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E-PL1 16"x20" Print Tips?

Discussion in 'Printing' started by Stewmander, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. Stewmander

    Stewmander Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 16, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    I was planing on trying to print a photo from my E-PL1 to 16"x20" and wondered if anyone had any photoshop tips? I was just going to do some unsharpen mask in photoshop. The only thing I am a little worried about is that the photo is a night shot at ISO 1600 and might be too noisy. I was going to have the print made at Costco. Below is the photo I plan to print:

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    Eiffel Tower
    by astewart, on Flickr
  2. ReallyBadPictures

    ReallyBadPictures Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 12, 2013
    Beautiful picture, how was Las Vegas? :tongue:

    Sorry but I know too little about photography but the picture makes me miss my travelling days.
  3. wanderenvy

    wanderenvy Mu-43 Regular

    May 11, 2012
    That's a very nice picture.

    1. You could try playing around with the chroma noise and clarity controls in photoshop/lightroom to get something that you like. There's also some color and dynamic range adjustment you could do to get a darker sky. But honestly, there's no limit to the permutations you can try. Personally my goal would be to get an end result where the noise is controlled and the picture is crisp, yet doesn't look over cooked. It needs to retain the ambience that you remember seeing.

    2. Costco printing usually does a pretty good job, but the colors can be off sometimes as they will "auto adjust" your picture, unless you explicitly say you don't want it to be auto-processed. If you are placing the order using the web site, there is an easy to miss option on the last screen to disable this auto processing.

    A printer's dynamic range is also different than a monitor, so what you see is NOT what you get. If you want very accurate color, calibrate your monitor as best you can and install the Costco printer profiles from their web site. They have different printers depending on whether you want the picture on a poster board or glossy or matte paper. From Photoshop, export your original to a JPEG/TIFF using the appropriate profile and then upload this file. This JPEG/TIFF might not look very good on your monitor but the printed result is more likely to match the original.

    One final thing, crop the photo to the aspect ratio of the print you want before uploading it to Costco (in this case 4:5). Or their processing tools will either auto crop your image or add an uneven white border.

    Hope this helps. If it sounds too complicated, keep in mind that this is really an one time setup, and they have complete instructions on their site. Its a lot easier the second time around you want to make a print. And Costco has really good pricing, so you could certainly just wing it and see if you like the result. :) 

  4. christofp

    christofp Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 21, 2012
    I think you know that it will be quite hard to print it sharp, that's why you asked i guess.

    For me the picture is unsharp and a little noisy even at 10''.

    But I know your situation: some favorite shots are not 100% sharp but you waaant to print it.

    Some unsharp masking will not help here.

    This is what I did for shots like this:
    • Get "focus magic". It does more than unsharp masking (which is basically only making unsharpness more contrasty), instead it tries to undo the softness of your lens! Buzzword here is "deconvolution". You can gain 2x or 3x more resolution which makes a 20'' from a 10'' picture.
    • I guess the focus is on the bridge, not on the tower. So go to photoshop and select only the eiffel tower, expand the selction for some pixels and make the selection border soft for some pixels.
    • Only sharpen the selected eiffel tower with focus magic plugin.
    • select "grainy image" as input type in the focus magic dialog, it will handle the noise better.
    • Set sharpeining to 2 or 5 pixels until you are happy with the preview results

    Good luck,

  5. dd1

    dd1 Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 9, 2011
    Anything is possible for a "favourite picture" that does not need to be technically perfect.

    Unfortunately even with a tripod and super sharp lenses like the 45mm f1.8 I was never able to get satisfactory images for big prints from any of the 12 MP sensor cameras (E-PL1, E-PL2, G1, G2). At 20" and above they always looked less than perfect.

    I was used to doing 30"+ enlargements and canvases with my Canon gear so was quite disappointed, it was only after getting a G3 that I found I was able to get the IQ to allow for very large enlargements from m4/3rds.

    I suppose it depends on personal standards of acceptability, but from an E-PL1 you might never get a high quality 20"+ enlargement IMO, certainly not from a high ISO shot that doesn't appear sharp even at its highest size you have in Flickr (and the sky at 10" is already a mottled multicolour swathe of noise).

    Probably just print it for your personal pleasure without expecting perfection.
  6. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Not sure what papers Costco has but a trick you can use for printing images that are not super sharp is to use a textured paper or even canvas. Another option is to use the art filters in Photoshop and make it look a little more like a painting than a photo.
  7. Over and above things like sharpness and noise, I would check that (allowing for perspective distortion from the low vantage point) the image doesn't have a slight clockwise lean to it. Another thing to consider is that when the image is printed it is possible that a lot of the darker areas will likely print out almost black, eliminating noise but also eliminating some detail. Unlike our monitors, a print doesn't have backlighting. Anyhow, it's a nicely composed image and worthy of committing to print.
  8. Stewmander

    Stewmander Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 16, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks for all the help everyone! I will give it a try and see what kind of improvements I can get.

