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#1 Photonanny614

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 11:36 PM

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Hi all! I am very new to camera ownership and have recently bought a 6300. I know very little about the technical details of using a camera. The issue I'm having is that many of the pictures I take look fantastic on screen, but when I print them, the quality is less than stellar and disappointing. Any insights as to what I may be doing wrong? I know this is a very general question but any tips and advice would be much appreciated!! Thank you!! 



#2 Username

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 11:24 PM

It's normal to need to tweak an image differently 

for printing, and for different printers, than for use 

as displayed on a screen.   

 

The screaming difference is that screens are RGB 

and prints are CMYK. And printing usually requires 

some sharpening applied to the image. 

 

So you prolly aren't doing anything wrong, you just 

aren't doing everything that needs to be done. 



#3 westindiangal

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 07:51 PM

You might need to calibrate your monitor.



#4 addicted2light

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 08:26 PM

Printing is an art in itself, plus what Username and westindiangal said.

 

Check YouTube or the web for "photo printing tutorials" for more detailed instructions, maybe even tailored to the software you use (Photoshop? Lightroom? etc.)

 

But the bullet point version goes more or less like this:

 

1) KEEP THE LIGHT LEVELS CONSTANT WHERE YOU EDIT YOUR PICTURES

Changing light levels will skew how bright/dark/contrasty you will edit your picture from day to day. Try keeping the light levels and kind (artificial or natural) constant and try avoiding reflections on your screen. A decent solution (not perfect, though) is a colorimeter (see point 3) like the X-Rite that adjust, automatically, the brightness of your screen to compensate for changing light levels during the day

 

2) LOWER THE BRIGHTNESS OF YOUR SCREEN, A LOT

New displays have a brightness level, by default, that is waaaay to high for photographic use. I tend to stay around 120 cd/m2

 

3) CALIBRATE YOUR SCREEN

Not optional, otherwise you will fly blind literally without knowing what are you doing: buy a colorimeter and calibrate your screen. I personally use the X-Rite Colormunki Display and I'm pretty happy with it, more or less 100€

 

4) PUSH (A BIT) CONTRAST, SATURATION AND SHARPENING

After you've got your image exactly where you wanted in terms of colors, contrast, sharpening etc. on screen you will basically...have to start again ;) . Essentially a printed image will exhibit less contrast, sharpening and (depending on the kind of paper you're using) saturation of an image displayed on screen, so you will have to push these values

 

5) CHOOSE YOUR PAPER CAREFULLY

Glossy papers are easier, for a novice, to print on. Matte papers are generally more finicky because they tend to not be able to print a full gamut of colors (i.e. not all the colors you see will be able to get printed on the paper, at least not at their current saturation), so IMO they are best left for when you'll have developed at least a basic understanding of printing

 

6) LIGHTEN (A BIT) YOUR IMAGE

Brightness: an image on a screen is backlit, and the light is constant. An image on paper relies on the level of light that falls on it. This, even with a perfectly calibrated screen, means that often* you will have to add a tiny bit (1/3 to 1/2 a stop) of brightness to your images (in Lightroom's Print module there is a slider for this).

 

*In reality this will depend by the light levels in the place where you intend to show your picture, but you will rarely find a place where the image will receive as much light as a backlit screen

 

7) (DEPENDING ON THE LIGHT) ALTER THE COLORS

Lastly, depending on the color temperature of the light that will illuminate your picture, you might have to mess a bit the colors in your picture. This, mind you, will apply just to pictures that are meant to be shown in a specific location, for example hung on a wall in a room where they are only lit from tungsten lights. Essentially you will have to decide if the print will have to look fantastic in that light, but wrong under other kind of lights, or just meh! but in any light.

 

 

There are many more things to consider when printing, like I said it is an art form in itself, but these points should at least cover the basics.

 

Have fun!


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#5 Username

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 11:02 PM

Two replies, so far, have advised calibrating the monitor. And 

clearly mean this in an exacting and rather technical sense. I 

can't knock tthat, and devices are much more affordable now 

for that purpose. But some folks are still put off by additional 

technical entanglements. Speaking to those folks I wanna say

that even if you shun "unnecessary" technical chatzkes ... as I 

do ... you still hafta honor the spirit of the necessity of screen 

or monitor calibration. IOW you hafta know, hafta really realize, 

just how important are concerns such as consistent viewing

conditions etc. You hafta intentionally manage your awareness 

what it takes to alter the nature of an image between electronic 

viewing and printing on paper.   

