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Thread: Photos never match print labs... How?

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    Unhappy Photos never match print labs... How?

    Every time I send my photo to print labs to print, It never seems to match the proof sample printed by my bubble jet, that I give to them for reference...

    How to calibrate my photoshop to their machines?

    Also, Kodak or Fuji developers better?

    Help!!!!!!!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    I take it that you are not a DTP graphic designer or someone who is into computer stuff.

    You are chasing something that can never be done perfectly. You need to understand some basic photo production work, digital and film printing and how difference print equipment works and produces colours for printing.

    To put it simply, what your Canon or Epson colour bubble jet printer prints in terms of colour richness, contrast and resolution, can never be fully reproduce faithful by another print medium technology. You can try to get as close to the colour range but never exactly. That is the "Holy Grail" of colour reproduction compatibility. The photo shops will take your negative or digital file to produce the prints on photo paper or some colour dye print system. Whatever brand of photo paper or ink dye system used to produce 3R or 4R..etc will have roughly about the same general colour range and tolerance plus maybe abit more, give or take, depending on the brand and price you pay. You will notice that those photo picture usually don't produce POP COLOURS like shocking pink or florescent green well. Stark bright POP colours for example usually come out more muted or less "lively". Some brand of photo prints ( same goes for various type of DSLRs too) gives better red or green or blue..etc. With your computer bubble jet printer...POP colours are alot easier to product becasue of their ink jet colour system. This is becasue your printer approached the printing of colours and resolution very difference from a photo shop's printing machine that process and develop your prints.

    In recent years there might have been some big advances in colour reproduction work but it is still very far from being perfect. Just look at Canon and Nikon. Till today, they will not agree to use one standard RAW file format. Everyone wants to have their own propriety format for the sake of gaining market share. This just makes matters worst when you consider this competition is not just about camera makers but also film makers, reproduction equipment...etc.

    Even now, what you see on your PC will not come out 100% right with your bubble jet printouts. This is because the colour produce on your PC's monitor is illuminating the colours by a cathode light tube from the back and into your eyes. A piece of paper does not have light shining from the back to bring out the colour to the front and into your eyes so we see that as less brilliant. So we compensate in a way by shining a light on the paper or viewing it in a illuminate area. There's also the matter of choice of paper used for your bubble jet printing. If you buy a Epson printer and use normal photocopy paper to print..the print is usually very average slightly fuzzy print and the colours are dull. But if you use a special buble jet paper from Epson to do the print again, this time the colours look very vivid and brighter.Lines are sharp since the paper is fast drying and does not let the ink blot. BUT..use another generic brand of bubble jet paper and you still might get another slightly difference colour cast or quality of prints. If you think that is hard to digest wait till you becoming a designer like myself or decide to dive alot deeper into doing more reproduction work in your photographic hobby.

    Every project is a challenge in itself. If you are using various mix media to compose and produce one finish creative image and it then have to be replicated and output into various media like magazine, newspaper, brochure on fancy paper, light box transprencies, video, film...etc...then you will know what a true headache from hell feels like heheh...

    For example, if you do a newspaper ad in full colour..the colour separation had to be adjusted for the bias off-white paper which can cause certain lighter colours to change slightly. And in cases where certain colours can't be produce accurately ( a very touchy problem especially if it is a company's corporate logo colour) by a particular medium's colour range (e.g offset 4 colour printing) then you might need to spend addition cost to add a special colour to it. (5 colour printing instead of 4) The list of incompatibility issues is a long one to say the least.

    Photo print's colour range and sensitivity is not the same as your bubble jet printer my friend. You can talk till the cows come home and keep showing your printed proof to the staff at the photo shop or a series of photo shops and it will still not be spot-on. And another things...unless you are going to those rare and very specialised photoshop with really professionally trained staff ( which means very expensive reproduction fees) dont expect your local neightbourhood photo shop to do great work on your job. And they are most likely colour blind. heheh You do need to be train to look at colours and understanding how to use the machine to fine tune its setting to produce your works. Also to get your prints closer to your bubble jet printout..you actually have to know what brand is their photo developing machine, software use, driver info..etc Which I doubt you would and also if the shop actually know how to calibrate their machine to not just do you prints but thousand of others too.

    The nearest possible "fit" to getting something reasonable close to the way your image look would be to have your file convert to sRGB I or II. Then do all the picture manipulation that you want, change the colour..etc then use that file to send for reproduction at the photo shops. That is "suppose" to be the universal standard but dont take that claim literally. It is still not a perfect science yet.

    In ending, if you are happy with what your printer has printed as proofs...why not buy more of the paper and do your own printing. That's what I do.

    I could write alot more about this topic but I think this will help abit in explaining to let you know that you are chasing a perfection that is not here yet.
    Last edited by sammy888; 10th December 2004 at 03:19 AM.

