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06/24/2003 09:40:27 PM · #1
I've been wanting to print some of my photos to stick in albums and such. I've noticed lately that Wal-Mart, Eckerd, and Long's Drug have been offering digital printing at their photo shops. Have any of you tried these?

I'm not expecting great results but for printing off a bunch of travel photos to stick in an album it might not be such a bad deal eh?
06/24/2003 09:51:02 PM · #2
Originally posted by krets:

I've been wanting to print some of my photos to stick in albums and such. I've noticed lately that Wal-Mart, Eckerd, and Long's Drug have been offering digital printing at their photo shops. Have any of you tried these?

I'm not expecting great results but for printing off a bunch of travel photos to stick in an album it might not be such a bad deal eh?


WalMart does 4x6 and 5x7 and they have Fuji Machine (printer)where you can do self printing for about 4.79 per 8x11 page!
06/24/2003 09:59:00 PM · #3
So if you print 4x6's do they print on 8x11 paper leaving you to chop them up?

06/24/2003 10:04:20 PM · #4
Most of these places are using a frontier lab printer. The results are excellent, if they know what they are doing and if you give it the right inputs.

Depending on how fussy you are about quality, you may or may not care to use colour profiles. If I don't the various colour casts I get on my prints drive me slowly insane.

//www.drycreekphoto.com is a good starting point to get profiles for the labs near you.
06/24/2003 10:43:48 PM · #5
I've only had one photo printed by a Fuji Frontier printer and the result was stunning. The printer itself is capable of stunning results - the risk lies in the operator.

I'd suggest that for snapshot type prints though the results will be more than adequate, but it might be worth trying a couple of locations in case you find an operator who cares about their work.
06/24/2003 11:14:26 PM · #6
Not all WalMarts are the same the one here uses both a fuji printer and a kodak picturemaker. Only problem I have is I shoot at to large of a resolution for the self printer to work, last time I tried to have them printed through the one hour photo lab the girl that was working had no clue how to do them so I stick to satin and silk finished paper and an HPdeskjet printer.

Although I do want to try Staples one of these days they say they can print them as long as they are on CDrom. They don't have the card readers in their print shop but the prices for reprints at Staples are less than WalMart as long as you are printing more than just one or two photos. They charge $1.95 to open your cdrom
06/24/2003 11:20:12 PM · #7
Originally posted by OneSweetSin:

Not all WalMarts are the same the one here uses both a fuji printer and a kodak picturemaker. Only problem I have is I shoot at to large of a resolution for the self printer to work, last time I tried to have them printed through the one hour photo lab the girl that was working had no clue how to do them so I stick to satin and silk finished paper and an HPdeskjet printer.

Although I do want to try Staples one of these days they say they can print them as long as they are on CDrom. They don't have the card readers in their print shop but the prices for reprints at Staples are less than WalMart as long as you are printing more than just one or two photos. They charge $1.95 to open your cdrom


I did have one of my challenge photos printed at staples. The picture was okay. It was no higher quality than my inkjet. Probably a little less even. They normally charge 2.50 to open a file at the one I went to. That's not per CD, that's per file. The 11x17 print itself cost 1.88, which is way cheap. But it came out decent, not exceptional.

When I had my print done, it took 40 minutes and I left before they figured out what to do. when I got back they gave me the print that they finally got to work (major bonehead software probs) and charged me 1.78 total, plus gave me 2 $10 off coupons to use for whatever. It worked out to my advantage monetarily, but the picture was not what I was hoping for.

Bob
06/24/2003 11:33:22 PM · #8
I have used the local Wal-Mart to print a few 8x10. It was about $2.78 per 8x10. 4x6 are something like .28

The quality is not terrible as long at your dpi is set high enough.

The thing i do enjoy at our Wal-Mart here is that if it take more than 1 hour to print they give them to you for free. I have had about 2 dozen 8x10's done and only paid for 2. They can never seem to have them ready on time.
06/24/2003 11:46:27 PM · #9
Costco has some Fuji printers too, and the 4x6 prints were $0.14, but they did have a color shift. For snapshots or a school report there's no beating that for now.

Ritz/Wolf camera shops also have in-store Fuji printers.

We should be trying to print through DPC though, as the prices are good and so far everyone reports the results to be better than acceptable.
06/25/2003 02:03:39 AM · #10
Originally posted by GeneralE:

We should be trying to print through DPC though, as the prices are good and so far everyone reports the results to be better than acceptable.


I'm actually really curious/concerned about the quality that DPC yields. Can anyone confirm if DPC is actually going through EZPrints? If so, my results were extremely disappointing.

