pictures too warm

HighLightPhotosHighLightPhotos Big grinsPosts: 68Registered Users Big grins
edited May 6, 2004 in SmugMug Support
Hi,
I recently placed my first order for prints through smugmug.
All the photos (~150) were unmanipulated and straight out of the camera. Most taken with the Canon 10D, some with the Canon S50.
All photos are a little too red. Has anyone else noticed this? Is it the paper that the lab uses? I really hope this is a rare one-off misprint and not the usual output.
I have a lot of rosy cheeks and blue jersies (from the Detroit Tiger's ball team) that look purple-ish rather than blue!
Would apprecaite hearing your experience with the print service.
thanks.

Comments

  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Posts: 2,853Administrators moderator
    edited May 5, 2004
    Very interesting topic, at least to me, as I'm the one at smugmug who chose EZ Prints to do our print fulfillment (after difficult trials with Shutterfly and Club Photo).

    As we were comparing print labs, I selected 25 photos that our customers had printed, plus I shot a bowl of colored yarn. I sent them to 12 labs several times and my impression was exactly like yours, that they were a little too red.

    But I mounted them on white poster board and took them to 30 different customers, one at a time and asked them to pick their favorite and least favorite of every shot.

    Here are the results: http://www.smugmug.com/prints/digital-prints.mg .

    Since that time, we've processed about 5,000 orders through them and when we do hear about color, which isn't often, it has been "a little too red" or even "too red" each time. The shots have always been of fair-skinned caucasians with reddish skin and some said they definitely don't look that red from Ofoto. I've ordered comparison prints from some of the orders and they're right — Ofoto shifts yellow and desaturates red.

    I shoot with a 10D as well and find it to be a little bit red, more so than my D60 was, so I shoot with the cloudy setting even in sunlight. If I have a reddish-skinned person who might be sensitive to it, I tend to go into the levels command and set the blue channel gamma at .9, then go into hue/saturation and desaturate the red channel 5 points and change the hue of the red channel away from red 4 or 5 points. That's the filter I understand Ofoto uses. Unfortunately, it wrecks red sweaters, coke cans, etc.

    We are considering making that filter available as an option on smugmug, both for processing photos and when ordering prints, with a preview function.

    Your thoughts.

    Thanks,
    Baldy
  • HighLightPhotosHighLightPhotos Big grins Posts: 68Registered Users Big grins
    edited May 5, 2004
    Baldy,
    I remember reading something about the pains you went to in choosing the print service, And it was one of the reasons I settled on smugmug.
    Imagine my surprise when I got my first batch of prints!!!
    I've used both ofoto and shutterfly before and found the results better than acceptable.
    In a way I am not surprised that when you ran your poll, people picked the warmer (more saturated) colors. Some folks like that. However, you and me and a lot of other folks want accuracy and fidelity not to mention predictable output!
    I am planning to get the sample prints for color matching and calibrating my monitor to the output, but I don't relish having to monkey with every file just to get an acceptable print.

    My thoughts are that I would like to get *good* prints without extra work right out of the camera, and excellent prints for the one-off cases where the picture and output is super important and I "photoshop" it.

    How can we fix this? Add shutterfly to the list? Get the current lab to print on kodak instead of fuji paper (I'm guessing that's partly the cause of the difference).
    I'll be happy to send you a few of the ones in my batch if you'd like to see them to decide for yourself if I'm being too picky. Or I can tell you which files in my gallery.
    We had a photo mailed to us taken from the same subject at the same time as one of ours (on film) and the difference in colors is tremendous. By comparison, my pic looked like a cartoon (ok I'm exagurating there, but you get the idea).
    I had hoped to make smugmug my one and only stop for portfolio/photo management and output, both for personal and business use. but i'm not too sure about my decision right now :(
    Do you think if I get the pictures reprinted I'd have better luck the second time?
    They're just too darn red!!!
  • ruttrutt Cave canem! Posts: 6,511Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 5, 2004
    If you really want excellent results without having to be to prepress savey, you can't beat having a person involved who is. This costs money, true, but that's what always happens before a photograph is reproduced in a magazine or high quality book. And a lot of times it's the reason our shots don't look as good as those in National Geographic, Vogue, or the like.

    There are pro labs that do this, for example, Portland Color. They are almost 10x more expensive then EZPrints, but for the price you get professional prepress attention from an actual person who you can talk to on the phone or email.

