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02-22-2008, 11:32 PM   #1
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Online printing quality

Got a question for y'all. I had a 20x30 done at the local ritz off of their Epson UltraChrome machine and I'm not too impressed with it. However, I can't tell if it's the picture or the print that is the issue. Is there an online place that prints that size using traditional chemistry-based processing? Also, does anyone have any experience with Apple's printing via iPhoto or Aperture?

02-23-2008, 12:27 AM   #2
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Clawhammer, a few questions for you, and a bit of my experience:

1) Was the file you printed at Ritz already post processed on a system with a calibrated monitor, and did you embed the calibration and colorspace data so that the Epson could make a good translation of the file? Did the Ritz technician tweak your file? Was the file printed using color management in an imaging application, or did the Epson printer manage the color? Any incompatibilities in this workflow can result in unsatisfactory prints.

2) There are some pro labs out there still processing using traditional wet chemistries for film shooters, but many have gone over to laser printing of scanned film and digital files on Fuji Crystal Archive (looks even better than CibaChrome printing, IMO) or using pigment-based inkjets, such as the Epson printer used by your local Ritz store. Either way, talking to the techs about their system requirements and workflow can help you process your files in the most compatible way that will get you the look you expect. This might require printing a few proofs, talking each one over with the tech, and tweaking your files and post processing settings to work best with the lab's gear and procedures.

3) I haven't ordered individual prints from Apple, but I did produce an iPhoto hardcover photo storybook about a local Native teacher a couple years ago that was very well received by the community and his family. I thought the result looked pretty close to my Photoshopped JPEGs, and the iPhoto book template was both flexible and straightforward to use. It was 24 pages and cost about $40, IIRC.
02-23-2008, 12:56 AM   #3
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I use Costco to print 20x30 inch images. They do use Laser printing on Fuji paper, but the lab for 20x30 is in Maryland (opposite side of the country) and there are no printer profiles available.

I used lightroom to create the JPEG using the sRGB colorspace - just like Costco said to do. I also made sure to disable the default "auto fix" feature on their web site. I have been very pleased with their output - except the one time I did not disable the default and the subtle texture I worked so dilligently to preserve - was blown out by "auto fix". Live and learn I guess (12x18 print - I can upload to the web site and pick the image up on my way home - along with a tank of gas, two dozen bagels, two packages of jerky, some chips and maybe another SD card) As for other places to print images - never accept the defaults, you should be telling the printer what to do - not the other way around.

As I do not have a Mac I can not speak to the quality of iPhoto books, but when I took a workshop in 2005 - the instructors were happy with iPhoto books. Based on that recommendation it should be three years towards the good. Another site to check out is:
Make your own book with Blurb
I have two friends who have made up some books for family there and they both came out very nice. (One was a guy who published images of Yellowstone Park for his mother and the other was a travel book of her trip to China).

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
02-23-2008, 01:28 PM   #4
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I guess I should have been a little more specific. I am looking for a place that prints them the way the Fuji frontiers do- the laser exposed, chemically developed method. The problem I have with the Ritz pic isn't color, it's sharpness/clarity. I've seen a rather noticeable difference from the 11x14s from 'my' old Frontier 570 (worked at a ritz that had one, that machine was my baby. I was the one who cleaned it, who fixed it, etc) seem a lot sharper than the 11x14's I've gotten from the Epson, so I want to do a quality comaprison between the epson and a more traditionally-printed 20x30.

Thanks for the replys.

02-23-2008, 02:24 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by clawhamemr Quote
I guess I should have been a little more specific. I am looking for a place that prints them the way the Fuji frontiers do- the laser exposed, chemically developed method. The problem I have with the Ritz pic isn't color, it's sharpness/clarity. I've seen a rather noticeable difference from the 11x14s from 'my' old Frontier 570 (worked at a ritz that had one, that machine was my baby. I was the one who cleaned it, who fixed it, etc) seem a lot sharper than the 11x14's I've gotten from the Epson, so I want to do a quality comaprison between the epson and a more traditionally-printed 20x30.

Thanks for the replys.
what PPI was the image you printed at?
02-23-2008, 09:02 PM   #6
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The program they used uses Genuine Fractuals (or something similar) to upres the image, and I believe they upres it to 300dpi, so for a 20x30 that's 6000x9000 res.
02-24-2008, 07:30 AM   #7
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awhile back i did a photo essay on pueblo ruins and had it printed up after pp'g in lightroom and cs3, the pics came back horrible, the project went unfinished, and back on the shelf. The printing was done by Shutterfly. I vowed to forget they existed. Last Christmas i put a memory book together for a friend who cares for his dad who is an alzheimers victim,...on a whim i wrote to Shutterfly, asked them about proofing etc, telling them about the previous print job several months earlier. Shutterfly responded immediately asking if i had pp'd the images, and whether i had unchecked the ' auto fix ' tab.....i hadn't !.....they promptly reprinted the images ffrom the pueblo shoot, ( without my asking ) and remailed the set (10) all beautifully done. I then gave them the photobook which was hugely received by friend and family and which i later got to review physically. Excellant job ! Their willingness to reprint and remail without my asking them to, impressed the hell outta me........
02-24-2008, 08:04 AM   #8
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I have used these guys before and they are great El-Co Color Labs Poster Special and the price is right.

02-25-2008, 01:52 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by clawhamemr Quote
I guess I should have been a little more specific. I am looking for a place that prints them the way the Fuji frontiers do- the laser exposed, chemically developed method. The problem I have with the Ritz pic isn't color, it's sharpness/clarity. I've seen a rather noticeable difference from the 11x14s from 'my' old Frontier 570 (worked at a ritz that had one, that machine was my baby. I was the one who cleaned it, who fixed it, etc) seem a lot sharper than the 11x14's I've gotten from the Epson, so I want to do a quality comaprison between the epson and a more traditionally-printed 20x30.

Thanks for the replys.
Check out West Coast Imaging for the latest Fuji laser print system, Fuji Crystal Archive, Clawhammer: West Coast Imaging
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