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02-07-2019, 09:29 AM   #1
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Posterization in photo prints from Adoramapix

I recently ordered some prints from Adoramapix, and a number of them show some sort of banding/posterization in areas of the image that should have a smooth color gradient, e.g. the sky. This banding is not visible in the original image. What is causing this problem, and what can I do to fix it?

Example pictures here: Posterization Printing Problems - Album on Imgur

Some technical details:
-- Most of these photos use the K-3's full resolution, 6000 x 4000 pixels.
-- The files are JPEGs edited from RAW files in Lightroom 5.5 and exported at 90% quality.
-- The images are printed on Fuji Deep Matte paper from Adoramapix, with no color correction.
-- The problem manifests in print sizes from 8x10 to 20x30.
-- I calibrate my monitor for photo editing.
-- This is not a rare problem; it shows up in four of eleven photos in my last batch of prints, and eight of the fifteen-ish photos before that.

So anyway. I'm guessing that the problem stems from using too few ink colors to print too many image colors, but I don't know what approach would fix that. Is this a problem endemic to printing smooth gradients, or would I get better results using e.g. a different file type, different photo paper, or a different print lab?

Thanks!

02-07-2019, 09:42 AM   #2
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Can you upload Tiff images? The banding happens when the color space is reduced to 8bit for jpeg. Prints from 16/32 bit tiff should not have banding.
02-07-2019, 09:45 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Use a different printer. I tried them and they reprocessed my photos badly. I've a couple that i use in Canada with no issues at all.
02-07-2019, 10:38 AM   #4
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These are compression artefacts. You see these everywhere images are compressed - on instagram, on netflix, when printed.

Did you check if it's on the jpgs you sent? It wouldn't be visible on raws.

But yeah if they're not on the jpgs you send you could ask for your money back.

02-07-2019, 10:51 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by K1N8 Quote
Can you upload Tiff images? The banding happens when the color space is reduced to 8bit for jpeg. Prints from 16/32 bit tiff should not have banding.
Not sure if I can upload .tiffs, but your comment prompted me to figure out if I can export .tiffs from Lightroom, and the answer is yes. Anyway, thanks! While we're at it, is there a particular color space I should export my photos in?

---------- Post added 02-07-19 at 01:52 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Dericali Quote
These are compression artefacts. You see these everywhere images are compressed - on instagram, on netflix, when printed.

Did you check if it's on the jpgs you sent? It wouldn't be visible on raws.

But yeah if they're not on the jpgs you send you could ask for your money back.
The compression artifacts are definitely not in the original images I sent.
02-07-2019, 10:58 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Outis Quote
While we're at it, is there a particular color space I should export my photos in?
Depends on the printer, ask them, check the support page/FAQ. Note, banding is related to compression, but even a "100%" JPEG will show banding. RAW data is usually 12 or 14 bit. Ensure the TIFF is really 16/32 bit, because TIFF supports 8/16/32 bits. A 8 bit TIFF will show the same banding.
02-07-2019, 11:42 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by K1N8 Quote
A 8 bit TIFF will show the same banding.
I agree best to not use 8 bits, but if it is due to jpeg compression (which is likely) why would TIFF have the problem?
02-07-2019, 11:43 AM   #8
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My first guess is that it's because you're sending them 90% jpeg. I haven't had issues with 97%, but to be safer I send files for printing without compression (jpeg 100 or Tiff). This is of course easier to achieve it you keep the raw files so you can derive different versions, otherwise uncompressed files are not great for sharing due to size...

You could also try getting in contact with them to drill down the issue, I've been happy with their services so far.

02-07-2019, 11:57 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
I agree best to not use 8 bits, but if it is due to jpeg compression (which is likely) why would TIFF have the problem?
"The banding happens when the color space is reduced to 8bit". Whatever that is for JPEG or TIFF doesn't matter. 12/14 bit color information's are transformed/reduced to 8 bit, which is a smaller range of possible colors. This alone is causing the banding in the sky gradient.


JPEG compression artifices are a different issue. The "100%" indicates quality, but there still IS information loss. JPEG even at 100% is NOT lossless compression. Use TIFF for print, even if the file size is double the RAW file size.
02-07-2019, 12:17 PM   #10
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I don't see why you'd expect to get any banding using 8-bit and the max quality jpegs, provided you are both using the same colour space, soft-proof using the printer's supplied profiles and if the banding does not show up in the jpegs you send to them, you should be fine. If you can use Adobe 1998 this has a wider gamut which is better.

