Do you Print your photos?

With the introduction of digital cameras in the early 2000’s many of us, professional and amateur alike fell victim to shutter frenzy -i.e. took loads of photos, many of them questionable at best simply because we could. Toss in the social media rise in popularity and all of a sudden we see photos appearing everywhere.

Some of them of course are never going to be printed but stand more as a visual daily diary for many people who have active lives.
Prior to the arrival of mass market digital photography, and in order to see you images you needed to get them printed and for many the anticipation of seeing what you had was almost as much fun as taking the images in the first place. Now I doubt you would want to do this in digital media, you would rapidly become swamped with prints you dont want.

On my current media hard drive I have in excess of 6500 images. My previous hard-drive failed and took with it some 45,000 images amassed over 10 years, many I have on CD or in online gallery’s but there are some I wish I still had, but alas they are gone for good.

Some I would like to have had a print. However most images  I take will never be printed, likely never be seen by anyone else or will be used in some manner online. More and more however I starting to think about prints.

Prints can be expensive, especially when you start going over A4 sized prints. However for prints up to A4 it may be worth printing your own. Heres an example of running off some prints. In the recent Easter Expedition series I used four cameras, one of which was film ( see the Pentax MZ-6 gallery ) . It was always my intention to have the roll of film developed, scanned and printed, Total cost of $29.00 NZD for the lot. This gave me thirtysix 6 x 4 prints, giving me immediate feedback on how the camera performed and whether I had any duds,  and there were a couple out of focus.

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Epson L 365 Eco-tank Printer.  On of the very good Eco-tank Printers produced by Epson.

I wasn’t particularly pleased with the resulting prints either. They were on  matt paper and lacked a little punch, some seeming a little dull. Not badly so, they just lacked impact.

Enter the home office printer. Many of us have a printer at home and for  the odd photo they can provide reasonable prints. If like us you have a more expensive model the resulting prints can be excellent. In my case I can only talk about one particular printer, and thats the Epson L365 Eco-tank.

A quick disclaimer here:- I have no affiliation with Epson, but I do prefer their printers and Photo Print Paper for printing my photos.

I’ll include a user review video at the end of this article. You will see different model numbers for different countries. I bought our Epson L 365 approx 12 months ago from Warehouse Stationery. It has now been replaced by the newer L 485 model and no doubt its  improved. Never the less I print at 600 dpi and the finished print is a good or better than a commercial print of the same size. A Pro Print-House would be needed to get a better result.

Unlike traditional printer cartridges the larger bottles of printer ink last a good deal longer and are considerably less expensive than individual replacement colour cartridges. Each bottle of colour ink for the Eco Tanks is $20.00 NZD.

Below are some photos that I had printed and alongside them is a 5 x 7 on Epson Gloss paper, done using my Epson printer. The photos have had slight PP work as the film scans always look a little washed out. You can see how dull the smaller commercial print looks alongside the home print. I use the Standard Epson colour profile in the printer rather than the vivid profile as images look too over saturated. My Samsung phone was probably not the best camera to use to do this comparison, but I think it still demonstrates the differences.

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Side by side Commercial Vs home prints.

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Detail in the larger prints is better and the colour saturation has been reduced a little prior to printing. Colour in the larger prints is closer to what was visually apparent. Its important to remember that if you are using a film simulation setting in your camera you will need to account for this with your post processing or risk colour shift, which could ruin a good print.

Black and white printing is just as good with these printers, just be aware you will use the black ink faster if you print a lot of black and white photos. The beauty of these printers other than its relatively cheap printing costs is the ability to edit and print an image to ensure I get the processing right, especially if I want a larger print from a commercial print-house.  A big shout out here to to my preferred film develop and scan supplier. I get my films processed from Imageland in Hamilton and their colour negative scans are the best I have had to date, providing files equal to the RAW files from my Canon DSLR.

As promised heres the YouTube clip about printing on an Epson printer and a second video from one of my favourite YouTube channels, Ted Forbes ” The Art of Photography”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Expedition ..Pt 4.

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For the fourth series of images from our Easter photo run I used 35 mm Kodak UltraMax 400 colour film.

In the past I had always opted for Fujifilm Superia Xtra 400.  This had always been my “go to ” film for colour, however with Fujifilm discontinuing the Superia film line I had to choose a replacement. pic_01Having used Kodak in the past with good results I decided to get a couple of rolls of the UltraMax 400. I use 400 ASA   (ISO ) film because it is very fine grained and a medium speed, which means lower light values can still yield results without resorting to a flash. I chose 36 exposure film because the initial film price is marginally more expensive the 24 exposure but develop and scan costs are exactly the same at $20.00 per roll.

