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help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

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  #1  
Old 04-29-2012, 12:44 AM
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mantra mantra is offline
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Question help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

hi

what do I need to print in a pro studio lab?

do i need the profile of the paper or/and the colors (used by the machine used for the print) ?

is a must must i install these profile in my os?


or is enough use photoshop ? (proof setup --> custom and load the profile)
(after) --> proof colors


ps the monitor is always calibrated

thanks
cheers
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:36 AM
RobertAsh RobertAsh is offline
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Re: help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

This is my personal experience. It depends on how exact of a match you want between your monitor and the lab print. Others here may have different experiences.

Mostly you need test prints. Small ones 8x10 inches should do.
  1. Even with a properly calibrated monitor you will often not get a perfect screen-to-print match.
  2. Soft-proofing with printer profiles does not show you very accurately what your print will look like.
Calibration can help noticeably and soft-proofing helps some, but not much. Both help to contain truly major deviations. But the important minor differences in lightness and contrast need to be seen physically.

Here is my process:
  1. After the print looks good on your monitor, order a test print from your lab.
    • If your lab has a minimum order (e.g. 10 euros and but a single print costs 1 euro) then create enough variations to meet your minimum order requirement, e.g.:
      • + 1/4 stop, + 1/2 stop, - 1/4 stop, -1/2 stop, etc. so at least you're assured of getting your highlights printed correctly.
      • label each print with a Text layer so you can remember what you did for each test print
  2. Look at your test print, figure what's different (print too dark, too light, color slightly off, etc.).
    • Look at the print in daylight-balanced light, not tungsten or flourescent, etc.
  3. If needed, order another batch of adjustments from your lab starting with the adjustments of the test print you like best. That should be enough to get it right for you.
  4. Create a Photoshop action that makes the right final adjustments and name it so you can find it easily later.
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  #3  
Old 04-29-2012, 09:42 AM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

Well, I am going to take a different view than Robert. Philosophically, I believe you should not need to go through the process that Robert has described. You have thousands of $ worth of equipment and sophisticated s/w with soft proofing on your desktop. Your print lab has hundreds of thousands of dollars in printing equipment and has spent good money having the printer's profile created and updated. Going through Robert's process should not be necessary. If you are properly controlling your environment and the print lab is controlling his, there should be no need for all the experimentation. And that has been my experience.
Obtain the print lab's custom ICC profile and drop in into your Windows / System / Spool / Drivers / Color folder. It's a tiny file. Use the profile to soft proof your edited image and make any adjustments you wish. Make a copy of the file and use Edit>profile to convert to that profile and send it off. It should come back bang on. Make sure you have checked the correct options in the print labs system (No auto adjustments, no resizing, etc). If the prints come back and do not look same as on your monitor, 9 times out of 10 there is a problem with you monitor calibration or color workflow.
Of course this assumes you are using a print lab that knows what it is doing.
Regards, Murray
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:45 AM
RobertAsh RobertAsh is offline
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Re: help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

I'm not going to argue with Murray. His approach is the ideal. If his approach works for you, then please do use it. Try it first, in fact.

In my experience it depends on:
  • How your monitor calibrates
  • Whether soft-proofing works well enough for you
  • Which products you're buying from your lab
  • How much difference you're willing to live with given the inherent difference between a projected image on your monitor and a reflected image on your print. You can get very close, but not exact.
In my case:
  • My Eizo monitor can't be calibrated with EyeOne or Spyder software, it uses Eizo proprietary calibration software with those hardware calibration devices. It also lacks a Contrast control (didn't know these two things when I bought it).
  • Soft-proofing doesn't work well for me. I can't convince my eye that a greyed-out softproof image on the monitor actually looks like a print.... So I use the normal Photoshop window image. That works fine for me.
  • My lab offers products with lamination that slightly changes the lightness of the print. There are no ICC profiles for those laminations, at least not that I'm aware of. I have to do test prints to know how to compensate for the lamination.
Again, you also need good viewing conditions. If the color temperature of light you're viewing your prints under differs a lot from the color temperature of your monitor then the colors will never match.

Last edited by RobertAsh; 04-29-2012 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:17 AM
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mantra mantra is offline
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Re: help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermonday View Post
Well, I am going to take a different view than Robert. Philosophically, I believe you should not need to go through the process that Robert has described. You have thousands of $ worth of equipment and sophisticated s/w with soft proofing on your desktop. Your print lab has hundreds of thousands of dollars in printing equipment and has spent good money having the printer's profile created and updated. Going through Robert's process should not be necessary. If you are properly controlling your environment and the print lab is controlling his, there should be no need for all the experimentation. And that has been my experience.
Obtain the print lab's custom ICC profile and drop in into your Windows / System / Spool / Drivers / Color folder. It's a tiny file. Use the profile to soft proof your edited image and make any adjustments you wish. Make a copy of the file and use Edit>profile to convert to that profile and send it off. It should come back bang on. Make sure you have checked the correct options in the print labs system (No auto adjustments, no resizing, etc). If the prints come back and do not look same as on your monitor, 9 times out of 10 there is a problem with you monitor calibration or color workflow.
Of course this assumes you are using a print lab that knows what it is doing.
Regards, Murray
thanks Murray
this will be my first test
cheers
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:24 AM
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mantra mantra is offline
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Re: help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertAsh View Post
[*]Create a Photoshop action that makes the right final adjustments and name it so you can find it easily later.
thanks a lot Robert
this makes sense , i mean i read all your suggestions

