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Author Topic: odd print lab proofing advice  (Read 11163 times)
ejnewman
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« Reply #40 on: January 09, 2010, 09:24:03 AM »
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I have been looking at the Metro Imaging website and they have a section explaining their colour management, but it seems they only go as far as working space, they also don't seem to supply any profiles... instead they say that they do all the soft proofing, and I quote: "On receipt of your image file, we will install the correct printer profile and individually colour manage the print outcome to match the image file as exactly as possible."

I don't want the lab technician soft proofing for me! I thought the phrase was "what you see is what you get" not "what they see is what you get"

http://www.metroimaging.co.uk/technicalhel...rmanagement.asp
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #41 on: January 09, 2010, 10:11:45 AM »
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Quote from: ejnewman
I have been looking at the Metro Imaging website and they have a section explaining their colour management, but it seems they only go as far as working space, they also don't seem to supply any profiles... instead they say that they do all the soft proofing, and I quote: "On receipt of your image file, we will install the correct printer profile and individually colour manage the print outcome to match the image file as exactly as possible."

I don't want the lab technician soft proofing for me! I thought the phrase was "what you see is what you get" not "what they see is what you get"

http://www.metroimaging.co.uk/technicalhel...rmanagement.asp

WYGIWYG - What you get is what you get.
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #42 on: January 09, 2010, 11:55:06 AM »
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Quote from: ejnewman
I have been looking at the Metro Imaging website and they have a section explaining their colour management, but it seems they only go as far as working space, they also don't seem to supply any profiles... instead they say that they do all the soft proofing, and I quote: "On receipt of your image file, we will install the correct printer profile and individually colour manage the print outcome to match the image file as exactly as possible." I don't want the lab technician soft proofing for me! I thought the phrase was "what you see is what you get" not "what they see is what you get"
You could certainly ask them to supply a profile to you for soft proofing purposes. But I think your question brings up another topic. There are two new terms in the photolab business that are starting to become common - "Customer Corrected" or "Lab Corrected" printing.

"Customer Corrected" printing is a fully color managed service where the lab prints your files without even looking at them. This type of service is gaining popularity and it's great for everyone that uses it. Because it's easier for the lab, some labs choose to discount this type of printing.

"Lab Corrected" printing is a continuation of the traditional printed service that labs have done for years that involves color correction. A human looks at each and every image and adjusts them to their preference.

So anytime you are beginning a new relationship with a lab you want to be really clear about which type of service you are looking for. What you have quoted falls into "customer corrected" printing, and they will likely supply a profile upon request so that you can do your own soft proofing.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #43 on: January 09, 2010, 12:25:55 PM »
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Quote from: Wayne Fox
Actually this is a problem ... these machines have large amounts of drift.

If this is always true, there’s no fix (which seems hard to believe), then game over, never use such a device. What I suspect is, you are correct, like many devices, there’s drift or need for continual calibration and a lot of labs simply dismiss as much of this work as possible. Again, a process using something like Maxwell, with email notifiers that tell the lab the minute this happens on a target at a fixed max deltaE programed, would greatly reduce issues and redos. But turning off such a machine (or shutting down a press to fix a blanket) takes time away from production. Those that want the highest quality output in a consistent fashion will do the necessary work to ensure proper calibrating. Most others will simply pass the output onto the client, hoping they don’t notice.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #44 on: January 09, 2010, 12:29:02 PM »
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Quote from: Onsight
"Lab Corrected" printing is a continuation of the traditional printed service that labs have done for years that involves color correction. A human looks at each and every image and adjusts them to their preference.

Its a major problem for those of us who simply want the provided RGB numbers to go to the output device. This tactic seems pretty silly unless the lab is getting both permission to alter the values and paid to do so. Its completely the opposite of the CMYK world where you send a prepress shop some values and you get what you get on the contract proof unless you specifically ask for and pay handsomely for alterations and more proofs. Its too bad the RGB lab world didn’t take a look at this workflow. Its the one area the CMYK output world seems to have gotten right.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #45 on: January 09, 2010, 01:53:58 PM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
If this is always true, there’s no fix (which seems hard to believe), then game over, never use such a device. What I suspect is, you are correct, like many devices, there’s drift or need for continual calibration and a lot of labs simply dismiss as much of this work as possible. Again, a process using something like Maxwell, with email notifiers that tell the lab the minute this happens on a target at a fixed max deltaE programed, would greatly reduce issues and redos. But turning off such a machine (or shutting down a press to fix a blanket) takes time away from production. Those that want the highest quality output in a consistent fashion will do the necessary work to ensure proper calibrating. Most others will simply pass the output onto the client, hoping they don’t notice.
A lot of truth in this.  Calibration requires you to stop throughput, and print out a target which takes around 5 minutes, then read in the results.   One issue is advanced photographers want the consistency of an inkjet, which just isn't going to happen no matter what.  Even a variation of a tenth of a degree can produce a change that might be visible when compared side by side.