Personally, I process in 16 bit, pro-photo until preparing for print. Then I convert to 8-bit and Adobe 1998, soft proof using the printer's profile for the paper they are using, then sharpen for the print size I'm outputting too. The output sharpening differs a lot from A1 size down to small prints. Then send jpegs to printer. Before I started selling my work I tested jpegs produced this way compared to TIFFs and saw no differences up to A1 size, so stuck with jpegs.
02-08-2019, 08:09 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BarryE Quote
I don't see why you'd expect to get any banding using 8-bit and the max quality jpegs, provided you are both using the same colour space, soft-proof using the printer's supplied profiles and if the banding does not show up in the jpegs you send to them, you should be fine. If you can use Adobe 1998 this has a wider gamut which is better.

Personally, I process in 16 bit, pro-photo until preparing for print. Then I convert to 8-bit and Adobe 1998, soft proof using the printer's profile for the paper they are using, then sharpen for the print size I'm outputting too. The output sharpening differs a lot from A1 size down to small prints. Then send jpegs to printer. Before I started selling my work I tested jpegs produced this way compared to TIFFs and saw no differences up to A1 size, so stuck with jpegs.
Hmmm. I just checked the Adoramapix FAQ page, and they don't offer ICC profiles but they do recommend that images be submitted in sRGB color space. That's the color space I've been using to export my photos.

So, other than using .tiffs, it sounds like there isn't a lot else I could have done in this particular instance? And I'm guessing in the future it would be better to go with a printing service that does offer ICC profiles so I can hammer out all of these little technical issues before I start.
02-08-2019, 08:30 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Outis Quote
Hmmm. I just checked the Adoramapix FAQ page, and they don't offer ICC profiles but they do recommend that images be submitted in sRGB color space. That's the color space I've been using to export my photos.

So, other than using .tiffs, it sounds like there isn't a lot else I could have done in this particular instance? And I'm guessing in the future it would be better to go with a printing service that does offer ICC profiles so I can hammer out all of these little technical issues before I start.
I think another printer would indeed be my thoughts, except I really don't think tiffs are necessary. I send jpeg prints direct to my customers from the printer I use in the UK - I rarely see these prints now. I have complete confidence, but it has taken a loooot of trial and error to get to this point. Without a managed workflow it is guesswork, unfortunately, whatever the printer would have you believe ... in my opinion. The paper product is so much more satisfying, I feel, than screen images.

A little hint: when you're happy/confident (ish) that you can send prints off and get back what you want, don't compare them with the screen image, again. Instead look at them in isolation, in different lights and with a different mindset. They are just so different from screen images ...

Another little hint: you might find a little lift in brightness will compensate for the inevitable losses that occurs when put them behind glass (any glass).
02-08-2019, 04:50 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Outis Quote
Hmmm. I just checked the Adoramapix FAQ page, and they don't offer ICC profiles but they do recommend that images be submitted in sRGB color space. That's the color space I've been using to export my photos.

So, other than using .tiffs, it sounds like there isn't a lot else I could have done in this particular instance? And I'm guessing in the future it would be better to go with a printing service that does offer ICC profiles so I can hammer out all of these little technical issues before I start.
If you don't see it in the actual jpgs, then I would say that it is probably on the printer's end. It could be because of the printer profiles, but I can't see why that would matter unless the banding is in your jpg and you just can't see it (perhaps open the jpg in Lightroom and mess with the curves, to the extreme, to see whether banding shows up). The purpose being to really mess with the contrast so if there is banding, it might stand out.

Otherwise, the only other thing you could do would be to save as 100% jpgs. I do think the lower percentage you use, the more likely you are to get banding and other artifacts occurring. I'll acknowledge that moving to 8-bit alone can be an issue, but I have rarely had issues exporting 8-bit images as finals for printing.

From my experience 8-bit images cause the most problems if you try to edit them. Granted that could just be my experience. Also, many online printers do not take 16-bit tiffs (especially ones that are more economical), and jpg is by far the most common format people will send for printing (because that's the only format many people know).
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