Jump to content
ionutn

Printing from Leica SL/SL2 with APO SL Lenses

Recommended Posts

Advertisement (gone after registration)

What printing service do you guys use for prints from APO lenses? I couldn't find anything online related to this. I just can't see the same clarity on prints as I see on my iPad / Laptop...

Does anyone here have experience with printing good quality photos from Leica SL APO lenses? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Printing is a very big subject but there are large differences between what a transmissive screen image and a reflective print will look like. Print cannot display anything like the contrast range as a first consideration. 

In general for modern high microcontrast Leica lenses, you can use higher values for capture sharpening firstly  when developing the image in your computer..

 

 

Edited by hoppyman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you have an inkjet printer?

Have you used a printing service that offers inkjet prints, which they sometimes call "fine art" prints. These are their high-quality prints. Regular prints are done on printers that run R4 or other technology.

Do you submit your print image file to your own printer or to a printing service at unreduced size (in pixel dimensions)? Does the image have enough resolution for the print size -- ideally, you submit 300 pixels per inch of your chosen print size; below 180 ppi, you really lose sharpness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get excellent quality prints from a high end networked office printer.  The process is 4-color electrostatically directed xerography, and it's capable of 300 dpi.  Control is pretty adhoc, and the paper that I use is just copier paper by default.  So the result is a nice work print that I can post or give to friends.  The same technology is used in modern offset presses where there is control.  I have also used a local wedding album print service for small numbers of larger prints. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Visit the Digital Post Processing part of the forum and you’ll find dozens of threads for home printing and print related supplies and services.  
 

Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Advertisement (gone after registration)

I have actually had fairly good luck just using Costco for things where I’m not too worried about gallery quality results. At least in Northern California, Costco publishes calibrated ICC profiles for each store location so you can soft proof in Photoshop or Lightroom and make whatever adjustments are required before handing over your card for printing.

As others have mentioned, you will never get the full contrast range out of paper that you can out of a monitor. Normal photocopier paper gives you maybe 70:1 contrast (where the OBA enhances whites reflect about 70x as much light as the black from a tonor cartridge). Monitors can run well into the 1,000’s to one range. You need to figure out via soft proofing how to allocate your limited dynamic range.

If you want the best possible results? Print at home using a good quality inkjet, preferably with pigment based inks. You’ll be able to learn what to expect from a given paper/printer combo, and you can use small size prints as tests, then print large when you are happy with the result. It’s not the cheapest way to go, but it gives you the most control.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, CharlesL said:

Do you have an inkjet printer?

Have you used a printing service that offers inkjet prints, which they sometimes call "fine art" prints. These are their high-quality prints. Regular prints are done on printers that run R4 or other technology.

Do you submit your print image file to your own printer or to a printing service at unreduced size (in pixel dimensions)? Does the image have enough resolution for the print size -- ideally, you submit 300 pixels per inch of your chosen print size; below 180 ppi, you really lose sharpness.

I've used a few printers and printed in specialised stores as well. I still can't see the "sparkle" of microcontrast and the contrast created by the APO lenses. I'll call White Wall and  bark.com next week... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, scott kirkpatrick said:

I get excellent quality prints from a high end networked office printer.  The process is 4-color electrostatically directed xerography, and it's capable of 300 dpi.  Control is pretty adhoc, and the paper that I use is just copier paper by default.  So the result is a nice work print that I can post or give to friends.  The same technology is used in modern offset presses where there is control.  I have also used a local wedding album print service for small numbers of larger prints. 

I was waiting for a response from you.  I know you have many APO lenses. Is there any way you can share a photo of a print taken with an APO lens? I'm curious if 4-color electrostatically directed xerography really shows the "sparkle" that apo lenses provide. Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, ionutn said:

I was waiting for a response from you.  I know you have many APO lenses. Is there any way you can share a photo of a print taken with an APO lens? I'm curious if 4-color electrostatically directed xerography really shows the "sparkle" that apo lenses provide. Thanks!

I don't see what posting a digital image taken with an APO lens of a digital prints made from an image taken with an APO lens would prove, actually. I think there is no substitute for looking at the prints that you want to have made.  I have five test prints of one nice image done at 100%, on a 300 dpi Indigo offset printer.  They were taken on an M10-R with a 50 Summilux-asph, and are too big to hang anywhere.  I sent one to Asher Kelman of the Open Photography website, and the rest are sitting in a tube in my office.  Asher's was sent via the Post with tracking, and got stolen before he remembered to look for it on his porch.  It took six weeks from Jerusalem to Beverly Hills, CA, so I don't think I'll do that again.  If you happen to be in Israel, I can give you one.  But that happens not to be an APO lens.  I think you will get your best answer by taking a jpeg made carefully with one of the new lenses and a 40+ MPx camera to the printer of your choice and seeing if you like the result.  You are welcome to download from my Flickr site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, ionutn said:

I was waiting for a response from you.  I know you have many APO lenses. Is there any way you can share a photo of a print taken with an APO lens? I'm curious if 4-color electrostatically directed xerography really shows the "sparkle" that apo lenses provide. Thanks!

