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jlj9 Dec 20, 2003 12:18 PM

Costco Print / Resize
Help -

Is anybody using Costco for printing. Im struggling with their procedure. They tell me they dont make any adjustments i.e. print exactly as submitted.

For example, if given below with 4x6 box checked, they return a 4x6 print with a 2x3 image surrounded by a 1 black border!?!
Size: 600x900 pixels
Resolution: 300x300 dots per inch

Assume solution is to change resolution before submitting?

JimC Dec 20, 2003 12:41 PM

Digital Cameras usually shoot using a 4:3 Aspect Ratio. A 4x6 inch print requires a 3:2 Aspect Ratio (ratio of width to height).

Some cameras do allow you to shoot with a 3:2 aspect ratio instead (they only use part of the sensor -- effectly cropping off the rest), to give you a smaller image output at the correct aspect ratio for printing 4x6 inch prints.

Many camera offer this option (some of the Nikons, Sonys, Canons, etc.) Personally, I never shoot this way. I shoot using 4:3, and crop if needed.

For one thing, if you print at larger than 4x6, you're back with the same problem again, since other print sizes are at a different aspect ratio, and the 4:3 Aspect Ratio used by Digital Cameras, works better for print sizes of 5x7 and 8x10, compared to a 35mm film cameras aspect ratio of 3:2 (which is perfect for 4x6 inch prints, but not for other sizes).

So, shooting at the standard 4:3 Aspect Ratio gives you a larger image size, with more flexibility for a greater variety of print sizes.

Here is a useful chart, that lets you see the percentage of a photo used, at different print sizes, based on the original aspect ratio of the image:

The best way is to get around the problem, is to crop your prints to the desired aspect ratio for printing. There are MANY tools available that let you do this.

One package with a good cropping tool is Epson Film Factory. If you own an Epson product, you may already have it.

After selecting an Image, you can can select a "Trim" option under the Retouch Menu.

It allows you to select the desired Aspect Ratio from a drop down list under the photo. The crop box then maintains this selected Aspect Ratio.

You can resize the Crop Box as desired (pulling on corners/sides), moving it around the photo (to crop for composition, too)-- while maintaining the selected Aspect Ratio.

When you are finished, just click on the Trim Button at the bottom of the photo.

You have a choice of these aspect ratios for use with this feature:

Free Ratio (you can change it around as desired)
Image Ratio (maintains the same ratio as the original image)
9:16 (APS H Type Ratio)
1:3 (useful for Panoramas)

This won't handle all aspect ratios, but does handle the popular sizes, and it lets you move the crop box around a photo (resizing the box, to crop for both aspect ratio and composition, while maintaining the selected aspect ratio).

You can download a 30 day trial version, and if you decide you like it, purchase it for $29.95.

See this link for details:

Another package with very good cropping tools is Compupic.

You can download a free trial from here:

jlj9 Dec 20, 2003 1:15 PM


Im no doubt confused, but the images I took to Costco were cropped 3:2 (as in the example). Costco claims (twice - different clerks) they use image DPI to format the print. And, since my DPI was high the black borders.

JimC Dec 20, 2003 1:37 PM

Yes -- I didn't pay close enough attention to your original post. :oops:

It appears that they probably don't consider the resolution of your image high enough for a 4x6" print.

I've never used Costo.

As a general rule, on a dye sub printer you want at least 300 Pixels per inch (1200x1800) for a 4x6 inch print.

However, on most other printer types, you can get by with 150 Pixels Per Inch (600x900 pixels for a 4x6" print).

They gave you back a 2x3" print (300 pixels per inch).

I suspect that they have some kind of parameter that can be changed in their software to allow printing a full 4x6 inch print from a lower resolution image. Perhaps they just don't know how to work their own equipment.

If worse comes to worse (so that you don't have to argue over it with them) -- just interpolate your image to 300ppi.

If you don't have package that can do this already, download irfanview from (make sure to download the free plugins too).

Use the Lanczos Option (under the image, resize/resample menu) for best results. You can simply double your original image sizes (you'll see a check box to do this) to make your 600x900 resolution photos 1200x1800 (300 pixels per inch for a 4x6" print).

JimC Dec 20, 2003 1:51 PM

P.S. Here's a chart that you may find handy. It sounds like their printer requires 300 pixels per inch (which is why they're giving you back a 2x3" print from your 600x900 pixel image).

jlj9 Dec 20, 2003 2:57 PM


Thanks for the advice, Ill increase the size and see what I get back.

FYI, the example in my initial post is somewhat factitious, the info from one of the images I took into Costco is shown below. At 4x6 the density for this image is a bit under 160. Wouldnt think itd be a problem, but they insist on using the image 180. Perhaps their procedure is to increase density as necessary to fit the customer specified size but not lower it not important at this point.

ExifIFDPointer = 196
DateTime = 2003:12:14 19:22:12
Make = Canon
Model = Canon PowerShot A40
Orientation = 1
XResolution = 180.000000
YResolution = 180.000000
ResolutionUnit = 2
YCbCrPositioning = 1
ExifVersion = 0220
ExposureTime = 0.250000
FNumber = 2.800000
DateTimeOriginal = 2003:12:14 09:29:27
DateTimeDigitized = 2003:12:14 09:29:27
PixelXDimension = 942
PixelYDimension = 632
ComponentsConfiguration = 1 2 3 0
CompressedBitsPerPixel = 3.000000
ShutterSpeedValue = 2.000000
ApertureValue = 2.970856
MeteringMode = 3
Flash = 16
FocalLength = 5.406250
UserComment =
ColorSpace = 1
FileSource = 3

luisr Dec 20, 2003 6:46 PM

Suggestion: Don't resize the images. Only crop if needed to match the 3:2 aspect ratio but otherwise, leave the images as they come from the camera. The photo lab software will adjust the image accordingly to match the selected print size. I have printed 4x6, 5x7 and 8x10 without resizing and they come out ok.

JimC Dec 20, 2003 7:43 PM

That's what I figured, but look at his first post. They were already cropped to a 3:2 Aspect Ratio, and he got back 2x3" prints.

NHL Dec 21, 2003 5:15 AM

... I don't know about 4x6, but if you do 11x14 you'll also get two white bands on top and bottom of the prints from the Costco's Noritsu machine. A 12x18 or 8x12 pictures however get a perfect crop.

IMO this is due to the standard size roll of paper that theses machines use. Heck for $2.99 (for 12x18 or less) and the overall good results (I use 300dpi), the white bands on the 11x14's are easily forgettable!

Falfurrias Dec 21, 2003 11:00 PM

Cut or Crop?
If you are going to reframe a photo, is it better to crop or just cut it? I'm still a relative newbie w/ my Photoshop Elements, but I seem to remember the two not looking the same...

jlj9 Dec 31, 2003 2:06 PM


As suggested, using irfanview doubled sizes and returned to Costco.


JimC thanks for help, much appreciated

JimC Dec 31, 2003 2:47 PM

I'm glad it worked. It appears that they require a minimum PPI (pixels per inch) image for their prints, and if your PPI isn't great enough, you get back smaller prints.

Very odd...... Oh well, at least we have a solution now -- give 'em 300 Pixels Per Inch!

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