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  • Losing faith in the Frontier

    Hi everybody, I hope this post finds you all well.
    I have just got some wedding prints back from my local lab and they really aren't too good. They use a Frontier which (as most of us know) prints at 300dpi.
    I have reprinted some of the photographs on my Epson 890 inkjet printer only to find them somewhat sharper and the colours are just as good too. Generally more pleasing to the eye.
    I use 1440/2880dpi with Epson inks and Epson Photo paper or Premium glossy photo paper.
    Has anyone else had this experience.
    Many thanks
    Charles

  • #2
    Charles,
    I think with the latest technology in inkjet inks/dyes the industry can finally compete with if not surpass the local photo printers in print quality and longevity.
    I use the Epson 2000P and even with metemerism problems I still prefere it to the prints I get at the printers for those reasons alone not to mention the colors are fantastic. I like the choices in paper as well far above the printers matte and glossy choices. I'm also sold on Epson products. I have a digital camera, scanner and printer all by Epson and I don't think I would buy anything else.
    DJ

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    • #3
      Hi, Now I am getting discouraged. I am just getting the hang of calibrating my monitor to look more like the photos I get printed on Frontier.
      I put some info on calibration on the Tips menu. Might be of some help.
      Also there is a discussion about matte vs glossy on either the Input/Output menu or the Photo Restoration menu.
      Hope you become satisfied again.

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      • #4
        Charles - You are facing the conundrum a lot of photographers are now facing...do you still get traditional prints made at a lab or go with inkjet where you have complete control? The disadvantage is that many people still consider inkjet an inferior process and it takes considerable time to calibrate all the equipment to get the right colors...time that most folks do not have! You might want to look into other labs with better equipment...for example, a lab equipped with a Lightjet. You will get VERY sharp prints on traditional papers, and most labs with this high-end equipment have spent a considerable amount of money to calibrate color and train employees.

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        • #5
          I operate a Frontier printer. In more than 20 years as a photo lab technician (both high end pro custom and minilab), it's one of the nicest machines I've run for what it does.

          But...

          1. Shops that run Frontiers are usually (though not always) geared mainly toward amateurs and not professionals. It has some neat bells and whistles, but is still, for the most part, a minilab machine.

          2. The corrections are generally rough (around 10% to 15%) which is often not a fine enough correction for a lot of pro work (in pro labs, my correction ability has been as fine as .5% with 5% being normal). The settings can be changed (and usually are in higher grade labs that run them as a proof printer), but re-setting it to accomodate a more pro client probably isn't something your local 1-hour shop is prepared to do.

          3. In reference to item #1, many minilab employees are not well versed in photograpy, let alone the new world of digital. The machine is only as good as its operator.

          You might want to look into other labs with better equipment...for example, a lab equipped with a Lightjet. You will get VERY sharp prints on traditional papers, and most labs with this high-end equipment have spent a considerable amount of money to calibrate color and train employees.
          And for that, you will pay a higher price for the product. This is a discussion I see a lot on newsgroups. And, I'll be pretty blunt here, so I hope it's not taken the wrong way...

          You usually can't walk into the local one hour shop and expect pro grade prints at minilab prices. Paying lower minilab prices means you get minilab product - usually amateur, consumer oriented. To get better product, you usually must pay for the expertise and better equipment behind that better product at the register...

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          • #6
            Jakaleena, thanks for your valued input, I will look for a decent pro lab over the next few weeks.
            In addition to my original post, I just got a print made from a negative at the same lab. The 8x6 was really poor. It was on Kodak 100 film and shot with a really nice Pentax lens, I think I'll give up with film altogether.
            Many thanks for the replies.
            Kindest regards
            Charles UK

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            • #7
              One other thing I forgot to mention...

              The reason I can get nice prints of my restoration work is not because I make a lot of corrections as the labs printer operator. It's because I fine tune the file before I carry it with me to the lab and have learned what I have to do on this end to get the print I want on the lab end.

              I've started a thread HERE for the specific purpose of discussing how to get good prints from digital files. You might check it out and even post some samples of images that are not getting good results when printed at the lab to see if that helps any.

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              • #8
                Frontier success

                Friends
                Today I had a 10x8 photo printed at another local lab. Thay arent a pro lab but the operator was prepared to listen and give me some of his time. We found out that their Frontier does not read any embedded profiles. All of the test prints (saved with different profiles) looked the same despite looking very different on my own monitor. This time the operator switched off the auto correction for each photograph, now the photograph very closely matches what I see on my monitor. I use sRGB*&^%$ working space.
                So, a roughly (Adobe gamma) calibrated monitor + sRGB working space + no embedded profile + Frontier auto-correction switched off = pleasing prints. Well worth spending a couple of quid on!!!!
                Many thanks for the help folks
                Kindest regards
                Charles

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                • #9
                  Charles - having the sRGB profile in the RGB file may actually help at some later point in the life of the file, but you can also add it to the filename etc. I think there is more chance for good than harm from a RGB profile, but as you say it is not critical in this case if the Frontier does not use colour management anyway.

                  The key here is that auto corrections were disabled allowing the file to be simply output - putting the onus on you to convert and prepare the file in the output space...which is 'FrontierRGB' or whatever...and I seem to recall it being said that sRGB is close to the native space of the Frontier - so it seems that you were dead on the money. As your steps show, for a certain image - an eyeball calibration/profiling, colour management, image editing skills and output that honours your files intention can all link together and produce a more than acceptable result.

                  The key here is finding the right LAB, or to find how the LAB in question works and to try to fit their workflow (where possible) so that you do not get poor results from bucking the system or running into ignorance etc. I would presume that most of these places run like a 'sausage factory' and your files final output colour accuracy is not a big concern to them - as long as it looks pleasing they have done their job...but if they are advertising themself as colour savvy - then they better be, as their users may well know whats going on.

                  Stephen Marsh.

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