Still, I'd be willing to give DPCprints another try. Would you indulge me by adding my sample image to your available prints for me to purchase? In fact, I'd like to include two images: one with a Frontier profile and one without. The last time I tested EZPrints I did it without profiling (which is I think the more fair/accurate method) but I'm still curious about the results.
06/25/2003 08:36:53 AM · #11
The problem with DPC Prints is the time involved. I want to print 50+ prints to put in a scrapbook and there's no way I'm going to spend the time sizing and uploading all of them.

For finer prints I'll definitely stick with DPC or my own Canon printer.

Thanks for all the input. I may take 10 test shots around today and see which place gives the best results.
06/25/2003 10:08:50 AM · #12
Originally posted by dwoolridge:



I'm actually really curious/concerned about the quality that DPC yields. Can anyone confirm if DPC is actually going through EZPrints? If so, my results were extremely disappointing.


Shame to hear you had a bad experience. Did you contact the site owners/ printers to try and resolve the quality issues ?

I've had outstanding results from Ezprints (easily the best from any online print place, and quality as good as from my local camera shop. I have to say though that all of the prints I've done via them used profiles to get an accurate colour match, as I've found not using them to be nothing better than a lottery, for any printer, online, in person or at home. The only way to ensure an accurate print is to have a correctly calibrated screen/ editing system and use the correct profiles for your output system.

Message edited by author 2003-06-25 10:09:36.
06/25/2003 12:09:32 PM · #13
Originally posted by Gordon:

Shame to hear you had a bad experience. Did you contact the site owners/ printers to try and resolve the quality issues ?


Well, I didn't report any quality issues since my intention was for review purposes only (i.e., I didn't care about how good/bad the results were except for comparison). Personally, I don't think it's worthwhile to deal with labs (online or otherwise) unless they're willing to provide profiles. As you say, it's a gamble.

Also, I felt the fairest (to the reader/consumer not the lab) comparison was to provide images straight from camera. This better reflects what would typically happen for most digicam users looking for prints (online or otherwise).

My sample shot was probably not the fairest one to use.

One day I'll actually get around to posting my results somewhere.

Originally posted by Gordon:

I've had outstanding results from Ezprints (easily the best from any online print place, and quality as good as from my local camera shop.

I only tried Ezprints, PhotoAccess, Ofoto, and Shutterfly. Ofoto was absolutely the worst with PhotoAccess and Shutterfly being about comparable. Ezprints was not completely awful, but the gamut issues were apparent and I'm not really sure (from a subjective standpoint) if I preferred Ezprints or PhotoAccess/Shutterfly.

Originally posted by Gordon:

I have to say though that all of the prints I've done via them used profiles to get an accurate colour match, as I've found not using them to be nothing better than a lottery, for any printer, online, in person or at home.

I agree, but my purposes were not really to get the best quality out of a selected "lab" though I would have been willing to use a profile had they provided one. As digital gets more and more popular, the labs will have to deal with the colour space issues in a reasonable way.

Originally posted by Gordon:

The only way to ensure an accurate print is to have a correctly calibrated screen/ editing system and use the correct profiles for your output system.

Absolutely. And if one is serious about doing photography work at home then one has to either go ahead with the calibration or live within the limitations of not having calibrated devices.

Still, I think the vast majority of digital camera users want to be able to, at a minimum, take a picture, perhaps crop it, and send it direct to a lab, without profiling.
06/25/2003 12:37:39 PM · #14
I ordered some prints through Sony's ImageStation on a friend's recommendation and was very happy with the results. 4"x6" prints are only 39 cents each, while 5"x7" prints are 99 cents each. Uploading is fairly easy, they allow you to create online albums which you can share, and you can buy picture gifts among other things. Maybe check it out.

//www.imagestation.com/

Dan
06/25/2003 02:27:10 PM · #15
Speaking of DPC Prints, was there a final word on what to do about color profiles for prints? If I embed a color profile, will they use it to match to their printing process, or are we expected to convert the image to their color space? I just got a print from them, and it doesn't match the image on my calibrated monitor, and I have color management turned on. Either they are ignoring the profile or my calibration is off. Anyone know what their color profile is, or of one that's "close enough?"
06/25/2003 03:02:10 PM · #16
Originally posted by jkiolbasa:

Speaking of DPC Prints, was there a final word on what to do about color profiles for prints? If I embed a color profile, will they use it to match to their printing process, or are we expected to convert the image to their color space? I just got a print from them, and it doesn't match the image on my calibrated monitor, and I have color management turned on. Either they are ignoring the profile or my calibration is off. Anyone know what their color profile is, or of one that's "close enough?"