It seems you would benefit from spending time looking at real prints, film and digitally derived, in galleries, museums, exhibitions, and home-based.  Gorgeous prints can come from modest gear, and crap prints can result from the most expensive gear.  The difference is the photographer and the printer (sometimes the same person), not an APO lens. For ‘sparkle’, one needs to especially understand lighting, including display lighting.  I’ve been making (and matting/framing) my own prints since the 80’s, and no viewer knows or cares what gear was used (except sometimes a gear obsessed photographer).

Jeff

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, ionutn said:

What printing service do you guys use for prints from APO lenses? I couldn't find anything online related to this. I just can't see the same clarity on prints as I see on my iPad / Laptop...

Does anyone here have experience with printing good quality photos from Leica SL APO lenses? 

No print is ever going to have the same dynamic range as what you see on a screen.

Whitewall Photo Labs is one of the more well regarded printing services, and I use them for prints larger than 24 inches on the shortest side, since I have a 24 inch wide inkjet printer. I've used them for prints from the Leica zooms and Summilux-SL. With Whitewall, and others services as well (even Costco), you can get their ICC profiles and proof your prints at home. Whitewall lets you pick certain papers as well, including several from Hahnemühle. That way you should be able to get exactly what you send off something for a print.

If you are taking printing seriously, you should invest in a high quality photo inkjet printer that uses at least 8 channels. You can easily get a pro quality 13x19 printer like the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO300 for under $1000 USD. Sounds like a lot, but you'll save money by proofing at home. WIth the high end printers, you'll be able to match the quality of the best printing labs from home.  I use an PROGRAF 2000 and the quality of the prints are simply outstanding, rivaling or beating about any professional service.

I personally feel that learning what makes a good print, and how to print, makes me a much better photographer. And I couldn't agree more with what @Jeff S says above, it's not the lenses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In practice there is at best only a marginal difference between pictures taken with a modern "Standard" Leica lenses and their current Apo lenses.

Many commentators have made the point that some current Leica lenses, although not classified as Apo, are in fact more highly corrected than other manufacturers Apo lenses.  There is no widely accepted definition of the term APO but it is clear that in practice it does not mean Apochromatic.  There are good reasons for this but that is a major topic in its own right.

Neither my 70mm nor 90mm Apo-Summicron - M lenses were as good as my Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL, 24- 90, f2.8-4, ASPH. they just weren't.

When it comes to printing it gets more complicated with a great many variables affecting the final result.  It's pointless posting samples on the web as these variables are not optimises or under any form of agreed standardisation.

About three years ago I had to produce a set of "Museum Quality" A3 prints.  I used my Epson SC P-800 printer with Epson Ink.  Having had custom profiles made by Fotospeed for their Smooth Cotton 300 paper I initially made the mistake of trying to print from Jpeg versions of the Image Files. I soon reverted to working with the original Tiff files which were noticeably better.  To me anyway not that the casual observer would notice any difference. 

The moral of this story is that getting the highest possible quality in a print is a lot of work involving meticulous attention to detail at every stage.  Only top of the range professional printers come close and they come at a commensurate price.  

 

 

  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I run a Hahnemuhle Certified Studio. If you are looking for place that at least has been through quality control, Hahnemühle has certified a number of labs around the world, including mine. The process is not super hard, but it did involve Hahnemuhle flying out a representative from England to inspect my lab and do quality assurance, so they are taking it seriously. If you are looking for a lab that can do the work, that is a decent place to start.

I would also look for labs where the owner or founder is the one doing the printing. Generally the problem with larger labs is that they have higher turnover and people coming in who are doing it as a workaday job, rather than as a calling. This is not always the case, however, but it can be. You also want a lab where your work matters...at a giant lab you are just another number. Personally, I think the big labs come into their own more for their industrial scale mounting capabilities, rather than the printing. They can do things like face mounting or other more demanding mounting techniques on a larger scale. In this context, the printing is the easy part, in that a single person can do it to a very very high quality. As Peter said above, the thing with getting printing right is that it is a long series of steps that you have to do very well in order to get a good result. That starts with the moment of capture and ends with the displayed print. It is possible to mess up at any point along the way.

As for the difference between APO and normal lenses, it makes the most difference in terms of color purity and pixel level clarity. That, however, depends a lot on how big you print, how you sharpen, and how you handle the interpolation. For example, 300dpi is not a rule of thumb for all printers. I use an Epson P9000 and the maximum resolution for that printer is 720dpi, though it is generally used at 360dpi.

