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My prints look AWFUL - sharpening question

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by BostonRott, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. I just zipped a set of photos over to Walmart for printing (online upload and order, pick up in store). The photos looked fine to me on my calibrated monitor.

    When I picked them up, I was terribly disappointed. One set (4 prints) is totally over-sharpened and one of the prints looks like I tried to blow up a 10x20 pixel print into a 5x7." I sent files that were about 600kb in size, and had been cropped in Elements to 5x7 sizing (printed as 5x7) so that there would be no cropping issues.

    I use a calibrated monitor, and the pictures look great on my screen.

    This is the print that looked the worst. It is a fisheye image. The print of it looked like the rocks were disintigrating by the worst acid rain anyone's ever seen, it was too light and the sky looked pixel-ated (if that's a word).

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

    My questions are:

    1. Does this picture look over-sharpened?
    2. Were the files too small for 5x7?
    3. Does the Walmart machine do further sharpening?
    4. Is their machine trying to "auto correct" things that it shouldn't?
  2. icetraxx


    May 7, 2005
    I stopped using Walmart and other local quicky photo places because they destroy any photo that I post process. Either the color will be off, they will be way too over sharpened, or the contrast will be way over done. I haven't figured out the right color space to save them as, but would love to know.

  3. Ok, thank you Larry!

    My original intent was to print up a few flower shots for my neighbor, as they are his flowers that I shot the other day. :smile: I ended up selecting a few shots for me too. :redface: Instead of being patient and sending them out somewhere, I went for the quick results of Walmart. Typically, I've used Walgreens, but they aren't processing pics right now :) confused: :frown: ).

    I will try these again with MPIX and see what happens.
  4. Gretchen,

    I highly recommend Nik Sharpen Pro. It is great for output sharpening and really makes it simple.

  5. Gretchen, it doesn't look too sharp to me. I've been using Ofoto as it has a nice integration w/ Elements 5....granted, you don't get them as quickly as WalMart, but they do a good job and you can save some $ by having them delivered to a store near you (I use a Brooks) -- note they're not printed there but are dropped off (tho' you can't do this for larger prints).

    One of the better labs I've used is ExposureManager where I offer my sports shots to parents on my kid's teams...they do a great job. I think they use the same lab as SmugMug, down in Atlanta.

    OT, are you going to the beach sculptures over at Revere (er, Reveah) Beach? I recall your Hampton Beach shots....it's this week I think.
  6. Jeff,
    I don't understand? My picture (as posted) is fine (to me). I simply wanted it printed. My problem was that when it was printed at Walmart, it looked horrid. I'm trying to figure out what the problem is.
  7. Thank you for the suggestions! :smile:

    As to Reveah, I didn't know about that. May have to wander over, though I may need more hayah spray. :tongue:
  8. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    fwiw, I have always been disappointed with prints from Walmart.
  9. Chris,
    I used to get color film prints developed there and loved them. The quality and saturation were great.

    I have printed very few of my digital images and am starting to be gunshy about doing so, as it seems that each time I've tried, the prints do not match my screen and trying to trouble-shoot is becoming an exercise in frustration. :frown:
  10. Gretchen: 600KB seems a little small to me. You could try uploading a larger file to see if you can maintain print integration. My concern is that they are having to blow you image up, which can easily lead to the problems you are having. The other issue may be dpi. If you are sending it at 72 dpi, then they are definitely having to uprez. I believe a standard 5X7 print at 200 dpi (the minimum I would use at this size - 300 dpi would be preferred) is around 4 MB, much larger than the files you are sending them.
  11. Cougar8045


    May 25, 2007
    I have printed at Walmart kiosk machine before with fairly good result. I even go around to other local drug store just to try and see what kind of result I can get. Bottomline, I do not like any of the Fuji kiosk machine. Kodak kiosk is the best to my eyes.

