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  • Basic FAQ
  • How To Prepare Your Files
  • Upload Your Files
  • Chromira ICC Profiles
  • File Resolution - TIP
  • Color Management - TIP
  • Targeting - TIP
  • MegaPixel to Print Size Chart

Print Lab FAQ - Basic FAQ

You don’t have to be an expert at Photoshop to make great prints. Thanks to WCI’s Print Lab and our online portal, making great prints is as easy as uploading your files and placing an order.

But if you want to delve deeper into the art of photography, there are limitless options to create photographs that express your deepest emotions. This FAQ is designed to help those who want more control of their photographs. It contains detailed information about our processes, and techniques that can help you achieve your goals.


My print doesn’t look the way I thought it would.
When you upload a file, we print it as-is. We assume that the file is exactly as you want it. If you send us an out-of-focus file, you’ll recieve an out-of-focus print. It is your responsibility to make your files look the way you want them to, including color, density, contrast, saturation, and sharpness.

If you expect every print to look exactly the way you envision, there is no way around the fact that you will need to become familiar with the art of photography, and how to use editing programs like Photoshop. We have several features on our website (such as our Photoshop Tips) that will help you in your printmaking pursuits.

 

On your Print Lab Order form, you ask me to choose Embedded Size, Crop, or Fit in the print sizing column. What does this mean? Visit our sizing help page for more information.

 

Can you make changes to my file to make it look better?
If you want us to make changes to your photograph for you, you can have one of our Expert Printmakers make a Custom Printmaking for you.


Can I print directly from my digital camera?
Yes, you can. Our output devices are carefully profiled to accurately reproduce your digital camera files when printing.


What is your typical turnaround time?
We work on a first-come, first-served basis with all orders at West Coast Imaging. Exhibition Reprints and Print Lab prints are given first priority by our imaging staff, and we work to complete each order as quickly as possible, without sacrificing quality. When we have prints with surface damage and other defects, we reprint them until we have a perfect print to send you. This adds time to each order. Most Exhibition Reprint and Print Lab orders generally take 5 to 7 in-house business days to complete. Prints on any of our Epson printers will take ten business days in-house, prints on Supergloss or Fuji Pearl will take 10-14 business days in-house. All estimated turnaround times can be longer or shorter depending on our current workload. If you are working on a deadline, even if it’s far in the future, please be sure to let us know so we can work with you to meet your objectives.

Print Lab FAQ - How To Prepare Your Files

You don’t have to be an expert at Photoshop to make great prints. Thanks to WCI’s Print Lab and our online portal, making great prints is as easy as uploading your files and placing an order.

At a minimum, we need your file to be:

1. In its original workingspace. If you are using Adobe RGB, leave it in Adobe RGB...you don't need to convert your files to our printer profiles.

2. Check out our file resolution tip (to the left) and make sure the resolution of your file is in line with what we recommend for our printers.

3. Add your borders ahead of time. If you want two inch borders, include them in your file. So, if you want a 16x20 image with two inch borders, your final file size would be 20x24.

4. Upload your image using our online services.

5. Place your order!

Print Lab FAQ - Upload Your Files

I want to send you files for printing. Can I do this over the internet?
Uploading and downloading your files to West Coast Imaging is free and easy. It takes a minute or two to create an account on our web server--then you can transfer whatever files you'd like us to print!

 

What kind of files can I upload?
You can upload any type of file to our server. Our server automatically creates previews of most common file types including TIFF, JPEG and some RAW formats.

 

Can I see a larger preview of my file?
Click on the small preview to open a new window with a larger preview of your file.

 

I can’t see a preview of my image.
If your image says “click for preview,” click on the icon and the system will attempt to preview your file. If a preview is not generated, then something about your file is preventing our software from creating it. Our system can’t preview some PDF files and some large PSD files.

 

Problem: I did not receive the confirmation email, so I cannot activate my account.
Solution: Sometimes the automatic confirmation of your account is not sent properly. Email info@westcoastimaging.com and we will manually activate your account. You will receive notification when this has been completed.

