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BIG enlargements from M8?

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...... Just make sure you do enough capture sharpening with the adequate settings..........

 

.....Manipulate your tonal controls in PS CS3. DO NOT RESCALE TO ANY DPI SETTING. Just make sure, without resampling, to give your picture the final size. Resolution should fall somewhere between 180 and 240 dpi............

 

Gus - Or anyone else with large-print experience; perhaps I have picked up some less than optimum technique, but I have never used capture sharpening, only output sharpening. With respect to adding input sharpening to a file intended for large print output, rather than using output sharpening exclusively; is benefit seen in the print? I know how to judge output sharpening, but what constitutes 'adequate settings' for input sharpening?

 

I have always written my 'in-house' files at 360 DPI [for Epson] which I have until now understood to be the prime 'native' value for happy Epson printing. I read your recommendation to NOT resample the output file to 360 DPI [or even 180 DPI] as a suggestion that the Printer's Driver will do a better job of adjusting the file size information and produce a better print. Is that actually borne out in practise, and will files handled your recommended way show improvement?

 

I'm keen to learn optimum techniques, I hope my questions don't seem pedantic.

 

................ Chris

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If I have read the print section of my manual on CS3 correctly, it says more or less the opposite to this approach. It says you are best to resize in CS3 by setting your print paper size and native dpi (for the HP B9180 it is 300dpi) in image resize, rather than letting the printer do this. I was letting the printer do it while I was still using PSE4 Mac. My print quality has definitely improved with CS3 - less plasticky looking for things like green foliage.

 

Wilson

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There is a big difference between letting a stock printer driver resize and a true RIP do the work. Bottom line is the relative levels of proceedure sophistication. Best choice is probably a RIP -- and it's convenient if you have it. However and IMO, the RIP is followed pretty closely by good dedicated PS plug-ins OR a methodic uprez process within PS as very close seconds. Last is a distant third, using factory print driver.

 

Cheers,

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There is a big difference between letting a stock printer driver resize and a true RIP do the work. Bottom line is the relative levels of proceedure sophistication. Best choice is probably a RIP -- and it's convenient if you have it. However and IMO, the RIP is followed pretty closely by good dedicated PS plug-ins OR a methodic uprez process within PS as very close seconds. Last is a distant third, using factory print driver.

 

Cheers,

 

HP give you a very nice little RIP engine plug in for HP B9180 but it is CS and CS2 only. They have not updated it yet with a CS3 version. It would not install on PSE4. When I upgraded to CS3, I thought "ah now I can get the HP RIP plug in" put in the HP CD but it still said "unable to find any suitable program".

 

Wilson

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A comment here -- I am now using Image Print with my Epson 2400 and couldn't be happier (there is a thread about it).

 

I noticed that I can print large prints without doing anything before IP makes the print, so I wrote them to see what they were doing. They do an automatic upres with bi-cubic smoother -- so, I don't have to upsize before printing.

 

I like the results a lot -- 'course can't show them here because they're (gasp) prints. [What WAS I thinking, making pictures?]

 

There is another thread on this subject, here:

 

http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/digital-forum/21222-upsizing-comparison.html

 

in which most posters like PSCS(2) for upsizing. One poster complained about aliasing with this technique and shows some comparisons.

 

So, for those who bite the bullet and go to Image Print (life is SO much simpler now), the upres is free.

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Jack, Wilson, and Bill - Thank you for replying. It seems that short of a RIP, my technique wasn't too bad. Anyone care to comment on capture sharpening?

 

Bill - the earlier forum thread made interesting reading, thanks for mentioning it.

 

.................. Chris

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I'm a commercial fine art printer. The files I print from my M8 on my 9800s look as good or better than those from Canon 1DSII and 5D. So, if you are happy with the results from your Canon, you will be just as happy with the M8.