Their printers ignore embedded colour profiles (as do all frontier and Noritsu printers and many others) so all an embedded profile is doing is making the files larger.

You have to soft proof the image using the colour profiles for the printer you are planning on using, adjust the image to look correct, and then convert to that profile (it will usually look horrible around about this point) and submit that version for printing.

They have provided profiles in the past, but are not willing to support them for the general public I believe (i.e., if you know what you are doing they will give them out, but they aren't going to teach you how to use them or support them) There is a calibation print that can be ordered for free which you can use to create a profile if you don't want to set up a properly colour managed system too.

Also note that for different image sizes, different printers are used, so different profiles are required (I think anything above 11" goes on a different printer, requireing different profiles for large or small prints)

As to people printing without profiles, it seems to be about as hit an miss as dropping off a roll of film at a 1hour photo lab in terms of weird colour casts and so on - but it is certainly more complex/ involved for digital printing than film. I think this is currently the biggest problem facing the digicam space - they've sold everyone on how easy it is but the harsh reality right now is that is more complex to get decent prints in your hand without doing work.

Again //www.drycreekphoto.com/ has a lot of info on how to use these things correctly, as well as profiles for hundreds of mini-labs across the country.

//www.digitaldog.net also has a lot of good information

Message edited by author 2003-06-25 15:05:10.
06/25/2003 06:26:12 PM · #17
Heres the link to find Frontier minilabs by zipcode

Fuji Frontier Mini Lab
06/25/2003 06:37:26 PM · #18
Originally posted by krets:

The problem with DPC Prints is the time involved. I want to print 50+ prints to put in a scrapbook and there's no way I'm going to spend the time sizing and uploading all of them.

For finer prints I'll definitely stick with DPC or my own Canon printer.

Thanks for all the input. I may take 10 test shots around today and see which place gives the best results.


One thing to keep in mind... the 150 PPI minimum and aspect ratio requirements only apply to prints you intend to offer for sale. For prints you only intend to print for your own use, you do not need to (and in fact should not) submit them for review for sale. You will be given the opportunity to crop, fit, or stretch your image at printing time.

-Terry
06/25/2003 10:15:38 PM · #19
Originally posted by jkiolbasa:

Anyone know what their color profile is, or of one that's "close enough?"

As Gordon mentioned, if you're using PS then it's easy enough to soft proof then convert your photo. All things are not equal and each machine needs to be profiled, but who knows which one or how many would be used in DPCprints' case. You can get a generic Frontier profile from Fuji although you'll still need to know which model of machine is being used (may depend on print size for instance). Still, a generic profile will help considerably more than nothing (or a very wrong profile).

Originally posted by Gordon:

You have to soft proof the image using the colour profiles for the printer you are planning on using, adjust the image to look correct, and then convert to that profile (it will usually look horrible around about this point) and submit that version for printing.

This is yet another reason why things are just much more difficult right now. Sure, the extra work and the research required just to understand that one needs to do this kind of this is something, but one must obtain (and trust) software appropriate for the task. What a mess.

Originally posted by Gordon:

As to people printing without profiles, it seems to be about as hit an miss as dropping off a roll of film at a 1hour photo lab in terms of weird colour casts and so on - but it is certainly more complex/ involved for digital printing than film.


I dunno. It seems much worse with digital in this respect. I think most people have an inkling or some basic idea of why prints look different when developed at various labs. I really don't think the gamut issues are quite as serious as they are with digital (but maybe I've just been lucky). There are just so many places for things to break, so many devices to profile, despite the desire for a fairly (seemingly) simple thing.

Perhaps one issue is that after filling up the roll of film, taking it to the lab, picking up an hour, a day, a week later, one is so distant from the images (in time) that one simply can't remember if the colours are "true" anymore. Digital tightens that loop considerably and maybe expectations are higher.

Oh well.

Thanks for the links Gordon. They've been extremely helpful, especially in helping me understand soft proofing and the gamut issues I experienced with EZprints. If there is blame to lay, I'll still place it squarely on the shoulders of the lab/storefront though :)
06/25/2003 10:30:40 PM · #20
Originally posted by dwoolridge:

If there is blame to lay, I'll still place it squarely on the shoulders of the lab/storefront though :)


If you ask them for profiles, they will probably provide them - they did to me.
06/26/2003 12:48:28 PM · #21
Originally posted by Gordon:

If you ask them for profiles, they will probably provide them - they did to me.
By "them", do you mean EZprints, DPCprints, any on-line lab, or some union of these entities?
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