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Author Topic: POD Books and Color Manangement  (Read 2919 times)
David Eichler
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« on: July 25, 2012, 04:04:32 PM »
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I recently had a book printed by Blurb and was not happy with the colors. This is only the second time I have had a POD book done. The last time was with MyPublisher, in which case the color might have been better, but it was adequate for the purpose at the time. I am familiar with how my photos look as inkjet prints and in halftones, but I have little experience with digital printing, other than from some quick-and-dirty brochures in which my photos sometimes get used, so I don't really know how critical I can be. I realize that there will be some variation with digital prining, compared to half tone, but I did not expect to see it within one copy of a book. In the case of one photo, which was on the cover as well as inside the book, the was a very distinct color difference that is unacceptable to me. This did not happen with MyPublisher. Is there any way to quantify the limit of the variations one might expect from this process, assuming the producer is conscientious about controlling variations to the extent the process allows? Blurb seem to one of the preferred producers of POD books, so I would assume that they are a good reference point.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2012, 04:35:43 PM »
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The problem is that they are pretty clueless about colour-managed workflows between the client and the printers running their print jobs. Another problem is that Lightroom cannot work with CMYK profiles. I got around all this by finding on my system an RGB printer profile that roughly simulates SWOP 2 printing conditions, soft-proofed my images to this profile in Lightroom and then sent it all off to Blurb for printing. The results that came back were well within the range of acceptable. Blurb and Adobe need to collaborate on a set of LR-friendly profiles that properly simulate the various Blurb papers and presses; then it would all become more predictable provided users adjust their images under softproof for the appropriate profile.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
digitaldog
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2012, 05:18:12 PM »
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In the case of one photo, which was on the cover as well as inside the book, the was a very distinct color difference that is unacceptable to me.

Me too. I purposely sent the same image to both to see if I’d get a close match, something I’ve seen in the past printing from Aperture. The differences in the Blurb book were night and day. The rest of the output wasn’t anything to write home about and the same images, again printed through Aperture was vastly superior. The issue here IMHO has nothing to do with soft proofing and everything to do with a press (Indigo) that is properly setup and running as best it can.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2012, 05:22:09 PM »
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I realize that there will be some variation with digital prining, compared to half tone

Actually not so. I’ve worked with a lot of digital printing presses (Nexpress, Xeikon and Indigo, the later being the best) and when properly handled, they can be pretty consistent. With a few hundred patches, it isn’t uncommon to see a well run Indigo staying within a 2dE over the course of time. They do require a lot of maintenance although I’m sure less than an analog press.
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Andrew Rodney
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David Eichler
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« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2012, 05:34:40 PM »
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Actually not so. I’ve worked with a lot of digital printing presses (Nexpress, Xeikon and Indigo, the later being the best) and when properly handled, they can be pretty consistent. With a few hundred patches, it isn’t uncommon to see a well run Indigo staying within a 2dE over the course of time. They do require a lot of maintenance although I’m sure less than an analog press.

Okay, so based on the above and your previous comment (and my experience so far), are you suggesting looking elsewhere than Blurb for this purpose? When you are referring to Aperture, are you are referring to the Apple software and using Apple's POD printing? Is this your preferred method for POD books?

By the way, I should modify my initial comment. I have used other POD printing. I have had several photo business cards done by MOO, and these came out well. Most recently, I had photo card reprinted and the photo looked very close to the original printing. I did use soft proofing in Photoshop for this with their generic SWOP profile. The effect of the profile was not an overall shift in colors, just that the colors became more muted (and some were possibly lost), so that I needed to add a bit of saturation and contrast to recover some pop.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2012, 05:43:09 PM »
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Okay, so based on the above and your previous comment (and my experience so far), are you suggesting looking elsewhere than Blurb for this purpose?