but there is the problem

i mean
Quote:
Create a Photoshop action that makes the right final adjustments and name it so you can find it easily later
do you mean start to watch the printed photos and the photos on the monitor and try to correct them ?
or scan the printed photos and compare with the photo on my monitor?


the problem will start with colors issue
i mean i can correct a printed photo that's too dark , too bright
but with colors it becomes a nightmare
i mean headshots , different skintones , make up ... ,landscape and so on
it's hard for me correct colors shift using my eyes

thanks
cheers
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:32 PM
RobertAsh RobertAsh is offline
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Re: help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

Hi Mantra,

I understand Colors were very difficult for me too until my eye got used to working with them, and that took time. Even now it can be difficult for me. I'm continually learning but others here are still better at it.

The best way to correct the problem is to try to prevent color shifts from happening at all. The best ways I've found are:
  1. White-balance your camera
    • Using manufacturer's lighting works best (using Nikon flashes on my Nikon cameras)
    • Using an Expodisc works the best for me when I'm using studio strobes or shooting outdoors
    • If you don't have an Expodisc use a color checker or include a white cloth in your photo to help color balance in post-processing
  2. Calibrate your monitor as described above
You can also order test calibration prints from any top quality lab. They will send you a print and its JPEG. Open the JPEG and compare the print colors with the colors on your monitor. Again, make sure to use daylight or daylight balanced lighting to view the print. Otherwise the colors will not match.

If you need to do test prints after doing Murray's procedure then:
  • Label each test print with its own Text layer in Photoshop e.g. --> +1/4 stop or something like +1/4 Stop; -10% red
  • When you decide which test print you like best, create an action named My Lab - Luster Paper laminated (or whatever makes sense) that:
    1. Creates an Exposure layer and sets it to +1/4 stop (or however much you like best)
    2. Does anything else you want
    3. Then creates a Group from the new adjustment layers named My Lab - Luster Paper laminated
You only have to do one action per medium. That one action should work for all of your photos ordered on that specific medium. Again, for most papers Murray's suggestion could work perfectly well and you won't need to do anything else. That's the best case

My lab's results were close so I only needed modest adjustment. I still need to make a slight additional adjustment for the laminated product (I just received in my very first order for this product on Friday).

Last edited by RobertAsh; 04-29-2012 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:32 PM
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andrewrodney andrewrodney is offline
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Re: help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertAsh View Post
[*]My lab offers products with lamination that slightly changes the lightness of the print. There are no ICC profiles for those laminations, at least not that I'm aware of.
No, the lab apparently didn’t build the profile with the lamination as they should have. Or they don’t have one to supply. That is the fault of the lab.

I’ll just add to the discussion that if a lab provides you a profile but will not allow you to actually use it to convert with (picking a rendering intent you prefer, Black Point Compensation etc), then you are wasting your time with that lab and it’s profile in terms of soft proofing. Soft proofing works when:
  1. You properly calibrate the display for a visual match with said profile.
  2. Said profile can be used to convert the data which is sent ‘as is’ to the output device.
  3. Output device behaves as the profile describes that device (it is consistent and calibrated).

If any of the above are untrue, you can forget soft proofing being effective.
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  #9  
Old 05-02-2012, 12:24 AM
RobertAsh RobertAsh is offline
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Re: help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewrodney View Post
No, the lab apparently didn’t build the profile with the lamination as they should have. Or they don’t have one to supply. That is the fault of the lab. .
Makes sense.

But do you know of any labs that provide ICC profiles for their laminations? I've never heard of a lab doing that personally.

Also, regarding soft-proofing, I just tried it again before posting this response and it's looking better in Photoshop CS5 than in previous versions. That's good.

That said, soft-proofing now shows me the right colors for printing Epson paper but not for printing on the Canson paper that I use. For the Canson paper I have to print using Epson's PLPP profile. Unfortunately there is no way to soft-proof that by using the paper profile for the paper I'm actually printing on.

Last edited by RobertAsh; 05-02-2012 at 01:08 AM.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:33 AM
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andrewrodney andrewrodney is offline
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Re: help to get great prints in a pro studio lab

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertAsh View Post
Makes sense.

But do you know of any labs that provide ICC profiles for their laminations? I've never heard of a lab doing that personally.
I don’t. But lamination is part of the entire process and one should laminate the target used to build a profile. Or one should provide a profile with and without if that is how the product is offered. Lamination can play a profound role in the creation of the profile.
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