View Full Version : Glicee & other digital printers
I am starting to experiment with glicee and other high end digital print processes. I have been reviewing the capabilities and pricing of a number of labs and have talked with several. I am now gettign ready to send some chromes off to a few different labs to see how they do. Given the price of this exercise all input from anyone who has any labs to recommend based on their experience is appreciated. Quality is my first concern but price is also important and I have seen wildly varying pricing.
Right now, based on nothing more than reading, talking and gut the two labs that I am inclined to try first are Glicee print Net in Pueblo, CO and ej Arts in Rochester, NY. All comments on these and all other labs are appreicated.
You're talking about Giclee printing, right?
Try http://www.lightroom.com/lr_pages/digital_frameset.html The lab is in Berkeley, CA. I've handled sample prints and they look really good. Printing cost for the quarter sheet (17.5" X 23.4") start at $60.- To that you need to add the scanning and preparation of the digital file. That runs about $30.- per picture. That means you're looking at an approximate total $100.- for the first time print.
Hope that helps, Ralf
Ted - A Giclee is an inkjet print by definition "Giclee" literally means "ink spray". Some will jump up and down and insist that only Iris prints can be called "Giclee" - but do some investigation before you buy. What printer, inks and paper are they going to use to print your photos? I believe Iris is now out of business - companies are using the Epson 9500 and other printers to output "Giclee" prints these days.
Ted - checkout this link
Thanks, I suppose I shouldn't have been so cryptic in my original post. By and large I am most interested in those labs taht are doing customorwk and Iris printers (or comperable). While Iris is out of business the basic Iris printer has, I believe, been updated.
I know enough about the technology to be dangerous but am learning. I am comfortable making decisions about papers based on the images I am considering. I will be more comfortable in myu final choice of a few printers to test out if I have some comments from the experience of others.
My experiences with labs over the past 30 years has been that you sometimes click with a printer and sometimes don't. That you can sometimes develop a symbiotic relationship with a master printer that is almost a partnership. When you are paying good money for drum scans and what follows I believe you should be able to get that kind of skill.
I've got a competent lab that does competent work for every day output ... I am looking for more.
In conjunction with Wayne's suggestion check out this site, http://www.wide-format-printers.org/, which gives you the whole 'Magilla' from A to Z.
They'll line you up with the right printer depending on the amount of money you've got, and your skill level.
$100 per print, why? Unlike getting a photomechanical print, the service bureau charges you for tests!? You can spend a fortune at a service bureau in no time, why not consider putting all that money together in one lump sum to buy a printer?
We're not talking Lightjet, we're talking inkjet. 5yrs ago you could argue that the Iris was all alone, but it's got a lot of company now.
You might want to look at Finer Images - finerimages.com While I have not used them personally yet, I have framed several prints from a couple of different artists here in my hometown and have been impressed wih what I have seen. I also like their pricing. They charge you by the sheet and they are currently having a special where you buy one sheet get one free. Contact them to be sure of this special. I like the pricing by the sheet as it allows you to make the most of the paper.
Ted, some good suggestions above. I would reccomend considering doing your own printing in house if you do sufficient volume to justify the expenditure and huge learning curve. If you don't print large, say nor more than 13" x 19", you can buy a desktop Epson that will rival all the very expensive rigs a lab has. If you want to print larger, you can step all the way up to the 44" with an Epson 9X00 for only $5k. Of course these are only tools, you need knowledge and experience to make them all work to perfection.
As for what to look for in a lab.... be sure they use ICC profiles, this will make your scans and final files universal for future printing on any printer. Also find out how their profiles are made, and how often they are uptdated. Be sure the longevity issues meets your needs, and be sure to ask for sample prints with the inks and papers they are proposing. This is truly the Achillies heel of digital printing. Great color gamut, it fades fast, lousy gamut, they last for 200 years! So be sure the paper and ink combination has at least been tested and will meet your requirements. Any number you hear, such as 30 years, divide by 2, and thats probably more realistic. And remember, inks and paper work together, so they must be tested together, not seperately. Be sure you understand the resolution your prints will be made at, and find out if the profiles were made for that specific resolution. Also be sure your final work has no fine banding lines in the print. This is another major shortcoming that can ruin a digital print.