 

The tech toys allow great consistency, and do not require you 

to develop a subjective visual talent. But given a willingness,

and perhaps a touch of talent, working without the technical 

aids is very satisfying. It is in a way a direct descendant of the 

darkroom method of making colors prints. Altho one COULD 

learn to measure negs on a densitometer, and it was best to 

include a MacBeth target in the film frame at the time of the 

original exposure, most practitioners used test printing and a 

touch of talent to get the result they needed. That approach is 

still just as viable as ever. 



#6 tinplater

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 04:05 AM

I suspect there are two main issues:

 

1.Your printer may not be very accurate for printing quality photos.A cheap way to start is to take some images on your memory card to Costco, Walgren'sor other commercial 1 hour place and have them print your images and see how they compare to what you get at home.

 

2.Images can be markedly improved in post processing, I strongly recommend you get a program like lightroom that can manipulate your images and store them as a data base.

 

There is a big learning curve, but it really is part of the fun of digital photography.



#7 Jaf-Photo

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 09:15 AM

addicted2light has a good and comprehensive reply.

I often get this question and the two most important factors are light and dynamic range.

(1) A screen is backlit so the image will always look brighter on the screen and darker on paper. Therefore, it is important to always view the print in bright white light, either by a window or with a spotlight/led light. This will bring out the print more similar to the screen. (In the evening I use a strong daylight bulb [5500K] to check my prints).

(2) A paper print has less dynamic range than a screen. Therefore the print will look flatter and duller. You can compensate for this by increasing contrast, saturation and brightness but not too much.

With those two steps, you'll be more pleased with your prints.

The last steps, calibration and colour profiles, will make a difference although the general population may not even notice. That sort of thing also depends a lot on the hardware and software that you use. I wouldn't recommend it as it's not a quick fix for inexperienced users, You're more likely to muck it up even more compared to using auto functions.
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#8 addicted2light

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 10:11 AM

addicted2light has a good and comprehensive reply.

I often get this question and the two most important factors are light and dynamic range.

(1) A screen is backlit so the image will always look brighter on the screen and darker on paper. Therefore, it is important to always view the print in bright white light, either by a window or with a spotlight/led light. This will bring out the print more similar to the screen. (In the evening I use a strong daylight bulb [5500K] to check my prints).

(2) A paper print has less dynamic range than a screen. Therefore the print will look flatter and duller. You can compensate for this by increasing contrast, saturation and brightness but not too much.

With those two steps, you'll be more pleased with your prints.

The last steps, calibration and colour profiles, will make a difference although the general population may not even notice. That sort of thing also depends a lot on the hardware and software that you use. I wouldn't recommend it as it's not a quick fix for inexperienced users, You're more likely to muck it up even more compared to using auto functions.

 

 

Great explanation, but just to avoid confusing Photonanny614: the kind of calibration Jaf-Photo is talking about is a different one from the calibration of your screen; he is talking of calibrating your printer for use with the specific set of inks and paper you have.

 

While calibrating your screen will generally make a fairly obvious difference calibrating the printer, like Jaf-Photo said, is more a matter for advanced users.

 

That being said, he made me remind of another point: when you print, set the paper profile in your software for the brand & kind of paper you are printing on. If it's of the same manufacturer of the printer you will generally already have these profiles installed on your system. Otherwise you will be more often than not be able to download them from the websites of the paper's manufacturers.

 

@Jaf-Photo: what kind of 5500K bulb are you using? I'm having trouble finding one with a good CRI...so in the end I decided to stick to daylight (color) printing examination. But the problem is mostly in wintertime when the days are short.


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#9 Jaf-Photo

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 10:16 AM

I use some no-brand trichromatic full spectrum fluorescent bulbs from the local hardware store for about €15 each. They are far superior to led lights but I couldn't tell how accurate they are.

#10 addicted2light

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 10:31 AM

I use some no-brand trichromatic full spectrum fluorescent bulbs from the local hardware store for about €15 each. They are far superior to led lights but I couldn't tell how accurate they are.


Thanks a lot, I'll give it a try!

I noticed the lack of accuracy, btw, mostly with warm-ish pictures (for example first light on trees at dawn and similar stuff), where the prints looked way too cold/blue if seen under the bulbs I tried.

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#11 Username

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 05:48 PM

When you find the simplest answer[s] to getting good prints, 

don't let the difference btwteen a good print and a brilliant 

monitor image drive you nutz :-)   

 

That difference will always exist. I recall folks going nutz

comparing Ciba prints [pos-to-pos] with the brilliant color 

and luminosity their originals showed when projected on 

a white wall or a screen. 