Initially I had some reservations about this film as I had seen the odd negative review from other film users, but I’m happy to say that this was not worth worrying about. After viewing both the scans and prints I had done I can report that the Kodak film is as good and perhaps even better than its Fuji counterpart. It appears to have finer grain than the Fujifilm, appears to be more sensitive in low light areas and has excellent colour balance with the colour appearing very natural and very much how it looked on the day, without the “Fuji Punch” we often find with the more vivid colour profile of the Fuji films.

Even better however is the quality of the image after scanning the negatives. Most colour film tends to have a slightly washed out look to the images, very much like the flatter look you get with RAW files from DSLR’s.  This is very simple to edit, indeed if you edit your scanned images very much along the line of how one would process a RAW image the process is almost identical. I will build a colour profile in RAW Thereapee for future use with this film that will incorporate some basic process steps. This will speed up batch processing which can be applied prior to any major processing steps.

On the left below is the original scan and on the right is the slightly processed image.

 

 

The original looks slightly washed out and the image isn’t level. The image was straightened and lightness was dropped a few points and a slight increase in saturation and contrast were also adjusted. Thats the sum of the edit steps for this image and the following pair below.

 

 

All these images were shot using the Pentax MZ-6 and the Pentax 28-90mm which for a budget lens is a better than expected performer and even with its plastic construction never felt fragile when mounted on the camera. I will include this short clip for those interested. Just for reference I bought the Pentax MZ-6 for $45.00 with this lens about 3 years back off of TradeMe. In following articles I will discuss processing and print options. You can view the unprocessed, scanned images in the Galleries section, feel free to download and process the images and send me your results.

 

A new phone and a haircut.

Whats a haircut got to do with a phone?

Last week while on a job site some lowlife broke into my vehicle and stole my Samsung S6 which I had been planning to buy off the company I work for. By pure serendipity I had been viewing phone models that same morning, with the intention of replacing my wife’s failing ACE 3 from Samsung. It had come down to two phones the slightly higher specced Galaxy J5 Pro or the more modest Galaxy J3 Pro.

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Samsung Galaxy J3 Pro

To replace my S6 I went with the J3 Pro, as I didnt want to invest too much in what is essentially a “work” phone. I was concerned that the lower spec would show up in the performance area but I need not have been concerned. The speed of operation is almost as fast as the S6 and being newer than the S6 does seem to exhibit some faster performance in certain operations, not that the S6 was slow by any means. So I’m well pleased with all the essential tasks being performed very nicely. Bear in mind that while modest games can be played on this phone, for the bleeding edge stuff such as 4k video or high end gaming you would need to look elsewhere.

The phone comes equipped with a 5Mp front facing camera and a 13 Mp f1.9 rear camera. Sadly no image stabilisation, which could be a problem when shooting video ( not tested yet ) but seemed to be of little real issue when taking photos in part due to the fast f1.9 lens.

The camera did tend to hunt a little for focus on occasion but when you set the focus point you want it had no difficulty and for the most part didnt have an issue with focus in general. All of the images shown below are taken inside my favourite Hairdresser,  The Barber Shop,  Arawata Street, Te Awamutu. The internal lighting is Neon Tube and the camera had no issue with the white balance. I never changed any setting on the camera and shot straight out of the box, much as what most people would do with their phone.

The results were pretty good, images were sharp, colour balance is good and the focus was good with only a very small shutter release delay, certainly no worse than my S6 in this regard. One of the outstanding things I noted with this camera was its ability to shoot in these conditions at extremely low ISO with none of the images below being over ISO 80 and some as low as ISO 40. Thats an outstanding performance from a phone camera and bodes well for low light shooting which I will report back on once I have had more time to use this phone.

Note all images below are straight out of the camera with no post processing applied. I have tried a couple of edits for shadows on some of the darker images but there is not very much headroom in the files to recover shadows, so it will be a what you see is what you get type of output. I did note that the camera was set in HDR mode and it seems to be pretty good at retaining highlights but does seem to struggle with some of the denser shadow areas, but in general the output is certainly good enough for small/medium prints and for internet use. When viewed at full resolution you can see that the images dont hold up so well. I would be inclined to resize the images to a smaller format to maintain better image structure. Jpegs are  easy to do this to moreso that some file types. I dont think I would print anything larger than A4, but that should still provide a decent print.

My thanks to the lovely lady who owns and operates this barbershop. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t expecting to be the centre of focus for one of my blog posts. For a relaxed haircut and a chat, I cant think of anyone more obliging ( or tolerant for allowing me to do this ).

As always click the images for a larger size.