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Author Topic: Poor Blurb Print Quality Using LR4  (Read 9478 times)
Robert Boire
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« on: July 23, 2013, 05:36:08 PM »
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I have just received  my first Blurb book created through the LR4 workflow and I am very disappointed with the quality of the printed copy.
Even a cursory examination shows:

-Blotchy areas
-Spotting
-Vertical banding
-"graininess"

The blotchy areas and spotting show up in particular in areas that are featureless and tend to be
monochromatic (skies for example) and so are very visible.

I realize this may have nothing to do with LR. However before I start blasting blurb I am wondering if there is something I am missing in the development process and if some of these problems may be self-induced either by the way I use LR4 or -perish the thought- may be inherent in the images themselves.

For example some  (but not all) of the printed images showing spotting and blotchy areas were taken in low light/high ISO conditions
and the "spotting" could be interpreted as noise...though it seems a bit too large and variable to be that. Yet I have reduced noise where appropriate. The imperfections are largely not visible in LR4 itself or in the pdf generated from LR4 either when viewed on screen as the same size of the actual print or even when zoomed in by a factor of 2.  Which leads me to conclude that the problem is with the printer quality itself and of course adds to the unpredictability. I am also surprised by the "graininess" which seems to imply that the printing
is not taking place at the 300dpi resolution required by blurb or that this resolution is not sufficient.

Thoughts anyone? What am I missing or doing wrong?

Thanks

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luxborealis
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2013, 09:04:42 PM »
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The bottom line is this... if what you see on the printed page is not visible in LR, then it must be Blurb. However, do check carefully to ensure that you cannot see the same thing in LR. Also, be sure to contact Blurb with your concern.

I had a similar problem with a book from Apple and they immediately sent me a new copy without even verifying the problem. Hopefully blurb will offer equally good service.
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opgr
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2013, 01:34:09 AM »
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Is it possible to show a picture of the printed result?

Have you previewed with a proof-profile somewhere in your workflow?
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2013, 02:47:35 AM »
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Without seeing examples it's difficult to offer anything in the way of informed comment.

Blurb do have quality control issues, which seem worse in some territories than others, so it may just be a bad example and worth sending back to be reprinted. Blurb's customer service is usually pretty good at reprinting any problem books.

Before ordering had you seen a Blurb book before ? Had you proof printed the images via a desktop printer ?
Whilst I've found the print quality to be good for this type of printing, it's not going to rival inkjet quality output.
"not taking place at the 300dpi resolution required by blurb" the actual print resolution is much lower than that. When sharpening for print I use a halftone coated preset in PKS set for 175/350 dpi.
The "graininess" you're seeing may just be the halftone like screening (a bit like inkjet dither patterns, but larger) on all output from the HP Indigo.
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pflower
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2013, 04:54:23 AM »
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I don't use LR for Blurb but I have made a lot of books with them both from Booksmart and for the past 2 years or so with Adobe In Design.  Recently quality seems to be very good - much better than a year or two ago but occassionally problems do arise and I have found Customer Support to be very responsive over re-prints.

Things to check.  First export to pdf from LR and check the pdf file to make sure it is not a problem with your images.  Second after uploading to Blurb but before ordering do a preview of the whole book on the Blurb website.  The Blurb preview is nothing like 100% accurate but will show any major problems with the file.  From your description of the problems the preview should reveal these.  If both the pdf and the preview on Blurb seem OK then it is likely a printing problem which should be taken up with Customer support who will require a jpeg of the problem pages.

Good luck.  Final thought - what paper did you choose for your book?  I only use the more expensive photo pearl option. The standard paper is not at all good in my experience - very desaturated colours and might possibly account for the graininess (but since I haven't used it since the more expensive options were introduced I can't speak from experience on that).
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digitaldog
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2013, 08:44:21 AM »
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-Blotchy areas
-Spotting
-Vertical banding
-"graininess"

At least the first 3 sound like press issues (dirty drum, bad PIP, etc). Ask to get it reprinted. Do you see the vertical banding running consistently through all the images? That's a sure sign it's a press issue (bad QC).
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Andrew Rodney
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Robert Boire
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2013, 12:27:54 PM »
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Thanks all for your questions and suggestions. Here are a few selected answers.

Is it possible to show a picture of the printed result?

Have you previewed with a proof-profile somewhere in your workflow?

