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Large scale archival printing

Andrew Binkley , Nov 07, 2007; 11:26 a.m.

I am wanting to make large scale, archival, museum quality art prints of my digital photographs. My thoughts are to make prints ranging from 3 feet square to 9 feet square. What is the largest size I can do and still maintain the quality desired? What are the pros and cons of the various printing methods such as digital c-print (if can do 9 feet square), ink jet, light jet and so on? And finally what sort of costs can I expect for the printing?

Responses

Walt Flanagan , Nov 07, 2007; 12:07 p.m.

It all depends on what your definition of "quality desired" is. What's the viewing distance? What's the original resolution of the file? Was the source a 5 megapixel point and shoot? Or drum scanned from 4x5 film? Go to http://www.calypsoinc.com They're one of the best.

Andrew Binkley , Nov 07, 2007; 08:56 p.m.

My question is not so much about quality in the sense of how the resolution looks, since the image I am printing is composed of 100 small pictures pieced together in a single grid, each picture shot with a Canon EOS 5D. So the print should maintain its quality even when you look at the image from just inches away.

My real question is really about making museum quality prints, as in archival and can hold up to museum standards. How big can I go? What are my options as far as printing types? And what's the cost? Thanks for any advice you can give...

Matt Whitaker , Nov 07, 2007; 09:59 p.m.

Archival prints, or giclees, are just inkjet prints with archival inks on archival paper. This combination, usually paired with some kind of archival framing or mounting method, produces a museum quality print that will last a very, very long time.

I personally use Hahnemuhle Photo Rag and Museum Etching paper with Epson Ultrachrome inks and find this an excellent combination.

The size of the print is limited by the size of the printer. The 9800 I use only goes up to 44" wide but the 11880 that is coming out goes up to 64". There are other printers out there that go larger than that but if you found somebody who had one you would still need to make sure the inks were archival.

Walt Flanagan , Nov 08, 2007; 04:45 p.m.

Personal preference but I've never been a fan of inkjets. I'm a big fan of Lightjets and Fujiflex (Fuji Supergloss) and Cibachrome paper. I've printed 24x36 from Calypso but they list 48x96 as a standard size. If you call them maybe they can go higher. This is definitely museum quality and should last decades.

Gerard Smulevich , Dec 07, 2008; 03:05 p.m.

print size from a FF sensor vs. a 1.5 crop sensor

Question: Is it logical/true that a full frame 12.1 MP file from a D700 will enlarge (up-rez) significantly better than a 1 .5 sensor (such as a D200)? If so, by how much is FF better than dx? My goal is super sharp 30" wide prints on a lightjet + Kodak endura high gloss. Will I see a significant change in "enlargability" with the D700 over the D200? i g uess that's my question.

< p>thank you

< p>gerrry

Kelly Flanigan , Dec 07, 2008; 04:27 p.m.

Questions like this will me asked by amateurs until the end of time; they are asked several times per week on photo.net over the last decade.


 A dumb VGA images thats 480x640 pixels has been used before for 12x48 foot billboards; and often 35mm is a vast overkill; since the viewing distance is large.


 In a pro application there are actual goals;

the viewing distances becomes known; the print has an actual purpose;

 ie a movie backdrop of the planets surface with 5 moons;

 a billboard;

a movie poster in a movie theater;

 a kiosk backlite in an airport;

a mural 8 feet away from a dentists chair thats 8 feet square of a calm landscape scene;

a super super detailed LA city map that fills a giant wall that one gets 10 inche away from; like a composite of hundreds of Thomas map pages; maybe ist a hocky dasher board thats 3 ft by 12 feet.

 

Everybody has a different definition of art; thus we printers call it fine fart work.;) it might be fine details; ore hardly any at all; its basically meanless


  In amateur work the lack of goals as to what the images does and is for makes the image requirements radically less known.

 Its like asking how long one can go without bathing; or cutting the grass; or how thin milk or beer can be thinned down and folks will not know the difference.


Thus with giant prints the amateur answer is overkill; since they cannot provide details as to viewing distance;and have zero experience; and would rather ask a zillion folks than do an actual mockup say at 1/10 scale as a test. Its not rocket science at all.


Its our experience with printing giant posters that folks who are focused on pixels; upsizing, pixel-helper, *tend* to produce the worst inputs.

They are so wrapped up in "how big can enlarge' and tools; that the input  the worst stuff. They may make an image thats so dark that it "sucks the light" out of their target display room.

Or they get the resolution ok but use an image that has little impact; ie a dud.

Or they assume that mounting or shipping is free with a giant print;

or wallpapering without a visible seam happens automatically.


Giant prints that are 36" wide are now about 2 decade old industry in inkjet


make somes samples at the target giant print size; see what works; AT YOUR VIEWING DISTANCE. This was abit new stuff in the 1988 thru 1992 printing seminars for printers; buts hard for many to grasp only 2 decades later; when everybody does big color printing.
 

Kelly Flanigan , Dec 07, 2008; 04:37 p.m.

A scale model say 1/10 or 1/5 size can be used to reduce the emotional stuff; one can hold it at X distance; and see how appears. In printing this is also done to reduce goofs in text; layouts; etc too. This is just your basic 1950's low tech advertising "how to" experiment; that works. Today it seems folks would rather discuss mumbo jumbo than run a few samples.

Kelly Flanigan , Dec 07, 2008; 04:38 p.m.

Sorry to be abit blunt.

Gerard Smulevich , Dec 08, 2008; 06:23 a.m.

Sorry that I am an amateur even though I am published by Taschen and am a collaborator of Julius Shulman's and have solo gallery shows in the US and Europe. I'm learning. The point is I'm not sure what the beenfits are of an FX sensor in terms of image resampling . I have done print tests on my D200 files but because this camera was stolen from me yesterday on the streets of Buenos Aires, I am contemplating replacing it with a D700 ESPECIALLY if it will allow me to uprez with less damage to the image's pixels than a dx sensor image would. I currently have a professional show of my work up at a university gallery in Rhode Island and those were D70 and D200 images that were sampeld up to 20 inches wide for viewing at 2-3 feet away or so in some cases. Printing is on a noritsu lightjet on kodak endura paper.
If you look at my work you would maybe see why I'm concerned about size/image quality
pbase.com/gerards
I had thought about digital stitching to create larger images, and that seemed to work well but my Nodal ninja was stolen along with my d200. So teh question again is: does an FX senseor offer more data in such a manner that the files "uprez" better than a dx generated image? Is that question REALLY so stupid? If so, my apologies.
g
 

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