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  1. #1
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    Where/how do YOU print?

    Now that I have this wonderful new E-510, and learning to use its staggering array of functions, I am now wondering what to do about printing photos. I read an online article that more or less said don't bother doing it yourself, because one has to buy a color calibrator for the computer, a photo quality printer etc. and the cost is prohibitive. The writer maintained that one would waste a great deal of paper and ink trying to get the image to match the one on the computer screen. Well, being a veteran of the darkroom--not ever having been satisfied with anyone rpinting my BW images but me--I am wondering what you guys do. Print it yourself or send it to Wal-Mart or a trusted custom lab?

    The one big appeal of a DSLR was that I would be able to do so many things in camera and in front of the computer screen that used to take a bagful of different films, papers etc. I would love to save only my best images, and having them printed if I can trust a lab.

    A friend still shoots B&W film, develops it and then does his "darkroom" work by scanning the negatives, tweaking with PhotoShop and printing on a professional grade Epson printer using archival inks. The results are spectacular!

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    I print at home. Actually, at a friend's house, but same difference. Here comes the rant.

    I've sent out files to a few different places to get test prints, and invariably they come out wrong. I get funny file sizes where it is obvious that they have cropped my image to their aspect ratios (I always set aspect ratio and image size in photoshop - i actually WANT white unprinted borders) and they always come back printed edge-to-edge and with funky contrast.

    I asked a wolf camera why that happened and they said that most people don't know the first thing about photo printing so most printers (including wolf) run some program to "enhance" digital files. I was PO'd because they had botched the crop (altered my file!) and the color/contrast (altered my file!) in order to offer a more palatable finished print. I got my prints free, but they were ruined regardless. It's a good thing that I didn't need them for a client - that could have ruined a job. Indeed the prints WERE an xmas present for my mom so she won't ever say anything bad about them, but I think they look terrible.

    So now I only print at home. I have calibrated my monitor (worth it!) I choose the inks, I choose the paper, I choose the printer, I choose the output values like image dimensions and output resolution. I have printed a couple coasters, but that's always been something like a plogged nozzle or user error - NEVER has it been any program altering my files for a more palatable output. It ends up being prohibitively expensive for small prints, but a3/b+ prints have never been cheaper
    Erik Williams

    Olympus E3, E510
    12-60 SWD, 50-200 SWD, 50 f/2 macro, EX25, FL36's and an FL50r.

  3. #3
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    Erik makes some wonderful points. If you can afford it and have the time in house would be the best. But because of the cost and that I don't print everything I chose to have it done. I use MPIX. They do great work and have very fast customer service. As far as crop factor I make a layer in PhotoShop and border the image and then ask MPIX to trim the edges of the picture. This way I can have any size print I want done printed up.
    MPIX has made their share of mistakes with my prints but they stand behind their work and will send out a corrected print with no questions ask.
    Places like Wal-mart don't print 12x8's, which is my favorite size. They also are pretty limited to 8x10's. So I rarely use them. Plus MPIX smokes places like that with their quality work and MPIX really isn't that much more expensive.
    MPIX offers several papers to choice from as well.
    I am like Barney Fife, I have a gun but Andy makes me keep the bullet in my pocket..

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  4. #4
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    When I first got into digital photography, I had thoughts of setting up my own printer, and printing everything myself. My wife even surprised me with a photo printer. Unknown to her at the time, I had decided against printing my own photos. I discovered that in order to to it the way I wanted to do it, it would cost a fortune. Not just money, but time as well. I'm sure there are plenty of people who do it with great success, but it just wasn't for me. I do have a very inexpensive ink jet printer that I will run a 4x6 print through every once in a while if I need to mock something up, but that's about the extend of my home printing.

    Like Greg, I order almost all of my prints through www.mpix.com. The print quality is great, and the customer service is even better (as long as you don't mind using email to contact them). The flat rate shipping is great for large orders, and they have many other products and services they offer besides just prints.

    I have gotten some test prints back from White House Custom Color and they too were top notch. I haven't had a lot of time to really dig into them but I was very happy with the test prints.

    Adoramapix.com is pretty good as well.

    I have used some of the cheaper places like snapfish and winkflash and they are OK, but no where near the quality of Mpix or WHCC.
    Mike

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  5. #5
    Panarus biarmicus Moderator (Sports) SmartWombat's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    My local Costco.
    I have them trained

    They will accept files profiled for their printer (the profile is on the www) and will turn off local enhancements if I ask.
    They enjoy the challenge, I think, and also want to push the limits.

    They said they could do a panorama 18" by about 3 metres at the limit of the machine ... and did I have one?
    I'm working on that ...
    PAul

    Scroll down to the Sports Forum and post your sports pictures !