 

Problem: I received my confirmation email, but when I click on the link to activate the account nothing happens.
Solution: If your email account showing text only, change it to also show HTML content. This will allow you to click on the link in the email. If this does not work, email info@westcoastimaging.com and we will manually activate your account. You will receive notification when this has been completed.

 

My computer went to sleep and it stopped my download.
Sleep mode will cause an upload to fail. Make sure sleep mode is turned off while uploading files.

 

I can't find the files on the desktop in the Advanced Upload Software. Where's my desktop?

Here's the situation: You are a Mac user, and you have a file on your desktop that you want to upload with WCI's slick Advanced Upload feature. The problem is that you can't find the file in the upload window!

That's because with Mac OS X, the desktop is a folder buried on your hard drive. You have to show our upload software where that folder is. So where is it?

1. Open up your hard drive and look for a folder called Users.

2. Inside users you'll see a folder named with your user name. Open that folder and you'll see a folder named desktop....that's where the files on your desktop are stored.

3. Now just follow the same path: Hard Drive > Users > Your User Folder > Desktop in our Advanced Upload software, and upload to your heart's content. Make sure to click on the desktop folder, or the files won't appear.

Refer to the picture below if you are a visual learner, like we are!

Navigating Online

Print Lab FAQ - ICC Profiles

We believe the best way to proof your images is to make actual prints (hard proofs), and our Expert Printmakers never soft proof (read our article, "The Hard Truth about Soft Proofs). Since many people like to soft proof, we provide these profiles as a courtesy.

Please note: You do not need to convert your files to to our profiles. This is done automatically by our Chromira. Leave your files in their RGB workingspace.

Chromira (updated 10/28/10)
Download Chromira Profiles for all Fuji papers (.zip)

Download Chromira profiles for individual Fuji papers:
Fuji Matte Profile - Fuji Gloss Profile - Fuji SuperGloss Profile - Fuji Pearl Profile

Epson
If you would like any of our Epson profiles, please email us to let us know what you need. We would be happy to provide these for you.

Print Lab Tip - Resolution

Our output devices can accept files at almost any dpi, but some settings work better than others.


Chromira
The Chromira produces excellent prints at both 200 dpi and 300 dpi. You do not have to set the dpi of a file for us to make a print, but experienced photographers can increase the quality of their prints by following the following recommendations:

For digital camera files:
We recommend using the interpolation method outlined in our Photoshop Tips.

For prints from film:
We suggest setting your resolution to either 200 dpi or 300 dpi. We have noticed that prints 24x30 and larger look sharpest when printed at 200 dpi.

 

Epson Printers
360 dpi is the optimal resolution for Epson printers, although many photographers are satisfied when using lower resolutions. Resolutions other than 360 dpi can cause aliasing in your print.

If your file is smaller than 360 dpi and you want to avoid aliasing, you can up-res your file to 360 dpi. You can up-res a 240 dpi file to 360 dpi (150% up-res) with no noticeable loss of resolution. In general, our testing reveals that small files up-resed to 360 dpi look better than printing them as-is at a lower resolution.

For digital camera files, we recommend using the interpolation method outlined here.

Print Lab Tip - Color Management

We use ICC profiles with all of our output devices to achieve accurate and repeatable color. To get the most from our color management, your file should be tagged with its workingspace profile. There is no need to convert your file to our output profiles, since our printing software does it for you.

 

I used to use a Lightjet and had to "convert" my files to the Lightjet profile. Do I need to convert to your profile?
No, you do not need to convert your files when printing with us. Our printing software automatically reads your workingspace profile, then converts the data on-the-fly to the appropriate output profile, before sending it to the output device. This lets you keep your files in a wide-gamut workingspace, and easily repurpose them for other applications. The software that powers most Lightjets is not capable of doing this, which is why you had to "convert" your files.

 

What if my file is not tagged with a workingspace?
We recommend using RGB files for the best results. This conversion will most likely cause a change in how the image looks, so it is recommended that you convert to RGB yourself, so you can control the process.

RGB files that are not tagged with a working space will be printed as if they were sRGB files.

