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Getting photos printed... whats the best online shop/developer to use?


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Hi there,

I am wanting to get astro photos printed and thinking of perhaps producing a calender for a christmas pressy for the family.

I have just got some photos printed (through ASDA) and although some are OK, most are a lot darker and less colourful than they look on the screen. I could increase brightness and saturation and try again, but it just seems very hit and miss, and potentially expensive.

Does anyone use or recommend a particular online developer for prints that have done a decent job printing asto pics?

Cheers, Tim. 

p.s. should say, its for the UK. 

Edited by StargeezerTim
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In my experience, astro pictures always print darker than you'd like....so either lighten them before printing, which can be hit and miss. Or,go and spend a little time with a local small print company and I'm sure you'll be able to get it just as you want.

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In preparing an astrophoto for printing there are some things to remember. Firstly resize it to about 200 DPI. This takes seconds in Photoshop. Then I suggest you give it an extra dose of curves. Lift the bottom of the curve then restore a straight line to the finish. This may take you above the screen noise threshold but, since fine structure is lost in print, the fine grain noise is also lost. On screen a sky which is too bright and rather noisy will often look about right on paper.

If there is a way to preserve all the screen detail on paper then neither Tom nor I have found out what it is! It is best to do a small test shot first - or several of them - before pressing the trigger on a big one. (At 400 euros a pop this can matter!  :eek: )

Olly

Crossed with Sara here, but we are saying the same thing.

Edited by ollypenrice
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Printing is one of the most difficult parts of AP and as Olly said there is no way to fit the dynamic range and colour range onto a bit of paper.

Things that help are a calibrated monitor and having the image saved in the correct colour space for the printers or the trial and error method.

Colour space and calibration are also important in web images so you could also try posting a few images with variations on this site and see if there is any similarity with what you had from printing.

Alan

Edited by Alien 13
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First off, just to challenge Olly's 200dpi comment, I believe that the standard dpi for print is 300dpi - that's what I always use anyway.

As for a print company, I have had success online with Peak Imaging (http://www.peak-imaging.com/) though only for non-astro so far. I have just sent two astro images to them today to be printed at 40"x30". I have my fingers crossed and will report back as to the quality!

Other than that, I have printed some astro photos myself, using two Canon printers that I use in the day job - a Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6100 (large format A1 printer) and a Canon Pro-10 A3+ printer. Both printers have custom print profiles and I can get pretty darn good results with them. However, I do find that a bump up with Curves first does overcome the inevitable darkness of sending to print.

Good luck.

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Pictures on screen and the printed version will never look the same simply because you are looking at two different systems, on screen display is an RGB additive colour space while printing is generally a four colour CYMK subtractive colour space, printed on a PostScript printer and Desktop Colour Separation format.

Anyone who used to take rolls of film containing astro images to be processed was used to getting strange results or images not printed at all because there was "nothing on them" which is why I ended up using colour slide film and developing my own before the "digital revolution"

Dave

Edited by Davey-T
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There is a system for this very purpose called pantone ... Still doesn't work very well though, it's virtually impossible for a back lit monitor to match a piece of paper ... I do this for a living ...my head hurts ...

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I've used Zazzle.com for some of my images mainly because its easy and fairly inexpensive for just prints.  They have frame selections (pricey frames) or will put your images on coffee mugs, hats, t-shirts, posters and 100s of other items.  For my day prints they do nice job, for AP color images they can end up with a light greenish tint but the B&W turned out ok.

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First off, just to challenge Olly's 200dpi comment, I believe that the standard dpi for print is 300dpi - that's what I always use anyway.

As for a print company, I have had success online with Peak Imaging (http://www.peak-imaging.com/) though only for non-astro so far. I have just sent two astro images to them today to be printed at 40"x30". I have my fingers crossed and will report back as to the quality!

Other than that, I have printed some astro photos myself, using two Canon printers that I use in the day job - a Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6100 (large format A1 printer) and a Canon Pro-10 A3+ printer. Both printers have custom print profiles and I can get pretty darn good results with them. However, I do find that a bump up with Curves first does overcome the inevitable darkness of sending to print.

Good luck.

I don't doubt that 300DPI is better. Because most of my/our images are rather large it is not an easy matter to send them to magazines at 300DPI and, in small format, it won't make any difference, I don't think. But if you are after a print for your wall, go high.

I also found Peak Imaging to be at the top of the game when living in the UK. Tom looks after the printing of Tom/Olly stuff and has a good relationship with an Irish printer. You need such a relationship. I don't, as of now, have any such relationship with a local printer but it's on my 'to do' list. (Alas, this is a long list...  :p )

My stepson and daughter kindly gave me a print of one of my images on plexiglass, done simply by sending the image file to an online source, and I have to say that the result is excellent. I think that this medium suits AP images, retaining the gloss and brightness of stellar objects.

Olly

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  • 2 weeks later...

For prints I use http://dscolourlabs.co.uk/  Print prices are cheap enough that you can afford to experiment a bit.  I find their Pro service the best (that's where they don't do any adjustments).  Make your images quite a bit brighter than you would for display on screen as they always come out darker than you expect.  Quality is good and I have had orders back in less than 24 hours(order at lunch time and they arrive in next morning's post).

For calendars I use http://www.saxoprint.co.uk/  Don't be fooled by the uk web address, they are in Germany, but they still turn orders round in less than a week.

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Update,

I got 6 calenders printed and a couple of 18" x12" posters from Photobox. Seemed good quality, really good customer service, good price and quick delivery!  (I don't work for them!) Tim. 

Thanks - I'll give them a go :)

Edit: I can't upload a tif. I'll have to find somewhere else.

Edited by Pompey Monkey
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No...you can only upload JPEGs, but the quality is good. Even the 18" X 12" looks good!

OK - I,ve pushed the button on a 16" X 12" print of M42 that Olly and I* did at Les Granges last month.

It need quite a bit of stretching just to compensate for the jpeg conversion - I hope it comes out ok! 

* Mostly Olly! :)

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