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Costco Prints Too Dark

ericgtr12

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 19, 2015
1,429
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Using my iMac and phone, this photo looks exactly as I expect it too. I saved it as a .TIFF (60+ MB taken with a 24 MP DSLR camera) from PS and what you see on the screen is the result, however when I got the print back from Costco is was really dark and appeared to be low resolution.

I wrote them about it and they recommended I use their online tool to up the brightness. It sounds like I need to tweak it to work with them, any suggestions? It's a print on metal BTW.

for_costco.jpg
 

mollyc

macrumors 68040
Aug 18, 2016
3,133
15,594
I would be willing to bet your monitor settings are too bright. Have you printed elsewhere and had your prints look okay, or is this one of the few time you've printed?

Most non-photographers keep their monitors very bright. Then when they do the occasional photo edit/print, they edit it to look fine on their screen. Because the monitor is soo bright, they don't actually realize that the photo is underexposed for printing.

I would dry dropping the brightness on your screen so that it matches the print as you have it. Your monitor will seem really dark to you, but this will actually be the proper brightness setting (or closer to it). THEN edit your photo to get it to an acceptable brightness on the dimmer screen and reprint.

Another thing to consider is that a photo viewed on any screen will always be perceived as brighter because it is backlit, whereas a print is not. That said, you should be able to get in the ballpark so that they match more closely.
 
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ericgtr12

macrumors 65816
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Mar 19, 2015
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Thanks for the tips, I have had excellent prints from them before using this same compute but this time it was different. I'll take a look at tweaking my brightness settings (you're right about how bright it actually is for sure) and see if that helps. I also understand there's a profile you can use for Costco printing and it seems like it's pretty involved to get it setup, at least from what little digging I've done. So I'll likely need to go through the process because I really want the prints exactly the way the look when sending it to them.
 
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Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
41,362
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Behind the Lens, UK
Thanks for the tips, I have had excellent prints from them before using this same compute but this time it was different. I'll take a look at tweaking my brightness settings (you're right about how bright it actually is for sure) and see if that helps. I also understand there's a profile you can use for Costco printing and it seems like it's pretty involved to get it setup, at least from what little digging I've done. So I'll likely need to go through the process because I really want the prints exactly the way the look when sending it to them.
You need to calibrate your screen. To dark prints is always due to an over bright screen as Molly says. Borrow or buy a calibrator.
Problem solved.
 
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OreoCookie

macrumors 68030
Apr 14, 2001
2,694
75
Sendai, Japan
(1) Calibrate your screen.
(2) In my experience, third-party color inks never got me the same color accuracy as the manufacturer's ink. If you print presentations, color text and the like, that doesn't matter as much. With photos, that is crucial.

But you need to get (1) right. Also, after calibrating your screen, make sure to soft proof your photo using the color profile of your printer (you have to pick the right paper!). Your printer's color gamut is much smaller than that of your screen, so you will have to re-edit the photo with the color profile of your printer. But that only makes sense after you have calibrated your screen.
 
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tizeye

macrumors 65816
Jul 17, 2013
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Orlando, FL
While Costco closed their print department locally (and I found a far better source locally) there was a major action that needed to be taken when I used Costco. While most of the prior replies were the need to calibrate your screen, too bright, etc... it works the other way too. What if you did calibrate your screen and it came out that way? When putting in a Costco order, you had to know to uncheck the box where the default was to allow Costco to calibrate. Essentially, by default, they were recalibrating what you calibrated with the end product looking much different than what you process and thought you submitted.
 
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mofunk

macrumors 68020
Aug 26, 2009
2,420
160
Americas
When I'm sending my prints out I will bump up the brightness. I usually use Adorma or a local camera shop.

or
Once I used the local camera shop my photos were a different color. It was suppose to be a B&W and it looked more like a Sephia. You could ask them if their ink was low? Show them what it suppose to look like. Because there is no blue in your print.
 
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tizeye

macrumors 65816
Jul 17, 2013
1,261
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Orlando, FL
Once I used the local camera shop my photos were a different color. It was suppose to be a B&W and it looked more like a Sephia. You could ask them if their ink was low? Show them what it suppose to look like. Because there is no blue in your print.
Yes, only it was Costco rather than the local camera store. Brought the photos in, they looked at the coding imprinted on the back and immediately knew what the problem was as they were overriding my color correction and showed me where to uncheck the box. Their closing the store kiosk was perhaps the best for me as I wasn't relishing using Walgreens or Sams. For small (quick and disposable) stuff 4x6 on regular photo printer with photo paper. However, larger and canvas where archival paper and ink is necessary researched my choices with the obvious being the local camera store, and a local art supply store. Then I stumbled on a shop that was 100% fine art/giclée printing catering to photographers and artist (scanning oil canvases to digitize, etc). That was their business - not even framing beyond canvas stretching, but framing is available in a shop next door! Plus they speak the language of photographers as I told them I made the wrap around in Photoshop (inverted cloning) so they didn't have to make adjustments. Actually started by photographers who had a booth at the weekly farmers market, and of course area art festivals, as others saw what the were printing for themselves and they ultimately created the business selling to others. Better yet, their prices were in line with Costco, supporting resale profits, vs the others sources.
 
