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Prints from digital files: Where do you go?


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#1 of 21 Vince Maskeeper

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Posted May 05 2004 - 02:08 PM

I know many here have opted for buying their own printers in the home. And while that might be an option down the road, I'm wondering about what commerical services you guys have used for printing digital images.

I recently conducted an experiment using the local Walmart: I took 4 images, one using each resolution setting on the camera and featuring a shot of a newspaper. I checked each one on the pc- and obviously, as the resolution increased, the newspaper text got more and more readable.

However, when the prints were returned, at 4x5 there really was almost no difference between the images. There was a slight differnce between 640x480 and 1024x768, however going from 1024x768 to 1600x1200 to 2048x1536 seemed to show almost no improvement at 4x5--- at least almost no improvament I could see on the prints with the naked eye.

I am wondering if this is really a limitation of my eyes at these higher resolutions, or if its possible that the walmart photo printer maxes out around 300 dpi and so the added resolution of the higher res formats was essentially wasted.

It seems that 2048 images should be a nice 400 dpi when printed that size-- but, as I said above, the fine detail in the newsprint did not seem to improve much versus lower 1600 and 1024 resolution version (which should have been 300dpi and 200dpi respectively).

So I was wondering if anyone else has tried this type of experiment, if anyone here has a printing method they absolutely swear by (something that i can take a cdr or flash key to, and order up affordable 4x5 prints). Are there differences in the processes or inks (is it possible to develop digital images with a more photochem like process, is there any advantage)?

Are there some of these services that are really doing better work than others? Or are they all basically the same stuff??

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#2 of 21 MatS

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Posted May 05 2004 - 04:32 PM

can't answer your techincal questions Vince but here is a coupon for 25 free prints at Target good till the 9th of this month if you wish to continue your experiment

http://staging.merch....204&otype=text

#3 of 21 Philip_G

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Posted May 05 2004 - 05:10 PM

easy, I bought a canon 560i printer on sale at BB 2 weeks ago for $99 bucks. I didn't think it would print photos that well, I printed some from my trip to London and they turned out fantastic.
Even from my old 2.1mp nikon they look great. No grainyness, nice and glossy, I printed out a night shot of St. Paul's and the blueish purple sky replicated perfectly.

#4 of 21 Max Leung

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Posted May 05 2004 - 06:04 PM

Generally all the printers do no more than 300 dpi, even the high-end print labs. Some may do 400dpi, but 95% of the time you will not be able to tell the difference. Unless you spend all your time printing and analyzing grid patterns spaced at every other pixel. Posted Image

Also keep in mind that color accuracy will vary greatly between different photo places. Hopefully, you will find a place where they calibrate the equipment regularly, either auto-calibration or some ISF-like guy comes buy and services the machine.

Myself, I have a color calibrated Epson 2200. Color accuracy is better than the nearby Costco with the fancy-pants Fujitsu/Noritsu 400dpi printer. However, 4x6s at Costco are really cheap...pick your poison. Posted Image
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#5 of 21 Philip_G

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Posted May 05 2004 - 06:13 PM

Quote:
Myself, I have a color calibrated Epson 2200. Color accuracy is better than the nearby Costco with the fancy-pants Fujitsu/Noritsu 400dpi printer. However, 4x6s at Costco are really cheap...pick your poison.

My mom had some prints done at costco from my camera, they were terrible, very very grainy.

#6 of 21 Brandon_S

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Posted May 05 2004 - 06:38 PM

The local WalGreens does a very good job with digital photos. I used to have them printed at Wal-Mart, but often times they would turn out horribly dark and hard to make out. The WalGreens close to me just got a new photo printing machine and I have been very happy with the photos it produces.
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#7 of 21 Seth_L

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Posted May 06 2004 - 03:05 AM

Quote:
Generally all the printers do no more than 300 dpi, even the high-end print labs. Some may do 400dpi, but 95% of the time you will not be able to tell the difference. Unless you spend all your time printing and analyzing grid patterns spaced at every other pixel. Posted Image
Yes, but with a Dye-Sublimination printer you don't need more than about 300DPI because it doesn't rely on dithering to make different colors. Inkjets rely on dithering to achieve apparent colors.

#8 of 21 Max Leung

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Posted May 06 2004 - 03:30 AM

Quote:
Yes, but with a Dye-Sublimination printer you don't need more than about 300DPI because it doesn't rely on dithering to make different colors. Inkjets rely on dithering to achieve apparent colors.

Yeah, that's why you see inkjets advertised as "4800x1200" DPI or "5760x2880" or some-such huge number.

However, consider that nearly all print media (magazines, artbooks, etc.) are dithered. Just take an 8x magnifying loupe on your favorite artbook/magazine and you'll see!

Isn't there a problem with longevity on dye-sub printers though? And you need special papers right? It must be fairly costly...hopefully the results are worth it, as I don't recall ever seeing a dye-sub print before.
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Gamesh....

#9 of 21 MickeS

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Posted May 07 2004 - 03:00 AM

A small 4*6 picture can easily be printed with good result from a 1024*768 digital image file. The main reason to have higher res pictures is to show on the monitor or make larger prints from.

I take mine to Walgreens, for 29 cents per picture. They look good and it's easy to do, so I have no desire to buy a photo printer. I would have to print several hundred pictures before I got a return on that investment, and that's not even counting the ink or paper.

