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07-05-2008, 10:51 PM   #1
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Digital images to prints...any recommendations?

I recently have begun to print a number of my from my K10D, but have had serious issues with many of the local drug store and one-hour photo shops printing the images 1-2 stops underexposed, and on occasion even more. During the days of film I never seemed to have this many issues with printing images. Today I took some fireworks shots into a (*gasp*) WalMart to have them printed and I walked out of there disgusted. All of images looked flat, and the colors were substantially duller than the were out of the camera. In the firework shots, the only PP work that was done was some minor cropping to cut out some of the smoke/haze left behind from the bursts.

While I dont mind paying a premium for good quality prints or enlargements, its nice to be able to get inexpensive prints in bulk so that I have something to show friends. If the print gets fingerprints on it, or creased, its no big deal, but the prints Ive been getting back, especially those from WalMart have been nothing short of pathetic...

The biggest disappointment was in the image below. After spending several hours in CS3 balancing this shot so that the sky remained dark, the lightning bright but not overexposed, and the foreground exposed enough so you could recognize the houses and trees (while still giving the feel that this was shot at around 1 AM), WalMart returned to me a print that was almost solid black minus a white spot in the middle and one bright white line down the center.

Can anyone recommend perhaps a good ONLINE site for purchasing prints? Adorama has sent me a number of enticing emails...I think I may give them a try. Has anyone used their service? Would they get a shot like this right?



07-05-2008, 11:00 PM   #2
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is your workflow oriented for print, or for digital viewing?

your monitor may be displaying things differently than they will print, so you need to proof things via photoshop, if you have it, first
07-05-2008, 11:15 PM   #3
PDL
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A couple of things to do:

1. Calibrate your monitor - not doing this will lead to bad images down the road.
2. Get the printer profiles for the target printer. If your local shop does not have them - find somewhere else to go.
3. Be sure to turn off the default "auto fix" of the photo service. It will "correct" what you have sent to what the really stupid printer defaults are.
4. Use software that lets you print with printer profiles to a JPEG - then send that JPEG to the printer service. Make it appear that the JPEG you are printing is really the same size as the desired image. (Lightroom Beta 2 does this - I printed 5 shots at Costco using their printer drivers and the quality of the images is mind numbing - have not been this satisfied since I printed my own Cibachrome prints off of Fujicolor 100 and Kodachrome 25 over 30 years ago).

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
07-06-2008, 07:41 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by PentaxScott Quote
I recently have begun to print a number of my from my K10D, but have had serious issues with many of the local drug store and one-hour photo shops printing the images 1-2 stops underexposed, and on occasion even more. During the days of film I never seemed to have this many issues with printing images. Today I took some fireworks shots into a (*gasp*) WalMart to have them printed and I walked out of there disgusted. All of images looked flat, and the colors were substantially duller than the were out of the camera. In the firework shots, the only PP work that was done was some minor cropping to cut out some of the smoke/haze left behind from the bursts.

While I dont mind paying a premium for good quality prints or enlargements, its nice to be able to get inexpensive prints in bulk so that I have something to show friends. If the print gets fingerprints on it, or creased, its no big deal, but the prints Ive been getting back, especially those from WalMart have been nothing short of pathetic...

The biggest disappointment was in the image below. After spending several hours in CS3 balancing this shot so that the sky remained dark, the lightning bright but not overexposed, and the foreground exposed enough so you could recognize the houses and trees (while still giving the feel that this was shot at around 1 AM), WalMart returned to me a print that was almost solid black minus a white spot in the middle and one bright white line down the center.

Can anyone recommend perhaps a good ONLINE site for purchasing prints? Adorama has sent me a number of enticing emails...I think I may give them a try. Has anyone used their service? Would they get a shot like this right?

Scott

I'm not going to say to you that Adorampix is the best online site for purchasing prints - it's up to forum members to give their views in that respect.

However, if you do go with Adorama, and if for any reason you aren't happy with the finished product, please contact me directly, and I will ensure that any issues you may have are resolved to your complete satisfaction [helen.oster@adoramacamera.com]

Helen Oster
Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

07-06-2008, 08:50 AM   #5
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I use Adoramapix. The results I get are really fantastic. I let them do their thing to my files and have never been disappointed. I had an issue once with a crushed corner on a shipping box that resulted in bent prints. I contacted them and they sent new prints out the next day at no charge. They do excellent work. You should give them a shot.

If you do try them, try the endura metallic paper for a couple of shots. Very sweet paper.
07-06-2008, 08:58 AM   #6
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I do my own printing on two Epson models (2200 and R280), having given up on labs years ago. It's not necessarily the cheapest route but it does give you total control over the result. You already have what is arguably the best image editor. Why not take the next steps, calibrate your monitor, learn a bit about color management, and do it yourself?

Richard
07-06-2008, 12:33 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Matt Miller Quote
I use Adoramapix. The results I get are really fantastic. I let them do their thing to my files and have never been disappointed. I had an issue once with a crushed corner on a shipping box that resulted in bent prints. I contacted them and they sent new prints out the next day at no charge. They do excellent work. You should give them a shot.

