Prints coming out too dark.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Deepsingh, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. macrumors member

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    Jul 18, 2011
    #1
    I use elements 10 to do some editing. i have a mppro 2011 late. i did some editing yesterday, edits look fine on the screen but when i got them printed at wal-mart they came out really dark. i was told the brightness on my monitor was to high. But i don't see how thats affecting the prints to be dark.
     
  2. macrumors 601

    Schtumple

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    #2
    You're going to walmart, their printers are crap.

    What's more likely:

    The screen of your (likely) $2000 machine that's professionally calibrated by a series of tests to make sure it meets the best standards for professional photographers is "too bright"

    OR

    Walmart employees no nothing and chances are that printer has only been "serviced" once in the past 5 years by a "technician" who apart from a bullet point list of how to "calibrate" the specific printer Walmart uses, knows nothing about technology.

    Get your shots developed by somewhere a little more upmarket than Wallmart and don't get fooled by morons who'll happily tell you anything to make a problem your fault just to get you to go away.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors member

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  4. macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #4
    A Frontier is a Frontier, and they're not crap. I've gotten prints made in probably a dozen Walmarts and every single one has been out of a Fuji Frontier on Crystal Archive (granted the bulk CA, but still.)

    I've watched the Walmart near me run test strips more often than most mini-Labs I've used. Walmart is big enough to be good at process and procedure. and I can't imagine that one store runs a Frontier any differently than another in terms of tests or settings.

    It is much more likely that the OP has their monitor set too bright- after all, Walmart will reprint bad images and you'd expect with their volumes that they don't want to reprint thousands of pictures a day because the Frontier isn't set up correctly.

    A few years ago I was totally spoiled by the local Walmart because one of the techs there would print my output right after a chemical change-- but even outside of that, I have gotten prints for friends made a their local Walmarts up and down the East Coast for the last 10 or so years, and I've had to have reprints twice- and that was because the Frontier had a roller issue that left a small line on the print.

    That's out of thousands of 8x10 prints. The first time was a hardware problem the store I was at couldn't fix (and they refunded on the spot and I reprinted at a different store an hour later with no issues.)

    The only other issue i had was a print that *was* too dark (I was away from home and on a non-calibrated friend's system) and they reprinted that image brighter (the "rule" used to be if you didn't pay for the order online, then they'd happily reprint at the store.)

    Paul

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    The whites are overexposed, it's entirely possible that the Frontier's autocorrect is hurting that- just ask them to reprint it lighter.

    Paul
     
  5. macrumors 601

    Schtumple

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    #5
    Maybe an external monitor, but the inbuilt are the most accurate screens I've ever seen.

    The whites account for very little of OPs photograph, if it is autoleveling out the contrast that's a pretty bad ratio for it to be that sensitive on.

    OP, try just lowering the white level a tiny bit just so it's not pure white, reprint and see what it's like, the photo looks fine on my end even on a lower brightness setting.

    EDIT: The ASDA (owned by wall mart) store where I used to live used a Fuji (most probably frontier) and they produced some of the worst images, the quality was horrific, all the shots I got printed were over contrasted and over saturated, it was a mess, a black and white shot was overly blue for crying out loud!
     
  6. thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    i will go back to them and tell them to print it lighter. but from my experience the employee will tell me there is nothing he/she can do.
    maybe i should adjust the brightness on my monitor.
    but then i will end up overexposing the image.
    let me know what else i can do.

    ----------

    i think thats the problem my prints are coming out over contrasted and over saturated. and yellow palish skin tones.
     
  7. macrumors 601

    Schtumple

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    #7
    Try somewhere else then tbh, you could put your photos on a pen drive and take them to a photography store or anywhere that has a self service kiosk for your prints, then at least you can preview them before they print and you'll get a rough idea of what they'll come out like.
     
  8. macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #8
    Most Walmarts have self-service kiosks as well, but they're generally dye sub printers and muddy and don't produce the best prints.

    Paul
     
  9. thread starter macrumors member

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    #9
    does it matter what format it is in .tiff or jpeg.
    but walmart did have the self service kiosk where you can select what pictures to get printed.
     