  3. #3

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    My workflow is a bit different. Not really orthodox, but it works.

    I send to the lab in sRGB format, tell them not to do any editing.
    Then I'll calibrate my monitor using the printouts from the lab.

    Simple, and it works for me...

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by AReality
    My workflow is a bit different. Not really orthodox, but it works.

    I send to the lab in sRGB format, tell them not to do any editing.
    Then I'll calibrate my monitor using the printouts from the lab.

    Simple, and it works for me...
    I double that. Doing the same things too. Use the Adoba Gamma under Control Panel. Don't use the Wizard mode and switch off the "View Single Gamma Only" and you will see three colour channels. Adjust it accordingly.

    As for which lab better. Personally prefer Fuji. Tried Kodak and had very bad printout. Noisy + off colour. Not sure what's the problem. Hehhee.

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    That is a solution worth considering but even then you will not get 100% accuracy. If you happen to change photo shops, the person operating the machine changed the setting and forgot to change it back, the chemical in the machine is not changed consistanty..all this factors can come into play too.

  6. #6

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    u may have to trawl the net for ICC profiles for the particular Fuji or Noritsu printer etc... (or if your lab knows what its doing, get it from them) and load that into PS.....

    but before that, calibrate your monitor...adobe gamma is a start...

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    Quote Originally Posted by GitS
    u may have to trawl the net for ICC profiles for the particular Fuji or Noritsu printer etc... (or if your lab knows what its doing, get it from them) and load that into PS.....

    but before that, calibrate your monitor...adobe gamma is a start...
    I actually went to find out what machine my lab is using... But how do I go about finding the ICC profile for the machine. Is it downloadable from FujiFilm's website free or must pay?

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    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raid
    I actually went to find out what machine my lab is using... But how do I go about finding the ICC profile for the machine. Is it downloadable from FujiFilm's website free or must pay?

    Not to make fun of the situation but ...if you can find it, that will be a first I have ever heard of such a thing heheh... good luck.

    U can find ICC or colour calibration driver for four colour separation machinese and even some digital offset printing machine but one that included those photo shop's film and photo print machinese..that is almost unheard of. Unless the e-pic and prints they make are done in newer and more specialise machine to handle digital film work and printing.
    Last edited by sammy888; 10th December 2004 at 02:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sammy888
    Not to make fun of the situation but ...if you can find it, that will be a first I have ever heard of such a thing heheh... good luck.

    U can find ICC or colour calibration driver for four colour separation machinese and even some digital offset printing machine but one that included those photo shop's film and photo print machinese..that is almost unheard of. Unless the e-pic and prints they make are done in newer and more specialise machine to handle digital film work and printing.
    A good lab with color managed workflow should have Printer profile of each paper used...

    there are labs who provide printer profile of their printer here in singapore.

    sanver

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanver
    A good lab with color managed workflow should have Printer profile of each paper used...

    there are labs who provide printer profile of their printer here in singapore.

    sanver
    I agree there are. They are not your run of the mill photo developing shops and they don't charge your normal fee too. Plus I know that some are not into giving out colour profile for their developing machine as per say but a universal colour profile adopted in part by the machine they bought and use to service your photo printing needs. They are more accurate in a way as they change their chemical when it needs to but ifyou go to one of those normal mini labs sprinkled thoroughout SIngapore....they are not exactly managed by what you would call trained specialised staff but just someone brought in train to basically work the machine and then off they go doing your prints. How much adjustments depend on how much you willing to spend. Adjustments cause money and time.

    Also even if you have the colour profile of their machine it is not 100% unless you actually take the trouble to set up your home room with the rigth lighting, buy only the best PC monitor that actually conform to a colour profile standard, adjusted with the right colour calibration hardware/software and use of a compatible sotware which comes with the right colour profile or does accept 3rd party colour profile into their plugin like say Photoshop and also a printer that comes with the ability to do accurate colour profile printing for reference copy. Then maybe you get something that will be consistently accurate. Oh and there is also the matter of whether you do know how to "read" colours too as I mentioned.

    I am saying this as I known photo shops who has sometime difficult problems with customer who they themselves dont know better or from hearsay would give processing lab owners a hard time over trying to get the colour "right" the way they see it in their PC, printed copy, from their TV..etc. Explainging things to them does not help either. Alot has this idea that in this modern day, this should definitely be possible. All I am saying is if someone wants to get that kind of professional quality is...are they willing to pay for it and take the trouble to learn what it takes at their end and invest quite a large budget in investing on the right equipment (apart from their camera) to prepare the data that will THEN be submitted to the lab for processing and printing.

    And for those who has got their home photo editing setup right, they are the only one who will benefit really from the colour profile data the photo print shop can offer.