CMYK files will be converted to Ektaspace PS5 and printed as-is.

 

My digital camera lets me use sRGB or AdobeRGB. Which should I choose?
Most people find that they make better prints when capturing into AdobeRGB.

 

Do B&W photos still need to be tagged with an ICC profile?
Yes! Even if there are no colors in your photograph, a workingspace profile will tell how to accurately render the greys in your photograph.

 

Can I print 16-bit files?
Most of our printers will accept 16-bit files. The exception is our Chromira. The Chromira will only print 8-bit files. If you are using the Chromira, you should convert your files to 8-bit before uploading, since it will help your order print more quickly.

 

Print Lab Tip - Targeting

Targeting involves setting the height, width, dpi, sharpening, borders, and other factors to the optimum settings for a specific use. Any other specific use requires a separate targeted file. If you wanted to make the best 16x20 and 20x24 prints, you would need to make two separate files, one targeted for each size. Files can be targeted for photo quality prints, for web, for offset reproduction, or any process that can print a photographic file.

This guide will walk you through the most common steps in targeting. These steps are usually followed in the order presented below.

1. Make a copy of your Master or Interpreted file. The targeted file is a separate file. You always want to keep a copy of the master file so you can make new targeted files in the future.

2. Make sure that your image is flattened (i.e. there are no adjustment layers). Also make sure to delete all Alpha channels. Some output devices, like the Chromira, don’t recognize layers or alpha channels, and it will cause problems in printing. Flattening and deleting alpha channels makes a file that can be used by any output device.

3. Set the height, width, and dpi of your file to the size you want. Photoshop users will use the Image>Image Size menu option to do this. It is important to make sure that “constrained proportions” is checked.

4. Apply unsharp masking (USM) to taste.

5. If you want a border on your image, use the Image>Canvas Size menu in Photoshop. Many professionals leave a generous border, as it aids in handling and mounting. The added “canvas” will be the same color as the background color in the tool palette. 255 white is the most common choice.Our pricing is based on the final outside dimension (OD) of the print, which includes any border you add.

Maximum Printable area
The Chromira can print full-bleed up to 50 inches wide by almost any length. Our Epson printers can print full-bleed up to 64 inches wide by 99 inches long.

6. Save your file.

A. Give the file a new name that includes the size of the print and the output device for which it was made.
(example file name: 100-041 16x20CH.tif)

B. Make sure the file is tagged with the ICC working space so the colors will print correctly.

C. Save as a TIFF file with no compression. This will be the most compatible file for any use, as almost everything can read TIFF files.

7. Upload your file and order your print!

 

 

 

Megapixel to Print Size Chart

Megapixel Print Size Chart

  Quality Comments Digital Camera dpi Range
Superb
Superb
At or near the finest quality possible.
200+ dpi
Excellent
Excellent
A typical photographer will see no difference to a slight difference when compared to Superb.
150-199 dpi
Better
Better
Better than Good, but not as good as Excellent. The typical photographer will be thrilled with prints of this quality.
100-149 dpi
Good
Good
Quality that a typical photographer will be happy with.
80-99 dpi
Fair
Fair
Quality will depend on the individual photograph. For large size prints the typical photographer will find them acceptable, but the sharpness will not be as high as a Good quality print. Compelling subject matter may trump the loss of sharpness.
79 dpi or less

What quality print can I expect from my camera?

This chart is designed to help you answer this question. We've assembled a list of common digital and film camera sizes and print sizes, then coded them with the dpi you'll be able to print at for each size along with a color coding that tells you the quality you can expect from a print of that size.

Example: With a 12.7 MP camera you can make a 16x24 print at 182 dpi and expect Excellent quality.

The ratings are based on our experience of what a typical photographer would expect, and are meant to be a guide. Good exposure, focus, lenses, and depth of field are assumed. What quality level you’ll find acceptable can vary based on your taste and the picture being printed.For critical applications, you will need to do your own testing.

