is often to print a size that will fit an album or frame and these come in standard sizes such as 4x6 or 8x10.

Gallery prints refer to prints made on a variety of papers on our large Epson printer. Although the paper is supplied as rolls, we are able to print any shape from simple squares to long panoramics. Because large prints are often intended for use in a frame we normally leave a couple of inches of plain white border around the image, because it helps the picture framer keep the print flat. We do not charge for the white border, only the area that is 'inked'.

Square Pegs and Rectangular Holes
The shape or format of an image can sometimes be an area of confusion: a 6x9 print cannot fit a square frame without cutting off some of the picture or leaving a plain border to make up the extra space. This might seem pretty obvious but if the print and image shapes are similar then it can be overlooked.
Likewise the shape of images produced by digital cameras are often non-standard: 4x5.3 is a typical one. How many 4x5.3 frames have you seen?? It is possible with some cameras to change this default ratio to something more commonly used, such as a 2:3 ratio so that your 4x6 prints are a perfect match.
At The Darkroom UK Ltd we use our best judgement to decide how to produce the best result, even if it means a small amount of the image is cropped to fit a standard size but wherever possible, we avoid cropping important details, such as the top of people's heads. We are always happy to tailor print formats and if you are in doubt, just ask.

Important note:
Do not confuse "image format" with the "format card" instruction! "Format card" can erase all the images on your camera.

image formats

An example of printing options if the original and print shapes are different

Alistair Baird
The Darkroom UK Ltd
01242 239031