Getting Prints with Accurate Colour

Discussion in 'Australia Photography' started by NickC, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. NickC

    NickC Guest

    After a couple of disappointing attempts to get quality prints, I'm
    curious what you all do about getting prints done with accurate

    I've been shooting digital for a few years, but never really bothered
    to get prints until now. I went to a few different outlets to ask how
    they calibrate their printer colours. None use their device's colour
    profile but do it by eye according to how their operator sees it. Oo-

    I got green tints in a B&W and a subtle red-shaded jacket changed to
    bright red. Not good enough. What's the point of calibrating your
    monitor and taking great care with post-processing just so the print
    shop can change it all?

    Any suggestions on a national chain that does good prints? And how do
    you submit your images: tiff, jpeg, photoshop file?

    Thanks for any suggestions,
    NickC, Feb 22, 2008
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  2. NickC

    Pete D Guest

    Generally I would recommend looking for a shop that uses a Fuji Frontier
    system, for basic prints they should be okay but you would need to talk to
    the local operator to get the best possible result. For one offs though
    printing on a quality inkjet is hard to beat if you are prepared to do the
    work and calibrate your entire system.
    Pete D, Feb 22, 2008
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  3. NickC

    NickC Guest

    Pete D wrote on 22 Feb 2008:

    Thanks, I'll follow that.

    To be honest, I expected a few more replies. I would have thought how
    to get quality prints would be a hot topic. I suppose people are
    printing their own, but I've got over 300 to do and it's impractical
    and expensive on the home printer.
    NickC, Feb 25, 2008

    First off, you should be using a ColorSpan printer if you are running a
    business as you say you are. Playing with Epson and all these hobbyist
    printers is totally foolish and shows how unprofessional you are. If you
    had been using ColorSpan printers for the last ten years you wouldn't even
    consider anything else. Sadly, ColorSpan has been bought out by HP so you
    can count on HP running ColorSpan's good name in the ground in about five
    years. Only posers and imbeciles use printers made by anyone but ColorSpan.


    Rita Berkowitz, Feb 26, 2008
  5. Not for a chain but if your are in Sydney Auburn One Hour Photo in
    Queen St, Auburn has an operator based (they operate it, sorry
    for the convulated language) digital Konica printer and they calibrate
    each print individually as they are printed.

    Run by a Korean, Sidney Park, used to be a pro shooter in Korea and is
    still a photo enthusiast.

    Best to get them to do only a few and you can see if you are happy with
    the results.

    You will also be able to tell them exactly what you want.
    John Phillips, Feb 26, 2008
  6. NickC

    Russ Guest

    Douglas - this is the most arse-about, confused and utterly incorrect pile
    of drivel I've seen in a long time. You've managed to mix together RGB,
    CMYK, the treatment of black in different colour spaces, video and video
    sync-on-green and the fundamental difference between transmissive and
    reflective colour.

    For example:
    FFS - is there anything remotely correct in this statement? Who would ever
    talk about "just" 3 primary colours, as if there's actually some extra ones
    you need? And the idea that the RGB colour space was actually derived from
    tube cameras???? And "black in the green channel? What planet did that come
    from? If a video camera sees black, it puts out *nothing* on all 3 channels.
    If black was "carried" on the green channel, you'd see - wait for it -
    green. What you are thinking of it sync-on-green, which is used in domestic
    RGB connections - a tube camera, or indeed any professional camera that puts
    out RGB would have a separate sync output. Note: sync has nothing to do with

    How can you possibly be professionally involved in digital imaging and
    output when your understanding of even the fundamentals of colour is so
    Russ, Feb 26, 2008
  7. NickC

    Ken Hart Guest

    I have gotten very good results with my Hope Spirit printer for over ten
    years now. It handles paper up to 16" wide by any realistic length. As for
    the number of ink tanks, the Hope Spirit has only two tanks: each holds 25
    gallons, so they don't run out often. A full fill-up of the tanks costs
    about $200, but a 16"x20" color print requires only 20mL from each tank.
    Smaller prints require proportionally less.
    Ken Hart, Feb 26, 2008
  8. Indeed - it's hard to know where to even begin to unravel that load of
    tripe. The problem with having a Douglas around is that a newbie might
    look at that and try to make sense out of it, or, God help them,
    implement the 'recommendations'. Nick, I suggest you look around with
    open eyes before trying to make sense out of a Douglas MacDonald
    posting on this topic.
    I couldn't have put it better!

