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Photography Question 
Scott Barker
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/16/2007

Best Prints Possible!!!

I was wondering what are the best DPI, resolution, or other wise little tricks to do, to get the best possible prints for 4x6. 5x7, 8x10, and 11x14. Also if I am using to print my photos, what kind of paper does anyone recommend for B&W, B&W with some color, and full color pics.


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7/19/2007 6:02:15 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  If you're prints smaller than 8X12 and use an Epson printer, set resolution at 340 ppi. If you're making prints larger than 8X12 with an Epson, you can use a lower resolution [for a 13X19 as low as 180 ppi.]

If you're using a Canon printer, use 300 ppi, although you'll acceptable prints at 240 -325.

Generally anything above 300, however, is a waste as consumer-oriented printers "expect" 300 ppi. This resolution bears zero relation to the printer's dpi production, so don't get confused.
The reason you can use lower resolution for larger prints is that they're viewed from a greater distance and, the human eye adjusts for the distance.

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7/19/2007 8:06:15 AM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  The resolution of your image (ppi or pixels per inch; dpi is a printer term for dots) really depends on the type of printing you will be doing. For example, if you print to a magazine or other high-resolution offset printing, the printer has greater resolution, so it requires more resolution in your images. On the other extreme, the web is generally low resolution (72-96 dpi; screen dots) and you need less resolution for larger images. I've used as much as 650 ppi for negative reproduction, and I would assume there are options that go even higher. The idea is to match the ppi to the output so the image has enough resolution to satisfy the output device's demands.
Home inkjets can generally get away with 240 ppi at printed size. You CAN go lower (180 or so), but you may begin to get resolution dependent softening - which may be acceptable depending on how picky you are. The type of printing that injets do is pretty forgiving and less likely to be noticeable than if you were to try and print with too little resolution to a laser printer or offset.
To get the best possible prints, I follow the advice I give in my blog. Instead of dealing with the chore of printing at home and needing to keep a store of paper and ink and performing maintenance, I set up my files and send them out to a service where they have printers that cost about as much as my house ... and they take care of it for less than it would cost me, and I get the best prints in any size without having to own and maintain expensive equipment for printing.
If you already have a home printer and are set on using it, manufacturers have a vested interest in you getting good prints. Follow their recommendations (read the manuals) for the best quality, and if they are different than what I suggest here, take their advice.
I hope that helps!

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7/19/2007 12:23:21 PM

Scott Barker
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/16/2007
  I am not using a home printer as I agree with Richard, I use to print, what I was wondering is about them. What paper should I use of theirs depending on what I print? Also about the resolution, I shoot in RAW, around 3400x2100, so what dpi/ppi is it safe to set my RAW image to before I need to start dropping it for a larger picture print?

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7/19/2007 12:33:20 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
  Again, the manufacturer will probably know their own equipment best. There is a pretty good FAQ on their site here:
They suggest 250ppi, and sRGB color space ... which I think are good recommendations. As far as the paper, that is really a personal preference. Maybe try a single shot printed on all three paper types to see which you like best? I always like to test services for workflow and results before I use them for bigger projects using their 4x6 prints - or even 3x5s if they are significantly cheaper. These will prove to be inexpensive tests and may save you lots (effort and headaches) in the long run.

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7/19/2007 1:57:35 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  You really don't need to worry about the dpi of your image when you upload it to Mpix for these print sizes. Upload your images, and when you select an image and go to choose print sizes, any sizes that are to large for your image will be grayed out.

Don't crop any more than you need to, of course. If you do crop your image, I recommend keeping it in the original 3:2 ratio, then you will have a chance to adjust the crop on screen for the other ratios like 5x7, 8x10, etc.

Their standard E-surface paper is very nice for all color printing. Their B&W paper, obviously, is great for B&W. If you have B&W with some selective coloring, though, you'll need to choose the color paper.