 

Altho it had its drawbacks, printing [chemically] from color 

negatives had one really great advantage ... an advantage 

that you can carry forward to digital printing. With negatives, 

you have nothing ... except you memory of why you made

the shot ... to compare against your print.

 

IOW, printing negs the only thing you could compare a print 

against was the print that came before it [of the same neg]. 

Whatever your own taste, standards, aesthetics happen to 

prefer, you endeavored to bring that out in your print, and if 

it LOOKED good [to you] then it WAS good !  

  

--------------------------------------------------------------------------   

 

The great aspect of the "If it looks good, it is good" approach 

is that it's very much like camera work. With the camera you 

know that the subject scene is going to become something 

other than what the mind's eye THINKS it sees in the scene. 

 

You apply what you know about camera work to render the 

scene to your taste, preferences, etc. IOW, you learn what it

takes to please yourself, results-wise. Don't lose sight of that

no matter what method[s] of calibration you use, be it highly 

technical, seat-of-pants, or [typically] a bit of both :-) Camera 

work and print work are just two necessary steps between a 

subject and a print. Each has its own influences on the image. 

 

Keep in mind the past, the days of printing from color negs, 

and how the prints themselves were the photographer's very 

first [and only] "playback" of the shot. Don't let the camera's

initial playback image, nor the image on your PC's monitor,

rule over your vision. 



#12 Jaf-Photo

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 10:24 PM

Interesting points from username, as usual. Doing colour corrections on film was quite tricky and time consuming. One of the benefits of a digital workflow is that it's relatively cheap and easy to get accurate colour.

I tend to recommend calibration, because with time it trains your eye to see colours, brightness and contrast correctly. That's the best cure for over-saturated, over-contrasty photos with strange colour casts.

But it is also important to see the print version as different from the screen version. With time, you'll learn the envelope of various printers and papers.

Oddly, photographers seem to be losing the ability to print well or at least order good prints. I've been to several exhibitions recently with really horrible digital prints. Despite the fact that good printing is now more accessible to everyone.

#13 Photonanny614

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 12:29 AM

Thanks all for the advice! I guess I should have been a bit more clear, the issue isn't so much with coloring but them being blurry/not sharp in print. They look like printed iPhone photos vs something coming from a $1400+ camera system. I've had photos printed via several different reputable sites which leads me to believe it's an error on my part. And the pictures are clear and not at all fuzzy regardless of what screen they are viewed on. Is there a company anyone could recommend? I'm just getting tired of paying for prints only to not like them. 



#14 tinplater

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 02:49 PM

Photonany614, just so I understand, you are not printing your pictures yourself, but rather having a commercial firm print them and they look blurry in print but sharp on your monitor???



#15 addicted2light

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 04:59 PM

Thanks all for the advice! I guess I should have been a bit more clear, the issue isn't so much with coloring but them being blurry/not sharp in print. They look like printed iPhone photos vs something coming from a $1400+ camera system. I've had photos printed via several different reputable sites which leads me to believe it's an error on my part. And the pictures are clear and not at all fuzzy regardless of what screen they are viewed on. Is there a company anyone could recommend? I'm just getting tired of paying for prints only to not like them.


I obviously don't know how blurry you pictures look, but especially inkjet prints, where the ink spreads on paper lowering the resolution (it is more complicated than that, but just to understand each other) you will need to apply quite an heavy dose (as seen on screen) of sharpening. To print "sharp" more often than not the image shoul look horrible on screen, badly oversharpened.

The easiest way, considering that the right amount will depend on taste, type of paper, viewing distance, kind of printer etc., is using Google free plugin:

https://www.google.c.../sharpener-pro/

If that's not it either your printer might be not functioning properly, or you're sending to the printer, someway, low resolution files.

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#16 addicted2light

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 05:03 PM

Photonany614, just so I understand, you are not printing your pictures yourself, but rather having a commercial firm print them and they look blurry in print but sharp on your monitor???


...or, if tinplater is right, change print service! It is not that inconceivable that they are just making a poor job.

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#17 Jaf-Photo

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 07:03 AM

You need to adjust your file to the printer's equipment and workflow. Ask them what they use for your prints.

I send files as tiffs in Adobe RGB with size and resulution adjusted to actual print size. This avoids errors from automatic rescaling, which may be what you are experiencing.

With the files above, I get sharp pronts without any print sharpening. Over-sharpening can easily kill the image, especially tonality which is super-important.

Some printers have proofing profiles which will let you preview your file before you send it, even the effects of sifferent paper choices.

All in all, use a printer that is transparent on their printing process.

If you eant more specific help, uou can post a scan or photo of the prints along witj info on size and the file sent.


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