    Nick, you will indeed struggle to find good printers, especially
    amongst national chains. The quality varies largely according to
    operator skill, almost to the point of negating any advantage one
    system, like Frontier, might have. Visit all the ones you can find,
    and talk to the operator/manager to get a feel for their knowledge -
    that's when you can discuss colourspaces, preferred formats, etc.

    And then get a sample print done of a known, test image. Eg I
    sometimes use my favorite Frontier test image (frontier_color57s).
    Interestingly, when confronted with a test image like that, some
    places will take a lot more care with your work... Maybe it's just my
    imagination, or maybe when they see their results on that image, that
    happens to be the day they decide their system needs a bit of

    And of course it gives a very good baseline (to you and the lab) so
    you can sort things out when, oops I mean if, they go bad... So when
    doing a batch, why not throw something like that in..

    Developing a good rapport with the printer can make life very easy, so
    don't be too hard on them initially. (O:

    Perhaps if you name your town, someone can give a direct
    mark.thomas.7, Feb 26, 2008
  9. NickC

    tomm42 Guest

    Rita, my experience with Color Span goes back to the late '90s, where
    they had a $100K printer that couldn't work, there was no way to
    laminate the prints and at that price you need commercial customers
    and a sales staff. Well their customer service was the worst I have
    ever seen, "we can't laminate the prints, how", we had a top of the
    line Seal laminator, " well yes you can we just can't tell you how"
    this discussion went on for almost 3 months, we had to lay off the
    sales staff, or they quit, the printer never worked right. Put the
    company under, Colorspan finally replaced the big printer with 2
    Encads, talk about bad printers, not their Giclee Maker since our unit
    was now used. Would never buy a ColorSpan again, the worst company I
    ever had to deal with. I bought a Canon iPF5000 last January and folks
    thought Canon was bad.
    Then again Nash Editions uses those "amateur" Epsons, as does the
    Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and many other fine art printing firms.
    Now HP and Canon are making inroads with beautiful images and more
    convenient operation.

    tomm42, Feb 26, 2008
  10. Hmm! I find that very odd and hard to believe. ColorSpan has some of the
    best wide format printers on the market. Their customer service is
    topnotch. I'm not sure why you were having all these problems? Pilot
    error? Users not familiar with the equipment? The old NovaJets weren't
    Don't get me wrong, Epson is OK for low end work where you are just proofing
    or for casual interoffice handouts. When you want a real print you have to
    do it on a ColorSpan.

    Rita Berkowitz, Feb 26, 2008
  11. NickC

    tomm42 Guest

    Possibly operator error, but the solid ink printer wasn't on their
    price list a year later. Several other firms had the same problem,
    only one I know of was successful at laminating the prints and they
    wouldn't share their secret, and were proud of it. Still Iris was king
    at that time, yes Colorspan has good printers, but having sampled the
    worst customer service I have ever seen I wouldn't go back. The folks
    who used Iris are more going towards Epson, HP and Canon. Than
    Colorspan, I know the company has bee sold several times since I dealt
    with them, things change. Epson, now Canon and HP have gone way beyond
    Encad, they were being put out to pasture for photo and fine art
    printing in the early 2000s. I hardly hear of them any more, in fact
    this thread is the first I have heard of ColorSpan in a long time, a
    nitch company now. Most major firm are using Epson, Canon or HP, allof
    these are generally considered superior in color and rendition to
    chemical photography, and to Iris printers too, though I would expect
    Color Span to be in that group I still never hear about them any

    tomm42, Feb 26, 2008
  12. NickC

    NickC Guest

    Mark wrote on 26 Feb 2008:
    Thanks the advice. I've downloaded the test image to include in the
    Canberra, if a local is reading.
    NickC, Feb 26, 2008
  13. Damn! That's going back. I think you found the source of your problem.
    Solid ink printers aren't tops on my list for producing the best quality
    images or have a decent reliability factor. Plus, the emulsion used in some
    of the ink pellets was known to clog printheads. These solid ink printers
    from Color Spam must be exercised every single day for better reliability.
    The RIP box was a piece of shit as well. If it's the 72" model I sympathize
    with your suffering.