    I know it wont be a perfectly sharp image, and it doesn't have to be. I just want to avoid getting a print that looks like mine craft if possible =]

    Lucky - how would I check, and correct, any lean? I did notice the tower leaning once I got the photo on my monitor, but in previous building photos with a similar tilt any attempt to correct it made the image look unnatural and the "tilted" version looked better. Thanks for all the help!
  9. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Looks like the tower is leaning right by a couple degrees (to me).
  10. Conrad

    Conrad Mu-43 Veteran

    I'm sorry, but adding printer profiles to the jpg is the wrong advice. It probably won't hurt (printshops often ignore them and assume sRGB anyways), but it makes no sense. The printer profile describes the available color space of the printer, where the profile in the jpg describes what color is meant with the numeric rgb values. Don't mix them up.

    Where printer profiles are useful, is for color proofing. Then you simulate the actual output of the printer on your screen by applying the transformation from your image colorspace to the printer color space and check the result. If the printer colorspace is very limited (e.g. a cmyk offset press), you can prevent color burn by desaturating the problematic parts in the image in a controlled way before sending the image to print.

    If this all doesn't make sense, don't worry, just stick to sRGB all the way and use a rather low brightness on your monitor while adjusting your photo for brightness and contrast. Ideally, calibrate your monitor and adjust your ambient lighting to the right level. Use sRGB unless you really know what you are doing.

    And about sharpening, use the smart sharpen filter in Photoshop. Much better than all the others. A setting of 100% with radius 1 is a good starting point for making 16x20 prints (also my own preferred size btw).
  11. Stewmander

    Stewmander Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 16, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks again for all the help! I will adjust the image tonight and go for it to see how costco's print comes out.

    Phrenic - yes, the tower appears to be leaning to the right to me as well, I think its mostly due to the angle I took the photo at and being fairly close to such a tall object. Like I said, I tried to correct that issue before in other photos, but the result ends up looking more unnatural than the original. I think this is what architect photographers use tilt lenses for when shooting tall subjects.
  12. If you are shooting square to the horizon it is fairly easy to know if an image is rotated since all of the verticals should be perfectly vertical. As soon as the camera is angled up or down the effect of perspective distortion starts to occur such that the verticals will tilt towards a point of convergence. In this case, somewhere in the image there will still be a perfect vertical, and unless you've tilted the camera and specifically lined up your image with an off-centre object, the vertical should be in the centre of the frame. From your vantage point I don't think that the Eiffel Tower should be perfectly vertical because it is off-centre, but I would give the image a one degree correction anti-clockwise to make it look right to my eyes. The difference will only be subtle but I tend to be very critical about this in my own images which is why I thought it was worth considering.
  13. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I agree! I copied your pic and in photoshop a 1 degree shift is all that is needed, the tower looks straight to the eye. Of coarse it will require a slight crop to fix the edges but it would be very minimal.
  14. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    Within PS itself the Smart Sharpen is my prefered sharpening filter but I prefer to start with the sharpening and noise reduction tools in Camera RAW.

    Launch Bridge, which comes with all modern releases of PS, and navigate to the original camera file, whether it's RAW or JPEG. Right click on the file and select "Open in Camera Raw...". You can now use ACR's tools for the initial sharpening and noise reduction. When you've achieved the best compromise simply click "Open Image" to fine tune the adjustment in PS.
  15. wanderenvy

    wanderenvy Mu-43 Regular

    May 11, 2012
    Not suggesting that he should add the profile to the image. But if you are modifying the image based on a printer profile, it is best to do it with a copy and not touch the original.

    Costco photo labs are managed by Dry Creek Photo. Their instructions for using profiles are at the link below.

    Introduction to Icc Profiles
  16. Stewmander

    Stewmander Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 16, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks for all of the help with this everyone. Just to give an update, after procrastinating for months I finally made my print. I only did some auto tone and contrast and some USM. I didnt try the 1 degree rotation or the smart sharpen, but I will next time I make a print. I kinda wish I did try the 1 degree correction to see how that would have looked to me, but the print I got back isnt noticeably off.

    The print came back great! Costco did apply their own auto adjustments which I figured I would see how it goes since I was happy with my previous print, and it worked out. The 16x20 prints from my E-PL1 has been very impressive and its become my favorite size as well.
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