Why Do Stock Agencies Want an 11-12MP Image?
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© Darrell Young  

Most all of the stock agencies require 11-12 megapixels (35 megabyte 8-bit tiff) because they have no idea what their client will need to do with the image. A double-page spread in a magazine requires about 12 megapixels. Most of the time the client will use a much smaller image, but the stock agency requires the big file so that all the bases are covered.

If you would like to submit your own images to a stock agency, you will have to get that file size to equal one generated by a 12 megapixel camera. Either you will have to enlarge it (interpolation), or you'll have to buy a camera that generates a large enough file.

One thing to do, if you cannot afford a Nikon D2x and its 12-megapixel file, is to shoot film and scan it. A scanner that can create a 20+ megapixel equivalent (50+ megabyte 8-bit tiff) image only costs a few hundred dollars. Even a brand new Nikon F6 is less than $2000 USD. If you truly can't afford a D2x…use film.

If you use the Nikon D200, at $1600 USD, you will have no problem getting a stock agency to accept the 10.5 megapixel image. Just do a very small interpolation (enlargement) with Genuine Fractals® or Photoshop's Bicubic Smoother®. It is only a 1.5 megapixel interpolation from 10.5 to 12 megapixels, which is so small that even a stock agency won't be able to tell that you enlarged the image. That tiny enlargement will not damage the image, unless it was so badly taken that the agency wouldn't have wanted it anyway.

For selling images to most magazines and books directly, a 6-megapixel image is plenty. A D100, D70, or D50 is fine. Generally, only stock agencies give you problems about large file sizes. They claim that they can see an interpolated 6-megapixel image easily. I doubt it! But, it's best to play it safe if you're serious about making money with your camera by selling stock.

I wrote an article on this subject a while back:

Enlarging Digital Images for Publication

Just don't sit around not taking pictures while you worry about this situation. You need thousands of images to really interest a stock agency. Go get 'em!

Keep on capturing time...

Copyright © 2005 by Darrell Young, All Rights Reserved