print viewing distance : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

Hello, I can't seem to remember what the formula for proper print viewing is ( at what distance you view a particular size print at) anyone?



-- mark lindsey (, March 18, 2001


I've heard it said that folks often view a print at a distance about equal to the diagonal of the print - probably one of those rules observed more in the breach than the observance. Cheers, DJ.

-- N Dhananjay (, March 19, 2001.

You should view good prints from as close as your eyes will focus; bad prints should be viewed from a distance of several miles.
If you assign a quality rating (Q) of 0 to 10 to a print, then the viewing distance (D, in centimetres) is approximately given by the formula:
D = 150/Q.

-- Pete Andrews (, March 20, 2001.

If you want to preserve the perspective of the original scene and you know that you are looking at an uncropped print of the original negative, the proper viewing distance is the focal length of the taking lens multiplied by the degree of enlargement used to make that print. Say you make a 4x5 negative with a six-inch lens and then enlarge it to an 8x10 print. The proper viewing distance for that print would be 6x2 or 12 inches. It is the disregard of proper viewing distance that accounts for most so-called "wide-angle distortion." Improper viewing distance is also what makes people think that telephoto lenses "compress" space. They do not. They only appear to compress space when the print is viewed from the wrong distance.

-- James Meckley (, March 20, 2001.

I think people viewing prints from an improper distance should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law!


-- Christian Harkness (, March 21, 2001.

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