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Printing at Sam's Club I NEED HELP

Marguerite Gioia Insolia , Apr 10, 2008; 09:13 p.m.

HI EVERYONE

I have a show coming up April 18th in Tennessee and I'm printing around 50 portraits. I'm printing at Sam's Club because of the prices and because the color there was much better than the color at Costco (at least for these images).

So I took them in RAW with my Canon Rebel. Then I convert them in PS-CS3 to Tiff files and do minor toning and exposure changes if necessary. I am always having to back up my files so I found some software that's called "Easy Batch Photo. I use this to convert the tiff to a jpeg.(I think all they can take at Sam's is a jpeg but hopefully I'm wrong). I keep the dpi at 300 and use the highest quality.

When I print my tests in 4x6 everything is fine. Sometimes I need to desaturate the colors but they are good quality. When I print larger however, I start to get lines running down the photos and some really enhanced red and green tones.Everything looks blotchy and there doesn't seem to be a control because sometimes a photo will come out decent and then others come out all messed up.

I use a Mac laptop with OS X. When I printed using jpegs I had converted in Photoshop, the color was drained in comparison to the ones I converted in the EasyBatchPhoto. My screen is displaying at Color LCD because I don't know (they don't either) Sam's Club's printer profile. I'm so lost.

What should I do? What am I doing wrong? Is there a pro photographer that uses Sam's that can give me some tips? I have to get these all done by Monday and I can't afford to go to a prophoto shop.

Responses

Jeffrey Blake Adams , Apr 10, 2008; 10:00 p.m.

What on Earth are you using a place like that for? ProLabs online will deliver better color quality and come so close to price it won't matter. If a show is worth doing, get some decent prints everytime, not hit or miss, hoping the $8hr kid working the frontier will get it right.

Try; http://imagexperts.com/ whcc.com

Prepare to make your life easier, and your photos MUCH better, EVERY time. J

Rand McNatt , Apr 10, 2008; 11:48 p.m.

First, forget about dpi and print sizes inside PS, just output full-size jpegs. PS Quality 10 is just fine, but you can go to 12 if it makes you feel better.

You don't say what size enlargements you are getting printed, but our local Sam's only makes prints up to (I think) 8x10 on a Fuji minilab; everything larger is on an Epson wide-format inkjet (but they don't advertise that fact). That may be part of your problem. You may need to gang-print some smaller images to get a reliable test (ie, make up an 11x14 composite from a bunch of small pictures and get that printed as a test).

If you're sending to Sam's, don't bother with profiling, just set everything up for sRGB. (and I don't know that I'd trust Easy Batch to convert from (presumably) AdobeRGB to sRGB as much as I would Photoshop.)

Once this little crisis is over, either take Jeffrey's advice and find a good pro lab or two (there are "advanced amateur" labs that don't charge much more than Wally) or invest in a good high-grade inkjet printer for yourself.

Marguerite Gioia Insolia , Apr 11, 2008; 12:23 a.m.

Yeah I'm sure using a real lab would be much easier and maybe I could find one close in price, but the fact that I need them so soon and if I have them sent to me, if there's a problem, then I can't fix it immediately and get a new print. I was only given about week and a half notice about the show. I'll check out that lab though and thanks for the advice.

Rand- Yeah what the hell kind of "software" is that that they are using on the Sam's site. It's circa 1998 nonsense in my opinion. I'll check what happens if I change my settings to sRGB. Thanks for the heads up.

Bob Himmelright , Apr 11, 2008; 12:50 a.m.

At the very least, if you're submitting the files online, walk into the store and use the kiosk instead as many web services compress your photo to make transfer speeds faster. Best advice, find a pro lab. Second best, try a ritz camera. Granted they're a chain, though generally they do better than a place like a sam's club.

John Vandehei , Apr 11, 2008; 09:31 a.m.

"What on Earth are you using a place like that for?" Don't always rule out places like Sam's Club when getting prints made. Here in Battle Creek (Michigan) I actually get my best results at the local Meijer (a chain of combined grocery/department stores, similar to the Wal-Mart supercenters). I've tried many local places for prints, even camera stores with in-store pro labs. Actually, the local pro lab had the worst colors. Well, to be truthful, they were just as bad as the local Walgreens. So, I continue to take my digital pictures to the local grocery store (Meijer), even for 8x10 enlargements. The lesson learned, you just got to keep shopping around until you find the right place, then support them with your business. However, be sure to keep your options open. A lot of these places can suffer from staff turnover. When that happens, suddenly color control can become unacceptable. That's when you need to find a new place.

Marguerite Gioia Insolia , Apr 11, 2008; 10:59 a.m.

I'm printing around 40: 12x18 prints and then 10: 20x30 prints. The 12x18 run around $3.50 and the 20x30 go for $9.99. At Sam's though, if you print big orders like this, they'll give you a discount. In my case they're taking off another $45.00.

That's why I'm using them. Just wish it wasn't a nightmare trying to get the correct values.

Marshall Goff , Apr 11, 2008; 11:21 a.m.

"Easy Batch Photo"? Is that a plug-in to Photoshop? Is it separate software? Inside PS, you can output as jpegs in whatever size you want. While getting the ppi exactly right may not be as critical, making sure you still have enough pixels is, so that's one thing to make sure: ensure you're not resizing the file down via whatever Easy Batch photo is doing.

Reason I mention that is that you say it looks fine small but not good large. Often, that means that there weren't enough pixels to spread around the larger file.

Marguerite Gioia Insolia , Apr 11, 2008; 01:20 p.m.

No Easy Batch Photo is some software I found on the web. It was cheap and seemed to work but it may be what's causing the lines. I'm not sure. Yeah I'm trying to print Tiff's now with 300ppi so hopefully this will fix the problem. thank you

Jim Strutz - Anchorage, AK , Apr 11, 2008; 09:45 p.m.

When I print at Sams Club with their Fuji Frontier Printer I use XnView (free) to resize and sharpen images in a batch for the size I want. I use sRGB, and have had good luck with Sams, so I keep going back. Better images than the local Costco, Walmart, Fred Meyer or Ritz. Their Frontier pumps up the contrast & saturation though, so it doesn't work well for everything. For anything over 10" or 11" they use the wide Epson inkjet that I haven't tried. That should work well if they have it dialed in.

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