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#10 of 21 John Pine

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Posted May 07 2004 - 04:17 AM

Vince, F.Y.I…..just bought a Canon i960 Photo Printer ($180) on Tuesday. It prints enlargement up to 8x10 with awesome results. To take the shots I used my Canon G3 and Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy. I also manually aligned the six print heads and the prints are stunning. I have two framed (8x10) enlargements sitting in my cubicle. I work in a large office (100+), and I’ve had over 20 people rave over the enlargements and ask for details about what I printed them with. No more Wolf Camera for me!
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#11 of 21 Philip_G

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Posted May 07 2004 - 01:34 PM

Vince, if you were really wanted to compare email me a picture and I'd be happy to print it out and mail it to you.

#12 of 21 Thomas Newton

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Posted May 07 2004 - 05:41 PM

Quote:
I recently conducted an experiment using the local Walmart

The WalMarts that I've seen have two digital photo kiosk machines: an "instant" one (Kodak), and a "one-hour" one (kiosk as front end to minilab). The one-hour prints are a lot cheaper -- and according to another customer, they're better as well.

#13 of 21 Thomas Newton

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Posted May 07 2004 - 05:56 PM

Quote:
is it possible to develop digital images with a more photochem like process

Compared to inkjet printing? I'd say the answer to that would probably be "yes".

Remember that unless you are taking photos on slide film, the exposed film is "just" a master for producing prints. You shine a light through a fixed negative and onto something else that is (temporarily) photo-sensitive to get a print.

With a digital image, I would think that you could reverse the colors in something like PhotoShop, then use a display (CRT, backlit LCD, etc.) to generate light with the colors that the printing part of a 35mm process expects.

The resulting prints would logically be just as long-lived as "film" prints, having been made by the same process.

#14 of 21 Seth_L

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Posted May 08 2004 - 02:29 AM

Quote:
is it possible to develop digital images with a more photochem like process?

Yes, it uses GLV technology (the supposed holy grail of front projection). If you're really concerned about image quality and print longevity you should not be using a "wet" chemical process. A printer like an Epson R800 (generally regarded as the best photo ink jet) will make prints that both outlast wet chemical prints as well as surpass them in quality (but they're not cheap).

My parents have hundreds of "old" pictures of my sister and I (from growing up) that were sent in to a Kodak lab for devloping and printing. Some of them are almost 30 years old now. They have not been exposed to light, or high temps, or really high humidity. Some of them look like they were just printed today, but some of them are terrible and have massive color shifts in the prints.

The problems with chemical prints are that you have no way of knowing if you got one that will look the same in 20 years, or if you got one that will look horrid in 10 years.

Sony's Dye Sub kiosks are pretty slick. I played with one at CES. The quality was top notch and the substrate the printers used was virtually impossible to tear. Kodak on the other hand has a vested interest in pushing a chemical method of printing that may not be the best way of printing.

#15 of 21 Todd Hochard

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Posted May 08 2004 - 09:32 AM

My local Costco does a fantastic job on our digital prints. 18c for 4x6, 69c for 5x7, $1.99 for 8x10.
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#16 of 21 Alex-C

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Posted May 08 2004 - 01:49 PM

I always thought the general rule of thumb was for 4x6 size prints, a 3 mega pixel is fine, and higher resolutions won't show any real improvement. Their real benefit is at larger sizes. I could swear I have read that at cnet or somewhere.

Having said that, I have had 2 sony digital cameras (still have one); a 2 mega pixel and a 3 mega pixel and we recently purchased a Canon powershot g5 (5 mega pixels) and we have used wal-mart, snap fish and shutterfly developing services.

Our preference is snapfish.

If you haven't used any of those services, usually first time users get some free pix so try out different resolutions and check your mileage.

I think that our better pictures are partially (and maybe a majority of the result) is due to the fact that the canon takes better pictures than my cheapo sony's.
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#17 of 21 Seth_L

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Posted May 08 2004 - 03:16 PM

Quote:
I always thought the general rule of thumb was for 4x6 size prints, a 3 mega pixel is fine, and higher resolutions won't show any real improvement. Their real benefit is at larger sizes. I could swear I have read that at cnet or somewhere.

The best rule of thumb is to keep your source at 200dpi or better. So, if you want to print an 8x10 you should have at least 1600x2000 pixels. Once your source gets beyond about 300dpi you can't really see any improvement in the output.

#18 of 21 Rob Tomlin

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Posted June 06 2004 - 04:22 PM

Seth is right. As long as the print dpi is close to 300 dpi, you will be fine.

Also, as stated earlier, most printers can't truly resolve better than 300 dpi anyway. Vince, this is why you will not see much, if any difference, in the quality of those small prints at the various resolutions. Once the resolution is big enough to output a 300 dpi print, anything else higher than that is just wasted.

However, if you printed your test shots on 11 x 14 prints or bigger, you will see the difference.

I do most of my own printer, but I just took some digital captures to Costco today to see how they will come out. It will be interesting, but I have heard some good things about Costco's digital printing.

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#19 of 21 Paul Hawkins

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Posted June 08 2004 - 09:20 AM

Take a look at the following link for profiles to use with the Fuji Frontier and Noritsu digital printers found at Costco's and similar photo labs.

http://www.drycreekp....erDatabase.htm

#20 of 21 Michael St. Clair

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Posted June 10 2004 - 03:50 AM

I won't print at home any more. In the long haul you are paying 50 to 80 cents for a 4x6, and it will be faded in five years.


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