    Well, as I said earlier, HP bought out ColorSpan and relabeled them as HPs.
    And oddly, a lot of the earlier ColorSpans used modified HP printheads. I
    know HP will run ColorSpan into the ground.

    Rita Berkowitz, Feb 26, 2008
  14. If you can justify the outlay and get enough business to make your
    investment pay off with high volume output. The old Kodak isn't a
    hobbyist's printer.
    Epson is marketing and name recognition. Like I said, Epson is good for the
    basement photographer that has low volume or is doing work that doesn't
    require the speed and volume.
    Hardly a professional shop. You can't make money using Epson's mind
    numbingly slowness. teh Epson's can't cut it in that demanding environment.
    Anyone that tells you they can are blowing smoke up your ass on a tight
    Well, being a Kodak you'd expect it to be designed for commercial work.
    Well each continent has its piece of shit. Sadly the US is strapped with
    one gleaming turd from Tennessee.

    Rita Berkowitz, Feb 26, 2008
  15. NickC

    ____ Guest

    That's just plain BS, As someone who has color printed optically for 20+
    and worked in the Photo Industry supporting photo equipment, worked in a
    prolab that had a Lambda I would say that Pigment ink printers Epson
    makes are every bit photo repro quality. In many cases better than
    Lambda. There is not 100K worth of difference.
    ____, Feb 27, 2008
  16. NickC

    Doug Jewell Guest

    When I was in Canberra a few years ago, I found HN in
    Fyshwick to be pretty good for colour accuracy (prints done
    at Woden were pretty nasty), for digital prints.

    I had some film done at a little place in the city - sorry
    it's been too long, can't remember their name or the street
    address - but they were a little shop on the bottom floor of
    a building on the western side of the city, and were one of
    2 places in town that did E6. At the time they didn't do
    digital, not sure if they do now. I would hope that if they
    have gone digital, they would use the same care they did
    with film, which was pretty good.

    As Mark says though, quality will depend very much on the
    operators. A lab like a frontier works pretty much
    automatically when doing digital prints - the operator
    doesn't eyeball every print and make adjustments to colour
    like they did in the days of film. But they still need to be
    calibrated periodically, and require a certain amount of
    maintenance to print at their optimum. The good operators
    will calibrate their paper at every paper change and at
    multiple times during the day.
    Doug Jewell, Feb 27, 2008
  17. NickC

    Doug Jewell Guest

    And just what "freebies" would those be Doug? I've run a
    frontier lab, and can't say I saw any freebies.
    Actually, there is an operator function to do most
    calibration tasks. If it falls outside that, then you need a
    it may do, but Peter's path is a lot closer to decent prints
    than your bullshit is.
    Bullshit. Black is the lack of red, green, or blue. The
    green channel carries just that, green. I don't even have a
    clue what you are trying to talk about here. If you are
    referring to colour video broadcast systems, then you are
    still wrong, because they use YUV, where Y is the luminance
    (or B&W signal) and U and V are B-Y and R-Y respectively.
    3 primary colours is all you need - that's why they are
    called PRIMARY colours.
    Bullshit. A print sample from an Agfa lab, compared to a
    sample from a Fuji lab is all that's needed to see how wrong
    this is. Agfa paper was terrible compared to Crystal
    Archive. It faded quickly, it had no saturation, colour
    rendition was terrible.
    Bullshit. A) the printers DON'T print from a video signal.
    B) they don't have a black channel because they don't need a
    black channel, black is the absence of other colours.
    What complete and utter nonsense. The only similarity
    between a frontier and a laser printer, is that they both
    have a laser. From there, the similarity ends.

    A laser printer uses the laser to excite an electrostatic
    drum which collects toner, then it deposits the toner onto
    the paper. A colour laser has this same system replicated in
    black, cyan, magenta and yellow. The laser is either on or
    off, and hence the toner is either there or not there.