    It seems to me that there is a place for this kind of thing among smugmug subscribers. It might not be Portland Color in particular. But for that special picture, $30 might not be too much to pay for perfection.

    Do people offer professional prepress services online? Manual prepress color correction/enhancement is a pretty difficult discipline and there is still no automatic substitute for what a good professional can do. Lynn, for example, needed just this with her mostly nude project. She had to use a local print shop that didn't also include this function. If she had been using Portland Color, she would never even have known there was a problem, she just would have gotten great results. So I think there is probably room for someone to make some money doing this. Perhaps someone already does?
    If not now, when?
  • eschickeschick Big grins Posts: 11Registered Users Big grins
    edited May 5, 2004
    Baldy wrote:
    Very interesting topic, at least to me, as I'm the one at smugmug who chose EZ Prints to do our print fulfillment (after difficult trials with Shutterfly and Club Photo).

    As we were comparing print labs, I selected 25 photos that our customers had printed, plus I shot a bowl of colored yarn. I sent them to 12 labs several times and my impression was exactly like yours, that they were a little too red.

    But I mounted them on white poster board and took them to 30 different customers, one at a time and asked them to pick their favorite and least favorite of every shot.

    Here are the results: http://www.smugmug.com/prints/digital-prints.mg .

    Since that time, we've processed about 5,000 orders through them and when we do hear about color, which isn't often, it has been "a little too red" or even "too red" each time. The shots have always been of fair-skinned caucasians with reddish skin and some said they definitely don't look that red from Ofoto. I've ordered comparison prints from some of the orders and they're right — Ofoto shifts yellow and desaturates red.

    I shoot with a 10D as well and find it to be a little bit red, more so than my D60 was, so I shoot with the cloudy setting even in sunlight. If I have a reddish-skinned person who might be sensitive to it, I tend to go into the levels command and set the blue channel gamma at .9, then go into hue/saturation and desaturate the red channel 5 points and change the hue of the red channel away from red 4 or 5 points. That's the filter I understand Ofoto uses. Unfortunately, it wrecks red sweaters, coke cans, etc.

    We are considering making that filter available as an option on smugmug, both for processing photos and when ordering prints, with a preview function.

    Your thoughts.

    Thanks,
    Baldy
    Very interesting topic for me also. I've just been wrestling with this myself and had posted another article recently (http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?t=1044).

    I too found the prints I first received from Smugmug (EZPrints) to be too red. I think the idea of "making that filter available as an option on smugmug, both for processing photos and when ordering prints, with a preview function" to be a GREAT idea.

    Eric
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Posts: 2,853Administrators moderator
    edited May 5, 2004
    Baldy,
    I've used both ofoto and shutterfly before and found the results better than acceptable.

    How can we fix this? Add shutterfly to the list? Get the current lab to print on kodak instead of fuji paper (I'm guessing that's partly the cause of the difference).
    Actually, Shutterfly and EZ Prints use the same chemicals, paper, and printers. The difference is Shutterfly uses a proprietary filter called VividPics. Here's what they say about it:
    Q: What is "VividPics®"? When do I want Shutterfly to automatically enhance my pictures using VividPics?
    A: Shutterfly analyzes your picture and automatically applies adjustments to the picture to improve the exposure and colors in order to give you the finest-quality prints. We call this proprietary image processing technology VividPics®. VividPics is applied by default to all Shutterfly prints.

    However, if you have already edited your pictures for color, brightness, or contrast in an application such as Adobe Photoshop, we recommend that you turn off the VividPics setting for the edited pictures. To do this, click the green View & enhance button and navigate to the picture in question. (You can also navigate to the picture when you are in other parts of your account, such as 'Share online' and 'Order prints'.) You can either navigate all the way to an individual picture, or you can navigate to the "Pictures" view and then click the Enhance/fix pictures link on the right.


    Our experience after using Shutterfly as a printer for 6 months is that this thread would be alive and well but someone else would have started it and called it "too yellow." We found that about 65% of people prefer EZ Prints' color point and 35% prefer Shutterfly's. For example, most Asians are as sensitive to yellow as caucasians are about red. Also, we got a lot of feedback from many pros that they don't want an automated filter applied to their prints.


    That's why I lean towards offering an optional filter (but we'll make it open, not proprietary so you know exactly what it does) that you can choose at print ordering time — or to photos in your gallery so your admirers won't have to know for filters. We will provide a preview function so you can see a filtered and unfiltered version side-by-side.


