What to ask a photo lab when considering them?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by gl600, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. gl600

    gl600 TPF Noob!

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    Hey,
    I'm slowly getting things together to begin offering people portrait work. I will be going to a pro photo lab in my area and I want to know what you guys think are good things to ask and find out about from the lab.
    I have these questions so far:
    1- Do you offer packages?
    2- Price list (obvious)
    2- What color space they work with?
    3- Do they create albums and frame?
    4- Type of ink and paper used (doesn't seem to important to me).

    Anything else you think I should know/ask?
    Thanks
     
  2. cirekoy

    cirekoy TPF Noob!

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    In my opinion, the best way to evaluate a lab (or anyone offering a product for that matter) is to order a couple samples...pick a few diverse, challenging images and see what the quality, turn time, and support is really like...I'd hit up Google and see if anyone has reviewed that lab as well, and see if they have good or bad experiences.

    Just my inclinations :)
     
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    A pro lab should have an online presence and have all that info on the web site. Like Mpix has: Mpix.com - Help

    There are a bunch of paper types and brands.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    The lab I use, gives new customers up to six free 8x10 prints to test out their color calibration etc.

    One thing to ask the lab, is if they can give you their printer profile, which you can use for soft proofing.
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    You can download Mpix's printer ICC profile at the bottom of the Mpix link I provided above.
     
  6. athomasimage

    athomasimage TPF Noob!

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    Cirekoy and Big Mike are right on - get some test prints into the lab and look at the results. Also, when you pick up the prints look them over with the lab tech. Ask the lab tech about any questions you have.

    I'm a real advocate of building a personal relationship with your lab. You want them to call you if they think there is a problem. You also want to be able to ask them questions and get their help. You can photoshop all you want, but if the lab screws it up or it's way too late, your customer doesn't yell at the lab - they yell at you. It was your choice to use that lab not theirs.

    Businesses don't conduct business with businesses, people conduct business with people. It's hard to stop in your on-line lab, look at prints and talk with them.

    By the way, I'm a photographer not a lab owner!
     
  7. Jamie71

    Jamie71 TPF Noob!

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    I just ordered samples from several online labs and compared the results. I am very picky when it comes to color and calibration issues. For me, I want a lab who does not color correct for me and leaves my images "as is".
     
  8. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    Packages will almost always be in the price list.

    What Color space the prin in should be irelivant for a Pro Lab, as long as you have your colour space embeded in the photo they can use it (sRBG or Adobe 1998)

    They should be able to show you samples of the albums and even give you a discount for studio samples.

    There was a good comment about getting the printer profile for softproofing. As well you want to make sure they are using good software for odering online. I belive the standard is ROES, all the labs I deal with use it and it is easy to use.
     

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