    A frontier on the other hand uses red, green and blue lasers
    to shine on regular RA-4 process colour photographic paper.
    You can use exactly the same paper in a regular optical
    printer, by shining light through a negative onto the
    photo-paper. If you really wanted to, you could take a piece
    of Crystal Archive paper, put it under an enlarger with a
    negative, develop the paper in RA4 chem, and have a perfect
    print. In a Frontier system, the lasers take the place of
    the negative - shining a mix of red, green and blue light
    onto the paper as necessary. The lasers shine a negative
    image onto the paper - where the Red laser hits, will
    develop as Cyan, the Blue laser will create Yellow, and the
    Green laser will create Magenta. If no lasers hit the paper,
    that spot will develop as white. If all shine at 100% on the
    paper, it will come out as black (mix of CMY). This is
    EXACTLY the same principle that has been used in for
    photographic printing for decades. The only difference is
    that lasers replace a negative.
    Debatable. Epson usually refer to their prints as "rivalling
    silver halide". In some parts of the colour gamut, inkjet
    can exceed silver halide, in some parts silver still wins.
    Inkjet has a hard time doing smooth transitions into black.
    Wrong again. They are not RGB printers. Dye sub, and
    frontiers are CMY printers. Laser printers are CMYK. Most
    inkjet printers are CMYK, although they usually leave the
    black out when printing photos, making them CMY. Most will
    also add light-magenta, and light-cyan inks to improve
    low-density colour rendition. There is nothing inherently
    wrong with CMY printing - but the quality will depend
    heavily on the quality of the inks/dyes used.
    Wrong again. If using a CMY printer, if you have green in
    your blacks it simply means the printer isn't calibrated
    properly. A printer such as the Fuji Frontier, using Crystal
    Archive paper is certainly capable of true blacks. There is
    a custom function that allows you to adjust the colour
    balance of greys. It then also has a semi-automatic process
    to ensure that it stays that way.
    But of course this depends on the eyesight of the person who
    does the initial calibration. I remember having a long
    disagreement with a Fuji tech as to whether we had neutral
    grays or not. What he saw as neutral I saw as having a green
    cast. What I saw as neutral, he saw as magenta. My lab
    assistant saw them all as having a cyan cast. Mind you, we
    were all splitting straws with the difference.
    Not a solution at all - you are still at the mercy of the
    person who did the colour calibration. When you know how to
    calibrate a frontier, it is actually quite easier than
    calibrating an inkjet.
    Or alternatively, find out if the lab uses sRGB or AdobeRGB.
    Most likely it will be sRGB. Save it in the colour-space the
    lab uses.
    Partially agree. The other alternative is to use a digital
    lab that prints on B&W paper, or if using a frontier, use
    RA4 B&W paper with it. Such paper is available, although it
    is quite unlikely any lab will carry it. If you will be
    doing a lot of it though, and get friendly with your
    preferred lab operator...
    Very good quality B&W prints are certainly possible on
    colour paper, but it does require accurate calibration of
    the machine, and the toning will vary from eye to eye. Once
    again, if you get friendly with your preferred lab operator...
    Doug Jewell, Feb 27, 2008
  18. NickC

    Steve Brooks Guest

    There is a guy posts to this group owns several print shops.
    I wonder why he doesn't offer his services.


    I have had heaps done there and very happy with the results. Normally
    submit before 2pm and have them delivered the next day
    Steve Brooks, Feb 27, 2008
  19. I gotta go along with the nod to Epson for print quality. My experience
    with their build quality and ability to sit idle for many days between
    printing sessions has not been stellar. Maybe they're fine if you run
    them a lot, But my impression of the low-end Epsons was a philosophy of
    "buy a new one instead of a new set of ink cartridges", and that's just
    too wasteful for me.

    One man's opinion only, but I'm pretty happy since I changed to Canon
    inkjet. For real big bucks, I'd try (1) what the giclee crowd is
    doing: high-end Epsons, or (2) for wide-format, probably H-Ps. Either
    way, a studio coop / artists' collective or something along those lines
    to run high volume all day and pool resources for materials and a
    maintenance contract. Unlike darkroom work, it's damned hard to print
    quality on the cheap these days.

    And I never expected to be touting ANYTHING made by H-P.
    Tully Albrecht, Feb 27, 2008
  20. Speaking of Kodak, does anyone have any experience with their new inkjet
    that supposedly uses ink cartridges that are 1/2 the price of the HP's?
    William Graham, Feb 27, 2008
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