As others said, it might be difficult to replicate the crispness of a retina screen, as you are comparing a reflective media (a print) to a transmissive media (screen). Screens generate their own light, so they can seem more brilliant. This is the same issue as a slide versus a print. Print just cannot be as vibrant as slides since they do not emanate light...they have to reflect it. Your best chance to get close is to use a high end glossy paper with a moderate to bright white point, printed at a medium size, and using a high resolution printer run by someone who knows what they are doing.

Edited by Stuart Richardson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Stuart Richardson said:

Your best chance to get close is to use a high end glossy paper with a moderate to bright white point, printed at a medium size, and using a high resolution printer run by someone who knows what they are doing.

And lighting that is optimized for the final print display conditions, including any light transmission loss from glass covering for framing. Print exposure and display lighting can sometimes make the difference between a very good print vs one that ‘sings’ in terms of ‘luminosity’, textural details and feel, etc.  One can make a fine print, only to put it under glass and/or flat lighting and lose the magic. Anyone who dealt with wet print dry down in darkroom days can relate. Lighting is key to every aspect of photography, obviously starting with image capture, but framing and print display lighting are often under appreciated.

Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so much to all!  I've managed to learn quite a few things.

It looks like I really need to try it for myself now that I have a great starting point.

I love the results that a modern APO lens can provide (SL and TL line) even though is not appropriate for every situation(ex: wet look when is not necessary) . I also love using the 75mm M Summarit for uniformity across the frame and dry look. The APO lenses are amazing for clarity. I hope I can print that to a certain extent.

After your answers and a bit of research I now have a good idea where to start from. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sometimes send my files to a print studio in Prague that uses a ZBE Chromira 50 machine to enlarge onto classic photo paper (Fujicolor Crystal Archive) that is then developed using the traditional RA4 wet process. They mount the prints and cover them with a thick layer of transparent resin. The prints look like illuminated from withinIn the UK, I hear the http://www.l-type.com service had a high reputation and could print with very high resolutions, but they have closed down now. Their website is still on and worth exploring for the description of their process and products (which you may be able to find from other labs in your area).  

No matter where you print, I suggest you experiment with different paper types - very different feel, depending on the subject matter, print size, and intended place of display. High gloss papers with bright white base look spectacular with high res images in bright colours, and would work great for me for something like racing car photos displayed in a modern "steel and glass" interior (to give an example). On the other hand, art papers with more structured surfaces, or in "warm tone" versions, can give the print an extra feel, especially with bigger print sizes, and can be great for printing a fine art nude image, in muted colours, for display in a cosy "wood and brown carpets" living room, to give another example. Bottom line, not every image looks best on the highest resolution paper.

Edited by albireo_double

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A large print (>A2 or 17" on the short side) outresolves any electronic display by a very large margin. If you miss 'the sparkle' as you call it, most likely your lighting is to blame. A display is not so much higher resolution or (practically speaking) higher dynamic range, it is foremost brighter than the environment (indoors at least) which enables your eyes to detect more detail.

For wall display, I get the best results by far with matte paper, framed without glass. Why? Any shiny surface will reflect light, even with high quality museum glass you get more than 1% reflection. A glossy print will reflect 4%. A display with 1:1M contrast ratio? Lab condition wise correct, but in practice when the display hangs on the wall, nonsense. You get deep black under a veil of reflection, effectively losing all texture in your blacks and you end up with a net contrast ratio of 1:100 and your brain working overtime on deconvoluting the reflections from the shadow detail. Or you have to darken the room or increase display brightness to uncomfortable levels. But that's not the point of hanging your picture on the wall, is it?

Now comes matte paper. Contrast ratio seems meagre compared to reflection ignoring display specs: 1:100 (Canson Rag Photographique) or maybe 1:400 (that's for Canon ProPremiumMatte). But ZERO reflection, and in practice thus an equal or larger dynamic range than any display, And full shadow detail while your brain is at ease. Put a nice CRI98 4000K light on it to elevate the brightness just above the average environmental level, and it is as though you look through a hole in the wall into a different universe. People just don't know what they see when they enter my living room. Especially the Canon paper is stunning.

FYI, I use a Canon Pro-2100 24", 10 color printer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When trying to preserve and display the very subtle differences between images taken with "Ordinary" and "APO" lenses the choice of paper, Matt v Gloss etc., is very significant.

However one further factor can be the archival quality.  Archival papers do not have a bright white base as this is achieved using unstable optical brighteners.  These organic fluorescent dyes degrade over time which changes the colour of the print.

The museum I supplied prints to, see above, were very insistent on archival certified materials for everything including mounts and envelopes.  This severely limited my choice. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...