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hsmultimedia
01-19-2006, 02:55 PM
For the first time ever, I’ve just had professional prints made from digital images. Unfortunately, I find he prints somewhat disappointing – flat, lackluster, un-intense. The camera produces 5 megapixel images and the prints were 4 x 6 in.

I’ve prepared the digital images in Photoshop, using a 20” flatscreen iMac. I realize that the images on the screen are like slides in the old days – the fact that light passes through the image makes it far more brilliant than printed images that reflect light off paper.

However, I want to make the best of what I’ve got and plan to make a systematic test-run, perhaps make some 5-10 prints of three different images.

The printshop has a pretty sophisticated set-up and informs me that their machine reproduces images as they receive them. The machine does not calculate averages or change the colors of the images.

According to the printshop, a professional photographer has had best results using the “Adobe RGB ICC profile”. I have generally used the images’ embedded color profile as a starting point but have changed color and levels until I found the best result on the screen.

Can anyone suggest a reasonable, systematic approach to reaching the best possible results. The idea is that I should have 5-10 prints of each of three images to choose from and then use the results as a general guideline for preparing future prints.

Prospero
01-23-2006, 08:25 AM
Perhaps it is not the pictures you supplied, but the printshop that is the cause of these somewhat disappointing results. The first time I had digital photographs printed I was disappointed as well, but the second time I had my pictures printed (at a different printshop) I really liked the results.

Perhaps you should have a couple of pictures printed at various printshops and then see which one you like best.

If the image quality is in fact the cause of the problem, I doubt that the difference in colour profile is the chief cause for your problem. If I view one image with various colour profiles in Photoshop, the results I get are all largely the same. Of course, the colours are different in the different colour profiles, but the difference is so minimal it wouldn't cause disappointment if the printshop converts your image to a different proflile.

SketchySmurf
01-24-2006, 11:52 AM
This actually begs a larger question. Is it better to own a prosumer $500+ printer rather than fumble around with the lab?

Put your answer in terms of total cost of ownership...

Prospero
01-25-2006, 01:41 PM
I believe printing at a lab is a lot cheaper, because the printer as well as well as the ink is very expensive. The costs per photograph would be as high or higher than printing with a lab. I cannot support this claim with facts and figures, though.

Furthermore, owning a prosumer $500+ printer does not automatically result in better prints. You would have to try a lot of different settings to see which one gives the best results.

I suppose this is only a matter of taste, but I always get my photo's printed on dull (don't really know the english name for this) rather than glossy paper. I like it a lot better that way, somehow the images seem sharper. Perhaps you should try the same thing as well.

JTL
01-25-2006, 02:27 PM
I will take the opposite view. I NEVER want to give any part of the creative process to anyone else if possible. Why on Earth would I let a lab make decisions for me if I didn't have to? I wouldn't. I chose my monitor, printer, cameras, papers, software and scanner with great care so that I am in control and able to produce results superior to any lab. I calibrate everything on a regular basis. Why? Because if I'm going to show my work to anyone I want it to be my work and not the lab's...

What is the price of your creative vision?

But, if we're talking snapshots at the company picnic and on the cruise trip, etc....well...nevermind...:D

SketchySmurf
01-25-2006, 05:37 PM
Let's assume for a moment that these photographs are not merely snapshots of the company picnic.

Let's assume the prints are for exhibition quality work. (Don't actually know if there is such a term, so in other words, the highest possible/achievable quality for displaying photographs as artwork or for public/critical scrutiny).

Now JTL, provided you've done the research and through trial and error have picked a good lab you trust. With much of the work being digitized nowadays, I can imagine that you can calibrate your systems to match their renditions almost precisely to what you would expect...Given the proper instructions, all they do is load your shots, press "print" and there you have it! So I don't see it very much as giving up creative control.

But at the same time, large print machines may have their own limitations next to prosumer printers...I'm guessing here so someone with some knowledge can chime in.

JTL
01-25-2006, 07:16 PM
Let's assume for a moment that these photographs are not merely snapshots of the company picnic.

Let's assume the prints are for exhibition quality work. (Don't actually know if there is such a term, so in other words, the highest possible/achievable quality for displaying photographs as artwork or for public/critical scrutiny).

Now JTL, provided you've done the research and through trial and error have picked a good lab you trust. With much of the work being digitized nowadays, I can imagine that you can calibrate your systems to match their renditions almost precisely to what you would expect...Given the proper instructions, all they do is load your shots, press "print" and there you have it! So I don't see it very much as giving up creative control.

But at the same time, large print machines may have their own limitations next to prosumer printers...I'm guessing here so someone with some knowledge can chime in.If it's a custom lab that you know and trust...that's great...and if yes, you calbirate your equipment in line with the profile(s) that they're using...all should be good. Just tell me where you find such a lab! I used to think that the lab(s) I that I use to use did a good job...until I started doing it myself. ;)