Working on a picture of the result. I soft-proofed to the extent possible - ie sRGB which is what LR converts to prior to upload. Of course its not possible to soft proof to blurbs CMYK profile. I should say that while there are a few image where the color is wrong, I am for the most part satisfied with the accuracy of the color reproduction.


Before ordering had you seen a Blurb book before ? Had you proof printed the images via a desktop printer ?

The "graininess" you're seeing may just be the halftone like screening (a bit like inkjet dither patterns, but larger) on all output from the HP Indigo.

No, I have not seen a printed result before. Yes I did print some (not all) of the "problematical" images. I have an Epson 2880 printer and I printed either at the same size or larger than the book. I did not observe the same problems.

You probably have a point about the "graininess".  For some reason I assumed that the blurb printers would be higher quality/more accurate than my own. Maybe, I am wrong there. I do not know much about the HP printers they use. See also below about paper quality.


Things to check.  First export to pdf from LR and check the pdf file to make sure it is not a problem with your images.  Second after uploading to Blurb but before ordering do a preview of the whole book on the Blurb website. 
Good luck.  Final thought - what paper did you choose for your book?  I only use the more expensive photo pearl option.


I did export to pdf and did not observe the same issues. Nor on the site preview. Of course the screen resolution is not the same but ... no, nothing observable.

I used the intermediate cost pearl paper. 

[/quote]

Do you see the vertical banding running consistently through all the images?

Oddly enough, no. Just on a few images. But maybe its less visible, depending on the colors etc.I assume they do a single print run.  I definitely do not see it in my own prints

Robert
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2013, 12:36:54 PM »
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For some reason I assumed that the blurb printers would be higher quality/more accurate than my own.
I'm afraid your expectations may be rather too great then. Trying to better the output from a good inkjet like your 2880 is going to be very, very difficult. Mass printed books will never really compare.

Having said that, it does sound like you may have some duff printing in your book, so take some photos of the problems and get onto customer services for a reprint.
Don't forget to update the thread with the results.
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Robert Boire
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« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2013, 08:12:38 PM »
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Is it possible to show a picture of the printed result?


Hi,

For those that are interested here are my offending friends spotty, blotchy and bands. These are photos of the printed page and are extremely poor quality, however the imperfections are clearly visible. They do not show up in LR or the pdf.

Just found another problem with the printed book. I designed the book with 15 point (about 3/16 inch) margins on 8x10 format. I got about 5 points (1/16th) margins in the printed copy on 8x9.5. The error in the margins is very obvious. Again the pdf if fine.

I am talking to blurb....


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Rhossydd
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2013, 02:18:18 AM »
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These are photos of the printed page and are extremely poor quality, however the imperfections are clearly visible.
Er, yes to the first part, with respect to being 'clearly visible' I'm afraid you know what you're looking for there.
Quote
Just found another problem with the printed book. I designed the book with 15 point (about 3/16 inch) margins on 8x10 format. I got about 5 points (1/16th) margins in the printed copy on 8x9.5. The error in the margins is very obvious. Again the pdf if fine.
I am talking to blurb....
Yes, you do get issues with page edges when books are made, that's why they have safe areas and bleed limits. Whether you example is out of tolerance Blurb will have to advise.
The smart thing is to either run images full bleed, with no margins at all, or give big margins that won't exaggerate any cutting errors. Trying to put say a 2mm margin is pushing the system too far.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2013, 08:34:33 AM »
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It's really difficult to decipher exactly what is showing up in your images. I'd have to look at actual output. But I suspect you are seeing a screening issue that's part of the Indigo process. For grins, output a book next time with a page of just a solid gray (say Lstar 50) and examine the results. Not pretty. There is a screening pattern on the Indigo's that affect neutrality too, on this gray page you'll see what appears as a pattern throughout the page (and the page size can go as large as 13x19, bigger sheet, more repeating patterns to see). But again, without actually viewing the book itself, it's difficult to tell if this is what you seeing or not.
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Andrew Rodney
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Robert Boire
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2013, 12:43:02 PM »
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Hi,

It's really difficult to decipher exactly what is showing up in your images. I'd have to look at actual output.

Well you could always order a copy from blurb... Grin

Seriously though...

But I suspect you are seeing a screening issue that's part of the Indigo process.

It looks like what you and others are saying is that some of the "problems" I am seeing are related to the printer/process itself and not necessarily a quality control issue. Which I suppose is comforting... in a sense...

BTW, would the screening issue vary with the quality of the paper?

Thanks
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digitaldog
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2013, 02:39:57 PM »
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BTW, would the screening issue vary with the quality of the paper?

