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Old 08-27-2002, 10:38 PM   #1
Leslie Ficcaglia Leslie Ficcaglia is offline
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Photographing for Inkjet Printing




I've been toying with the idea of buying an Epson 2200 with archival inks and large format (13" x 19" paper) so that I can produce my own copies on demand. I can get good photos of my work by shooting out of doors with Fuji Superia film, which I prefer to slides. However, then I have to scan the 4" x 6" photo into my computer and print from there, and I suspect the result will be grainy when enlarged to a decent copy size.

I'm wondering if I'm better off with a digital camera which would avoid the scanning step, or whether my Nikon system (I have N60 and 5005 bodies, plus wide angle and telephoto lenses) will do the trick somehow.
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Old 08-28-2002, 12:07 AM   #2
Michael Georges Michael Georges is offline
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Leslie,

I have the P2000. They are just great for producing your own prints. I print on the 13' x 19" watercolor sheets and they turn out wonderfully.

I have done the following to get my art into electronic form - these are in order of final print quality:

1. Get a 4" x 5" transparency shot of the painting, then have the lab scan the transparency into the computer and give you a TIF file. You pull it into Photoshop and modify it to your tastes.

2. Scan the art directly using a large-format flatbed scanner. This is usually limited to paintings smaller than around 12" x 18".

3. Shoot with a high-quality high-resolution digital camera. I find that this works just great for websites, etc. but the prints are a little grainy. I have a 3.34 MP camera and there are certainly better out there - 5MP+ that might do a better job.
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Old 08-28-2002, 08:21 AM   #3
Leslie Ficcaglia Leslie Ficcaglia is offline
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Michael,

Thanks for your input. My paintings start at 16" x 20", so direct scanning won't work, and I was trying to stay away from having to get a 4" x 5" transparency, since the nearest place they're available is about 45 minutes away and they won't do it while you wait. I suppose a digital camera is going to be the best way to achieve the results I want, but it sounds pricey.

Glad to hear you like the Epson P2000. Hopefully the 2200 is even better.
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Old 08-28-2002, 09:07 AM   #4
Cynthia Daniel Cynthia Daniel is offline
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One of my clients who lives in a rural area in Kentucky sends her film through the mail to be put on CD. I also used them once when I was living in St. Louis and I thought their charges were reasonable. I simply asked that they make a Kodak CD and specified high resolution. They charged to my credit card, which made the transaction very easy.

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Old 08-28-2002, 11:53 AM   #5
Leslie Ficcaglia Leslie Ficcaglia is offline
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Why didn't I think of that? I get most of my work printed at Wal Mart and they offer that service at the same desk. That would certainly cut out a step, wouldn't it? Thanks!
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Old 08-28-2002, 01:17 PM   #6
Michael Georges Michael Georges is offline
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High-Res Scan

Leslie,

Be aware that you will want to scan a fairly large image, or have that image be very very crisp. Regardless, I would advise that they scan your pics at at least 600dpi.

An example: You have a 4x5 pic scanned at 300dpi. It will have print quality at 3x5 inches, but if you want to enlarge it to say 8x10 inches, then the resulting print will have a resolution of approximately 150dpi - pixels start appearing. Scan the same size pic at 600 and enlarge to 8x10 and you are still at 300dpi. If you get an 8x10 done and then scan it at 600 dpi, then you have flexibility up to almost double that size.

Something to think about...
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Old 08-28-2002, 01:37 PM   #7
Leslie Ficcaglia Leslie Ficcaglia is offline
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Thanks, Michael. Obviously there is a lot to learn, and also to consider before I go spending money on a specialized printer. I'm wondering whether my computer can handle image files that large. I just upped the ram to 320 but my hard drive has three partitions so that amount isn't available to all of them - I don't think.
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Old 08-28-2002, 02:38 PM   #8
Michael Fournier Michael Fournier is offline
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Image resolution vs. print resolution

Since I have been doing illustrations, pre-press work for about 12 years now, I thought I might add some to this discussion. Print resolution vs. image resolution is not one-to-one. Pixels per inch needed in a digital image are not equal to dots per inch in the output device, be it an image setter or an ink jet printer or a continuous tone printer.

