Lightroom Tips

Tip – Resolution Change When Editing

Here’s a quick tip that managed to sneak under the radar when Lightroom 2 came out. You know when you edit a photo in Photoshop and you get to choose the bit depth (8 or 16 bit), file type (PSD or TIFF), and color space. Well did you know that in Lightroom 2 you can also choose the Resolution that the photo will be rendered in when it gets to Photoshop? Yep, it wasn’t there in Lightroom 1 (Honestly, if some one had asked me, I would have bet $100 it was by the way). To choose the resolution go to your Lightroom preferences and choose the External Editing tab. In that tab you’ll see the resolution setting that Lightroom will use when getting ready to edit the photo in Photoshop and you can change it right there.



  1. PrintHack 7 November, 2009 at 16:44 Reply

    People in this thread are confused about DPI vs PPI.

    DPI came to desktop from the print world. It is a concreate literal measurement of dots in a square inch (known as “raster resolution”) when examined by loop or other magnifying device on a printed piece of paper.

    PPI refers to screen resolution. It is never an absolute measure as it varies depending on screen size, resolution and magnification.

    Unfortunately a lot of the Adobe software developers had no clue either and in some cases the software confuses the term as well. It doesn’t matter for people who design for screen but when you deal with professional printers, particularly if you’re printing high end photography or art images, it makes a huge difference. For that type of printing 300dpi on premium paper is the minimum resolution you want.


  2. Gina 14 January, 2009 at 23:48 Reply

    Does LR actually RESAMPLE the image or RESIZE the image based on your resolution input? I am sure it’s okay for most people since their DSLRs have more than 6 or 8mp for it to resize it, but what if it’s not big enough? then it’s going to resample, which could be a big mess! Maybe this is why they have the “Do not enlarge” box on the Export option?
    Anyone know whether LR ever RESAMPLES?
    Hope I’m asking this correctly :O/

    Chicago IL

  3. Jorge S. 14 September, 2008 at 21:59 Reply

    I am using Lightroom for the first weekend and am liking it quite a bit, but some things don’t make much sense… one of them is related to PPI (DPI) and i hope someone can help me clarify things:

    I imported and edited a full frame image taken with a 8.2 megapixel camera. I go to the printing module and it shows it filling up an entire A4 paper at 240ppi. I thought, print size seems Ok for 240ppi.

    I then moved to a second image and cropped it quite a bit while editing it. I took it to the print module and Lightroom shows it filling up the A4 paper… I imagine, well, it must have adjusted automatically the DPI to fill the paper, so I scroll the print settings and to my surprise the number is 240 PPI… Quite a confusing surprise.

    I proceed to change manualy the PPI, expecting to see the image in the paper adjust to the new higher PPI and reduce its size, but it doesn’t.

    What is going on here? In Photoshop, if we change the DPI of an image, the resulting print size will vary (higher DPI, smaller print size), unless we interpolate. Why isn’t LR changing the print size when the PPI is changed.

    I hope this makes sense. Thanks for your time


  4. Jeremy Whigham 20 August, 2008 at 17:42 Reply

    The resolution option definitely is available in LR1. You may need to scroll teh edit dialogue ox to see it.

  5. John T. 20 August, 2008 at 12:00 Reply

    Epson photo printers print optimally at 360 ppi. Depending on print size, you can get away with 240 ppi sometimes.

  6. David Vanderlip 19 August, 2008 at 00:54 Reply

    Luddite said it best and here’s a simplified version:

    72 ppi for non-printed work
    240 ppi for inkjet printing
    300 ppi for photo lab printing
    for anything else call the printer and ask, don’t guess or “make it up”.

    Again, these changes are best made in the Export process, so what you set in the Photoshop prep stage is then disregarded.

  7. luddite 18 August, 2008 at 00:38 Reply

    Sorry Ray, your rubber band is more an example of the effect of scaling on an image with limited DPI. An image is a collection of dots. When it is displayed on any medium, paper or monitor, it’s appearance will change. Dots per inch is exactly what it sounds like, how many image dots to place per inch.

    Specifying DPI was in the export dialog, which was all I ever used, not wanting to deal with the stacked .psd files in my raw folders. This makes sense as part of the new .psd workflow.

    Various printers have different maximum useful DPIs. It also varies based on the combination of printer & paper. Some imagesetters for slide output can use upwards of 2400 dpi. I generally ask what the maximum useful DPI is whenever outputting, anywhere. If they can’t tell me, I ask for the brand and model of machine they use, and look it up.

  8. Kevin 16 August, 2008 at 06:40 Reply

    This is a great new tool , but ! I like in RAW processor where you are able to upconvert the raw image to a larger MP on the bottom of the RAW Processor in PS CS# you are able to upscale or upconvert to a different MP size I don’t see it anywhere in this release. Anyone care to answer this, Thanks

  9. Mike Paterson 15 August, 2008 at 16:02 Reply

    I think something that gives simple “guidelines” would be great. I’m sure I’ve read it before, but reminders are always appreciated. I think the control that LR2 is giving to the photographer is awesome.


  10. Ray 15 August, 2008 at 14:54 Reply

    I have an explanation of resolution or DPI (Dots Per Inch) or PPI (Pixels Per Inch) that seems to make sense to some people.
    1.) Take a fat rubber band and stretch it and put a bunch of dots on it with a pen (put the dots on a line or make a smiley face or something).
    2.) Now take the rubber band off what ever you stretched it on and look at it.
    You probably can’t see the dots any more. It how looks like a line or a blob.

    Photos are like a rubber band. If you stretch it too much, you’ll see the dots (pixels). There WILL be some size that is just too big. The print will look “Pixelated”. (In film it is called “grainy”.) Most printing shops have their limits on just how big they will let you go. 240 or 300 DPI is a general “standard” for printing. Each print shop will have their standard and until you get into the pro printing shops, it just does not really matter since they will set it to 240 or 300 and tell you what size your limit is.

    A computer screen has a general limit of 72 DPI. That is why the web size is usually defaulted to 72.

    For more information… Don’t look for it! You will just get a headache. The explanations are everywhere and can even get into the physics of it.

    Don’t worry, be happy!


  11. Seim Effects 15 August, 2008 at 12:41 Reply

    That’s neat to have there. I believe this is the DPI resolution, and not actually changing the amount of pixels in an image?

    I have some understanding of it from using it with certain actions I’ve made etc, but I think DPI really confuses people. Might be an idea for a post sometime.


  12. Steve Kalman 15 August, 2008 at 09:37 Reply

    I never really know what resolution to choose, either. I’ve read that for printing there is not much visual difference between 240 and anything higher, but costs go up as resolution increases. Nice to know (if true) but for me that’s just a curiosity. I print with Mpix and never really know what to choose (I’ve been using 300 and prints look good at medium size — 16 x 20). Perhaps that’s the best answer for that size, but what if I print big?

    In the same vein, what if I want to upload something to my website? I’ve been reducing the size of the file by adjusting the Jpeg quality, but that gives me no control over how it looks on screen. Can you offer any advice here?

    I’d love to see three presets: For Web, For Online-Print and For Offline-Print. (Maybe 4, if the middle one needs small and large alternatives).

    Many thanks,


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