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View Full Version : Why don't my prints ever look like they should?!


cocheese20
3rd of December 2006 (Sun), 22:46
I spend all this time getting my prints exactly how I want them to look, only to have them come, or too light, or too something when they are printed... Do I have my monitor set wrong? Is there some special secret I don't know about to get my prints the way they should? Am I supposed to buy a printer and learn that way? Anyway, I had them printed out at a Ritz camera. Any suggestions of a better place to go? I just hate spending all this time photoshopping away to get something exactly how I want it, only to have it messed up when an actual print arrives. Any help?

Skrim17
3rd of December 2006 (Sun), 22:47
I would try calibrating your monitor and have a few more printed to see how they look.

liza
3rd of December 2006 (Sun), 22:55
Try sending them to www.mpix.com and checking "do not color correct" on your order. I've always been pleased with them.

tbfoto
3rd of December 2006 (Sun), 23:46
Mpix is great!

PhotosGuy
4th of December 2006 (Mon), 09:42
Costco & Sam's Club Digital Prints
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=123887

StealthLude
4th of December 2006 (Mon), 17:00
I second monitor calibration hardware and I print at costco using their ICC Printer profiles and "do not auto correct my prints"

Even with all this done, my colors / brightness dont match 100%, but its close enought to get me the result I want.

Im still calibrating and using different lighting that I view my prints with, my goal is to get color and exposure matching so close that what you see is what you get.

So even after spending $200 on calibration hardware, there is still more work I need to do... sigh.

PhotosGuy
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 00:08
Even with all this done, my colors / brightness dont match 100%, but its close enought to get me the result I want. Keep in mind that there's a big difference between sRGB vs the dyes in the prints & vs the pigments the cmyk press printers use.
But, if your printer is consistent, as I've found Costco to be, you should be able to make a 100% crop 4X6" print to check what you'll get on a bigger print. I've done that with thier 12X18" & the match is exact. ;)

islandphoto
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 00:22
I notice that when I upload to costco.com I'm very pleased with the colors and everything but when I take it in the colors look a bit off... not sure why. They say they don't color correct.

Bob_A
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 00:28
If you send them to an outside lab they apply auto corrections and enhancements unless they have a choice telling them not to. The auto corrections will often effectively "undo" a lot of the adjustments you make in PS.

When I first started with digital I had some images with a yellow cast that I corrected then sent the files to a local mini-lab. They came back just as yellow as before my adjustments ... so I over-emphasized the corrections (went on the cool side) and sent them off again. They came back looking identical to the first set they printed ... yellow.

I've tried the printing service from Smugmug a few times selecting no adjustments and the prints came back spot on. Also have used a pro lab in Vancouver BC that does an excellent job.

islandphoto
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 00:32
I always turn autocorrect off with costco.com
for some reason they look better than when I take them in... Anyone else?

TheSteveMadden
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 00:42
One more consideration... if your attempting to critically compare prints to your monitor, you'll need to make sure your print viewing is done using controlled lighting. Viewing the prints under normal warm tungsten light sources will seldom match the monitor, even with ambient adjustments like that on the Huey.

My bottom line... I judge solely based on the way the print looks and is it what I expected. If I like them, I don't worry about slight differences. If not, then I find out why.

BTW: I just got my Christmas cards back from MPix and this is the first order where I selected the "Do Not Correct" option (with more than a little trepidation). This is by far the best match to what I expected so far. I'm very very pleased.

nevilleb
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 01:37
Monitor Calibration, printer calibration. You need to read up on both of these issues!

nevilleb

Lin-z
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 01:40
How do you calibrate for a place like Sam's?

PhotosGuy
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 09:22
for some reason they look better than when I take them in... So, stop taking them in? ;)
I've not seen that at mine. I've used a 4X6 100% crop to check colors for a 12X18, & they've always matched the finished print.

Jonny
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 09:44
i have found even with a calibrated display the brightness may still be an issue.
I tend to do a 20% brightness increase and adjust contrast as a last step befor sending them to a lab.
Printing at home is a different story.

Picture North Carolina
6th of December 2006 (Wed), 11:07
Costco & Sam's Club Digital Prints


I sent one batch to Costco and I'll never make that mistake again. Snapfish totally screwed up everything, even including the aspect ratio, before forwarding them to costco. /Dan

Gujustud
8th of December 2006 (Fri), 11:57
Also have used a pro lab in Vancouver BC that does an excellent job.

Which lab in Vancouver? G King? ABC?

Bob_A
8th of December 2006 (Fri), 13:04
www.thelabvancouver.com

ibdb
8th of December 2006 (Fri), 15:43
I sent one batch to Costco and I'll never make that mistake again. Snapfish totally screwed up everything, even including the aspect ratio, before forwarding them to costco. /Dan
I've been extremely pleased with the prints I've received through Costco. I have two more 8x10s ready to pick up this afternoon.

My biggest problem is user error - selecting the correct profile, applying the correct profile. I had a batch of 4x6s come out a little off and I couldn't figure out why until I noticed that I'd forgotten to apply the correct Costco profile to the shots before submission -- I'd submitted them in the wrong color space and they were printed just like I'd told them to, which happened to be wrong. :(

canoflan
8th of December 2006 (Fri), 16:05
I spend all this time getting my prints exactly how I want them to look, only to have them come, or too light, or too something when they are printed... Do I have my monitor set wrong? Is there some special secret I don't know about to get my prints the way they should? Am I supposed to buy a printer and learn that way? Anyway, I had them printed out at a Ritz camera. Any suggestions of a better place to go? I just hate spending all this time photoshopping away to get something exactly how I want it, only to have it messed up when an actual print arrives. Any help?

