How to Get Great Prints From MpixProApril 3rd, 2012
We strive to offer Zenfolians the best of everything, which is why we are partnered with MpixPro. As a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging, MpixPro was created exclusively for professional photographers and is available for Zenfolio Business Premium subscribers. Today MpixPro shares their advice and tips to achieving the best prints you possibly can.
How to Get Great Prints From MpixPro
The single largest question we get at MpixPro is “How do I make the best prints I possibly can from my images?” We are here to shed a little bit of ‘light’, no pun intended, on such information packed question.
A common misconception is that you need to work in a room that is completely dark…you don’t. However, you do need to take into consideration such items like windows and lights, and keep those variables as consistent as possible throughout the day. We do suggest that you use daylight bulbs so you will be view your prints under the same conditions as we do here at MpixPro. A search on Amazon for 5000K bulbs will give you a variety of options.
The next step to great prints is making sure that your photo editing tool of choice is set properly. This would be Photoshop, Lightroom, or Camera Raw. The color range of photographic media is most closely represented by the sRGB color space so this will be the color space of we will use when processing and adjusting images to send to MpixPro for prints.
First let’s make sure your Photoshop is set-up. Open Photoshop and go to; Edit>Color Settings
Working Spaces: In the RGB field choose: sRGB IEC61966-2.1
Color Management Policies: In the RGB field choose: Convert to Working RGB
Profile Mismatches: Check both “Ask When Opening” and “Ask When Pasting”
Missing Profiles: Check “Ask When Opening”
Next, let’s look at your color settings in Camera Raw. All you will need to do here is go into workflow settings (bottom middle portion of the screen), and for your color space make sure you use sRGB.
Last, but definitely not least, is Lightroom. Here your color space is chosen on export. When you are exporting your images, and you are in the export window, make sure your color space is set to sRGB. Also, one other item to note here is your JPG setting. Make sure the slider is set on maximum resolution. This will ensure that your images will be printed to the best possible quality.
This brings us to calibration. All parts of image prep are important. But if we had to give out an award for the most important and, many times over looked step in the image process, calibration would win. The first part of monitor calibration is acquiring a calibration device. Many devices work and if you already have a calibration device that works, great! However, if you don’t, we recommend the Color Munki Display. Now that you have your calibration device, you will be asked a few things during the calibration process. To calibrate your monitor for sending prints to MpixPro, the following will be the information you need to provide for proper calibration.
o White Point: D50, or 5000K, choose the one your device lists
o Gamma: newer devices will default to a 2.2 gamma.
- Older devices will require you to select this setting
o Luminance: newer devices will measure your room lighting and set correctly
- Older devices will require you to select the luminance value.
- Use a luminance of 120 as a starting point
Now that calibration has finished you will need to compare your uncorrected prints from MpixPro to your monitor. If there are still slight differences in your monitor when you compare to your prints small local manual adjustments to your monitor may be made.
We do not require a maximum resolution for the images you upload. The higher the resolution, the better the picture will be. It’s that simple. The MpixPro printers output at 250 ppi. However, we are frequently asked what the optimal resolution is for the prints we offer. This question is best answered by looking at the image’s pixel dimension. The table below will help you determine if your file can be printed at a given size.
The JPG file format has become very efficient for saving photographic images. JPG files take advantage of how humans see color versus brightness to only save information needed to reproduce the image for people to view. Image data is lost during compression, but at high levels of quality you will not see a difference between a JPEG and a TIFF printed to photographic paper. JPG compression is perfect for sending files to the lab for printing, but save your images as a TIF or PSD as you are working on your files.
There are several approaches you can take when sizing your files for print. One is not necessarily better than another. Much depends on your particular work flow. The approach you take should be the simplest, and most effective for your operation. As a Zenfolio user you have the option to allow your clients to set their own cropping when ordering, or to disable this feature. While processing your images, the easiest method for cropping is Lightroom and export at the highest JPG quality when your images are complete. Beyond Lightroom, the simplest method is to crop the file for the subject composition and leave the file’s resolution unchanged. This method crops your file without changing the resolution of the file, saving you time and preserving the original pixels. This can be done with cropping tool in Photoshop. First, enter the width and height dimensions; however, leave the image resolution area blank. This will remove the unwanted pixels from the image without altering the file resolution (dpi). The printing equipment at MpixPro will resize the files as needed when they are printed. Like sharpening an image, re-sampling and interpolation is very much dependent upon the particular printer being used, and the print size being created. Interpolating an image without knowing the specific characteristics of a printer can be counterproductive. Re-sampling and interpolating images take time, time that is better spent on the creative aspects of your photography.
At MpixPro we understand that photography is in essence creating art and extremely subjective. By applying these steps in your work flow it will take most of the guess will in getting the prints you expect from MpixPro. When you are in sync with your lab it gives you the assurance and freedom to create when you know what is on your screen is exactly what is going to end up hands as a finished product.