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Author Topic: Poor man's printing  (Read 3012 times)
macgyver
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« on: September 03, 2006, 05:35:29 PM »
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Any time that you hear digital printing refered to it is in the context of nice inkjet printers, output sharpening, calibration, and the like.  Of course, this is the way it is done.  It has to be for the best results.

However, more than anything else in photography this seems to be a rich man's only world.

I am a student with almost no income, most of which goes toward school related expenses when I do have it.  95% of my work is either web only or newsprint only, but I really would like to be able to produce a decent print every once in a while.  There is no way on this earth that I could afford any sort of printer or anything of those means.  This leaves me with the option of going to local big box retail chains for my printing.

Is there any real way for someone like me to produce decent prints for not a huge sum of money?  Perhaps a website or a checklist of things to do to improve the quality of the prints that i get from the chain stores, or so on or so forth.

I am not complaining here.  I fully understand that money much be sunk into a hobby to get the best results and I am not whining because I can't get the best for free.  I am just curious if there is any path for me to take.

Thanks all.

-mac
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2006, 05:56:54 PM »
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Some quick thots ...

There are free methods of monitor calibration (via eye ballin) that will get you in the ballpark.  Find one of those.

Make sure you indicate to the lab that you don't want them to futz with your photos.  (No adjustments.)

Some profiles are available for different lab printers.  If you can find out what printer they are using you might be able to hunt down a profile for the printer.  Then you can soft proof before you send anything to them.
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sgwrx
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2006, 07:15:50 PM »
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i'm not sure of your location, but a local camera shop may have a printing service. you could talk to them about profiles for their printing machines etc.  at least one local to me has workstations setup to do simple corrections, but i'm not sure if those workstations give the ability to soft-proof to their printer?
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joedevico
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« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2006, 12:49:16 AM »
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Mac -

If you do any printing at Costco or similar locations - go to drycreekphoto.com - check the database for the free digital printer profiles, then splurge and buy a spyder and calibration software. You can get the spyder2express for as little at $60.00 online which includes everything you need to properly profile your monitor for use with these profiles. You may be able to get profiles from your local photo lab as well.

If you can't afford the $60.00, then download the test target from Dry Creek and have it printed at the lab of your choice (or your printer) - then download some free calibration software from Nokia or Ilyama and carefully adjust your monitor to match the print. It's the closest you'll come to true calibration - however you'll olny be able to print to that output device and the stuff you do for the web and Newsprint will be off from what it was before.

I'd beg, borrow (not steal) to get the $60 - it's really worth it if you expect your prints to look like your monitor.
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Joe DeVico
the PhotoGraphic Design Group
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2006, 12:43:49 PM »
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Monitor calibration is where you need to start; if you can't trust what your monitor shows you, all other attempts at color management are a complete waste of time. Once you've got a calibrated monitor, you can get quite good results from fairly inexpensive printers like an Epson R800 or similar. Even cheap printers will deliver decent output if you have good profiles for them. A good custom printer profile may set you back $40-60, but it will pay for itself in paper and ink you're not wasting, not to mention your time and frustration. Or you can find a print service that pays attention to color management, (like Costco) and get decent results just by profiling your monitor so that the files you give the service have correct color numbers.
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macgyver
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2006, 07:06:19 PM »
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Thank you all very much, I will let you know how things go.

This is great, this is the kind of stuff i'm looking for.
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