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My prints from Costco are much darker than on my monitor

Discussion in 'Printers, Monitors, and Color Management' started by KsJET, Jul 2, 2007.

  1. KsJET


    Feb 24, 2007
    I read the other thread about prints being dark and figured I just have my monitor brightness too high, but I have asked for several opinions from others and they don't think the pictures look dark on their monitors either. I use huey for calibration and do have room brightness adjustment on. The colors in the prints look spot on, but they are too dark. I turned off the option to auto correct when I uploaded the photos to Costco.com. Could that be causing the darkness? I wanted to ask here to see what others think about Costco's prints before turning down my monitor's brightness and reediting. Should I have them printed elsewhere to see if there is a difference?

    Here is one picture that I had printed (this is just a quick snapshot):


    My nephew is naturally dark-skinned and my 10 month old is fair with a touch of color from the summer sun. They were sitting under a picnic table. Does it look properly exposed? The print appears to be at least 1 stop underexposed if not more. :frown:

  2. It looks ok on my monitor, and the histogram shows decent exposure as well.

    Did you calibrate using their ICC profile? you can probably find the costco at www.drycreekphoto.com/icc
  3. KsJET


    Feb 24, 2007
    Thanks. If I calibrate using their profile, will that mean that the pictures will look too bright on the web in order for them to be the correct brightness for Costco? (Sorry, I'm new to this calibration stuff :smile:) 
  4. KsJET


    Feb 24, 2007
    OK, I just installed the ICC profile for that printer. When I turned on soft proof, the picture looks hazy, but still brighter than the print. Would that mean that my monitor is too bright?
  5. It's possible. Did you embed the profile in the jpg when you sent it to them? that may have caused some issue, I believe they asked to not have it embedded.
  6. that looks like a dark picture, and you're monitor could be too bright.
  7. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    looks a bit underexposed here

    If you have PS try shadow/highlights
    Or a levels , or curves adjustment
  8. I took the lasso tool in photoshop and used it to draw a loop around the two kids, then checked the histogram. It showed underexposure of the children.

    Here is the image with the rough loop and proper exposure of the children only. Do the children look too bright on your monitor? Maybe it is too bright. Obviously the boy has a darker complexion than the baby, but even the colors should look better.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    One suggestion when shooting people:
    I'm guessing you used matrix metering, try spot metering and select the spot manually using the joypad. Try to hit one of their noses.
  9. Mike Z

    Mike Z

    May 30, 2005
    Northbrook, IL
    The original looks too dark on my calibrated monitor. The corrected version looks much better. Neither of the faces look too bright on the corrected version.
  10. KsJET


    Feb 24, 2007
    Thanks andrewthomasdesigns, Gale, Greg and Mike. Greg, now that I see your fix, the kids do look a bit underexposed in my post and not too bright in yours. So if I can see that difference, that would mean my monitor isn't too bright, correct?

    I have over 200 pictures from our week-long family reunion and have processed about half of the them. I don't want to go back and brighten all of them if they don't really need it. Most of the exposures look great on the camera LCD and the same in Capture NX before being processed. I just can't imagine that all of my pictures are underexposed by as much as the prints would make it appear. Also, when I view other people's photos I don't think they look overexposed at all which I would assume they would if my monitor is that much brighter than it should be.

    I called Costco and the person I spoke to was very helpful. He said the profile I installed might not be for the printer they used yesterday and asked me to bring a CD of the photos and yesterday's prints and we would look at them in the lab. He said I can exchange the photos if I'm not happy with them.

    One more example - this looks properly exposed to me, how about to everyone else?


    Edited to add: Greg, I probably did have it set to matrix for that particular photo because I had been doing landscape shots just before that. I do normally switch to spot for people, so that could be why it underexposed.
  11. KsJET


    Feb 24, 2007
    Here is that first photo reedited. I shot it in NEF, so all I did was bring the exposure up 1/2 stop. It does look better to me without being too bright. But the Costco print makes it look about 1-1 1/2 stops underexposed so this would still look too dark if printed how the others were printed.

  12. It is possible that all or some of the photos are underexposed by 1/3 to 1/2 stop. This is common with my D200 in certain situations. My camera LCD is bright and I reduced it to -1.

    Try a different print service. Mpix has great consistant quality, order today and you should have the print in 3 - 4 days. Email Mpix and ask for a calibration kit. It will have a printed photo and the same photo on CD, use this to compare brightness/color.
  13. Rob G

    Rob G

    Jun 19, 2007
    Dayton, Ohio

    I also use a huey for monitor calibration and I have found the "Video Editing" setting much more accurate exposure wise then the "Photo Editing" setting. This setting is changed by clicking on the red huey icon in the system tray and selecting "Huey Preferences." This setting got me a lot closer to the look I was getting from my local lab, hopefully will do the same for you.

    Rob G.
  14. KsJET


    Feb 24, 2007
    Rob, thanks! I changed it to video editing and it did make quite a difference. The prints are still darker, but this is much closer.
  15. I too have had the same problem. This last round of pictures I made it a little brighter than I normally would and the pictures came out great. Now I have to figure out is it me or them.
  16. sbutchin


    Mar 1, 2005
    Hi, just had this discussion on another forum, so i'll make this short. I use Costco also and had the same problems - here is the quick version
    download their profile
    use the soft proof and then adjust from that point to get the wb correct
    save to a disk
    do not use the kiosk as it compresses the files (says so on costco website)
    and above all tell the guy printing "turn off all corrections"!
    It took me about a week to finally get this right and now all my stuff looks exactly like it does on my monitor - hope this helps
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