Prints aren't as sharp as file? HELP!!!

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by mamarazzi_hrd, Aug 13, 2008.

  1. mamarazzi_hrd

    mamarazzi_hrd TPF Noob!

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    I have a new D300 and I took some really great shots of my 2 year old daughter. When I pull them up in Lightroom, they are super-duper sharp but when I send them off for prints, they come back just "OK"....they loose some of that sharpness. Is this normal???? How do I fix this?

    TIA!
     
  2. Easy_Target

    Easy_Target TPF Noob!

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    Could be the printer they're using. Could also be your blowing them up too much. More details please?
     
  3. mamarazzi_hrd

    mamarazzi_hrd TPF Noob!

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    Well I have sent them to two different labs with virtually the same results. I am not blowing them up at all. I only printed a 4x6 proof....
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    What are the specs of the file that you are sending?
     
  5. mamarazzi_hrd

    mamarazzi_hrd TPF Noob!

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  6. mamarazzi_hrd

    mamarazzi_hrd TPF Noob!

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    Someone has to know something? Do I have to sharpen every photo? Even photos that look tack sharp online and in Lightroom/Photoshop.

    I mean, why strive for perfect sharpness when it won't print that way?

    Do smaller prints print less sharp than like say an 8x10?

    Anybody, can someone help me sort out this mystery????
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When you send the file to the lab...what is the size (in pixels)? And what is the resolution set to?

    For a 4x6 print, the file should be 1200x1800 pixels and set to 300 PPI.
     
  8. mamarazzi_hrd

    mamarazzi_hrd TPF Noob!

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    The file is 2848x4288 @ 240 PPI, I just sent the orig file and through ordering software chose 4x6 print. I assumed that since it was larger than the size I wanted to print the PPI would be okay at 240, should I have exported from Lightroom as 300PPI would that have made the difference?
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2008
  9. Sandspur

    Sandspur TPF Noob!

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    I'd say so, yes. Every lab may be slightly different in the "ideal resolution" department. But 300 dpi is the universal standard.

    I've used several online services, and have a pro gallery with Shutterfly where I sell a lot of work. My standard submission to them is always 8x10 @300 dpi. Plus - I have it in my contract that they do not use their auto fix feature on any of my work since I've already done everything - crop, levels adjustment, sharpening (yes always!) and whatever else I think is needed.

    Whoever you're using, ask what their ideal criteria are. OR submit at 300 at the target size and always sharpen (but only when you're viewing the image at the target print size.)
    I hope this helps. I know how frustrating the process is.

    I think they key concept here is that you MUST set up EVERY file yourself, including size and resolution. Otherwise you're at the mercy of some machine's best judgement about your work.

    PS - I use another lab for posters, and their specs say 256dpi - no more, no less. Go figure.
     
  10. Jaymz77

    Jaymz77 TPF Noob!

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    I noticed you sent them a .jpeg.. A jpeg is a compressed image format and can on occasion lose its original details. I would recommend exporting as a .tiff and see if that is better. And always size the photos at the desired print size and at least 300dpi, since if the printer has to size it, they may not take in concideration the extra detail.
     
  11. mamarazzi_hrd

    mamarazzi_hrd TPF Noob!

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    When I save a .tif file it asked for a compression of either a) NONE b) LZW or c) Zip. So which one should I choose?
     
  12. clupica

    clupica TPF Noob!

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    I think any service bureau that can accept a tif will be able to use either compressed or non-compressed. The non-compressed image will be a much, much larger file; in general use LZW not zip. BTW: LZW is a lossless format so no infomation will ever get lost using LZW.

    As for fuzziness, are you examining the photos at 100%? What looks sharp at normal screen viewing is not nearly as sharp when viewed at 100%.

    Also, digital images are soft by design, go figure. Consummer P&S cameras do in camera sharpening and other manipulations to provide results pleasing to P&S shooters (As does Adobe Camera RAW if you're not watching). dSLRs provide the maximum amount of pixel information and do not generally sharpen the image in camera. Nikon RAW images will not be sharpened but the jpgs coming out may be depending on your settings. Digital RAW photos should almost always be sharpened (read should be, but I'm hedging to avoid argument :) ) before sending them to the printer. And printers use 300 dpi except under special conditions.

    I think that you can tell Lightroom to export the images at 300dpi. You can do the sharpening in Lightroom but I prefer to do it in Photoshop. Unfortunately, sharpening is a near artform in itself. I think I saw a book title recently for a book on nothing but sharpening.

    Charlie
     

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