I have a few questions regarding the printing of photos.
My goal is to have a coffee-table book of my favourite photos, but the first book I had printed was very dissapointing (I used iPhoto 8 and got a book through Apple). The printed photos just don't seem as vivid as they did on the computer screen, or on the little LCD screen on my camera. The colours seem, well, faded (there's also an issue of grainy photos...I think it's rather poor printing).
I've also had this problem with colours using my dad's fancy photo printer (it's an HP but I'd have to look up the model).
Is there a way for prints to match what is displayed on the screen? I don't know a whole lot about the mechanics of printing, but my experiences so far are dissapointing. Do my digital photos have to remain digital? Or is it simply trial and error with adjusting colour saturation, contrast, etc, until the printed photo turns out to my liking? How do I get the book printed to my liking?
I know that if I visit a camera store and have prints done, the colours come out great...but I know that printing a photo on a home printer can be different from those in camera stores. (Any one know why? I vaguely remember someone telling me about 6-inks versus 4-inks which affects the colour quality of the prints...)
Also, has anyone had a book or calendar printed through one of the various online shops? Any comments?
So every screen and every printer are different. There are multiple companies that make devices which can be used to combat this problem. These devices will "scan" your screen while presenting different colors on it. It will then create a new color setting for your screen which is truer to what your eyes saw when you took the picture.
Some of these color calibration
devices will also scan a picture you have printed. It will then try to create, from your picture, a setting for your screen that allows you to see what will print. You can then adjust your pictures, via saturation settings, etc, to get it to look the way you want it to before it gets printed.
These devices can be expensive but are very, very important if you plan on printing your pictures. In my case, I sell a few of my pictures at local craft shows and thus find it worth my while to spend the money on a good device which allows me to see exactly what the store I use will print the pictures like.
Here is a link to a Wikipedia page which tells more about calibration and some of the devices that can accomplish this for you: Wikipedia Color Calibration
I've used three different companies for printing photo books. The first was Kodak, which has a partnership with Adobe Photoshop Elements. I was really disappointed with the results--just poor quality overall. At the time (a couple of years ago) there weren't a lot of options for layout, so I spent a lot of time on it.
The second company I tried was Shared Ink
through the US. I did all the photo layouts myself in Photoshop Elements, then saved each page as a jpg, and uploaded those to use as 'full bleed' photos for the book. It was a rather cumbersome process, and there were issues with online storage space etc. Good quality book with a satisfaction guarantee, but a bit expensive and it took longer than I wanted to wait for the book to come to Canada.
Last company I tried was PhotoInPress
, a Canadian company based in Montréal. The company was actually founded by a husband and wife who came home from an overseas trip and weren't happy with the options available for sharing their photos. I've been really happy with them. Their software is really easy to use, has lots of layout options, tells you if a photo's resolution isn't high enough for printing... Prices are reasonable, and they are really good at using customer feedback to update the software. Of the three companies I've used, these are the highest quality books. I've never had a problem with the colours not matching what I see on screen or print from home--I always use the sRGB colour space, both in my camera and my computer software, which helps to minimize the amount of calibrating I have to do. But for about $15.00 CAD (plus shipping), you could get a small 20-page book to see if you like the colours and print quality etc. before committing to a larger book.
I just received the larger, hard-cover photo books from Apple and they turned out fantastic! Yay! I'm relieved!
I'll have to have a look at my camera to figure out the colour options. I'm not sure I want to sell photos yet, but I might have to keep colours in mind when searching for the next camera. Thanks for the links!