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  • Optimizing Orthophotos, Imagery and Map Details

    You may have trouble getting imagery, such as orthophotos, or map details to appear sharp on printed output, particularly when making large format prints.  Most online maps optimize the delivery of imagery for screen display, not printing.

    The online map looks at the current displayed map scale as well as the pixel size of your screen window and re-samples the original image data so it is optimized for your display. This is how online maps enable fast display of imagery from source files that are many gigabytes in size. While not usually a problem, you may have similar problems making large prints of vector data (points, lines) if your screen size is small. There are a few things you can do to get the best possible resolution and detail when printing online maps:

    • Make the map window as large as possible on your screen:
      • Maximize your web browser's window to fill your screen.
      • If you have more than one monitor, consider dragging the map window out to fill both (or all) screens.
      • Reduce the size of the legend. of any.
      • Use your web browser's Full Screen (F11) key to reduce control space as much as possible.  (The F11 trick doesn't work when your browser's window is expanded to more than one screen.)
    • Use the Windows Display Control Panel settings to the largest screen area your hardware supports such as 1600 x 1200 pixels or more if you can do it. If you don't want to use these settings all the time, set them temporarily to do your printing. 
    • Get a bigger monitor that supports higher resolutions. Now you have a good reason! (You wouldn't normally think that a bigger monitor could help printing, but if it enables you to use higher resolution settings, it helps in this case.)
    • You may want to print a larger map image. Follow the tips under Printing the Displayed Map to make the printed map fill more of the page. On the other hand, a smaller map makes the map appear sharper.
    • Tall and narrow maps such as a linear area that runs north to south can be even more challenging. See Optimizing Tall and Narrow Maps for more.

    Here's a sample image captured from the screen of a tall and narrow parcel area. We used all of the above techniques to get the largest possible image with the most detail. The captured image size is 1186 x 1486 pixels or over 1.7 megapixels. It was captured using a 20 inch, 1600 x 1200 resolution monitor where the displayed image was rotated 90 degrees to be in a "portrait" mode more suitable to the tall and narrow parcel. (If you don't have to scroll the image to see it all, your web browser may be set to resize images to fit the current window.)

    Remember that screen or printed detail is always limited by the resolution of the underlying imagery and will not appear sharp if you zoom in too close.

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