Dry Creek profiles + Costco printing help

Started Oct 21, 2004 | Discussions thread
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ohthetrees
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Dry Creek profiles + Costco printing help
Oct 21, 2004

I have been squirrling away digital pictures from years, and I have decided that I need to start printing them and hanging them on my walls, instead of leaving them all on the computer! On to my questions and discoveries.

Costco uses a Noritsu model 3101 printer and fuji crystal archive paper. I have read that this printer is high quality and can yeild great results. I read the Dry Creek advice, which basically boils down to:

1) Convert your image to the profile specific to the printer

2) Crop and resample so that costco does not do any of the cropping and resampleing.
3) Instruct the techs at costco not to resize or adjust the images in any way

Here is what I'm worried about. I understand that costco used to print directly your media. In other words you would walk up to a tech, give them your media, and have an opportunity to give them some instructions, and they would take it from there. But recently they have started using kiosks for submitting your images. What I'm afraid of is that this kiosk (which is really a PC) is automatically doing "clever" things with color profiles, and also resampling and resizing the image. I know it has the capability to crop and resample, because there is an "edit" screen that you can use to manipulate your pics.

I decided to do some tests on the color profile issue. I took three photos that were in the adobe color space. I made copies that were converted to the sRGB and the Dry Creek color space. For each of these I had versions that did and did not have the color profile embedded. So, in the end, for each of my three pics I had

Adobe, embedded
Adobe, not embedded
sRGB, embedded
sRGB, not embedded
dry creek, embedded
dry creek, not embedded

After printing these at costco I inspected them carefully. My conclusion is that the kiosk is still just ignoring the color profile, probably just assuming sRGB. There was no difference between the embedded and not embedded versions of my files. My Adobe files looked terrible (as expected). Both sRGB and dry creek looked pretty good. The dry creek definitely had the edge in color accuracy. One of my pics had some really vivid greens in it that looked more true to my screen with the dry creek. However, the dry creek profile also seems to decrease contrast a bit. Shadows and blacks were a tad light too. Interestingly a couple of areas that were blown out in the sRGB space were less so in the dry creek profile. In the end, I liked two of my test pictures the best with the dry creek profile, and one with the sRGB profile. I think I will use dry creek in the future.

However, my second concern is still yet to be addressed, and that is cropping, resizing, resampling, etc. Dry creek supplies recommeded pixel dimentions for your crops which take into account the 1% or so of the image that is trimmed from the edges during paper cutting. So in effect, you are submitting a slightly too large image, asking them to print it "real size" and then they trim a tiny bit off. I'm worried that the kiosk also upsizes the image 1.5% or so, using their unknown (and untrusted) resampling method, and losing us that much more of the image. I want the kiosk to pass my picture "as is" to the printer.

I would apreciate any advice anyone has, particularly on the resmapling issue.

I would also like to hear opinions about the Dry Creek + Costco method to getting high quaility prints at a good price. Are there other options out there that offer great bang for the buck? Do you agree or disagree with the idea that the output using this method can be as good as higher end print services?

thanks in advance,
Cedar

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