  6. #6
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    i had a couple of things printed up by walmart and walgreens. i needed them quick and cheap.
    walmart actually took a little while longer than i was hoping for. for whatever reason, they do matte in the store, but they have to mail the glossy prints in. as far as my prints, they did not mess with the size that i sent them...but i think that there was some slight "corrections" done to the photos color/contrast/brightness.
    i was very surprised and happy by the prints i got from Walgreens. i uploaded the files to their website, waited an hour, walked across the street, and got my prints. everything looked great. again, the size was not messed with and everything looked exactly like the file that i sent them.
    i dont do much printing, but next time i will use Walgreens until they prove me wrong.

    PS. my friend had a few prints done at a huge local camera/print shop.....he was pretty dissapointed and was jealous of my cheapo 1-hour prints from the drug store.

  7. #7
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    So, if I spend time tweaking my shots, getting them the way I want them to look using Oly Master 2 or Photoshop, some numbskull at one of these places is going to decide what is best and change the size, contrast etc. unless I do what? specify that they leave things alone?

    When I shot 35mm and wanted an excellent print, I shot slide film and had cibachrome prints made at a lab I trusted. That is what I am looking for in digital.

    Thanks for the info!

  8. #8
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    So, if I spend time tweaking my shots, getting them the way I want them to look using Oly Master 2 or Photoshop, some numbskull at one of these places is going to decide what is best and change the size, contrast etc. unless I do what? specify that they leave things alone?

    When I shot 35mm and wanted an excellent print, I shot slide film and had cibachrome prints made at a lab I trusted. That is what I am looking for in digital.

    Thanks for the info!

  9. #9
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    Exactly right.

    In my experience, the default for digital printing is an "enhanced" photo that has had adjustments made by some program in the lab. I've tried walgreens, CVS, and some other drug store prints with the same results.

    I've also talked to some labs who have specified that they will not edit my photo if I ask them not to - seems like a "duh" moment to me. Really? they are going to edit MY FILE unless I ask them not to?

    It just seems weird that I'd submit an 8x8 photo and get it back printed edge to edge at 8x10. That's a square crop, resized in photoshop to 8x8, and adjusted for dpi output. The file then contains instructions for the printer to print it at 8x8. It's not difficult.

    What really gets me is the global edits. I understand that they might botch a crop once in a while, but they really have no business adjusting my contrast, tone curve, saturation or any other aspect of my photo. I've spent long enough in front of the computer screen getting it just right.
    Erik Williams

    Olympus E3, E510
    12-60 SWD, 50-200 SWD, 50 f/2 macro, EX25, FL36's and an FL50r.

  10. #10
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    Any places that will accept RAW files for printing?

    Any places that will use my PhotoPro Colorspace for printing & No enhance anything if I send them a JPEG?

    I have never trusted photo places that try to make printing easier than it should be... Where can I go that isnt too expensive but will not alter my prints or print them using the incorrect color space?

    Seems to me that most of the people printing this stuff don't even know what a color space is!?!?

  11. #11
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    When you set up an account at Mpix, you can choose a box that says do not color correct my photos. Once you set this preference in your account profile, all of your orders will be left untouched, unless you uncheck that box when you check out.

    If you do have mpix color correct your images, it's an actual trained person looking at your photos, not an auto correct done by a preprogramed machine. I have ordered prints both with and without the color corrections done, and to be honest, I can't tell a difference. If they do make an adjustment, it is very minor.

    Most good online printing labs will send you their printer profiles so you can adjust your system to very closely match their output. If you ask, they will also send you a CD with a file on it along with a printout of that file to help you set your system up to match theirs.

    You also choose the way your image is cropped in the ordering process. They print in sRGB color space so you may have to change that if you're using something else.

    Sorry if this sounds like an advertisement for mpix, it's not. I posted this to let you know that not all online printers are created equally. Mpix will let you maintain control over your images so you don't have to worry about a machine making auto corrections for you.
    Last edited by mjs1973; 11-19-2008 at 06:46 AM.
    Mike

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  12. #12
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    Don't forget that you need to calibrate your monitor in order for this advice to be effective. If you don't do this, you have no way of knowing what your own editing will really look like. This is step one. It's easy and not that expensive. I have the cheapest Spyder product. It was only about $65 and it does the job.

    After that, just make sure you find a print lab that is willing to provide their printer profiles, or at least tell you which standard color space (sRGB, Adobe RGB, etc.) to use, so you can convert your files to the correct profile before sending them in.

    If you don't do these two things, like the average soccer mom, then the auto-corrections might actually improve your prints.

    Paul

  13. #13
    Resident Dallas Cowboys Guru AnthonyH's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    Wow, I had never heard of Mpix before. That is a great website, glad I signed up here.

