Saturday, May 17, 2008

Great prints from labs

Earlier I wrote about a workflow to get beautiful prints from labs such as costcos using Lightroom and external apps. In the new Lightroom 2.0 beta, Adobe has heard our prayers and the print module (unfortunately still not the normal export) now allows output to jpeg in arbitrary color profiles. This works beautifully.

Here is an example setup: (click for full size)

I set up a custom paper size in the page setup panel for 5x7 images without any margins, and setup the image in the print panel. Then I select print to jpeg, set the resolution to 300 (the resolution most Frontiers and Noritsus print at), set print sharpening to the paper kind and desired sharpening (I've found from testing that low or medium works really well even though these settings are not really meant for photographic lab printers). Then in the color management tab I select the profile from my lab (my local costcos in this case) and what kind of rendering I prefer. Then hit print to file and I get a jpeg file with the right profile and size/resolution/sharpening that I can upload and print (don't forget to turn off color correction for printing your images otherwise all your hard work is for naught). Very handy. Unfortunately, multipage jpeg output is still broken in that it gives you a set of files without extensions. They are normal jpeg files though. Also, there should be an option to not include the profile in the output file. Often these profiles are gigantic (my costco one for example is 1.5 MB) and they add substantial time to the upload to the lab. I usually strip them using a photoshop droplet, but this could be much handier. Also, there still is no softproof here anywhere.

Anyway, here is the result of such an exercise with the slide image after conversion to sRGB for web display and scaling/sharpening for display.

Enjoy your prints. Note that you should not bother with any of this if you do not calibrate your screen using calibration hardware. Screen calibration is the first requisite for getting good color prints. Secondary to that is using lab printer profiles. With an uncalibrated screen - no matter how expensive - you will never see the correct color anyway.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this...I have been trying to figure out how to output jpegs with all my adjustments made and with the printer profile applied (I don't mind if it's embedded...the printers ignore them anyway). The one key thing I was missing was to use "print to jpeg" then "print to file". A week full of confusion suddenly came to an end!