At What Resolution Can You Print to Canvas?

by Laura McPherson | October 2, 2014

print to canvas

If you’re like me, your photo folders are probably bursting with images taken with all types of different cameras. There are images that were taken on planned trips with a DSLR, images taken on casual outings with a point and shoot, and images taken off the cuff with smartphones or copied from friends’ Facebook and Instagram accounts. When it comes time to print to canvas, are all of these at a reasonable resolution to order? Actually, even the images from friends’ smartphones are probably fit to print to canvas. Here are a few tips to figuring out if the resolution of a photo is high enough and how much that photo can be enlarged.

Lower Resolutions? Canvas Is a Natural Cover-up!

The texture of canvas makes it a natural for helping to cover up the graininess that can occur in low resolution images. When you print to canvas, the resolution of your file can be as low as 100 dpi and still look amazing. Depending on the expected sharpness of the image’s subject, the lower resolution might not be noticeable to the naked eye. For example, the eye expects something like a building to appear much sharper around its edges than a flower. The finished look also depends on how far away the viewer is from the canvas and how large the canvas is, so let’s talk a little about enlargements with low resolution.

Can You Do Enlargements from Lower Resolution Files?

The short answer to whether you can do enlargements from files with resolutions right on, and sometimes a little below, 100 dpi is yes, you can. "Dpi" stands for dots per inch and is a function of how many pixels there are in an image divided by the size of the printed product.

To take an example, an image saved to Instagram using the iPhone 4 has pixel dimensions of 1936x1936. Printed on a 10"x10" square canvas with a color border wrap, the dpi would be 193: 1936 / 10. If you wanted to do a gallery wrap, simply add the depth of the edge into the calculation. A 1.5" edge would make the effective canvas area 11.5"x11.5", so the dpi would become 168 more than enough to be printed on canvas with exceptional clarity.

In point of fact, photos from Instagram can be enlarged quite a bit at Canvas Press up to 24"x24". This size can actually drop the dpi below 100, but Instagram filters and the texture of canvas typically make the lower resolution much less noticeable than it would be on photo paper, for example.

Of course, you want your photos on canvas to turn out perfectly whether the files are low resolution or not. The friendly experts at Canvas Press are here to help. Send us your image for a free image consultation and we’ll let you know what to expect with your specific image.

This article is written for Canvas Press. To find out more about Canvas Press’ products visit

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Tips-n-Tricks #420

Do you know your camera well enough that your could make adjustments to your shutter or aperture without even looking at the camera? Try setting your camera to something, look at your settings (ie 1/60th of a second at f4 and ISO 400, then without looking change it to a predetermined setting (ie 1/500 at f8 and 100 ISO). This will get you comfortable and confident with your camera.

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