One real problem is the replenishment rate and machine utilization.  The rate is based on an expected average density of the images being printed.  There are circumstances where that can change dramatically even in a short time ... perhaps a large job that are all very dark or very light images.  Suddenly the developer is a little off.  If you keep going it will average itself out, but some prints may exhibit some differences.  We'll print an order of several hundred Christmas cards all on a high key background, almost always the last card will be slightly darker than the first because the machine has been over replenishing based on the print densities.  Some genius somewhere could probably design a program that controls the replenishment rate based on all the factors including the density of the files being submitted, but currently it's a "start here and tweak".  Under utilized machines require more than heavily utilized machines.

These variations are normally well within the toleration point of most of the labs customers, but can easily become issues if prints from different machines are compared, or reprinted at different times.  The differences are usually not large, but substantially more so than with current inkjet processes.  We sent in files to both WHCC and mPix to get the test prints back, both are using identical equipment, but both produced different results.  The results were consistent for each ... one was all slightly cool the other slightly warm.  I spent some time at Millers/mPix main plant in Kansas.  To solve this they always send an entire job to the same printer.  If you order a 30x40 and 100 8x10's, they'll send it all to the 30" durst, rather than the more efficient model of the big print to the durst and the smaller ones to the 11" Noritsu's.  We actually installed a 24" Noritsu for much the same reason, to make sure our large portraits matched the smaller ones.  The problem we have (I say we since I still consult with my previous company) is that there are 185 Noritsu's spread around the country and we can't really get consistent match between all of them and the central plant.  But it works well enough for our customer base ( which are all end consumers, not photographers) nearly all of the time.  I guess maybe we fit the description in your last sentence.

Nothing new here, this is the same issue that has been around with silver halide printing forever.  It's actually far better than it was ... I remember the nightmares of a bulb blowing in a big Lucht Package printer that had several  600 negative rolls tested up and ready to go ... what we have now is substantially better than that.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #46 on: January 09, 2010, 02:20:41 PM »
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Quote from: Wayne Fox
We sent in files to both WHCC and mPix to get the test prints back, both are using identical equipment, but both produced different results.

That doesn’t surprise nor concern me too much. You see this all the time with all nature of presses (and even an ink jet should someone use differing driver or RIP settings). A bigger issue is plotting the differences of the same equipment in the same shop and consistency between the same machines. If the lab is sending files to multiple printers of the same make and model, all using the same settings, one would and should expect that you could pop that file on any of the machines and get visually similar (deltaE 2000 of say 4-6) all the time from all the devices. Anything over that, I’d be hard pressed to use such a shop. And in terms of average or max deltaE, all the metrics are of course dependent on the number of patches and the source of the values sent. For example, when we send QC targets to a specific digital press, we use patches that fall within gamut from source RGB (using the output profile) to build the patches measured for this delta report. Little reason to send say G255 in ProPhoto or even Adobe RGB (1998) to some devices when there’s no way it can get close to hitting the predicted converted numbers if it falls outside device gamut. Some colors are far more important than others. Skew the gray balance and customers will scream. So you need very specialized QC targets to track all this. Bottom line is, which of these RGB labs are even doing this kind of trending? You’d think that if the trending was really good, they would do well to share this with the customers who care and can understand what they are seeing. I suspect that if we build such trending to most of these labs, even over say a week of feeding in targets every hour, the results would scare the crap out of anyone who could evaluate the results.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #47 on: January 09, 2010, 02:55:45 PM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
[concerning "Lab Corrected" printing] This tactic seems pretty silly unless the lab is getting both permission to alter the values and paid to do so.
Lab Corrected is an option that commonly chosen by the customer that's typically dealing with point and shoot images with less than perfect exposures and white balance settings. Lab Corrected prints may their lousy exposures look better.