  10. macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #10
    You can ask that they turn off autocorrect for that image and see if that helps, you can make three versions with different brightness levels and see which prints how and use that as a basis for your future prints, you can ask to speak to a supervisor, or you can print somewhere else.

    Paul

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    If it's uploading to the Frontier, then you have to either get them to adjust it (or turn off auto adjustments) and see what happens, if it's a kiosk that prints itself those just suck ;)

    Paul
     
  11. thread starter macrumors member

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    #11
    i didn't get it done from the instant print kiosk i used the other one where you have to wait an hour or so. i will ask them to to turn off the auto adjustment. if it doesn't work i will go somewhere else.
    but does it matter on what file type i use jpeg or tiff. will i see better quality if i use tiff.
     
  12. macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #12
    The real answer is "it depends" but in all practicality it doesn't matter unless you're printing really large- Frontiers are 8-bit color space output devices, the real differences aren't going to show up until larger than a Frontier can print. However, if you resave a JPEG several times, the file will lose information, so it's best to work on TIFFs prior to output, then go to high-quality JPEG to print.

    Paul
     
  13. thread starter macrumors member

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    #13
    thanks that makes sense. i will report back tomorrow on the results.
     
  14. macrumors 603

    thekev

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #14
    I'm not going to describe a fully managed workflow here. Just keep in mind what you see in any place is an approximation. I noted the link in your other post, and to me it doesn't just look like a display brightness thing. It looks like a different device gamma.

    Do you send your files either untagged or in sRGB?

    It's not just an exposure thing. The gamma is obviously off. If it was just over printed it wouldn't pick up quite so much contrast. Your display could be a bit bright anyway. Do you just leave it at maximum brightness? I ask because in general, that is a moving target given the tendency for the backlight to lose brightness over time. Saying someone calibrated your screen isn't saying much. I'm not going to explain all of that.


     
  15. thread starter macrumors member

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    #15
    do you think i need to calibrate my monitor. am not using any external monitor just the mbpro screen

    ----------

    Color space is RGB
    Color profile is sRGB IEC61966-2.1

    usually the brightness on my screen is turned all the way up.
     
  16. macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #16
    Um, and you don't expect your prints to be dark?

    Open System Preferences, click Displays, and then click Color. Next pick "Callibrate..." Follow the directions and you'll at least be in the ballpark.

    Your display is set to be lighter than average, so anything you see that looks "normal" will be darker than average to compensate.

    Paul
     
  17. thread starter macrumors member

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    #17
    well, kind of new to the digital photo scene so am learning a lot. but i will follow the directions you have given.

    ----------

    these are my current settings in color
    gamma 2.2
    native

    but there are other options ex.
    adobe rgb 1998
    generic rgb profile
    sRGB IEC61966-2.1
     
  18. macrumors 603

    thekev

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    #18
    Well keep in mind here that even if you do everything perfect, an exact match is not a guarantee. The goal is to get things to a point where you won't so much feel they're off without doing a side by side comparison. Like I said, it's not just dark, but it's very high in contrast, like the values aren't just shifted to the left of the histogram, but the gain through what would be midtones is much slower, and the saturation is high in places. I'd like to know what you sent them initially that returned that result.

    Regarding your display, you would leave your display profile to its default unless you're profiling the display with a hardware device. If you want to do that, keep your display turned on for 30 minutes to an hour before doing this, and when you run it, you'll be aiming for a lower brightness level that it can hit without the display looking flat and ugly. Chances are that it will still be too bright, so you will have to figure that they may print down a bit. It just shouldn't be severe. I wouldn't bother with this unless your greys are significantly off. It doesn't fix everything. Print professionals go by reference proofs, use viewing booths, and buy displays that cost upward of $2k just to get closer. Even then variation does occur.

    Having a display cranked all the way up is always a moving target. It'll be different months from now than it is today. Most people keep a computer a couple years. During that time the brightness of a display typically degrades 50% or more depending on use, and it shifts in color.

    now before I say anything further, why not show us what you sent them initially that returned a really dark result?
     
  19. thread starter macrumors member

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    #19
    well i just took the sd card to walmart and used the same pic that i uploaded to flickr.

    other than that i really don't know what u mean.
     
