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Input/Output/Workflow Scanning, printing, color management, and discussing best practices for control and repeatability

Best way to resize pix for printing at a lab?

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Old 01-04-2008, 01:40 PM
Wolfman Wolfman is online now
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 389
Re: Best way to resize pix for printing at a lab?

Originally Posted by mistermonday View Post
Stephen, none of those photo labs you mentioned manage color, so the customer needs to do it right. However, that being said, there is a way to get consistent accurate prints and here is one example.
Costco labs use high end Noritsu printing systems. Most locations have two sets of equipment. One is set up for the consumer that knows nothing about color management. It reads the customer file and does auto correction of contrast and color and resizes if necessary. Then there is a 2nd set of equipment which processes the files with no corrections whatsoever for those customers and professionals who can properly prepare files. Now here comes the good part. You can go to and download free ICC profiles for the exact equipment at every Costco,. These are professionally accurate and reliable. After editing your image you convert a copy of it to the ICC profile for that location and that is the image you upload (if you use the online ordering). You need to be sure when you fill in the online order that you check the box that says NO ADJUSTMENTS (or CORRECTIONS). You images print exactly as they look (assuming a reasonably accurate monitor and the image converted to the printer profile). They print on Fuji Archival Paper with archival inks, so they will last decades longer in the sunlight than you or I will.
Many of the other Big Box labs use the same equipment. Some are run by inexperienced, unknowledgeable people, others are run by 3rd party professionals - you need to check out who you are dealing with. I am not sure where in Canada you live, but if it is in any of the major cities you might want to try Costco. I was not happy with the others. There are also some labs which oversize your image by 5% to compensate for not being able to align the printer to the media. That is totally unacceptable.
Regards, Murray
Murray......... just one correction about Costco..... they do print on Fuji Archival paper, but it is photographic paper, not inkjet with archival inks.
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Old 02-07-2008, 01:08 PM
rmx101 rmx101 is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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Re: Best way to resize pix for printing at a lab?

Have a look at the online solution from It handles all kinds of image files for printing. There's a ton of info on Pro. Prints section at

They offer online storage for large image files, without any size limits. Your original files are safe, never touched. The printing service is built into the Workspace. When you order any size print, and the service automatically converts your original / large JPEG file into a custom size JPEG - instantly at the original DPI. No need for resizing by hand.
Pixelide's online printing services includes a convenient custom crops feature as well. Prints are on Fuji Crystal Archival photo paper, sizes upto 30x40 inches.

No need to find Costco or Walmart .. Instead, get an online Workspace at Pixelide and order prints right from your office.
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Old 03-21-2008, 09:21 PM
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jagerman jagerman is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 76
Re: Best way to resize pix for printing at a lab?

If you are that far out and you do not do a large amount of printing (ie a pro lab will not take you as a customer). Then just buy a printer man. Epson, HP and Cannon all make affordable ($200-$500) printers that make nice, water resistant prints that will last a lifetime as long as you take care of them. If you are picky about your prints, there are some new printers these days that make incredible prints for around $1000 or so.

Good Luck!
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Old 03-26-2008, 08:39 PM
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TommyO TommyO is offline
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Re: Best way to resize pix for printing at a lab?

You had asked about sizing your prints. Let’s address that for a moment. The dialog you mention is still available in CS2 or CS3, under the Help section, but is not often used. Most individuals will resize their images manually to ensure they control how pixels are added or subtracted. I would recommend you do not use the automated method; learn to resize your images manually.

The idea is to provide an image to the printer that will not have to be resized by them. If they resize the image smaller (downsample) there is going to be some pixel loss. You cannot control it, so the result is based upon the algorithm their software uses. If they are trained, it could be fine. If not, your image could look worse than you expected it to.

If they resize the image larger (upsample) there has to be additional pixels generated. Again, the same problem… and the same result.

Since you did not tell us what sizes you are dealing with, we have a hard time advising you. But, if you always resize your own images prior to sending to a print shop, you will have consistent results.

I usually use the following method when making dramatic changes in size, i.e. from a 4x6 to an 18x24. However, the reasoning is the same regardless.
Follow this basis scenario:
  • - save your image and work on a copy;
  • - in Photoshop, use the Image… Image Size command;
  • - pick the longest side of your original scanned image, i.e. 3 inches;
  • - Determine the pixel density for which you scanned the print, i.e. 600 dpi;
  • - determine the length this side will become when printed, i.e. 7 inches;
  • - Determine the pixel density the print shop printers print at, i.e. 300 dpi (for a professional shop you can simply call and they will tell you; for Walmarts and so on, you can assume 300 dpi up to 600 dpi is fine);
  • - In this example, you have 3 inches x 600 pixels per inch = 1800 pixels along that side;
  • - To avoid losing any pixels, you need 1800 pixels over 7 inches, or 1800/7 = 257 pixels per inch;
So, in Photoshop you would go to the Image… Image Size command. You can jump to the center dialog, where it is normally working with inches. Enter your longest dimension, i.e. 7 inches. Then enter your Resolution, i.e. 257 pixels/inch.

Your next choice is the Resampling method (at the bottom). Bicubic is the default and works well for small changes in size. It is also your best and only choice in Photoshop 7. However, after Photoshop CS two other algorithms were introduced. (Bicubic Smoother for enlarging, and Bicubic Sharper for downsampling.)

At this point, hit enter and examine your results. Zoom into the image to the point it is actually displayed at the same size you will be printing, in this case 5x7. The quality should be similar to your original and there should be no pixilation. Try a test print at home and ensure there are no other anomalies. At that point, you have the print sized correctly. Now it’s just a matter of how much compression when converting to .jpg will result in a file small enough for the printer to accept.

The general rule is to use as little compression as possible. That is because the compression is also generated by an algorithm that can toss out pixels. When the file is then reopened in a print shop application, it will be uncompressed. At that time their algorithm must decide how to replace those tossed out pixels. This can often result in unacceptable color spots in your image. However, most of the time, no one notices due to the small size of the print and limitation of our eyes. However, on a very large print, they can be very noticeable and can mean reprinting the image (at $20 a pop).

One more point. While your scan was a .tiff and you probably saved the file as an RGB color image, that is fine. Many people wonder... "what if the shop has CMYK printers ?". That's not usually a problem. Most professional printers today, while CMYK devices, are accustomed to accepting RGB images and have excellent conversion algorithms. You should not notice any difference in the color of your prints.

Sorry for this being so long. But, I hope it helps some. Good luck and let us know your results.
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