Experienced photographers who work in Photoshop may find the following tips helpful in getting better sharpness and quality from their digital camera files:

Finding the Resolution of Digital Camera Files

Gaining Maximum Sharpness from Digital Camera Files

FAQ for this chart:

This chart was based on the following cameras and film formats:

Megapixels
Camera
Max Resolution
Common Equivalent Cameras
2
Nikon Coolpix 950
1600 x 1200
3
Nikon Coolpix 990
2048 x 1536
4
Nikon D2Hs
2464 x 1632
2464 x 1632:Nikon D2H
5
Nikon Coolpix 5400
2592 x 1944
6
Nikon D40
3008 x 2000
3008 x 2000:Nikon D50, D70
7
Canon PowerShot G6
3072 x 2304
8
Canon EOS 30D
3504 x 2336

3504 x 2336 - Canon EOS-1D Mark II N, EOS 20D, EOS-1D Mark II
3456 x 2304 - Canon EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT

9
Fuji FinePix S9000
3488 x 2616
10
Nikon D200
3872 x 2592

3872 x 2592 - Nikon D80, D40X
3888 x 2592 - Canon EOS 40D,-EOS-1D MarkIII,-EOS 400D / Digital Rebel XTi

11
Canon EOS 1Ds
4064 x 2704
12.7
Canon EOS 5D
4368 x 2912

4256 x 2832 - Nikon D3, Nikon D2Xs
4288 x 2848 - Nikon D300, D2X, D2Xs

16.6
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II
4992 x 3328
18
Phase One P 21+
4904 x 3678
22.1
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
5616 x 3744
 
22
Phase One H 25
5488 x 4145
5436 x 4080 Phase One P 25+
31
Phase One P 30+
6496 x 4872
39
Phase One P 45+
7216 x 5412
63
hypothetical
9744 x 6496
Hypothetical camera based on a chip twice the size of the Phase One P 30, for use in evaluating potential of future large megapixel cameras.
35mm film
7084 x 4737
Based on 100MB 8bit scan of 35mm slide film scanned at 5000 dpi on a Heidelberg Tango Drum Scanner. Assumes Nikon or Canon lenses.
6x6cm film
11334 x 11334
Based on 300MB 8bit scan of 6x6 slide film scanned at 5250 dpi on a Heidelberg Tango Drum Scanner. Assumes Hasselblad Zeiss lenses.Also valid for 645 cameras using Zeiss lenses.
6x7cm film
11483 x 9152
Based on 300MB 8bit scan of 6x7 slide film scanned at 4200 dpi on a Heidelberg Tango Drum Scanner. Assumes Pentax or Mamiya lenses.
4x5
11859 x 9102
Based on 300MB 8bit scan of 4x5 inch slide film scanned at 2500 dpi on a Heidelberg Tango Drum Scanner. Assumes 1980s or later lenses.
8x10
16604 x 12744
Based on 600MB 8bit scan of 8x10 inch slide film scanned at approximately 1700 dpi on a Heidelberg Tango Drum Scanner. Assumes 1980s or later lenses.

 

A note on quality ratings for 22MP through 63MP.
These are generalized quality ratings based on dpi. Since many of the individuals using these backs are using special techniques and great care in preparing their files, the expert user may see even more quality than we have indicated. Our ratings are for general comparison purposes for the average photographer. It is impossible to take into account all the possible effects of file processing, lens selection, and other variables that can be stacked together to acquire the highest quality with these backs.

* Why does 35mm film have lower quality ratings than the dpi would suggest?
The resolution of film cameras is based on the resolving power of the film itself, not the resolution at which it was scanned.  It is possible to scan a 35mm film at 10,780 dpi for a file of 10187x15275 pixels, but that does not mean it will have the same quality as a digital sensor of the same dimensions. Color slide film such as Fuji Velvia 50 or Provia is generally accepted to have a resolution of about 5000 dpi, but the actual amount of detail recorded can vary depending on the lenses used. Because of this a scanned pixel from film is not an exact equivalent of a pixel on a digital sensor, and we have given quality ratings for 35mm film based on our experience of how they translate to the sizes in the chart.

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