Photo Editing & Graphic Design forum


Photos look fine on computer but, look like crap printed

by harley123173 / December 15, 2011 10:28 PM PST

We had family photos taken and the photographer gave us a disc with them load on it. I uploaded them to my computer and they looked great.
But, when I ordered them online through walmart and picked them up - they look horrible.
I spoke with the photographer and she said she only uses the highest resolution setting on her Nikon camera. Could there be somthing wrong with the disc it's self???

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All Answers

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by pgc3 / December 15, 2011 10:48 PM PST

Did you try to print them from your own system using the disk? I am a little confused as to what you did.

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What you saw, wasn't what you got
by flrhcarr / December 16, 2011 10:31 AM PST

If all you did was upload the pics to Wally World, than it's going to be the printer. That being the photographer did use a high end resolution on the jpg's.

Does Wal-Mart further compress the pictures when uploaded (to them)? A jpg picture is going to be compressed, but it's the easiest for most people to use.
Are the pics on the disc, just for your monitor? Or more so, web friendly? Those are certainly going to be lower in resolution, no matter how large they are shot.

Sure, no solid answer, but there are some variables you can look into. Your photographer will be able to print them much better, as they are going to use ones which don't have any compression.

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Photos look good on computer but don't look good when printe
by dxjanis / December 16, 2011 12:25 PM PST

First things first. The photographer probably wants to sell you prints rather than have you order from someone else. That's how she makes her money. So, suspect that the images on the disc are not the "high resolution" you were told they were. Sure, they were taken at a high resolution setting but that was reduced in the process of making the disc for you.
Second. The images on the disc only need to be about 80dpi (really low resolution) to look great on the computer screen. In my world, that fact confirms my original statement.
Third. When you uploaded the images to Wal-Mart, there's no real way to know whether the file size remained the same or if it was reduced in the process to make uploading faster.
So, here's a simple way to test my theory. Drive to Wal-Mart with the CD in hand and order one print from the disc. No need to waste a lot of time and money for a test. If the print is acceptable, then it doesn't really matter what went wrong in the first situation; just order the rest of the prints that you want after seeing the "test" print.
If the test print is as bad as the ones from the on-line experience; call the photographer and pay her price for the prints you want. The images are her property and she's under no obligation to give you any more than what she gave you.
Buyer beware.

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by porsche10x / December 18, 2011 5:43 AM PST

Re: " the photographer and pay her price for the prints you want. The images are her property and she's under no obligation to give you any more than what she gave you."

I would beg to disagree. If the photographer included a CD with allegedly high resolution files then the OP already paid to be able to reprint them on his own. I do this all the time and pay for the right to do so. Although, I do agree, if the files are ok, then the photographer's obligations end there. You should be able to check the resolution and color depth with most photo editing software. I can't speak for Walmart, but Costco and Shutterfly do a superb job at printing.

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Prints look crappy
by jfordorl / December 16, 2011 12:39 PM PST

You only said she used a Nikon camera. I doubt that it was a point-and-shoot, but model could still have been amateur, or pro-sumer, or professional grade. It would make some difference. The absolute best pictures come from RAW unprocessed files, but most people could not view them without the right software, so what most people see is JPEG files. Most likely she gave you reduced quality jpeg's to protect her rights to the higher quality originals. That is the real reason people hire real professional photographers - they demand and expect only professional quality photos for the appropriate fee paid. Now if in case the person was really not an experienced professional, the results are not really guaranteed. Everyone has to learn the profession by some means, but in general, one gets what they actually paid out for the occasion. Hope this helps you understand the variables here.

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Certainly a resolution problem...
by Zouch / December 16, 2011 2:10 PM PST the other posters have said. Quick rule of thumb (and your mileage may vary!) is you need 6 megapixels (MP) for an A4 print and pro rata for other paper sizes. You can easily check the resolution of what is on the disk with Windows explorer, just mouse over the file and the dimensions are the pixel size, horizontally and vertically - just multiply them together. Check both what is on the disk the photographer gave you and the files on your computer, if you copied them to your hard disk before sending them to Walmart - Windows should have copied them as is but some photo album software can compact the pictures in various ways.

