ckw
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

Prints From Digital

Tue Dec 03, 2002 6:51 pm

Well after much prompting from Gary (Granite) I finally tried out Photobox (www.photobox.co.uk) as a supplier for online prints.

I took a favorite shot, prepared it as I would for printing at A4 size on my Epson 890 and made a print on Epson premium gloss. I then sent the same file (uncompressed jpg) to Photobox and ordered A4 and A2 size prints - the file I sent was 2568 pixels on the longest dimension ... (Photobox recommend 2400+ for A2).

The results were interesting. At first glance both the Photobox prints were excellent, however, comparing my Epson generated A4 with the Photobox A4 I didn't see a big difference in quality. On the whole, the Photobox print had more natural colours, but less contrast. The Epson print had more punch - arguably too much. Surprisingly the Epson print was slightly sharper than the Photobox. All in all, I would see no reason to use Photobox for work at this size ... but it has provided me with a useful reference for fine tuning my colour settings.

The A2 image however, tells a different story - it is almost as good as the A4, despite being 4x the size. Colour & contrast are nearly identical, and there is
negligable noise/grain. The image is slightly less sharp, but only slightly and this difference is only visible on close inspection.

In short, while both Photobox prints are excellent, I think I'm happier with my own printer for sizes up to A4 in that it is both cheaper per print and gives me total control over the final image.

But for large prints, Photobox sure impresses!

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
ake0404ar
Posts: 2379
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 10:55 am

RE: Prints From Digital

Tue Dec 03, 2002 7:30 pm

Colin,

excuse my igonrance, but I am a total newbie to printing especially digital printing.....how to you do it?

Take the untouced jpg or raw file, make your adjustments, tone etc....and then print it? Do you have to sharpen at all?

Thanks
Vasco

 
ckw
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Prints From Digital

Tue Dec 03, 2002 10:21 pm

Vasco - wish I could answer that with a single line!

In theory you could print direct from the scanner or digicam (or CF card). In fact, some printers now offer a card slot so you can bypass the PC altogether!

Many printers also incorporate some form of photoenhancement which adjusts contrast and sharpness.

In practice, going this route will produce a result which is pretty good - say 85% good - but could be improved. Getting that extra 15% will drive you mad!

Firstly most images can be improved by a little processing - DSLR output can almost certainly benefit from some USM ... I find sharpening to the point where it looks a little oversharp on screen is about right for printing (on an ink jet).

Secondly, I've yet to find a printer which produces accurate colour straight out the box (it could be argued that they never can!), but usually a little experimentation and adjustment to the printer settings is required to get the best possible result. It's a good idea to experiment with portraits as the ey is very sensitive to colour casts on skin. Sadly this is all a bit trial and error and needs to take into account the ink, paper and printer model. It is also essential to calibrate your monitor as best you can before attempting any of this!

To be honest, if you only want the occasional print, you're much better sending the image to an online printer - taking care to prepare the file to their instructions - but, if like me, you need to produce a lot of prints, then current photo ink jets are certainly up to the job ... but be prepared to invest a fair bit of time, paper and ink to getting things just right. I would also run a mile from any "budget" inks and papers - any I've tried have always produced inferior results to the maker's products ... and in some cases caused real headaches (clogged nozzles, prints that won't dry etc.).

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
joe pries
Posts: 1922
Joined: Sat May 13, 2000 1:04 am

RE: Prints From Digital

Tue Dec 03, 2002 10:53 pm

Colin, just get a canon S9000 and you dont have to worry about anything- ever. I've been putting alot of pressure on mine with 8x12 prints, commercial jobs, family pics- that thing cranks out perfection- each and every time. I recommend it to anyone, even nicon users.

Joe
 
ckw
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Prints From Digital

Wed Dec 04, 2002 2:21 am

Joe - Possibly the next item on my list, but also interested in the Epson 2100/2200. Trying to decide whether I need a larger than A4 print capability or whether I should simply get the bigger stuff done commercially.

Critical thing for me is skin tones in portraits - still think Epson can handle these better, though the Canon's speed is very attractive!

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel

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