 

However, I do feel that 20x30 and 24x36 are sizes much better suited to the M8 file. I've run a few Iris sheets (30x45 on 35x47) with good results but if I was going to print a show of my own M8 work, it would be at 20x30 or 24x36. It could be that I'm accoustomed to looking at 309 mb BetterLight files.

 

Just my .02.

 

Tom

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Gus - Or anyone else with large-print experience; perhaps I have picked up some less than optimum technique, but I have never used capture sharpening, only output sharpening. With respect to adding input sharpening to a file intended for large print output, rather than using output sharpening exclusively; is benefit seen in the print? I know how to judge output sharpening, but what constitutes 'adequate settings' for input sharpening?

 

I have always written my 'in-house' files at 360 DPI [for Epson] which I have until now understood to be the prime 'native' value for happy Epson printing. I read your recommendation to NOT resample the output file to 360 DPI [or even 180 DPI] as a suggestion that the Printer's Driver will do a better job of adjusting the file size information and produce a better print. Is that actually borne out in practise, and will files handled your recommended way show improvement?

 

I'm keen to learn optimum techniques, I hope my questions don't seem pedantic.

 

................ Chris

Chris, let me answer your points.

1.- Capture sharpening is intended to make sure the original shapes in the object space (subject) that were 'lost' due to bayer interpolation, anti-aliasing filters and the like are restored in the post-raw file, aka. the working copy. In my opinion it is mandatory, regardless of the intended output. This is the Camera Raw or Lightroom sharpening control. This bears no relation to other sharpening that I will explain later.

2.- You know, in the working space image, have what is known (at least to some) as creative sharpening. This is the subtle differentiation of detail by means of sharpening, or generating additional accutance. This is intended to generate the artistic effect to underline certain parts of the image. Case in point: It is well known that whenever you look at a portrait, the general appearance is defined by the sharpness of, at least, one eye. All other technical flaws are more or less forgiven if the eyes are sharp. Retouching pros usually enhance sharpening and contrast at the eye level to generate this illusion. It can be considered as post-capture sharpening, and it is driven by aesthetic considerations.

3.- The final sharpness is Output Sharpening. This is the preparation of your digital file to the final output device, be it continuos tone (aka lambdajet), inkjet (like Epson 3800), web or prepress (CMYK generally speaking). Here it depends on the color gamut of the device, its line screen or output resolution, the media type (glossy, matte, semi-matte, back-illuminated, etc...). In this case, it is desirable to over sharpen the image, usually giving it a fictitious look on the screen. Since this stage is output dependent, it is generally left for the last Photoshop Stage. It takes either a good plug-in or a better knowledge of your output to really become proficient in this area.

 

I have to check on my newborn and get back with the second and third part of the answers I owe you.

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Gus - Or anyone else with large-print experience;

 

I have always written my 'in-house' files at 360 DPI [for Epson] which I have until now understood to be the prime 'native' value for happy Epson printing. I read your recommendation to NOT resample the output file to 360 DPI [or even 180 DPI] as a suggestion that the Printer's Driver will do a better job of adjusting the file size information and produce a better print. Is that actually borne out in practise, and will files handled your recommended way show improvement?

 

I'm keen to learn optimum techniques, I hope my questions don't seem pedantic.

 

................ Chris

Chris, here is the second (of three) part of my answer.

There is no prime native value anymore. Before I get incinerated by other posters, let me explain. While now (and I mean latest models ONLY) printers continue to speak about dpi in the specs, the technology changed a lot. They use proprietary techniques to generate stochastic halftoning using the properties of the paper, inks and image pixel values. Meaning the driver (or RIP) generates a dot layout that bares no resemblance whatsoever to the simple Dots/Pixels/Colors per inch. It has become so complex, and top secret technology, that they rival and most of the times best chemical technology.

Having say that, it is best --within certain image space resolution range-- to leave the task of extrapolation to the provided driver, because any resampling introduced by you is likely to loose more resolution at the PS CS3 level that the ones introduced by the printer driver.