Their Metallic paper is an acquired taste. It has a very different pearlescent look that is difficult to describe. I would recommend trying it out before printing anything really large or important.

They will send you a sample kit of their paper if you request it.

You won't be disappointed with Mpix. Their quality and customer service are top-notch.

Chris Vedros

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7/19/2007 7:23:35 PM

Steve Parrott
  I am another MPix user. They are absolutely first class, in terms of service and quality printing. Pro lab results for everyman. Personally, I always send my files to them already sized to the EXACT size I want printed, at 250 DPI, in sRGB color space, JPEG 8 bit. You can upsize or downsize in PS or a good res up program if needed. I prefer not to use their on line cropping tool as I don't feel it is precise enough. If I an wanting a 16 x 20, then I send a 250 DPI 16 x 20 to start with. I have never had any color mismatch issues. I calibrate my monitor with a Spyder 2, and the prints I get from MPix are as perfect a match as possible. Oh yeah, I always check the DO NOT color correct box on the MPix order form. The E surface paper is the best all around paper. I always use the black and white paper when I submit b / w photos, but a trick to that is to NOT check the black and white color option when ordering. Just submit a b/w photo in sRGB color space, choose true b/w paper, and do not check the black and white conversion box. The photo will be b/w without any automatic b/w conversions going on at the MPix end that can alter the look or your photo. As for the metallic paper, I like it for very limited uses. It looks great with a colorful car photo for instance... I don't like it as much for people shots or landscapes. That being said though, I have people who love it and want it for their wedding album photos... it is just a matter of taste.

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7/27/2007 11:56:11 AM

Pat Harry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/26/2006
  What exactly do you do with the icc profiles provided by mpix? (I have them, but now what??) Are they used strictly for soft proofing before you upload? At first I thought maybe we were to convert the photo to that color space, but I think I'm understanding that we convert to sRGB. So I'm assuming the profiles are to help see the end result before we upload an order. Do I have this correct?

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9/1/2007 10:23:05 AM

Christopher Budny
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/3/2005
  Scott, I'd say it is worth it to upload a single file to mpix, make 1 order on the standard paper and 1 order on the metallic. (They do however, say metallic is not best suited to portraits.) You have to make it two orders, as your paper selection applies to an entire order; you can't mix and match paper choices in a single order of several prints.
I did this exercise for my first time using mpix; sent a colorful flower image to print at 10x13 (I uploaded it at their suggested 250dpi) and I *LOVE* the metallic paper results. Don't get me wrong, the "regular" paper result is very nice... but I framed and hung the metallic version!
Also, I further tested their output, by uploading the same file as a high-quality JPG, and then as a TIF, then requesting 10x13 prints from each. The TIF being a very large file took a long time to upload. The JPG was a much smaller file size of course. I have to say, I could not tell a difference in the resulting prints, so I'm content to use a JPG for future uploads (I still do all my edits & save as TIF.)
Haven't tried a B/W with them yet, so no comment yet on their B/W specialty paper...

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9/1/2007 1:40:18 PM

Pat Harry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/26/2006
  I found the answer to my own question...

"The output profiles that we are providing are only intended to be used in conjunction with PhotoShop and its soft proofing feature. Converting an image to one of these profiles and submitting the image for production will result in the image being incorrectly printed. All files received must continue to be submitted in sRGB color space, no exceptions."

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9/1/2007 2:41:26 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
Your original question was a good one, and the answer you found a very sensible one. For quite a long time peple have been trying to promote the AdobeRGB space, or even custom is generally either overkill in the real world, or flat out too unpredictable. You need to profile your own monitor, for preview purposes. however, what you should expect to see in print using an sRGB workflow and a good light-process printer (e.g., Kodak RP30) is virtually what you see on screen so long as you tag your images sRGB and calibrate.

my From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow course goes through the details.

Good to see you found your answers! keep at it.

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9/1/2007 2:51:08 PM

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