    Make sense?
  • HighLightPhotosHighLightPhotos Big grins Posts: 68Registered Users Big grins
    edited May 5, 2004
    Baldy wrote:
    Actually, Shutterfly and EZ Prints use the same chemicals, paper, and printers. The difference is Shutterfly uses a proprietary filter called VividPics ....



    That's why I lean towards offering an optional filter (but we'll make it open, not proprietary so you know exactly what it does) that you can choose at print ordering time — or to photos in your gallery so your admirers won't have to know for filters. We will provide a preview function so you can see a filtered and unfiltered version side-by-side.


    Make sense?
    Very interesting. I did not know about the default filter in shutterfly.
    In that case, and assuming our filter would work as well as theirs, I like the option of using it, and I really like the option of making it transparent for people ordering prints who may be confused by the option of filters.

    I for one am eagerly awaiting all the enhancements that smugmug is going to implement. Can you give us an approximate timeline on this?
  • Dr. KnowDr. Know EZprints Posts: 11Registered Users Big grins
    edited May 5, 2004
    First, I would like to say thank you to everyone who uses Smugmug. They are a fantastic partner, one that we look forward to growing with. I worked with Baldy to make this partnership happen and appreciate the input we receive from Smumug consumers, prosumers and professionals. It is great to see how we can become better!



    Second, this issue of a red shift is something that we keep a very close eye on here at EZ Prints. What we keep even a closer eye on is consistency. "Why not quality?", you may ask. "Why not give me a picture that I will want, no matter what?" This is an issue that we struggled with for some time, and continue to review. It is a difficult decision to make from our end. After all, the final say as to what quality is comes down to a personal opinion. It is completely subjective. What is not subjective is consistency. If we can give you a print that looks the same 10 out of 10 times, making adjustments to your images becomes very easy. Adjusting each image, however, is time consuming and laborious at best. What isn't time consuming is monitor matching. If we have a print that is consistent, and the image that is on your screen closely resembles what you receive from Smugmug, you get what you want, 10 out of 10 times. One might also ask how we keep our processing consistent day-in, day-out. Each morning we run calibration strips through our machines and test these using both the built-in and external densitometers. We then adjust settings on our machines to match both from an actual color reading and from sight the previous day's work. We keep a 6 month running log of these calibration prints to see if there is a shift over time, and if we need to perform any Preventive Maintenance on our machines. We also perform this task any time we change chemistry, or paper surface.



    Finally, to the point of Kodak vs. Fuji paper. We used to use Kodak paper. What we found was that the Kodak paper worked great for portrait photography, and the Fuji paper worked well for snapshots and sports photography. The difference is the way each company manufactures their emulsion. The Kodak paper came out softer and warmer than the Fuji paper. In order to bring a surface that is more in tune with our portrait and wedding photographers, we are adding a new surface called Lustre. This is a little softer than the Matte we currently support. Look for this paper type in the upcoming months.



    Please if anyone has any questions about our process, reply back to this post.



    Cheers!

    Dr. Know
    Dr. Know :rutt
  • HighLightPhotosHighLightPhotos Big grins Posts: 68Registered Users Big grins
    edited May 5, 2004
    I'm sure no one here questions your QC practices and the diligence that you place in producing reproducable results. That said, if you consistently hear that prints from images straight out of the camera are a little too warm, perhaps something needs a little tweaking. As baldy mentioned, I hope that would not translate into "pictures are a little too yellow".

    I won't pretend to know your business, or yuor chemistry. All I can say is that when I opened my first package of photos from EZprints I was alittle disappointed, and immediately a little concerned about orders that people will place for my pictures! You have to remember that my experience had been with shutterfly, ofoto, Sams club, and my own Epson printer of course, and this was the first time I looked at 150 pictures (with a variety of lighting, etc) from two camera sources and thought that all the photos had consistently the same fault.

    Thanks for responding to this, and working on it. I for one am looking forward to seeing a resolution.

    Cheers!
  • timsimstimsims NextProPhoto Posts: 9Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited May 6, 2004
    I'm wondering how many absolutely satisfied smugmug/ezprints customers are out here that may never read this thread or respond. I have been extremely impressed with the quality and output from ezprints, but then again I've never had something printed that I had not put through my normal workflow of raw conversion/photoshop adjustments. I use a 10d and tend to shoot raw 99% of the time, so post processing is normal for me...and my results with smugmug/ezprints has been exceptionally good. Thank you, smugmug!
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