What are the ranges where you do not need to rescale the image? Agreement says that, if the viewing distance of a print is close to the diagonal size of the print (for instance in 8x10 close to 12/13 inches) then the 'best image space resolution' is 480 dpi. The values are then 10": 360 dpi; 12": 300 dpi; 18": 240 dpi and 24": 180 dpi (for the small print size). Anything below 180 dpi, in the case of inkjet, usually benefits from rescaling, which should be done in exact multiples, like 200% or 400%. Let then the resolution fall where it might, just do not touch it.

 

The printer driver could not care less if you send a 224.775 dpi image!!! It generates such a complex model of your image, and then gets translated to individual dots, so do not worry!!! Never rescale an image to go from 255.677 to 240! Of course, some OLD printers might benefit because their drivers are from the stone age, but if you are into large prints, you probably have outlived these printers or are using a RIP that will tell you not to change your image.

 

Third part after a short break.

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Gus - Or anyone else with large-print experience;

 

I'm keen to learn optimum techniques, I hope my questions don't seem pedantic.

 

................ Chris

 

This is my final part. I know it will generate a lot of animosity, because sometimes people like to fight for what they believe it is the 'best way of doing things'. Having said that, I encourage you to find your own way.

Let's see, the M8 is a 3936x2630 pixels image capture device, capable of very high accutance. This means you do not need to extrapolate if your print will be less than 22" x 15" (not paper size, image output size, I suggest leaving a couple of inches margin to adequately manipulate the print without getting in contact with the inks). I also assume you did your crop when taking the image. This fits nicely in a 17x25 inch paper for an Epson 3800 or the like.

If you want to go bigger, like 30x40 ( I would not advice to go larger for a fine art or exhibition print. Other uses might tolerate larger sizes, but not museum like work), then I would suggest to open the DNG file (of course JPG must be understood is completely out of the question, and please do not tell me that you turtle's picture in basic JPG mode did print fine at 50x70, ok?) in camera raw.

While at camera raw, I would select 200% enlargement, and tweak white balance, tone, and other image aspect settings to get what I want in global terms --meaning affecting the WHOLE image. I would proceed to do some capture sharpening to make sure any detail that can be obscured while capture pops up nicely. I would stay shy of doing any sort of noise reduction at this stage. Then I would open my image in PS CS3, 16-bit and Profoto RGB.

Now it is the time for local enhancement, micro-contrast (punch?) and creative sharpening and color manipulation. There are books on how to do this. Just make sure you make as little destructive editing as possible. Once the image looks fine on the calibrated computer display, with lights low or out, it is turn for soft proofing. Remember, large prints are EXPENSIVE, both in hard currency and time.

Create a copy of your image, and choose your proof setup (this is where Ligthroom is less than desirable today, no adequate (stress adequate) soft-proofing capabilities). Make sure you select White Paper, Black ink, the right paper-printer-inkset profile, and the output intent (I suggest Relative Colorimetric for most of the cases --since it preserves relative luminosity-- and for some cases Perceptual --that shifts the whole color space). Manipulate your working copy while looking at the original image without soft-proof. You must get very close (artistically speaking) to the copy you started from. This might take a long journey, make sure you save your files.

Once the soft-proof file looks adequate, it it time for the final stage. Select image size, and without resizing, choose your output dimensions. The resolution will be some odd number, like 192.223. That is OK. Now you must do the output sharpening. If you do not have experience, by all means get some tool like Photokit sharpener, and run it with the appropriate parameters, like inkjet-glossy-180 DPI. The file will look like crap, but that is OK. The dithering algorithms soften the image, so IT IS NECESSARY TO GIVE EXCESS CRUNCHINESS TO GET THE RIGHT PRINT.

Make sure you select the right parameters while printing, like let photoshop do everything according to the profile and render intent. Make yourself a cup of coffee, and watch the magic come out of the printer. LET DRY FLAT! The next day, under controlled lightning conditions, examine your print. If you like it, mat it, frame it and voila!

