Cropped Print


Today’s Question: I shoot with a Nikon 800 full frame camera and edit my photos in Lightroom. When I export my images as JPGs I can see a full picture but when I go to print 8×10 prints the picture is cropped significantly. What’s going on?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are two basic factors here. First, the aspect ratio of the images you are capturing is 2:3, which translates to a print size of 8”x12”. Second, you are printing at a size of 8”x10”, which requires that two inches of the “long side” of the image be cropped. The key is to disable that cropping, which in Lightroom translates to turning off the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox.

More Detail: When you are printing a single image in Lightroom, most of the templates will cause the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox to be turned on. This relates to the way Lightroom defines image sizes for printing via a cell size. A cell is defined for each image to be printed on the page, and the photo will be fit within that cell. The question is whether the image will be cropped in order to completely fill that cell.

For example, when you choose the 8”x10” template in Lightroom’s Print module, the cell size containing the image is exactly 8”x10”, and the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox is turned on. As a result, the photo will be printed at exactly 8-inches by 10-inches, with two inches cropped from the full image. That cropping is literally performed as a “zoom”, so that in this example you would be cutting off one inch on the left and right edge of the photo.

If you want the entire image to be printed without cropping, you can turn off the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox in the Image Settings section of the right panel in the Print module. That will cause the image to be sized within the boundaries of the cell, but with the entire image visible. So, for example, and image that would normally print at a size of 8”x12”, but that is being fit into a cell that is 8”x10”, would print at about 6.7”x10”.

Ultimately, your options when printing involve either showing the full image but not necessarily at what might be a desired aspect ratio, or printing at a desired aspect ratio but cropping the photo in the process. My general preference is to ignore aspect ratio and print the photo in its entirety based on the way I chose to crop my photo. But of course there are certainly situations where a specific aspect ratio is needed for a print, in which case cropping is going to be involved.