If the image size in pixels, is in the right ball park, the problem could be due to a few sources but most likely the compression ratio. For example (and again, your mileage may vary), my Fujifilm consumer digital camera is 3 MP and stores images in JPG format at an 80% compression ratio (the files are 6-700KB). These print just fine on A5 but show some pixellation/noise at A4. They display just fine on a 22" PC screen, since anything above 72 dpi is better than the screen resolution. I can take the JPGs from the camera and compress them down to about 45% with Irfanview (great simple photo manipulator and free!), the files reduce to about 75-90KB and they will still display perfectly but will disappoint on a photo printer.

I would expect a professional photographer to use RAW format in the camera, available on all professional and most prosumer models. You do need more than the average photo package to handle RAW files, though and so a lot of professionals will also include a copy of the pictures in some other format - often JPG. Apart from this being the most common compressible format (RAW files are huge), I'm not sure why they use JPG, which uses a lossy compression technique, rather than, say PNG which uses non-lossy compression. As the names imply, lossy compression throws away some of the pixels and once they are gone, they are gone; non-lossy means that when the files are re-expanded for printing, all the pixels are retained. The downsize is that PNG files tend to be bigger than JPGs but much smaller than RAW. Most JPG image manipulators use an 80% compression ratio, which will lose pixels during the editing process.

If the disk has multiple formats on it, try one of the non-lossy ones, RAW (if you have anything to handle it) or PNG or BMP if they happen to be there. If you've only got JPG, if the printed images aren't good enough, you'll need to talk to the photographer about getting some prints from her. She'll likely have a professional quality printer and should be able to produce the sparkling prints you want.

As dxjanis says, the simplest way to find out what the actual quality of the images is, is to take the original disk (make a copy to keep first, just in case!) along either to Walmart or to a serve yourself outlet (most office supply chains will have one) and print one image directly from the original disk. If that turns out to be the quality you want, then the problem lies in something either you or Walmart did in the transfer and printing process. Print any more images you want from the original disk. If a direct print still isn't good enough, your only recourse is to talk to the photographer about it.

Good luck!

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Color Space?
by kydna / December 16, 2011 6:54 PM PST

You don't mention what kind of "horrible" your pics are.

If it's just a color shift (too vivid, or washed out) and not an issue of resolution or focus, then a cause could be the Color Space of the files. If your photographer sent you a disc full of Prophoto or Adobe RGB color-spaced files, the lab you sent your files to may not be converting them to sRGB, or if printing at home, you aren't converting to sRGB, which is the most commonly used color space for printing. Printing in Prophoto or Adobe RGB mostly creates very harsh-toned prints if not first converted to sRGB at preprint. You can check the Color Space of your files by opening one of them in a competent photo editor and viewing the info. How you do that is dependent on your particular software. Converting them yourself or giving your lab a heads-up may solve your problem.

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by gilygily / December 17, 2011 2:32 AM PST

Sorry to answer a question with another but, why are you taking your professionally taken Pics. to Walmart?. It's akin to buying a Rolls and filling it up with cheap petrol!

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Photos/Wal Mart et al
by pgc3 / December 18, 2011 2:18 AM PST
In reply to: why?

For some reason my wife had some pics put on disk at a Walgrens store, the pics were taken from a flash drive she had gotten from her daughter. WHAT A NIGHTMARE that was. Obviously whoever did the job didn't have a clue as to what they were doing. Long story short I wound up chucking the disk and stuffed the FD in one of my systems did some tweaking with my software and burned her a few disks of the photos. Needless to say she won't be doing that again and all involved are happy.

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(NT) photos on the computer look fine but printed look like crap
by rene lara / December 17, 2011 1:52 PM PST
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by jrdnjstn / December 18, 2011 9:47 AM PST

Most professionals will give you the disk but they will make it a low resolution to stop you from ordering from someone else other then them. Im surprised that there was no copyrights or watermarks on the pictures also to prevent you from having them printed elsewhere.

As someone else said on here you actually only need to have about 6mp to make 8x10 picture. I don't see why people need a 20mp camera for??? Are they printing out poster size prints? I have a 10mp dslr and I have been able to print out a 20x30

There are other places that print out better pictures then Walmart and have better prices. Though you have to wait for the pictures to get back to you.

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