Hard to say as some folks seem to love them. Maybe I got an off day. The book quality stunk IMHO. I’m not really willing to spend $40+ to print the same book again to see if they have a QC issue and I hit a bad day or they just print crappy all the time.

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When you are referring to Aperture, are you are referring to the Apple software and using Apple's POD printing? Is this your preferred method for POD books?

Yes. And the quality has been consistently very good for me. The only reason I used Aperture was for output of books. I was so happy to see the option in LR but I may be back to Aperture for this.

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I have had several photo business cards done by MOO, and these came out well.

Me too! I was very happy with the output and price but this is a far cry from the test images I used in a 32 page book.
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Andrew Rodney
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 06:19:06 PM »
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I did use soft proofing in Photoshop for this with their generic SWOP profile. The effect of the profile was not an overall shift in colors, just that the colors became more muted (and some were possibly lost), so that I needed to add a bit of saturation and contrast to recover some pop.

Exactly - and just what soft-proofing usually incites one to do, hence its usefulness in getting more acceptable results.

I'm not saying Blurb is necessarily a fantastic print service - just that I've had good results from them and so have others. How consistently good are they - I don't know, but if Andrew's had poor outcomes from them that's contrary evidence. Regardless of the consistency issue, it doesn't change the point that sending them a decently soft-proofed image just strikes out one more variable that can generate disconnects between what you are sending and what comes back.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
digitaldog
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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2012, 06:47:49 PM »
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IMHO, soft proofing, as useful as it is has no role in terms of the awful book I got. I’m using 32 pages of reference images (mine and most of the Roman 16 images), synthetic test images you’d never soft proof etc. I’d expect to see lower saturation going off to CMYK from such images. That was the least of my beef with the output. I saw black smudges (what we used to call assholes in the old analog days. I suspect this is dots of black toner), poor gray balance, images that are somewhat washed out (certainly the covers).
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Andrew Rodney
Author “Color Management for Photographers”
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2012, 06:52:08 PM »
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Sounds right - I was talking in general - not your specific case, which seems really egregious, quite unrelated to soft-proofing and should never have passed their QC - if there is any. As Adobe is teaming-up with these guys to operate the Book module, I would think they have a joint interest in looking at what's going on.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
David Eichler
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« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2012, 07:47:35 PM »
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What I experienced with Blurb was an overall color imbalance, not lower contrast or saturation or loss of some colors. Furthermore, in addition to the overall imbalance, there was, as I mentioned, a major color discrepancy between the same photo printed on the cover and inside the book. What I would expect when going from RGB to cmyk is loss of some colors and a flatter, less saturated look. I would not expect substantial overall shifts in color balance throughought a substantial number of images, especially when going from sRGB to cmyk.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2012, 07:55:39 PM »
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What I experienced with Blurb was an overall color imbalance, not lower contrast or saturation or loss of some colors. Furthermore, in addition to the overall imbalance, there was, as I mentioned, a major color discrepancy between the same photo printed on the cover and inside the book. What I would expect when going from RGB to cmyk is loss of some colors and a flatter, less saturated look. I would not expect substantial overall shifts in color balance throughought a substantial number of images, especially when going from sRGB to cmyk.

Right. Based on the quote I responded to above, I was thinking your main problem was contrast/vibrancy and not so much overall colour imbalance. This suggests a problem at their end. As for the cover, the materials for covers and inside pages are not the same, so one would expect some difference - again usually in contrast/vibrancy, but major colour discrepancy - hardly. Probably worthwhile sending it back to them and asking them to print it properly. Sounds like they need to be made aware they are providing a service at least some customers find unacceptable.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Rhossydd
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2012, 02:14:46 AM »
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If you're not happy with a Blurb book, get in contact with them and ask for it to be reprinted. I understand their support department can be very responsive and helpful, especially if you take the time to fully rationalise and detail the problems you're seeing.

I've been pretty happy with all the books Blurb have printed for me. However reading the support forums I get the impression that QC is better in Europe than North America.

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