  14. #14
    Have Cameras. Will Shoot! NaturalWoman's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    old thread/didn't want to make a new one. quick question.

    client wants an 11 x 14 print from my 4/3 camera. it ain't happening, but i ordered it and i ordered the 10 x 15 - the latter preserving everything and a very small white border at the top and bottom. the 11 x 14 has a huge almost 3 inch border. matting the photo will not hide the white border completely, as i already cropped the image a bit myself.

    she already has matting and framing at home for an 11 x 14, but it will not look right. the 10 x 15 is a better fit, but she would have to buy a mat and frame for my prints.

    what to do? she ordered them so it could just be her problem, but i want to help.

    99.9% of the time, i crop when i take the photo, hardly ever after. perhaps i should back up a bit to allow for 3:2 printing and cropping or since i have the 620 use the aspect ratio feature.

    so what should i do when i client wants a standard size photo from an already taken 4/3's image. tell them they can't have it? i probably should not have agreed to the 11 x 14 knowing what i know? and in the future, don't crop so tight in camera, but leave room?

    thanks
    Happily photographing within my camera's limitations.Website

  15. #15
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    Quote Originally Posted by NaturalWoman
    old thread/didn't want to make a new one. quick question.

    client wants an 11 x 14 print from my 4/3 camera. it ain't happening, but i ordered it and i ordered the 10 x 15 - the latter preserving everything and a very small white border at the top and bottom. the 11 x 14 has a huge almost 3 inch border. matting the photo will not hide the white border completely, as i already cropped the image a bit myself.

    she already has matting and framing at home for an 11 x 14, but it will not look right. the 10 x 15 is a better fit, but she would have to buy a mat and frame for my prints.

    what to do? she ordered them so it could just be her problem, but i want to help.

    99.9% of the time, i crop when i take the photo, hardly ever after. perhaps i should back up a bit to allow for 3:2 printing and cropping or since i have the 620 use the aspect ratio feature.

    so what should i do when i client wants a standard size photo from an already taken 4/3's image. tell them they can't have it? i probably should not have agreed to the 11 x 14 knowing what i know? and in the future, don't crop so tight in camera, but leave room?

    thanks
    When out shooting I always try and remember the crop size and leave enough are to crop it.
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  16. #16
    Have Cameras. Will Shoot! NaturalWoman's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    you're smart. who knew people would want to buy my work. i never print for myself, but i guess i will have to start doing that. i usually frame for the final image, but that doesn't seem like a good idea with ALL of my images. hmmmm

    thanks!

    i do however know where i can buy : "4/3" mats as well as frames, just so happens this person already has frames and matting. otherwise taking them to my framer for customing framing and printing is not a problem, but not everyone can afford that.
    Happily photographing within my camera's limitations.Website

  17. #17
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    I really try hard to crop "in camera" and get the composition right in the frame. If I need to crop in post, I crop to give me the best image regardless of size. If I need to get a matte custom cut to make it work, that's what I do.

    The one exception to this is when shooting portraits. I know the client is going to want a 5x7 or 8x10 so I need to leave room to crop. Of course I always forget on a few images and don't leave enough room for this. Without fail, that is the image the client is going to want an 8x10 of... I will explain to them that it's not going to work and tell them I will print an 8x12 for them for the same price. Portraits is a very small part of what I do so it's not really a problem for me, but when it is I make a point to explain to the client what is going to happen before ordering the print.

    An example of this happened just last week. A client wanted a 24x36 canvas print on an image I took with a camera that has a 3:4 ratio. I explained to him that it wasn't going to work and told him that a 30x40 would be a better fit. Now the client is going to get a better product and I managed to up-sell him at the same time.

    My point is, it's your work and you should have a say in how it is going to be delivered to the client. If I know something isn't going to work, I make sure the client knows that and give them some options that will give them a better end product. In the end, it's my name on the print and I don't want to deliver a product the client isn't happy with.
    Mike

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    "I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."
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  18. #18
    Have Cameras. Will Shoot! NaturalWoman's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    for the prints already done, they will have to be in the 4/3 format - not a problem for people who want to spend $$$ for custom framing and matting. for future prints, i'll be mindful of the crop factor. she's fine with framing it in the the 11 x 14 format, but i'm not. i rather the off size with no white borders showing. white border? runs away screaming............

    thanks for your input. i know where i can find mats already cut to 4/3 ratio...not sure about the frame, locally.
    Happily photographing within my camera's limitations.Website

  19. #19
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    Quote Originally Posted by NaturalWoman
    thanks for your input. i know where i can find mats already cut to 4/3 ratio...not sure about the frame, locally.
    If you're looking for a place to get custom made frames for a reasonable price, check out www.framesbymail.com I get almost all of my frames from them. It's not local but...
    Mike

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    "I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."
    Aldo Leopold

  20. #20
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    I have had pretty good results from Adorama.com

  21. #21
    Senior Shooter Greg McCary's Avatar
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    Re: Where/how do YOU print?

    I have some friends here local that does my framing. They can frame anything.
    I am like Barney Fife, I have a gun but Andy makes me keep the bullet in my pocket..

    Sony a99/a7R

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