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Bad lab prints.

SniperT

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I don’t print my own images as I don’t own my own inkjet printer, so on occasion when I need to have some 6x4’s printed, I send it to a Prolab, but 90% of the time, the prints come out looking rather gritty and seems slightly oversharpened. Some photos with blue skies even show visible banding.


My images are shot in RAW with a 5Dmkiii, editing in lightroom 5.4 on a Macbook 15” (2011) calibrated with a Spyder4.
Photos exported from Lightroom using SRGB, standard sharpening (glossy), 300dpi, JPG, resized to 6x4” (sharpening left on standard defaults in develop module).


I never had any bad prints using Adobe RGB, but ran into this problem since I’ve been using Lightroom in the Profoto RGB colorspace.
After some google research, I learning that I should be soft proofing my images, but I’m not really sure how to soft proof an image properly.


As far as I understand, some of the pro inkjet printers (such as Canon Pixma Pro) can produce a wider gamut than photo labs? However, I’m not sure if this will really solve my dilemma.


In some cases, even just applying a calibration profile in Lightroom (Adobe Standard or Xrite Colorchecker custom profile) straight after import into Lightroom, immediately shows out of gamut colors when I press the ’S’ button to preview Soft Proofing in t’he Develop module’ before any adjustments were even made on the image!
I’ve been applying the ‘Camera Neutral’ profile in some photos an attempt to compensate for the out of gamut warnings, but I doubt if this is the right way to go about it.


What concerns (and frustrates me a little) is the extra time it will now take to do soft proofing after the photo was edited.


I’m not sure where I’m going wrong in my workflow, but need some guidance here in order to get a faster workflow.
Your advice will be much appreciated.
Thanks.
 

kolesoff

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Hi SniperT,

What I've learned from my experience is that sometimes you have to explicitly tell the lab personnel to not apply any corrections to your photo (which is done by default even in pro-level photo labs). I think that might be the problem; if you did—then I have no suggestions concerning the forkflow you need to adapt to solve the issue, sorry. Haven't been printing my shots in pro-lab for quite some time.

Vitaliy
 

SniperT

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Thanks for sharing your experience, Vitaliy.
I do in fact always specify at the lab that they print my images as is, without any further corrections.

Thanks for the response.
 

sizzlingbadger

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Why did you export as sRGB if you used Adobe RGB in the past without issues ? Adobe RGB will give you a larger gamut to print from.
 
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...
I never had any bad prints using Adobe RGB, but ran into this problem since I’ve been using Lightroom in the Profoto RGB colorspace.
After some google research, I learning that I should be soft proofing my images, but I’m not really sure how to soft proof an image properly. ...
You should not be using the ProPhotoRGB color space on files destined for printing by third parties ProPhotoRGB is a working colorspace with a larger gamut than AdobeRGB and sRGB.. Exported derivatives should be converted to a specific color profile to match the characteristics of the paper and printer being used. This will be specified by the print lab. They may even specify the smallest color space sRGB. But if they don't specify a color profile to use, then AdobeRGB should be chosen because it is larger and should be easily recognized by 3rd party print software.
 

SniperT

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I realise now that my earlier statement: "I never had any bad prints using Adobe RGB" was not explained properly.
What I should've said was that I had the colorspace in my editing program (Photoshop CS3 back then) set AdobeRGB, then always convert to sRGB on export, as this is what the printing lab required.

So the difference for me since I
acquired Lightroom a few months ago, is that I'm now editing in the larger ProPhotoRGB colorspace (not AdobeRGB anymore) & exporting to sRGB.
Therefore it seems more likely that colour banding would occur when converting down to sRGB.
But now I don't quite know how to deal with this to ensure good prints.

 

Bryan Conner

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I suggest that you try another Lab. If this Lab is requiring sRGB, then there is a good chance that they are not following proper color management protocol. And, if this is true, there are probably other inconsistencies in their workflow. Most good pro labs are going to make custom icc profiles available for their paper/printer combinations and will accept any rgb file. Try another lab using the exact file that you have sent to your present lab.
 
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...So the difference for me since I acquired Lightroom a few months ago, is that I'm now editing in the larger ProPhotoRGB colorspace (not AdobeRGB anymore) & exporting to sRGB.
Therefore it seems more likely that colour banding would occur when converting down to sRGB.
But now I don't quite know how to deal with this to ensure good prints.

It really makes no difference whether you go from AdobeRGB or ProPhotoRGB to sRGB.
attachment.php
Colorspaces are envelopes of the colors that can be represented our of the visible spectrum The smallest of these envelopes is sRGB When converting from another colorspace to sRGB, colors that fall outside of sRGB are mapped to the nearest sRGB color value. Your monitor color profile is similar to but not congruent with sRGB. Because of this limitation sRGB is chosen for the default colorspace for transmissive media display. Lightroom and current releases of Photoshop default to ProPhotoRGB because the resulting value of any given pixel is used to calculate the value of surrounding pixels when ever filters are applied. Even though your screen can't show the color outside if its colorspace, other media (reflective) can. This is why it is important to process in the wider color space of ProPhotoRGB.
Once you have mapped to sRGB, you can't go back and invent colors that fall outside of sRGB For this reason you need to supply the image in the colorspace requested by the Photo Lab and in the file format and color bit depth requested.

Can you tell us the requirements of the lab that you used?
 
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SniperT

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Can you tell us the requirements of the lab that you used?

The requirements from the lab is normally sRGB, JPG's....that it.
I think I should go & have a chat with the lab guy to see if I can get hold of icc profiles, and perhaps the option of submitting 16bit Tiffs instead of 8bit JPG's.
 
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The requirements from the lab is normally sRGB, JPG's....that it.
I think I should go & have a chat with the lab guy to see if I can get hold of icc profiles, and perhaps the option of submitting 16bit Tiffs instead of 8bit JPG's.
Sounds like a good plan. I would not consider sRGB JPEGs adequate for quality and color and a good Lab will know best how to handle TIFFs and give you the necessary icc profile to softproof your image.
 
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