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ericgtr12

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 19, 2015
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Thanks for the replies everyone. In the end, it sounds like it really comes down to brightness and calibration, Costco's official response was to just use their tool to beef up the brightness and the photo still likely contains all the data, so for this one I may just attempt it and turn off their auto correction.

The other problem is that after you upload it just gives you a small thumbnail of the image to reference to see how it looks on their side. I'll have to work with it but maybe won't get such large prints until I know the process. I'll reiterate that I've used them for large prints in the past with no issues though, they typically come out exactly as I expect.
 
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Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
41,362
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Behind the Lens, UK
Thanks for the replies everyone. In the end, it sounds like it really comes down to brightness and calibration, Costco's official response was to just use their tool to beef up the brightness and the photo still likely contains all the data, so for this one I may just attempt it and turn off their auto correction.

The other problem is that after you upload it just gives you a small thumbnail of the image to reference to see how it looks on their side. I'll have to work with it but maybe won't get such large prints until I know the process. I'll reiterate that I've used them for large prints in the past with no issues though, they typically come out exactly as I expect.
Of course your iMac may have drifted over time. All monitors do. Or the brightness could have been altered using the keyboard accidentally at some stage.
Bottom line is buy or borrow a calibrator for your screen. That way if your prints come out wrong, you can prove you have an accurate profile and they will be the ones picking up the cost of the reprint.
 
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Zenithal

macrumors G3
Sep 10, 2009
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Of course your iMac may have drifted over time. All monitors do. Or the brightness could have been altered using the keyboard accidentally at some stage.
Bottom line is buy or borrow a calibrator for your screen. That way if your prints come out wrong, you can prove you have an accurate profile and they will be the ones picking up the cost of the reprint.
Depends. Backlight power or backlight strength goes down at around 10,000 hours presuming you had it set up to factory, which is about 90% brightness depending on manufacturer. The math becomes screwy when you go half power or slightly higher or lower. It's not an exact halving of the life of the backlight when you go half power or stray from that.

I've got an HP IPS monitor with around 60K backlight hours, except it's set at 35% brightness. Bump it up to factory brightness and I'd say it's about 95% of what it was new. It pays to have a tank printer to keep checking.
 
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Apple fanboy

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Feb 21, 2012
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Depends. Backlight power or backlight strength goes down at around 10,000 hours presuming you had it set up to factory, which is about 90% brightness depending on manufacturer. The math becomes screwy when you go half power or slightly higher or lower. It's not an exact halving of the life of the backlight when you go half power or stray from that.

I've got an HP IPS monitor with around 60K backlight hours, except it's set at 35% brightness. Bump it up to factory brightness and I'd say it's about 95% of what it was new. It pays to have a tank printer to keep checking.
Much cheaper to just buy an i1 Display Pro and set it to 100-120 candelas. That will save you a bunch on ink, paper and external printing costs over time.
Working on % is a lottery as different monitors will have different max brightness.
And even high end colour critical monitors from Eizo or BenQ drift over time. That’s why Eizo’s have a built in calibrator.
 
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Zenithal

macrumors G3
Sep 10, 2009
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Much cheaper to just buy an i1 Display Pro and set it to 100-120 candelas. That will save you a bunch on ink, paper and external printing costs over time.
Working on % is a lottery as different monitors will have different max brightness.
And even high end colour critical monitors from Eizo or BenQ drift over time. That’s why Eizo’s have a built in calibrator.
You lost the point I was making. I wasn't referencing the color correctness, I was pointing out your post's statement not being sensible. Bad backlight won't help much in terms of calibration anyway. Never heard of the unit you mentioned. I use Spyder's hardware. The i1 any good?

Have not used BenQ or Eizo monitors for a computer. Have used them for video calibration. Little bastards cost a small Miata. They're 1/3 or 1/4 the size and rather thick.
[doublepost=1549606993][/doublepost]FWIW, Erick, there's better print places than Costco if you want anything more than personal album stuff. For anything more I prefer Mpix.
 
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Apple fanboy

macrumors Westmere
Feb 21, 2012
41,362
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Behind the Lens, UK
You lost the point I was making. I wasn't referencing the color correctness, I was pointing out your post's statement not being sensible. Bad backlight won't help much in terms of calibration anyway. Never heard of the unit you mentioned. I use Spyder's hardware. The i1 any good?

Have not used BenQ or Eizo monitors for a computer. Have used them for video calibration. Little bastards cost a small Miata. They're 1/3 or 1/4 the size and rather thick.
[doublepost=1549606993][/doublepost]FWIW, Erick, there's better print places than Costco if you want anything more than personal album stuff. For anything more I prefer Mpix.
Well I get a hearty discount! ;) Agree finding a good printer will also help.
 
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