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starbase1
11-06-2006, 07:37 AM
I was wondering if anyone here had tried presenting their graphics in print, using one of the new(ish) photo book services.

I heard of one service mentioned online by Kodak, and when I checked I found that Photobox, (the online print service I normally use) have a service that looks very similar (about 20 for a decent sized book).

This seems a very fair price for a nicely bound book, and potentially a much more impressive way to show off still images that the handful of prints that I normally use!

I'm not sure about the quality / feel of the paper they use, and photobox mention printing at 300 DPI which sounds a bit lower than I expected, (though that maybe a lot to do with the false resolutions claimed by inkjet manufacturers, e.g. resulution of a single drop of one colour

I also note that photobox only accept simple JPEG's.

So, anyone got any thoughts ofr experiences before I leap into the wonderful world of vanity publishing?

Nick

Dave Jerrard
11-07-2006, 01:26 PM
I'm not sure about the quality / feel of the paper they use, and photobox mention printing at 300 DPI which sounds a bit lower than I expected, 300 PPI is generally considered the standard output resolution for color printing. In press terms, this roughly equates to a halftone frequency of 150 Lines Per Inch, which is in the upper range of halftone screen resolutions. Generally, most magazines use a screen frequency of about 100 to 133 LPI - Newspapers use 65 to 85 LPI. High quality print jobs will use 150 or higher, though, with the use of extra color channels, this isn't always necessary - the extra color dots help increase the percieved resolution to a point.

For B&W imagery, a higher PPI is favored, but this isn't a rule set in stone. B&W film has a higher resolution than color film, and the human eye is also more sensitive to luminosity than color, so with lower resolution B&W imagery, individual pixels are more likely to be seen.



(though that maybe a lot to do with the false resolutions claimed by inkjet manufacturers, e.g. resulution of a single drop of one colourActually, it's not false. This is a typical confusion of the terms DPI (Dots Per Inch) and PPI (Pixels Per Inch). DPI is a physical aspect of output hardware. For monitors, this is usually replaced with the actual pixel dimensions they can handle. CRTs can change their display resolutions (800x600, 1024x768, etc.), and the area the display fills on the screen, so they have no actual DPI rating. Their PPI can be determined with a ruler though, but since the display can be changed, this value can likewise change. Digital screens, like LCD monitors, have a fixed number of pixels. You can scale an image in software to fit the monitor, but the monitor's resolution is always the same - it has a fixed DPI, which can be determined by measuring the width and dividing it by the number of pixels it has. My Viewsonic VP2001b is 1600x1200, and is approximately 100 DPI (its display area is 16" wide). Technically, it's 3 times that for the width, if you count the separate red, green and blue subpixels.

Printers tend to have much higher resolutions. At the very least, they need a resolution of 600 DPI, meaning their dots are 1/600th of an inch in size. This is necessary to print clean, legible text, without it showing jaggy edges. Older dot-matrix printers suffered this because their resolution was 300 DPI or less, so their text options were limited. You couldn't print text at 12pts or less that looked good on these. Smaller dots means you can draw (print) text with more detail and smoother curves. Digital image setters have resolutions of 24,000 DPI or higher - they have to be able to draw halftone dots with very accurate sizes, or they're useless for anything other than pure text. Color printers don't have to draw these haltone dots since they're not going to be used to make plates for printing presses. Instead, they can get by with larger dot sizes (lower DPI) and use dithering patterns to create various shades of colors. The printer, just liek an image setter, has to use these dots to draw the larger dots that make up the image, but unlike an Image Setter that has to draw those tiny haltone dots, printers use dots to blend the colors for each pixel they're printing. For the most accurate prints, they need a bit of space for each pixel so they can fit enough dots to accurately portray the pixel's color. If you try to feed an image to printer by matching the PPI to the DPI, you're actually losing detail. A printer either prints a dot or it doesn't. There's no partial dots (though some printers have light & dark ink capabilities to help with this now). The printer (driver actually) has to resample the image so it can get the best results. It needs to leave some areas of the page unprinted in order to get lighter tones of colors, so if you're throwing 1200 pixels per inch at a 1200 DPI printer, most of those original pixels will be changed in the print. But they're so small you won't notice tham anyway, without a magnifier.

PPI (Pixels Per Inch) is a value that does not exist UNTIL you decide how large a given image is going to be output. Until then, it's an abstract number. And even when you do output the image, this value can change without modifying the image at all. Simply displaying it on a different monitor can do that. Printing it a 1/4" larger will change it. Even the printer driver itself can change the PPI without you even knowing it, like the Epson Picturemate driver can do - it has three slight zoom levels to adjust the amount of bleed for borderless prints, as well as an interactive size & position gadget. So even though you might specify an exact PPI in something like Photoshop, what you actually get can still be different.


300 PPI color output is going to be pretty sharp. The biggest problem I see with this service is the JPEG requirement. Use as little compression as you can get away with. Theoretically, the highest quality JPEG comression is actually losseless, but I think that really comes down to the actual implemention of a given application. Different apps allow different amounts (ACDSee has 100 quality levels while Photoshop has 12), so there's no garantee that the best quality is actually lossless or not.