Quote from: digitaldog
Its a major problem for those of us who simply want the provided RGB numbers to go to the output device. Its too bad the RGB lab world didn’t take a look at this workflow.
As for a lab that's not color managed, you can ask them to print your images with no corrections - that's easy. Help me understand why you'd want this option at a color manged lab? If a lab is color managed they are using profiles that incorporate RGB CGR like technology (see http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=40713 for more details on this) which can't be made elsewhere and help reduce color fringing in the shadows.
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #48 on: January 09, 2010, 03:04:32 PM »
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Quote from: Onsight
"Lab Corrected" printing is a continuation of the traditional printed service that labs have done for years that involves color correction. A human looks at each and every image and adjusts them to their preference.
It's also central to the workflow model many of these labs use based on DP2 software.  A very tightly controlled display can be tweaked with conventional red/green/blue/density dials, and resulting instructions are sent to the output device when the file is processed.  This conversion occurs simultaneous to the conversion to the printers output algorithms, including the application of any required shifts based on the specific printers current calibration.  The match between these displays and the actual output is very good ... probably closer than most processes with inkjet, but the process is as you describe, adapted from the video analyzer model of labs before digital.  Of course when DP2 was designed, that was the goal ... since the process was all analyzed film so the basic thought process was just to replace the method of printing to the paper.

That being said there are great many working photographers that actually like this model.  There are thousands of very successful studio and wedding photographers that are still old school in how they approach their business.  That is rapidly changing, thus the increased recent pressures on these labs to employ better CMS workflows and I'm sure there are new tools available as well as being worked on ... hopefully in a few years we can all look back and realize how archaic these current processes are and be glad it finally made it out of the stone ages.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #49 on: January 09, 2010, 03:15:13 PM »
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Quote from: Onsight
Lab Corrected is an option that commonly chosen by the customer that's typically dealing with point and shoot images with less than perfect exposures and white balance settings. Lab Corrected prints may their lousy exposures look better.

Yes and its also a path many photographers didn’t ask for but got. The web is filled with customers who got results they didn’t expect because the lab altered their files without asking first.

I agree that the option of having the lab tweak is good for some customers. Its also bad for customers when done without being told. It be far easier if the RGB lab model worked more like the CMYK press model where unless you specifically ask (and pay) for alterations, the numbers go to the device without further human intervention.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #50 on: January 09, 2010, 03:28:52 PM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
It be far easier if the RGB lab model worked more like the CMYK press model where unless you specifically ask (and pay) for alterations, the numbers go to the device without further human intervention.
And why would that be preferable to "Customer Corrected" printing that's fully color managed? Customer Corrected printing is where you send your sRGB, AdobeRGB, ProPhotoRGB [or whatever] files and they print them with their latest greatest printer profiles without any subjective color corrections. Without even looking at your files.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #51 on: January 09, 2010, 03:28:59 PM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
I agree that the option of having the lab tweak is good for some customers. Its also bad for customers when done without being told. It be far easier if the RGB lab model worked more like the CMYK press model where unless you specifically ask (and pay) for alterations, the numbers go to the device without further human intervention.

Andrew, yes, but to some extent perhaps this depends on the customer. Your RGB=CMYK press model assumes a customer equipped and savvy enough to know when the numbers are right. There are no doubt many people who don't want to know anything about numbers or colour management - they just want to send images which look OK on their unmanaged dsplays and want something returned to them which looks "good". For them, perhaps the lab tweaking is a blessing in disguise. I kind of liked the dichotomy between "Customer" and "Lab" corrected whjich Onsight mentioned. It characterizes these two categories of folks quite nicely and points to different solutions for each.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #52 on: January 09, 2010, 03:32:19 PM »
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Quote from: Mark D Segal
I kind of liked the dichotomy between "Customer" and "Lab" corrected whjich Onsight mentioned. It characterizes these two categories of folks quite nicely and points to different solutions for each.
Some labs won't take orders without clarifying exactly which the customer wants. Some kiosks and web ordering sites start by letting you choose one or the other. I like this customer centric terminology too and hope that it continues to gain momentum.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #53 on: January 09, 2010, 03:35:42 PM »
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Quote from: Mark D Segal
Andrew, yes, but to some extent perhaps this depends on the customer. Your RGB=CMYK press model assumes a customer equipped and savvy enough to know when the numbers are right.