The bottom line of all this ..... ink jet prints, in my opinion, when done right, on calibrated equipment, using excellent inks and supplies is the best looking print available today. This is specially true on the fine art papers. On Glossy papers, to match the Cibachrome look, the dye based images are stunning, but the pigmented images are still inferior to Cibas, once again, there is a trade off for longevity vs. gamut. To me, what makes ink jet printing unique is the ability to make a photographic print on fine art papers vs. glossy papers. Overall, what impress most people in the end is the ink and paper combination. Every printer I know constantly struggles with this issue and continues to experiment with every new inkset / paper to acheive the greatest degree of gamut vs. longevity.
Of course the final digital print is compilation of the quality of the film to start with, the enlargement factor, the quality of the scanner and operator, the expertise of the PS manipulations / color corrections / sharpening, the quality of the RIP / driver to make the final print, the paper and ink used, the quality of the ICC scanner & printer profiles and the proper selection of the working space inside Photoshop. A bad looking final print may NOT be the fault of the printer / ink / paper, but rather improper execution of any of the prior steps. This is almost impossible to determine by just looking at the final print only.
As for labs, I can't reccomend any in paticular, hence the reason I started doing all this myself. A friend of mine who has one of best digital set ups I have ever seen does occasionaly print for others, contact me off list if you are interested. Hope this helps a bit...
Ted.....Bill Glickman has just written in a nutshell, a clear and concise synopsis of everything you should know and do when the final output is a digital print.
You ahould see the look on some the peoples faces behind the counter at some of these service bureaus when you start asking them detailed questions such as these before considering whether or not to have them do the job. The bottom line is nobody is going to care about your project like you are, and knowing exactly what you want, having your own printer might be the way to go.
In terms of lightfast these materials are, I don't believe some of these claims of 70-100 years, and whose going to be around to tell them they were wrong. The permanence issue notwithstanding, go get your own printer, at least with your own printer, your mistakes will be made for free.
Pricing at service bureaus come in three categories....
1) We're pricey but we ain't trying to get rich off one Job.
2) Greedy and proud of it.
3) We're taking all your money because you were dumb enough to come in here.
Silicon Gallery in Philadelphia does beautiful work and the digital artists around here swear by them. (Not at them.)
It a shame all service bureaus are not like Silicon Gallery, but the fact is they're not. Does pointing that out upset you? Anybody who has eyes can go on the web and compare prices to see how greedy some service bureaus can be.
I wish they were all honest, but they're not.
Johnathan, your right, you can get some really blank stares from service bureuas when you press them for this information. The tend to know less than actual digital printers who do nothing but make ink jet prints. You almost have to dedicate 18 hrs a day to this craft as it seems issues are changing every day... hence the reason many people are printing on their own now...
When I would go to a lab for a photomechanical print, I would sometimes ask the individual taking my order, 'are you a photographer?,'when I was going to need some complex 'burning and dodging' and so forth. Most of the time these people would be forthright and suggest, 'hey..why don't I bring the printer out here', which all but guarenteed that there wasn't going to be any confusion about my print.
I've gone to service bureaus and asked the individual who's taking my order if they in fact do digital themselves, and in response I've many times gotten back this 'how dare you' look, and an emphatic No to my next question of 'then can I talk to the printer'. This scenario is quicksand.
When the above scenario happens, I just walk right out of the service bureau. In the past when I said ok and trusted the individual to interpret my instructions corredtly, the resulting digital print would many times be a mess and there would be a dispute, and they would have the nerve insist that I pay for the botched printed in addition to the corrected print('there was nothing wrong with the way the order was taken, it's your computer, and if you want us to fix it, you have to pay for another print.')
There is a 'one man shop' out here in California, the name right now escapes me, that does good work and there may be others that I'm unaware of, but many service bureaus as you say Bill, stick people on the front desk who have obviously been instructed to not let you talk to the technical people even if it will make the job go easier. I go less and less to service bureaus now because I'm tired of fighting through the maze. Hopefully Ted can find some easygoing folks who'll work with him.
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