 

It takes a lot of printing to learn, it is an art in itself. Unfortunately, many good photographers do not take the time, or associate with the right person, to get really good prints. While their pictures are good, or even very good, they lack the 5¢ to be a $1.

 

Hope this helps, and now let the fireworks begin!!!!

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If I have read the print section of my manual on CS3 correctly, it says more or less the opposite to this approach. It says you are best to resize in CS3 by setting your print paper size and native dpi (for the HP B9180 it is 300dpi) in image resize, rather than letting the printer do this. I was letting the printer do it while I was still using PSE4 Mac. My print quality has definitely improved with CS3 - less plasticky looking for things like green foliage.

 

Wilson

 

Wilson, most printers people use are a piece of crap, in driver terms. That is the reason photoshop manual says that. They do a better job (Knoll and friends) than most printer drivers, EXCEPT HIGH END PRO PRINTERS. The target audience for the manual will probably benefit from the advice, specially since they shoot 6MP (Nikon D70/D40 and canon). A person that invests several thousands in an M8 system, with state-of-the-art lenses and other stuff, will surely want their prints to look the absolute BEST, even if it is the family pet portrait. My advice is for serious amateur or pro photographers trying to get the BEST large print possible. It takes a trained eye to notice the difference, because it is subtle.

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Gus - Or anyone else with large-print experience;

 

I'm keen to learn optimum techniques, I hope my questions don't seem pedantic.

 

................ Chris

Chris, I forgot to mention the noise aspect.

When enlarging, the plastic look of digital usually shows. Some people, me one of them, advocate for adding grain to the image. While this might sound weird, if you carefully add grain after you did your creative sharpening (but BEFORE output sharpening, since grain needs sharpening for output --and make note the term grain, not noise)., you large print will look better and more real, giving a run for its money to a drum-scan 4x5, provided you print 30x40.

I encourage you, and other readers, to really devote some time to large printing, even if you stay within the 17x25 no-need-for-enlargement of the native M8 files. While not every subject or picture benefits from size (some really look best at 5x7, in a large mat and frame, they generate intimacy and mystery...) a large print goes a long way to generate the awe-effect.

Good luck, good printing, and happy pictures!

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Gus - I am overwhelmed by your generosity and patience; thank you so much for your extensive and highly informative reply. You have covered a lot of ground which I have been uncertain of for a long time, and unfortunately I have only had access to 'wing it and bodge' print expertise when really I was wanting the real deal to learn from. I have swayed one way, then other in this thread whilst trying to determine the best working process for the tools at my disposal - I now have a clearer idea of how to restructure my digital work flow.

 

If I may be indulgent for one more time; I'm still using an Epson 4000 Pro [but with a view to improved, larger output in the future], would you treat the 4000 driver as a 'modern' type for extrapolating print DPI or a 'stone age' type?

 

Thank you for your help.

 

............... Chris

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... Epson 4000 Pro ...

 

Chris, after being offput by the price, I tried Image Print and was astonished by the results. Can you find someone with your printer who uses IP?

 

Great printer driver!

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Gus - I am overwhelmed by your generosity and patience; thank you so much for your extensive and highly informative reply. You have covered a lot of ground which I have been uncertain of for a long time, and unfortunately I have only had access to 'wing it and bodge' print expertise when really I was wanting the real deal to learn from. I have swayed one way, then other in this thread whilst trying to determine the best working process for the tools at my disposal - I now have a clearer idea of how to restructure my digital work flow.

 

If I may be indulgent for one more time; I'm still using an Epson 4000 Pro [but with a view to improved, larger output in the future], would you treat the 4000 driver as a 'modern' type for extrapolating print DPI or a 'stone age' type?

 

Thank you for your help.