Yeah, right. Like all the people who convert to U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 assuming its some “standard” for every and all CMYK conversions, Web presses, digital presses etc. In the CMYK prepress model, shops get converted CMYK that doesn’t have any relationship to how they print all the time. Proof are highly profitable. CMYK or RGB, customers who expect the numbers to be output “as is” hopefully have a clue to the exacting recipe for the conversions.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #54 on: January 09, 2010, 03:40:05 PM »
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Quote from: Onsight
And why would that be preferable to "Customer Corrected" printing that's fully color managed? Customer Corrected printing is where you send your sRGB, AdobeRGB, ProPhotoRGB [or whatever] files and they print them with their latest greatest printer profiles without any subjective color corrections. Without even looking at your files.

In my mind, a fully color managed workflow using a Customer Corrected model would be whereby the lab supplies an actual profile of the actual conditions. Then I convert, after selecting the preferred rendering intent, fully aware of the CMM and the role of BPC, and after a soft proof round with minor tweaks to the image based on the profile provided. I don’t want them to take an RGB working space and “send the numbers as is” because that’s not possible without a conversion to the native output space. There’s too much going on there that I can’t control or see. Fine for other users but for advanced users, they simply have to be provided the output profile and control how the resulting output RGB (or CMYK) values are produced. Then just send it to the device “as is”.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #55 on: January 09, 2010, 07:11:29 PM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
Yeah, right. Like all the people who convert to U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 assuming its some “standard” for every and all CMYK conversions, Web presses, digital presses etc. In the CMYK prepress model, shops get converted CMYK that doesn’t have any relationship to how they print all the time. Proof are highly profitable. CMYK or RGB, customers who expect the numbers to be output “as is” hopefully have a clue to the exacting recipe for the conversions.

I think you are one step ahead of the "Lab Corrected" folks I had in mind. These are people who may not even be aware of the difference between RGB and CMYK. All they know is that they have a bunch of images they want to print as a book, they make a PDF, it looks good on their uncalibrated and unprofiled displays (which may well be too bright, too contrasty, too saturated and too blue); they send the PDF to the printer and they expect to get back a book which looks like what they expect to see. The "Customer Corrected" folks, on the other hand, would be those knowledgeable enough to follow the workflow you recommend in responding to Scott (your second of the two posts above). These are the people who need a lab service whose output is predictable based on their supplied profiles and recommended softproofing conditions. I, for example, would be a "Customer Corrected" person and I would need to select a lab with a reputation for reliably implementing a proper colour-managed workflow. That makes the discussion with the lab very easy if there are problems, because we both know what the parameters are. It becomes next to impossible in the "Lab Corrected" stream, because that's like nailing jelly to a wall.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #56 on: January 10, 2010, 09:41:17 AM »
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Quote from: digitaldog
In my mind, a fully color managed workflow using a Customer Corrected model would be whereby the lab supplies an actual profile of the actual conditions. Then I convert, after selecting the preferred rendering intent, fully aware of the CMM and the role of BPC, and after a soft proof round with minor tweaks to the image based on the profile provided.
That's certainly an option that you can setup with your lab. The problems that I've witnessed with that type of approach is that labs change papers and update profiles and customers are still using the old profiles. Noritsu profiles that have the RGB GCR alteration can't be used in Photoshop so color fringing in the shadows could be present. And embedding a large output profile in each and every image can slow down the process of sending files electronically. For most professionals, being able to work in their working space of choice while soft proofing with the labs profile, and sending their working space images to the lab for printing works really, really well. But naturally there's room for other workflows as long as one has a thorough conversation with the lab.
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #57 on: January 10, 2010, 10:26:18 AM »
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Scott,

Could you list all the photo labs you know that accept image files with an embedded working space profile of the customer's choosing AND has a track record of delivering decent print to screen matches with this method? Or maybe you know and can provide a link to a site that acts as a centralized consortium that strictly adheres to such practices and capabilities.
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #58 on: January 10, 2010, 11:42:33 AM »
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Quote from: tlooknbill
Could you list all the photo labs you know that accept image files with an embedded working space profile of the customer's choosing AND has a track record of delivering decent print to screen matches with this method?
Sure, I'll send you an email with a quick list that's by no means complete. I wish there was a 3rd party certification program like you describe.
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #59 on: January 10, 2010, 11:48:37 AM »
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Thanks, Scott.

No need to keep it in an email.

For those interested here's the list he sent me:

Digital Pro Lab
Cashman Pro
Holland Photo
Austin Photo Imaging
Houston Photo Imaging
Horizon Photography
Infocus Camera
Marin Filmworks
Oakcolor
Richmand Camera
Peoria Color
PhotoTek
River City Silver
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