    Some time, you have to do some trial and error to feel how certain machine output would look like. I set maybe 3 or 4 image files. Run to the local drug store and print them. Cost about $0.25 per image in 4x6 format. If they are not up to my liking. I go home to try different setting and do the printing all over again until I find the right combination. The only thing that bothers me with the kiosk machine is none of them support 16 bits color channels file. 8 bits is the highest it will support.

    A couple of points must be note before it goes to print.
    1, I print with TIF file only. JPEG file has too much compression to my taste. The image quality will decrease with jpeg file, at least to my eyes.
    2, Save file with sRGB color space. That's just my personal preference. Other color space might be suitable for some people.
    3, Image resolution must be 300 dpi and with its' native dimension minimum. That means if you are printing a 5x7 300 dpi image. Minimum resolution dimension must be 2,100 pixel by 1,500 pixel. However, for the save side, I always set my image at 2,400 pixel x 3,000 pixel (8x10) in 300 dpi resolution. That way, I can print either 8x10 or 5x7 from the same file without any degradation.
  12. jcovert

    jcovert Guest

    probably just needs to be 5x7@300 dpi (or close).
  13. FWIW I use FocalBlade as my sharpening plug-in, I think either one will do you fine.

    Mike Hagen had some pretty good prints from Costco, (16x20) that he swears by. Out in our area, I don't think there's one down by you, I think Waltham is the closest?
  14. Yes, agreed! :smile: I had cut the res to 100dpi, in order to keep file sizes down. It seems that anything over 2MB, they have a hard time with uploading.

    I think I've learned my lesson, just stick with Winkflash/MPIX and deal with the wait. :smile:
  15. Perhaps I misunderstood. I thought you had isolated the issue to sharpening (or oversharpening).

    Have you tried print one yourself to see if you system is calibrated correctly? Also, I've had good luck with mpix (www.mpix.com). You might send one or two to them and see if Walmart is the issue. FWIW, I've mostly given up on commerical prints and now do all my own.
  16. Actually, I don't have a printer (or not one worthy of photos) at this point. I decided that technology advances too quickly and I'd let the print places take those $$ hits. :smile:

    I think that Walmart further sharpened (and thus over-sharpened) my pics when they printed them. I do think that non-photo "auto everything" places have their pitfalls and I found one. I'll stick to Winkflash or MPIX. :smile:
  17. sbutchin


    Mar 1, 2005
    Hi Gretchen, do you have a costco nearby? I ran into the same problems when I needed to print locally and quickly. According to costco site, the kiosk machine will further compress your photos. The best advice I got from them was to download the color profie for their printers and use that as a guide and never use the kiosk. I give them a disk that I burn and you must also tell them "turn off all corrections" as the printers do their own thing for whatever reason. I followed these suggestions and my prints look just like they do on the computer. My monitor is calibrated and I soft proof with their color profile and don't use the kiosk and everything looks great. Just a suggestion. And even if you don't have a costco, try telling whomever - "no corrections please"!
  18. Gnome


    Mar 6, 2007
    Born in Europe
    The trick with such outlets is to be in control if possible, turn off all "auto" adjustments including sharpening. If that isn't possible, take a good test image and in photoshop divide into 5 regions, apply successively more aggressive sharpening to each region. Print it and see what settings work best. Good luck, you may well need it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2007
  19. if you are cropping and changing the dpi then that sounds like the issue, PS can resample / downres the file. The dpi is a scaling factor and should be ignored when sizing for web (it makes no difference) and walmart will ignore the dpi value as well because you are choosing the output size (e.g. 7x5) http://www.scantips.com/no72dpi.html

    try taking the full size image down to walmart and if it needs cropping (generally it will for 7x5) then use the in-store machine to crop (I don't know if they have kiosks there)

  20. Zachs


    Feb 25, 2006
    Walmart DOES do an auto correction, even if you turn off the option. We just ran some tests from our lab to a walmart lab just for kicks. We sent a file in that was perfectly corrected. Sent one set through w/ auto-correction off and one through with it on which DRASTICALY messed with the quality and they both came out like the auto-corrected one that we saw on the screen.
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