 

............... Chris

Chris, definitely Epson 4000 Pro is the first generation of the modern drivers. As Bill says, it definitely improves from using a RIP like ImagePrint, mostly because IP deals with some ink problems that Epson solved in next gen printers. ImagePrint is a fantastic choice for RIP, highly recommended.

I would not rescale DPI for the 4000.

Best!

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Hope this helps, and now let the fireworks begin!!!!

 

No fireworks Gus. I agree with pretty much everything you said. And you know how that goes... ask 2 photographers and you'll get 3 opinions.

 

The multi-step sharpening workflow takes a little getting used to. If any of you want an in depth look at this- I think the book "Real World Image Sharpening with Photoshop CS2" is a good one at explaining and demonstrating all the various sharpening techniques (capture, creative, output.) I don't know if there is a CS3 version of the book since the original author Bruce Fraser has since died. Even if you use something like PK Sharpener it's good to understand what PK is doing so you can tweak it. Kind of like automatic exposure.

 

On a side note- thanks to all of you that sent me sample M8 files. When I get caught up on orders and have some spare time I will report back on my print tests. Just from looking at the files I have a couple first impressions: first is they are fabulous and defy their file size. Also as one might expect with Leica glass they carry subtleties you don't see in the Japanese DSLRs. And I'll venture to predict without having printed them yet that for my purposes pushing it much beyond 30X20 will be a challenge and may only work with certain subjects. But I'll reserve that final judgement when I have some time to really examine and print a few.

 

Cheers.

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... "Real World Image Sharpening with Photoshop CS2" is a good one at explaining and demonstrating all the various sharpening techniques (capture, creative, output.) ...

 

Joel, I am a big fan of Fraser's and do not currently use any sharpening because I don't like what I see.

 

I take it you recommend Bruce's book?

 

Many thanks,

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Joel, I am a big fan of Fraser's and do not currently use any sharpening because I don't like what I see.

 

I take it you recommend Bruce's book?

 

Many thanks,

 

Bill, the thing with sharpening is that, in order to be effective at the output level, it MUST look awful. There is no such thing as a good looking sharpened picture in a 75-98 dpi RGB illuminated device of an image to be rendered to a multi-ink 1440 dpi device on a reflective media like paper!

I guess the WSYIWG thing has been pushed too much. The differences between a monitor, even the most perfect one, and a piece of paper can not be overestimated. I happened to be able to beta test IBM's T221 (a 2xx DPI monitor) and even that monitor was not even close to paper, since paper reflects and monitors emit.

I have not read Bruce's book, but I heard very good comments.

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Bill, the thing with sharpening is that, in order to be effective at the output level, it MUST look awful....I have not read Bruce's book, but I heard very good comments.

 

Thanks for the clarification (wysi-what?) and the reference to Bruce's book. I'll look at sharpening again.

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Bill, the thing with sharpening is that, in order to be effective at the output level, it MUST look awful. There is no such thing as a good looking sharpened picture in a 75-98 dpi RGB illuminated device of an image to be rendered to a multi-ink 1440 dpi device on a reflective media like paper!

I guess the WSYIWG thing has been pushed too much. The differences between a monitor, even the most perfect one, and a piece of paper can not be overestimated. I happened to be able to beta test IBM's T221 (a 2xx DPI monitor) and even that monitor was not even close to paper, since paper reflects and monitors emit.

I have not read Bruce's book, but I heard very good comments.

 

I'm going add to what Gus said about the image looking awful on screen once you add the output sharpening.

 

I started this thread to find out about how far I could take an M8 capture file for large fine art prints. Now that I've looked at several capture files I can see why Bill might be inclined to not want to add sharpening. These images are so sharp at capture (no AA filter) compared to high end Japanese DSLRs that one would think they look great on screen. And they do require less capture sharpening (1st step in a sharpening workflow.) Bottom line is that although they do look better than the average pro capture right out of the camera you would still want to follow a sharpening workflow to optimize your final output- as Gus stated earlier.

 

Cheers,

Joel

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