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Photography Question 
Simon Horswell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/4/2006
 

How to get the best print quality


I recently had a few of my prints printed for sale purposes.
They were printed A3 on a laser jet printer and I must stress the quality was terrible! It looked wavey in the grain which completly ruined the image quality.
I would simply like to know what is the best way to have my prints printed and what file type should they be saved at to ensure the best possible finish?

Please help,

Si


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2/29/2008 4:59:21 AM

 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Simply - if you are going to print your own images you should use a photo grade printer. These are available in fairly inexpensive models, but as the quality improves and print size increases, so does the cost. I use the CAnon i9900, my upgrade over my Canon S800.

Many will say the best inkjet printer is made by Epson. HP has models too.

In the Canon line you can buy a great unit that also makes copies [a copier] and serves also serves as a fax machine. I think it's the M60 [or upgraded version.]

The other key to great prints is the paper. Don't use laser printing paper; use photo paper - and start out with the best quality offered for your photo printer. You, of course, can use third party manufacturer's pro0duct - I love Ilford Galleria Glossy for color prints and Pearl for B&W.

If you don't want to do you own printing, there are services: MPIX, Adorama, etc. Prices are preetty good.


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2/29/2008 5:30:45 AM

 
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  Simon,
As print technology is in constant flux, the cost of keeping up with it at home would be astronomical. I outsource all my printing, and get top quality for less than it would cost to print at home...I don't even have a printer connected to my workstation. The machine I currently get most of my prints made on costs about $60,000, partly for speed, but also partly because it is a top-quality laser LIGHT printer, which instead of using toner exposes photographic paper to light via a laser, and is processed with chemicals. In other words, you are getting photographic prints (no toner or ink) from your digital files without going to negatives. I can print at a variety of sizes on top quality photographic papers. John is right on in his comment about paper -- it makes a huge difference.

There may still be issues with submitting your work depending on the color management you use, but my courses do help you work out a process that meets your needs, especially in this case From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow which is dedicated to ironing out color management issues and submitting work to services for printing.

I hope that helps!

Richard Lynch


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2/29/2008 7:21:47 AM

 
Simon Horswell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/4/2006
  Hi folks,

Thanks for the response to my question. However I must ooint out that I do not want to prit at home, I do want to out source.
I guess I need to know what quality to ask for, ie what paper, what print type as in ink jet or lazer jet ect, most importantly what file type to save as so the image is at its very best quality.
When I recently tried a print shop and the sky line looked like embroidery I wasnot impressed. My inkjet HP7762 produces A4 prints at superb quality. When I challenged the clark she claimed that the quality was purely due to it being saved as a JPEG, and not a PDF!!!
Alarm bells rang!
I left feeling that I should research everything I need to know about asking for exactly what I want in a large print.

I hope you can help.

Si


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3/3/2008 7:26:43 AM

 
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  Simon,
The statement you raise in question "When I challenged the clark she claimed that the quality was purely due to it being saved as a JPEG, and not a PDF!!!" should certainly make you wonder about the service. That they would suggest you print on a toner-based laser printer is awful in the first place. That they follow up with silly remarks about file type is even worse (PDF will often use JPEG compression unless you tell it otherwise, so the compression is moot). I would not use that service and find one with more interest in quality results.

There is a lot to printing that goes beyond just choosing a paper. You need to have a size in mind, quality, perhaps even a price range, use, need for permanence...

My preference for using services is to print to high-end laser light printers like Noritsu ... there are other brands. To me inkjet nor toner-based laser have a similar level of quality -- though I know people who swear by high-end inkjets, and clearly that would be my second choice (all toner solutions I have ever seen are clunky).

Lots more info in my courses: From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow and Photoshop 101: the Photoshop Essentials Primer (depending on your level).

Richard Lynch


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3/3/2008 10:35:49 AM

 
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