I will start with continuous tone printers. In these, there are no dots, so the correlation between image resolution and crispness is very relevant. This includes Film setters, Dye sublimation printers and Iris Printers. For this type of printer, an image of around 1200ppi at print size would be recommended for highest quality.

Then follows Photo Ink Jet printers, which today come very close to continuous tone; they still use dots, even though they use a stochastic screen of very small dots of varied sizes. For this type of printer, an image of 2/3 the output device's DPI at full print size is sufficient. In other words if your printer's resolution is 1200dpi and you are printing at 8" x 10", anything higher then 8" x 10" at 800ppi image would be wasted image resolution and would just slow print time. And anything less would start to show in loss of clarity at that print resolution. But at first, the loss would be almost undetectable at normal viewing distance. Remember, the larger the print, the less resolution needed to carry the detail at the intended viewing distance.

So if you wanted to print a poster size image, you may even get away with a 20" x 30" image at 90ppi, without much less in detail noticeable at the distance you would view a poster.

Regarding a billboard size: would you believe these images are printed on large roll-feed inkjet printers at only 60dpi which would give you a 2/3 resolution file of only 40ppi? That is much lower than the resolution of your monitor. But since they are viewed from 100 feet or more away, it does not matter. But that is still one big image, even at 40ppi, if you consider it's about 240 inches wide 120 inches high. Where do I get these numbers? Years of experience.

The last output device is halftone printing devices, like those used to produce lithographic prints. The rule of thumb here is you need 1.5-2 x the lines per inch of your halftone screen at print size, regardless of the DPI of the output device. (Resolution of the output device here is used to get the cleanest halftone dot, not the sharpest image.)

If your image will be printed in a magazine with a 150 line screen at 4" x 5" inches then you would need a 4" x 5" digital image of at least 225ppi; 300ppi would be a good round number. If you were printing a higher quality brochure using a 175 or 200lpi screen (some expensive art magazines use a 200lpi screen) you would need at least a 4x5 at 300ppi - or better yet, 400ppi. If the image were to be printed full page you would need an image that size, say 8.5" x 11" plus bleed at 400ppi. And if the local newspaper is doing a story on you and they want to run an image in the Sunday art section, they would be using an 80lpi screen because newsprint cannot hold a dot finer than that without the darks filling in. So if the image was, say, to be printed 6 inches wide, you would need a digital image of 120-150ppi at 6 inches wide.

The reason a lot of people get mixed up is that dpi (dots per inch) and ppi (pixels per inch) are used to mean the same thing a lot. Photoshop even uses DPI when referring to image resolution. But that is the skinny on image resolution vs. output device resolution.

Of course it never hurts to have too much resolution, except it can take longer to process, and takes up more disk space. But if the resolution needed is not there to begin with or is lost, there is not much you can do to get it back. So it is best to start with the highest resolution file you can get. That way you have an image that can be used for just about any reproduction you may want now or in the future.
Just don't send a 300MB 240" x 120" image to the local newspaper for that article they are writing on you. They won't appreciate it much.
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Old 08-28-2002, 03:22 PM   #9
Michael Georges Michael Georges is offline
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Michael,

Your "points per inch" are well taken!

It is nice to have a refresher on those facts. I generally just try to hit between 300-600 dpi/lpi for my final printed piece regardless of size and it has always gotten the job done.

Leslie,

Be sure to get yourself a decent CD-ROM burner with that new printer. You will not want to keep TIF files on your hard disk. Burn them to CD and keep them in a file.
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Old 08-28-2002, 07:09 PM   #10
Michael Fournier Michael Fournier is offline
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Yes, Michael, like I said, it never hurts to have too much resolution - and with computers as fast as they are today, a few extra pixels don't slow things down much as they did back when I first started doing this stuff. Back then the computers we used to rip files for output were only 33MHz had only 100MB of RAM and they were considered fast. So back then you wanted the images as small as you could go with out losing detail. I guess I have some habits that won't die, but it is still a good guide when asked just how much resolution is enough. Today it's usually associated with digital cameras and if that 2 Megapixel camera will have enough resolution or should I buy the 3.3 or 5 Megapixel one. Of course I usually answer that one the same as I do the question of how much RAM do I need or how much money is too much.

The answer to all of them is the same: how much can you afford? You can never be too rich, have too much RAM, or have a camera with too high a resolution.
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