  20. thekev, Feb 18, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012

    macrumors 603

    thekev

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    #20
    You said your photo came out looking dark. The one on flickr looks dark and saturated to me in everything but the whites in the clothing which are almost off the edge. The rest of the clothing is somewhat dark and very saturated. What I see might be a little off from what they see, but it's definitely on the darker side. I can't see the printed version or an approximative scan of it, so I don't know how the two compare.

    I could spend paragraphs telling you how wrong this is. Grab a sheet of the brightest, glossiest paper you can find. Take a look at a brand new laptop display cranked all the way up. Tell me which is brighter. Not only that, the display has a significantly higher contrast ratio. Prints top out at maybe 350:1 on the best paper stocks. Also displays shift and dim over time, and prints look different depending on the lighting (which is why there are viewing booths). These are not top notch displays. They're good when measured against other laptop displays. They aren't meant for critical judgement. If you set them up well, they're close enough to ballpark it. Professional photographers often use them for on the spot judgements in conjunction with the histograms which give an idea of the value distribution with their processing settings applied as it falls within in their reference gamut.

    Regarding how they're manufactured, these are mass produced items. If you want one where they measured every bit of the screen within X tolerance with a radiometric device, they start around $2k and end over 20. The macbook pro displays are TN panels, the same type used in cheap desktop displays. They've gotten way way better than what they were, but they are far from perfect (just like displays in general).
     
  21. thread starter macrumors member

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    #21
    i don't have a scanner to show you the pic but its dark. u think i would benefit telling them to turn of auto correctness
     
  22. thekev, Feb 18, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2012

    macrumors 603

    thekev

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    #22
    I'm not sure there. Obviously I haven't seen it. It's just that you linked to a somewhat dark photo. Depending on how dark they returned it, it may not have been adjusted much at all. It's dark, but your highlights in the clothing are blown out. Were you messing with this in photoshop? Bleck I read the OP again. Can you post what the photo was like before you adjusted it in photoshop? I'm trying to get some idea of your results.
     
  23. thread starter macrumors member

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    #23
    here is the link to original.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/depsingh/6900296357/
     
  24. macrumors member

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    Apr 20, 2011
    #24
    http://www.drycreekphoto.com/Learn/profiles.htm

    Read about color profiles. Not all printers print the same.

    I sometimes print at home and have to apply the color profile for my Epson printer b/c it looks completely different from what I get from Costco.

    I tried to find profiles for Wal-Mart photo labs but a few minutes on google did not turn up much. If you find them, try to apply them before you send your photos. You should get a good approximation of what the photo will look like BEFORE you send it through. If it looks dark, it will come out dark. Do some more post-processing with the profile applied to the image, then send it over and see what happens.

    Also, I've found Costco to be the best source of high quality digital prints for a reasonable price.

    After you make all your edits;
    EDIT/AssignProfile/

    From the drop down menu, choose the profile for your wal-mart printer. If you know the printer model that may be easier to find (again, I searched Wal-Mart ICC profile and found nothing - they used to be a dry-creek but not anymore).
     
  25. macrumors 603

    thekev

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    #25
    Yep you made it dark and contrasty dude. Your display is unlikely to yield a perfect match. If you want it to be closer, you could try turning the display way down and work in a dimly lit area to minimize reflections on it. This would get you closer. Viewing on a bright display with really high contrast just makes things look weird and throws your eyes off. Try my advice and make a test.

    Yes you could purchase a colorimeter to calibrate your display. Some salesman at a camera store or whatever would be happy to sell it to you. It's just that it won't help much beyond giving you a more neutral greyscale here, and if used incorrectly (like if your display isn't warmed up long enough or you buy one that's not filtered properly for LED backlighting) it can make things worse. I'd avoid this as it isn't worth it for your purposes here.

    Anyway... I think we tracked down the issue;).

    I'm going to explain why this is incorrect. Your link isn't a bad one, but I don't think you understand profiles entirely. Profiles always describe a device or reference space of some kind. If you're just assigning a new profile, you are taking the same numbers, and telling the person opening the file to interpret them differently. If you wanted to put it in the device profile, you'd want to convert, not assign. Typically these labs expect sRGB, and the printer gamut doesn't really exceed that.
     

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