It's always visible depending on the image but paper can affect the degree it is visible.
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Andrew Rodney
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Robert Boire
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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2013, 08:19:02 AM »
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I'm afraid your expectations may be rather too great then. Trying to better the output from a good inkjet like your 2880 is going to be very, very difficult. Mass printed books will never really compare.

Having said that, it does sound like you may have some duff printing in your book, so take some photos of the problems and get onto customer services for a reprint.
Don't forget to update the thread with the results.

Well they have agreed to reprint... We`ll see what happens. It does raise important quality questions like what happens when a third party orders your book and does not know what the original images are supposed to look like.

R
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DickKenny
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« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2013, 12:16:15 PM »
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It will be interesting to hear how your reprint turns out. My guess is that it will be different to the first run; and also different to that which you hoped for. The best that can be said of the Lr/Blurb system is that it is inconsistent. And it has little to do with soft proofing images before submission. I still don't know for sure in what colour space Lr transmits the images to Blurb; but am willing to believe my betters that it is sRGB. The Blurb profile they offer is useless for Lr submissions.

Soon after the arrival of Lr4 i submitted a book; had an up and downer with the result; and then had an unsatisfactory reprint. A link with some of the experience might be of interest:

http://forums.adobe.com/message/4428989#4428989

The best advice I received from a Lightroom forum member - John Beardy as I recall - was to treat each new blurb submission as a test proof; and then move on.
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2013, 12:46:23 PM »
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I do still do a small test book before committing to significant cost, stick to one paper, and I soft proof all images in sRGB with particular attention to the shadows. I've not had problems with consistency or quality, though my impression of Blurb is that their London operation is very good at resolving problems.
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Robert Boire
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« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2013, 08:40:44 PM »
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It will be interesting to hear how your reprint turns out.

Well...lets say its a work in progress...

Remember that my complaint was not with the accuracy of the colors and so notwithstanding the issue of profiles that several people have pointed out and a few images that are off base, I am relatively satisfied with the color accuracy.

The issues with printing quality that I saw in the original are still there in the reprint.. and virtually in the same place. Its tempting to conclude that the problem is with the original image - as one of the blurb technicians suggested. However if I can`t seen it on screen I can`t correct it. My conclusion is that they simply reprinted without really investigating.

However the reprint introduced a brand new problem. See attached. IMG_0001 is a photograph of the printed page. Notice the prominent vertical bar circled in the centre of the page. IMG_0002 is the original image.  Blurb is looking into it.

I agree with the idea of doing a small test proof. In fact I considered my first submission a proof. But given that a problem may occur with any image and not just necessarily those that are printed in the proof and  that I may not see the result if a 3rd party orders a copy, it is still less than ideal.

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Rhossydd
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« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2013, 03:00:27 AM »
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My conclusion is that they simply reprinted without really investigating.
I don't think you can expect much more than Blurb just ordering another reprint for you. They're a big company and haven't the time to make serious investigations into the occasional book that doesn't meet expectations.

Quote
Its tempting to conclude that the problem is with the original image - as one of the blurb technicians suggested. However if I can`t seen it on screen I can`t correct it.
I'd tend to agree with Blurb from the few images you've posted here.
I'd say the images aren't particularly suited to that sort of reproduction. They might look acceptable if printed with a high quality process like inkjet, but these subtle greys and muted dark colours and big patches of almost continuous tone just don't reproduce terribly well on the HP Indigo and reveal all the deficiencies of the process.
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Robert Boire
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« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2013, 07:12:28 AM »
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I'd tend to agree with Blurb from the few images you've posted here.
I'd say the images aren't particularly suited to that sort of reproduction. They might look acceptable if printed with a high quality process like inkjet, but these subtle greys and muted dark colours and big patches of almost continuous tone just don't reproduce terribly well on the HP Indigo and reveal all the deficiencies of the process.


Perhaps you are right about the greys and continous tone. But it seems to me that the last image I posted from the reprint - IMG_0001 - with the prominent vertical band is just wrong. And it was not there in the original print.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2013, 08:42:48 AM »
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Perhaps you are right about the greys and continous tone. But it seems to me that the last image I posted from the reprint - IMG_0001 - with the prominent vertical band is just wrong. And it was not there in the original print.

It's 'press' meaning something that needs attention like a blanket issue. On Indigo, there are lots of expendable items that need to be examined and replaced on a regular basis. This is like a big, expensive color laser printer.
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Andrew Rodney
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