He Who Is Generally Pleased With LightWave's JPEG Saver.

voriax
11-07-2006, 07:30 PM
Sorry Dave, even *I* was confused by your post, hehe..

Starbase, I have to use LW rendered images in print quite often (toy packaging print jobs).

Basically, 300 DPI is the minimum print requirement if you want quality. The easiest way I find to figure out what size you need to render something if you want a good quality print from it, is to go into photoshop, new file, set the DPI to 300, and then put in the dimensions you want the printed image to be in cms or mm (or inches for those who are still crazy enough to use them). If you then check the image size in photoshop, it'll give you a pretty accurate pixel dimension that you can put into LW. It's generally a good idea to add a bit more size to the frame in LW just to make sure, as you can size down the image later, but not size it up.

Oh, and yes, the LW jpeg saver is quite good quality-wise, but if you're going to manipulate the images in photoshop later, save them as TGA and then output the final from photoshop as the highest quality jpeg.

Dave Jerrard
11-07-2006, 09:35 PM
Actually, any lossless image format will work. I avoid TGAs about as much as BMP since they tend to be pretty large on disk. My preferred lossless formats are IFF (for textures), PNG (good for the web too) and HDR.


As for the PPI things, just multiply the output size by the desired PPI resolution to get the number of pixels required. You can do that directly in the size fields in Layout (8*300 will convert to 2400 when you hit enter), skipping the whole Photoshop step. :thumbsup:


He Who Needs To Work On His Legs.

robk
11-07-2006, 10:24 PM
Basically, 300 DPI is the minimum print requirement if you want quality

I had an Advertising agency that said the printers wanted a 300 dpi image for one of our Architectural renderings. The only problem for us is that they wanted that image on a 10'x6' outdoor sign that people would drive by at 100 km/hr.

As you can tell printers and AD agencies sometimes are not my favourite people. I hope they enjoyed the 36000x21600 pixel image we sent them. (that is of course if they could load it!!)
Of course I didn't render at that res. Just used a program to scale it up with some smart dithering
Sometimes these people lose a grip on reality.

Dave Jerrard
11-07-2006, 10:52 PM
Man, I had to deal with some print-shop stupidity over the years. When I first started this stuff, I was actually showing these guys how to use their brand spanking new $100,000+ computer systems. Even over ten years later, there still seems to be a butt-load of shops that don't have a clue, other than the misguided stuff they picked up from Adobe & their insistence on using a DPI chunk in all their files & software. It doesn't help when they keep insisting on using the WRONG terminology all the time. People actually think when they say they made something at 300 DPI they're giving some useful information, when it's actually PPI and they haven't even given anything that even tells how big or how many pixels are in the image. Heck, I can show you a wonder full 1 pixel image that's a full 1600 PPI, or higher. :foreheads



He Who Has Dealt With Printers That Didn't Know How To Scale An Image.

EmperorPete
11-08-2006, 03:12 AM
AD agencies sometimes are not my favourite people. I hope they enjoyed the 36000x21600 pixel image we sent them. (that is of course if they could load it!!)
...Ouch!
I recently entered an art contest at Botcon (huge Transformers toy collector's convention held every year in the US. I won the contest, but that's another matter ;) ). I rendered the entry at the correct resolution to print out on A3 with no resizing, and it took days. However, we have a place in Luton that helps people starting up small businesses, and they printed it out on nice glossy paper for 70p.

starbase1
11-08-2006, 03:39 AM
Well thanks for all the info guys, but has anyone actually tried these services?

bobakabob
11-08-2006, 03:43 AM
Not yet, but a friend who's a 2000AD artist and photographer swears by Photobox so that's good enough for me. :thumbsup:

starbase1
11-08-2006, 06:53 AM
Yes, I tend to use them for all my online photo printing - they are particularly good value for large size prints. They also tend to have genuinely impressive special deals in their email offers.

Though for the everyday stuff I tend to go into Jessops wiith a CD full of files - for some reason their online printing service is less good value than the in store, particularly in the in stopre overnight service...

Nick

creativecontrol
11-08-2006, 07:14 AM
Well thanks for all the info guys, but has anyone actually tried these services?

Hey thanks for the info Starbase1. I'm going to check if they have it around here and I'll give it a try. Can't tell until you see it. Sounds like a good idea.

Speedmonk42
11-08-2006, 03:19 PM
Hey Starbase.

How about getting a nice leather portfolio case, then you can slip in individual prints in any order/content you need to suit the person you are showing it to.

That way you are not stuck with a bound book, and people know what portfolios are and they are totally acceptable.

Speedmonk42
11-08-2006, 03:19 PM
Doh! Double post

starbase1
11-09-2006, 12:24 AM
Hey Starbase.

How about getting a nice leather portfolio case, then you can slip in individual prints in any order/content you need to suit the person you are showing it to.

That way you are not stuck with a bound book, and people know what portfolios are and they are totally acceptable.

I have done that before, but you get no choice of the number of pages, and more than one picture per page they don't stay put but slide around.

I also think it will get more attention being unusual.

Nick