If you do try them, try the endura metallic paper for a couple of shots. Very sweet paper.
Matt

Thanks for the recommendation for Adoramapix - always appreciated when happy customers tell others about us!

Helen Oster
Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador
07-06-2008, 12:39 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Old Timer 56 Quote
I do my own printing on two Epson models (2200 and R280), having given up on labs years ago. It's not necessarily the cheapest route but it does give you total control over the result. You already have what is arguably the best image editor. Why not take the next steps, calibrate your monitor, learn a bit about color management, and do it yourself?

Richard
Printing at home is expensive and time consuming. I've owned two Epsons and it's a pita to keep the ink flowing in them. I didn't print daily with mine and it seemed they were clogged every time I went to use them. Having total control might be worth the time & expense though. I don't print much though, so Adoramapix is close enough for me, and cheap and fast.

07-06-2008, 01:53 PM   #9
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I used Shutterfly to make an 11x14 print. I was very satisfied.
They used I think FujiFilm Archive Gold matte or something like that. I put it in a cheap $5 Wal-Mart frame, so for about $25 I have my own 11x14 ($5 frame + $12 print + 6/7$ faster shipping)



Their service is a little wonky though - Initially my image would have been with large white borders on the side because it wasn't scaled - I went into their mini editor and scaled the image to fit almost the entire 11x14, only croppin slightly on the sides, and it turned out nice.

I plan on using them again.
07-06-2008, 01:57 PM   #10
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I love zenfolio and you can get a free account or upgrade. They use Mpix which is a division of Miller professional printing. The prices are pretty good and you have a lot of options. Their turn around is so fast it will make yor head spin too! I am serious about the turn around time.

You can check out my site here and see if this works for you. You can order prints from the free account too. Zenfolio | 2daysphotos~ Rosemary Dennis Taglialatela
07-06-2008, 02:57 PM   #11
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Original Poster
Thanks for the advice. Ill look into getting the monitor color calibrated, although initially I was will to go through the slight differences to find a decent printer. My problem is that the shot that I posted here was printed by WalMart about 4 (!?!?!) stops darker than what I see on my screen. Thats not a minor thing...thats huge! I didnt think the difference would be that pronounced.

QuoteOriginally posted by PDL Quote
4. Use software that lets you print with printer profiles to a JPEG - then send that JPEG to the printer service. Make it appear that the JPEG you are printing is really the same size as the desired image. (Lightroom Beta 2 does this - I printed 5 shots at Costco using their printer drivers and the quality of the images is mind numbing - have not been this satisfied since I printed my own Cibachrome prints off of Fujicolor 100 and Kodachrome 25 over 30 years ago).

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
I have been using lightroom to do most of the color corrections and then using the export feature, exporting them to Jpeg using AdobeRGB colorspace. I downloaded Lightroom 2 Beta but dont see this feature. How to I attach printer profiles to a JPEG for printing? Are there other software programs that do something similar?
07-06-2008, 04:08 PM   #12
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I've always had good luck with Mpix.com...haven't tried adoramapix yet. And I think you'll have better accuracy in your prints if you convert to sRGB colorspace before sending your files off anywhere.
07-06-2008, 04:59 PM   #13
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When I worked at a photo lab, I found that there are two main things that affect how your pictures look after they are printed. First, is your monitor calibration, but I don't really think you need to go out and buy one of the calibration kits (this is more useful, save the extra money and put it towards a lens). If you're doing adjustments from your home computer and getting prints done elsewhere, it really will not matter how your monitor is calibrated unless you're able to calibrate it in reference to the photo lab's printer. Most 1 hour labs aren't run by photo enthusiasts or people with an extensive knowledge of cameras(no offense meant), so it's safe to say that most of their machines are not properly calibrated. Hence, going out and buying a monitor calibration unit doesn't really make much sense. The second contributing factor to the printed picture is the photo lab's machine. As I already said, if the staff does not perform proper maintenance on the machine, then your pictures are going to come out funky. Also, most of the newer machines have automatic enhancements. Ritz Camera and Wal Mart use Fuji printers and they have what's called Image Intelligence. So if you have done any enhancements in Photoshop, the printer will also make enhancements and most times it gets screwy and doesn't actually help the picture.

Solution

Tell the person in the lab that you have already made enhancements to the picture and ask them to turn off any auto enhance features their printer has. Also, if you buddy up with them they usually don't mind printing out a few pictures to get you the one that you like the best.
07-06-2008, 05:13 PM   #14
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Good advice from superbass....

I have a Huey Pro calibration unit for my computer (approx. $100) which helps when doing editing, however when we send out for prints (Silvano's, Black's) we always tell them to please leave the images as they are...no enhancements. They always return just as they were intended. Forget Wal-Mart pictures - they suck...avoid at all costs.

c[_]
07-06-2008, 05:28 PM   #15
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[


I have been using lightroom to do most of the color corrections and then using the export feature, exporting them to Jpeg using AdobeRGB colorspace. I downloaded Lightroom 2 Beta but dont see this feature. How to I attach printer profiles to a JPEG for printing? Are there other software programs that do something similar?[/QUOTE]

Theres your problem..Most of your local print shops will not recognize Adobe rgb..Try exporting them in srgb and I'll bet that will solve your problem....Bob
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