    Just that in the case of our fellow forummer who was asking the question, he sounds new to this part of the digital photographic experience. Thus I am writing to say, slow down and be a bit patience to learn some of the correct ways to go about it and not be jumpy when initially they don't get the results they were looking for.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanver
    A good lab with color managed workflow should have Printer profile of each paper used...

    there are labs who provide printer profile of their printer here in singapore.

    sanver
    yes. go to the fuji website. i think i've seen it there or somewhere.... like i said, be prepared to search the web for it. wat sammy888 is trying to say in a nutshell is that color calibration is an involving multi-part process...be prepared for some hard work if u want to get it right...its not impossible...

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by AReality
    My workflow is a bit different. Not really orthodox, but it works.

    I send to the lab in sRGB format, tell them not to do any editing.
    Then I'll calibrate my monitor using the printouts from the lab.

    Simple, and it works for me...
    I'm still grappling with the tough topic of color management... see my other post. (Think they should have a local degree course in the uni for this!! Seriously.)

    I believe different photographers have different standards and preferences. Will just add my 2 cents worth. From my own reading and experience, I personally won't do the above suggestion. (Emphasize: No offence, like I said, different people do it differently.)

    What you are essentially doing is reverse calibration. You are using a non-standard color profile (ie the shop) to suit your monitor. The big downside in this method is that no one knows what that standard is. If you open your images in another calibrated monitor or go to another shop to print, the colours could be undesirable off.

    I think a much more preferred way is to first calibrate your monitor using any of the monitor calibration devices available on the market. That's the Gold standard. So if you open your images on another monitor that has been calibrated similarly, the colours should be close, if not identical.

    The printing part is tricky. I think a good deal of people are still learning hard and groping around where this is concerned. As far as the pros are concerned, I notice they would rather do the printing themselves on their printers. This means they also have their printers calibrated.

    Come to think of it, in the days of films, we never quite bother with the issue of absolute accurate colour reproduction. We just send our films to the labs and trust they could come out with the 'right' colours. Of course nothing is right. If you send the negatives to the same shop months later, chances are the colours may be different, even slightly. It could be more different if you send them to different labs.

    It's only when we go into digital that we demand to do everything ourselves, from sharpening to accurate colours. I personally feel it's a hard task. You probably got to get an ICC profile from the shop.

    Another question: Why do you use sRGB for printing? I've gotten richer colours with Adobe RGB when printing. sRGB has a more limited colour gamut.

    Pardon me if my opinion differs from yours. Hope to gain/learn more by this sharing...

  13. #13

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    will the normal shops be able to print in adobe rgb?

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    Actually, all you need is to just calibrate your monitor, send the shots in for printing.

    Reverse calibration (from prints) is not really advisable as you need to be under the correct light to view the proofs, if you're under wrong lights, you get wrong results.

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    When comparing Frontier 390 Fuji Crystal Archive Matt and glossy to sRGB, the gamuts are virtually identical. At the extreme ends, eg: saturated red, blue and green, sRGB gamut exceeds what a Frontier machine is capable of.

    So where Fuji Frontier is concerned, Adobe RGB should not produce more saturated colours than sRGB since both exceed the gamut of a Frontier machine.

    Furthermore, I think that consumer labs discard profile information (if you ask the operator about Adobe RGB and he/she doesn't understand what you are talking about, I doubt they keep the profile info).

    I use sRGB for printing as well. More consistency and less headache

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    Frontier model 340 has a "no convert" option besides "sRGB convert" option like older models 350/330/370. This option will give slightly bigger gamut towards yellow & blues so it delivers more saturated blues & yellows.

    Adobe RGB : adobe rgb is an editing color space. there is no printer currently in the world which can reproduce whole Adobe rgb color gamut.

    All Fuji Frontier or noritsu minilabs discard any embedded profiles. there fore if an image has an embeded Adobe RGB profile , Fuji or Noritsu minilabs will discard the embedde profile and just print the image data. You will find prints from such images have muted colors. This is the same as viewing an image with embedded adobe rgb profile with a image browser which does not read embedded profiles.

    If your workflow includes that you shoot in Adobe rgb, edit in Adobe rgb. then my recommendation would be that after you finish all you editing , convert the image to sRGB color space and save as jpg for Lab printing. This way you will get the correct colors.

    hope this helps . ..

    sanver

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    thanks erwinx and sanver...

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    I shoot in RAW... And I notice that when I switch the profile to AdobeRGB, the skin tones becomes a weird yellowish colour. While the colours for the other "inanimate" objects looks great, my main concern is that the unhealthy colour of the human subjects.. :P

    How do I go about this problem? Is this normal?

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    Talk to the Lab boss and see whether you can do some test prints before bulk print.
    See my Photo Gallery at the Clubsnap

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    raid: Do your processing in sRGB and read sanver's reply, visit his shop if you can, maybe he'll be able to help you figure out your headache

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