As I turned left on my way to work past Liverpool John Moore’s University onto Leeds Street, up the hill towards my normal wasteland car park behind the YMCA, I saw the Cunard cruise ship Queen Elizabeth docking at the Cruise Terminal Berth. It was unmistakable with her super structure and bright red chimneys towering above the skyline. After parking the car and walking to office as normal I started thinking that this was a great photo opportunity that couldn’t be missed.

I checked her departure time which was confirmed as the evening high tide and then it was a discussion with the office director that this was a photo opportunity too good to miss. I work for a company of consulting engineers in Liverpool undertaking a lot of work with the Port, Cruise Terminal etc. so there was general interest in the Queen Elizabeth’s arrival. Lunchtime came and I dashed back to my car, drove home to collect may camera equipment then returned to work fo a couple more hours.

My plan was to take some images form the Birkenhead side of the river looking back to the pier head whilst Queen Elizabeth was still moored on the berth. Then with time to spare I was going to drive to New Brighton and capture some images as she passed the docks and progressed out to sea. The images from Birkenhead all went well until just as I was packing up the Mersey Ferry crossed the river towards the Seacombe terminal. I quickly grabbed my camera and took some hand-held images with the ferry and QE in shot.


Panaromic image crop

To cut a long story short, the images from New Brighton were not as good. The navigation channel in the Mersey is close to the docks so it did not look as impressive from a distance. Overall, it was a successful day confirmed when I downloaded the images for processing.

Move forward to 2019 and the office conference room had undergone a refurbishment and a large blank white wall presented itself. A perfect wall for a nice large image of the Queen Elizabeth and Mersey Ferry! The office director agreed and left it to me to find a printer, sort format, style etc.

Find a printer! So the print was going to be big, approximately 2.4m by 0.9m which is not a standard for most graphic printing companies. I also ideally wanted to use a local firm so that we could check quality etc and not rely on a print turning up blind in the post. After a lot of online searching, a local company was identified who could produce a custom print the size we required. We visited their premises to see the various finishes, boards, mounts, Perspex etc and make our final decision which was Perspex. The print file was prepared and sent, invoice paid and we just had to wait for delivery.

This is when the fun began and is why I have not named the printing company. We had a deadline to hit as there was a senior management meeting being held at the office and the print need to be hanging by them. As the deadline approached there was no news of the print or responses to emails and phone messages. Finally, the print was ready for collection the lunch time before the deadline and a manic afternoon was spent drilling a lot of holes for fixing the print. It was a faff and the type of hangers chosen provided very little tolerance for such a large print.

Following the management meeting it became evident that the print quality was not as expected and some bubbling and grain was evident. The view was the adhesion of the print to the Perspex had been rushed and hence the quality failure. The replacement print did not have these issues but the hanging system eventually failed resulting in the print falling form the wall and suffering some minor damage. A replacement set of hanging clips were provided and there have been no further problems.

Move forward to February 2020 and the remaining office space underwent refurbishment and after long protracted discussion, with everyone in the office having a different opinion, we decided on 3 large panoramic prints for the walls. We did go back to the same printers but this time the prints were to be DiBond with a rail hanging system and I stipulated that I would personally inspect them before dispatch. The prints are now hanging up in the office and look great with no hassle this time.

Inspecting the prints at the printers

DiBond prints hanging in the office

The point of this blog is to demonstrate the image size, resolution, megapixels etc are not important. All 4 prints were 2.4m in length which is larger than most prints you will produce and have in your house. Nobody has commented on image print quality or resolution and nobody knew two of the images were taken on film. The image resolutions with both film and digital were as follows:

  • Queen Elizabeth Print – 36mp Nikon digital file
  • 3 Graces and Angel Wings – 35mm film Xpan (65mm) scanned
  • Point of Ayr Lighthouse – 12mp Nikon IR digital file

I can guarantee you cannot tell the difference between the prints when you look at them. The IR image was taken on a Nikon D300 IR converted camera over 10 years old. 12mpg produces a 2.4m print!!

12MP to 2.4m print - no problem

For all of you chasing 40-50mp cameras or saying cameras with small sensor or low resolution can’t make big prints, wake up your wasting your time.

My advice for making large prints, check the prints at the printers with a technician before they are dispatched. Make sure the fixings are robust and easy to install, I would recommend a hanging rail or external clips. 

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