I don't know what type of monitor you have, however, the money you spend on a Monaco Optix or similar monitor calibration device will pay off in great sleep and joy in your prints. Even if you tell a place to not color correct, if you monitor isn't correctly showing you color, then you will still get different results from the printer because you don't know how far your monitor is off from correct color and you are adjusting to an unknown standard. After you do this, you can send somewhere, tell them no color correction and you are sure to get consistent prints.

PhotosGuy
9th of December 2006 (Sat), 11:25
I'd forgotten to apply the correct Costco profile to the shots before submission -- I'd submitted them in the wrong color space and they were printed just like I'd told them to, which happened to be wrong. I did that once & the 2nd profiled print came looking the same! Just lucky that my color space was the same as thier profile, I guess. I asked them & they said that they've noticed that there wasn't much difference, either.

Just a thought: My Costco upgrades thier profiles once a year. Check with yours to find out when you should switch.

ibdb
9th of December 2006 (Sat), 19:07
Good reminder. There was definitely a difference between correctly and incorrectly profiled shots for me. Incorrect ones were still ok -- but darker and less vibrant.

Mine is due to get a new printer the first of the year that will allow them to print 16x20s in store. Their current printer "only" does 12x18. I'm sure they'll have new profiles for that one.

mij
12th of December 2006 (Tue), 17:26
Despite that colours on the Mac are supposed to be brighter than on Windows, checking out some pictures on an old CRT on a Windows machine it turns out they are noticeably darker. Now having just made my first order with Photobox they are darker than my PowerBook, and so quite a bit removed from the way most people would view them online.

My laptop' panel is only at half brightness anyway, and the only way to get it close to the prints would be to have it at the lowest setting, but then the colours are practically lost on screen. I have also tried soft proofing using the ICC profiles of the machines Photobox uses and while they dim slightly, it is nothing like the actual prints.

It is very confusing and I am not really sure that there is an answer, from searching on Google many people who have calibrated monitors claim to have the same problem with darker prints. I guess the only thing I can do is reduce the brightness in Photoshop until it matches the prints, note the amount, then whenever I want to order prints just brighten them by the same amount.

Michael.

DragonJade
13th of December 2006 (Wed), 07:40
Does anyone know if Photobox corrects or if there's an opt out check button somewhere?

René Damkot
13th of December 2006 (Wed), 07:55
Despite that colours on the Mac are supposed to be brighter than on Windows,
They are not. That's what color management is for.

checking out some pictures on an old CRT on a Windows machine it turns out they are noticeably darker. Now having just made my first order with Photobox they are darker than my PowerBook, and so quite a bit removed from the way most people would view them online.

My laptop' panel is only at half brightness anyway, and the only way to get it close to the prints would be to have it at the lowest setting, but then the colours are practically lost on screen. I have also tried soft proofing using the ICC profiles of the machines Photobox uses and while they dim slightly, it is nothing like the actual prints.

Calibrate your monitors. If nothing else, use Adobe Gamma.
Use color management.

It is very confusing and I am not really sure that there is an answer, from searching on Google many people who have calibrated monitors claim to have the same problem with darker prints. I guess the only thing I can do is reduce the brightness in Photoshop until it matches the prints, note the amount, then whenever I want to order prints just brighten them by the same amount.

Not what I'd call a solution...

mij
13th of December 2006 (Wed), 09:13
Does anyone know if Photobox corrects or if there's an opt out check button somewhere?

Photobox does not provide any correction.

They are not. That's what color management is for.

The native Mac gamma is 1.8 and the native PC gamma is 2.2. I know you can change it but as a standard rule which governs how the vast majority of people will look at a picture online a Mac user should see a brighter image than a Windows user. As the monitor on the Windows machine has not been calibrated in any way I am surprised to find the opposite result.

Calibrate your monitors. If nothing else, use Adobe Gamma.
Use color management.

My laptop has been calibrated through software and has a custom profile. I realize it is not perfect, a hardware solution is not something I cannot afford, but I would at least expect approximately similar results.

As to the CRT monitor, this is something I rarely use on a machine which acts as a server and so has not been calibrated. In fact I quite like this about it as it means I have something which mimics how most people will view things online which is useful for testing.

Not what I'd call a solution...

It is certainly not an ideal solution, but it is the only one available to me. As I said I did a lot of reading on Google about people getting darker prints and read enough comments from those who did use hardware calibration on their monitors that they too have been receiving the same results to suggest it is not so simple as a lack of colour management.

A better soloution might be to find a better lab.

Michael.

mij
13th of December 2006 (Wed), 09:22
Conversely, an comparative review of labs linked on talkphotography.co.uk today suggests that the problem with Photobox is that their prints are too bright:

Print orders from Photobox in May 2004, however, show that contrast and brightness are now being modified in the printing process to the extent that details in highlight areas are washed out, some colours are printed unnaturally bright and any sharpening artefacts present in the original images are emphasised noticeably. Photobox were very helpful in attempting to resolve the problem but after several reprints with identical results they were unable to account for this change in print quality.

Source: http://www.ee.ucl.ac.uk/~dgriffin/digitalprintreview/jun04.html

Michael.