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Old 06-03-2007, 09:02   #1 (permalink)
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getting Correct colour from online print companies - a guide!

ok so I want to try to get together some kind of guide for people who are having trouble getting good colour representation from thier prints from photobox (or whichever print house they use). So far this is my workflow. It seems to work very well, but if anyone has any suggestions/questions please shout as I'm definately not saying this is the only/ideal way.

I've used photobox as the example. for thier smaller prints they use the FujiFilm Frontier 370, and the Polielettronica Laserlab for larger stuff. In theory, for other online developers, just download the icc profile of the relevant printer and the process will be the same.

The following is mainly from a post on ocuk by Chief Wiggum, but has been reworded slightly. The guts is the same though.


1. Monitor Calibrated using Hardware Device (Gretag McBeth Eye One Display 2)

2. Shots taken in Raw (Colour profile on Camera, SRBG, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto not relevant)

3. Download and install the following profiles(C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\drivers\color)

For Matt Prints
For Gloss Prints

4. Then in Photoshop/Bridge import the image, 240dpi, sRGB.

5. To soft proof the image in Photoshop

> Go to View / Proof SetUp / Custom

> From the drop-down list select the Fuji paper profile - eith Matt or Gloss.

> Select 'preserve colour numbers' (this will show the image as it is
presently printed)

6. Make the required adjustments so that the on-screen image appears
as you want it printed. Normally this means just a saturation change if you have done the work in bridge.

7. Save the image as a 8 bit jpeg, Quality setting between 8 and 12 depending on print size, (6x4 I just choose 8). Untick attach icc profile.

8. Upload and order!



Now the parts I think that may be subjective, or may not be right are:

a) Would it be better at any stage to convert the file to profile (edit>convert to profile in cs2). When would be a good time to do this (if at all)

b) are the settings in the proof setup correct - (ie should 'preserve colour numbers' be ticked or unticked)


reason why I want to get a clear understanding on this is that I want to setup a very easy to use faq site helping people on how to print the right way...any help appreciated
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Old 06-03-2007, 11:16   #2 (permalink)
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Re: getting Correct colour from online print companies - a guide!

If you do extensive editing of your photographs that might result in a colour change (e.g. toning, selective colour replacement, B&W etc.) then it's really a simple two step process:

1. Colour-calibrate your monitor: use either a hardware device such as an EyeOne, Spyder, Huey etc. or visually calibrate using Adobe Gamma or other software such as nVidia's Display Optimisation Wizard.

2. When saving your finished image for output to either an online or drop-in print service, ensure you observe the following:
  • Your image depth is 8-bits per pixel
  • Your image mode is RGB colour
  • Your image colour space/profile is sRGB IEC61966* and/or
  • Your editing software allows the profile to be embedded in the image*

Every print service can handle sRGB images since they will map the sRGB data to their own output space/profile; the only issues that you may encounter is when there isn't sufficient gamut (colour range) at the output stage that will match 100% what you see on screen - this is not uncommon since the variable is the printing technology used by the particular vendor and, accordingly, this is beyond your control.

*this point is particularly important when it comes to print services since, if the profile is not embedded, the majority of print services will assume that the file is sRGB. Where this causes problems is if your original file used a different colour space/profile than sRGB - resulting in washed out colours (Adobe > sRGB mismatch) or strange blue/green shifts (ProPhoto > sRGB mismatch)

Some professional print services will accept up to 16-bit per pixel files in other colour spaces and will even provide you with the ICC profiles of their output devices so you can convert your image to match. Just call up your intended service provider and ask them how to best colour manage your files for optimal results on their printers.

Colour management and theory can get complicated, especially at the levels where you need to ensure that the trifecta of camera / screen / printer all produce consistently accurate results across the board... but for less critical consumer use, the information outlined above should prove adequate.
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Old 06-03-2007, 12:47   #3 (permalink)
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Re: getting Correct colour from online print companies - a guide!

I think its safe to say that just because a printing house says the best colour profile to use is sRBG, this doesnt mean you will get the best results.

My Have doene extensive testing on how to get accurate print results, and you need to go much further than just sending them sRGB. You need to soft proof and make adjust ments to suit.
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Old 06-03-2007, 12:58   #4 (permalink)
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Re: getting Correct colour from online print companies - a guide!

Quote:
Originally Posted by VikingPhotography View Post
  • Your image depth is 8-bits per pixel
  • Your image mode is RGB colour
  • Your image colour space/profile is sRGB IEC61966* and/or
  • Your editing software allows the profile to be embedded in the image*



*this point is particularly important when it comes to print services since, if the profile is not embedded, the majority of print services will assume that the file is sRGB. Where this causes problems is if your original file used a different colour space/profile than sRGB - resulting in washed out colours (Adobe > sRGB mismatch) or strange blue/green shifts (ProPhoto > sRGB mismatch)
I am now very lost. This is not something I've considered before but I have noticed in the past that some of my prints from Photobox appear slightly duller than what I thought I'd edited. I've just had a look at a recent image and when I looked at the 'Assign profile' box in CS2 the Profile was Adobe RGB (1998) but when I clicked on sRGB IEC61966-2.1 the colours appeared more muted. What should this be set to for printing - Adobe RGB or sRGB IEC61966-2.1? And how do I embed the profile as mentioned above?

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Old 06-03-2007, 13:17   #5 (permalink)
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Re: getting Correct colour from online print companies - a guide!

hacker, the best colour production from photobox for me is had by following the steps in my original post to the letter - try it, you will be amazed.

To very broadly answer your question, the rule of thumb (if you want semi decent reproduction) is to use sRGB for photobox. To get great colour reproduction use soft proofing.
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Old 16-05-2007, 14:48   #6 (permalink)
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Re: getting Correct colour from online print companies - a guide!

Hey Morgan, I've just had back a batch of prints back from Photobox but this time I remembered to assign the profile as outlined in the first post of this thread. What a difference! The prints now appear exactly as they do on screen.

Thanks very much!
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