Getting Good Prints From Dig Files
I thought I'd start this thread to kind of try and round up a few things into one place.
First, I know virtually nothing about getting good prints from computer printers since I don't use them. Some of you more enlightened computer printer users will have to contribute any jewels of knowledge you have in that specific area.
What I know a little about is getting good prints if you take your dig files to the local photo lab.
The first "jewel" I'll contribute is to make sure your image isn't over-saturated or too contrasty. It looks great on your monitor, but doesn't usually work out well on photographic paper. Photo paper doesn't "see" vivid colors/bright primary colors well. It doesn't distinguish well between black and almost black or white and almost white either. I can't spout out all of the technical reasons, but it hates really bright primary colors, especially red. Remember the good ol' days of school photographs when they sent home a sheet telling parents what colors NOT to dress their children in for school photo day? There was a reason for that. Photo paper these days handles things way better than it did then, but can still be a problem if the thing is too saturated. Optical prints from film have less problem with it since the colors haven't been artificially enhanced (except for what's built into the film emulsion) and photo paper is (more or less) related to film in the way it "sees" color, so they sort of "understand" one another.
Digital is different. We can put things there that, to the photo paper, must seem like it's from some other planet...
When you scan a print (at least this is the way it is here in my world) it looks flat when you display it on your monitor. The tendancy for most people (I think) is to want to "punch it up" a lot. Add a bunch of contrast and brighten up the colors.
No matter how good that looks on your monitor (transmitted light), it's probably not gonna look real good on photo paper (reflected light).
For actual chemically processed photos, more subtle is usually better...
Thanks Jak. My limited experience with print shops has not been very good. I can see why.
Here is how I set up the color profile for my Epson 1270 printer.
My Princeton Graphics monitor came software that included some color profiles. I used one of the profiles in conjuction with Adobe Gamma and a new modified profile was generated. Right click the new profile and look at properties. On my computer there is an "associate device" tab. I entered both my Epson printer and scanner in this box. (All of the profiles are in the Windows-System-Color folder.)
As long as I save my Photoshop files with this color profile the color match is almost perfect.
Thanks gland - I knew there'd be some computer printer wizards out there who'd chime in to help with that area...
The next thing I'll mention on my end is monitor calibration.
I've gotten numerous messages from RP members who just can't seem to get a good print from the lab. I've had a few send me files, and most of the time I can play mindreader and tell them exactly what the printing problem was at their lab.
It's because I get files that, when I open them here, look sickly green, bright red, and every other color in between.
I'll open up a green image and say, "the lab print was way too green, right?"
"I thought so. The file you sent looks very green here on my monitor..."
Monitor calibration is a biggie...
I'm starting to round up thread links that might be helpful for this topic. Here's the first batch - I'll add to them as I find more. Please feel free to add any of your own!
Getting good B&W prints on an inkjet
Prints Skin Tones Too Red
ICC Color Profile for Fuji Frontier MiniLab
Black & White (off color prints)
psychology of color (Excellent info here!)
Additive/Subtractive (Read this one mainly because it is hysterically funny as well as being very informative about how color works. It happened before I joined RP, and shows that some of our members [and fearless leader] are truly silly...)
Color Matching - Prints and Monitor
Even before monitor calibration, a good monitor is the place to start. The sony Trinitron line is fantastic. I have had 2 of them - the first one for 4 years of constant use, then it started to get a bit blurry. Got the new 21 inch in January, and the colors are oh so accurate and crisp.
Here's another piece of advice copied from THIS THREAD on Matte vs. Glossy:
Getting good prints means building a working relationship with a lab. Relationships take work, even that kind. What customers are looking for is so widely varied and subjective that you have to have quite a few "dates" before you even get to know one another well. And as you get to know one another, you get to know each other's limitations and strong points, likes and dislikes. But giving up on a lab before that relationship can form just builds frustrations on both sides - you don't stay long enough to get a good print, and the lab loses you as a customer before they have a chance to get a "feel" for what your particular likes and dislikes are.
Give the lab manager the address for RP and ask them to check it out. This would be a good place for lab employees to visit, even if they don't do retouching or restoration themselves. It would put them in touch with a slice of their potential client base and allow them to learn some things that may make them better able to give you the kind of service you want.
Jak: Thanks again for all the information.
Chiquitita, although I'm happy with my Princeton Graphics monitor, I think my next one will be a Sony. I've heard a lot of good things about them.
I have seen several topics related to image correction related to color and contrast and other variables. Let me recommend a book that has been invaluable to me. Professional Photoshop, The Classic Guide to Color Correction, by Dan Margulis. It is a college degree in itself. It is written for the advanced user. It spends no time explaining Photoshop. It assumes you know. It tells you how to get near perfect corrections using a scientific method of measurements and curve and level corrections. It goes into great detail about teaching you the methods and how to apply them. A great and indispensible reference. So far there has been no question asked in this forum about color corrections that I have read that have not been dealt with in this book.
A must for our business.
I'll comment from the perspective of a newcomer to digital photography - my last serious involvement was b&w darkroom 20 yrs ago.
I use a Fuji S602Z, Photoshop, QImage, ProfilePrism and a Canon S9000 (Win2000)
I've used ProfilePrism to profile my 602Z(for the various white balances I use).
I've adjusted my Trinitron monitor using several of the 'gamma' websites (I don't have access to a 'Spyder').
I 'assign/convert to' the 602 profiles in Photoshop.
I've used ProfilePrism to profile my S9000 (for each of the 7 papers I regularly use).
I View-Proof in Photoshop using my printer profiles.
I use QImage to resample my images to the native size for the selected printer using Lancoz and apply my printer profiles and print.
And I get excellent color match - all the way thru the process, including carrying the prints back to the flower gardens and comparing to the original subjects.
I'm currently profiling my local photofinisher's Noritsu / Fuji Crystal so I can get truly archival prints.
www.drycreekphoto.com has a database of profiles for Fuji and Noritsu printers that are popping up in Walmarts, Sams, etc across the land. These profiles are more accurate than using a generic.
And I'd be happy to expand on the above if any one has a question.
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