Prints from digital photos - photo stores suck

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 Post subject: Prints from digital photos - photo stores suck
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:10 am 
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Not sure I should be writing it even here,but I guess I just needed an "understanding place" where to vent my frustration..

Just had the most disappointing experience with my local photo store. I try to support the brick & mortar shops, but experiences like this just make it seem like a waste of time.

Anyway, we went on a 3 generation trip with my in-laws last august to spain in order to celebrate my father in laws 70th birthday. And for him to remember the trip, decided to make a photo album. So we picked around 300 photos which I duly went through with Aperture/Lightroom and then put on a memory stick to have them developed to 4x6. It was to be a traditional photo album with comments written by hand etc.. to make it a little more nostalgic.

Anyway, the first thing was that they forced me into using one of those photo kiosks.. hated that experience, but figured what the heck if the results are good. I can tell you it was pain since I had some crops in the batch which had different ratios..

Anyway, a day later I went to get the photos and drove the 10 minutes back home to check them out. They were utterly crap!

1) colors all over the place
2) white balance shifts in the middle of photos in bright daylight
3) color stripes/banding bang in the middle of the photo
4) strange gray cast over the whole photos
5) highlights totally blown
6) shadows blocked
... the list goes on

It looked like most photos were 1,5-2 stops under exposed but still with blown highlights.

Naturally I took the photos back and gave them a serious talking to. Showed them about 20 example of the worst kind. After about 10 minutes of arguing the agreed to make a new batch. So I leave to come back the following day... get the photos, go back home. And.. major disappointment! The photos were better, but still utterly crap.

At this point I just got so mad that I figured for the sake of peace of mind, I'll use what I can and print the rest at home with my photo printer. It is just so frustrating that one can use a (at time of purchase) 160€ multifunctional Canon Pixma mp620 at home and get better results than you get from a dedicated setup.. And that Pixma is now nearly 5 years old! And the printer isn't even calibrated..

Also the fault couldn't be in the photos either since some of those photos were actually published here and dpreview & likes and got a very positive response. I used the very same photos with the same treatment, just exported to different size.. and 4x6 is very forgiving format anyway!

Needless to say that particular brick & mortar will not be seeing my money again.

Just needed a place to went a bit with people who understand the frustration. One would expect certain level of professionalism & quality from a photo store.. :evil:

//Juha


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 Post subject: Re: Prints from digital photos - photo stores suck
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:12 pm 
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I understand your experiences and frustration. I've gone through similar issues (even with a a calibrated monitor), and decided a good printer was just as worthy an investment as a new lens or camera. I do like one of the local camera stores, but now that I have a printer I'll only be going to see potential purchases in person and get my color film developed.

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 Post subject: Re: Prints from digital photos - photo stores suck
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:58 am 
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That is most definitely frustrating, and I can totally understand. It'd be one thing if it were a profile mismatch (sRGB vs. AdobeRGB, etc.) but it sounds far worse than that. Even worse is the attitude they seemed to give you. None of which inspires confidence with nor makes you want to frequent the local B&M shop.

I've only had limited experience with a third-party and that was because I needed to print in volume... Something the home printers aren't quite so good at since the costs mount quickly between the ink and paper. Then there's the durability... Commercial prints just seem more durable, more like proper prints from negatives.

But in the end, for smaller volumes and "those" prints you plan to hang on your own walls... You'd be hard-pressed to beat printing yourself. You'll care more about the final quality, won't mind spending more time tweaking it, and you'll have the benefit of immediate feedback (and/or correction as-needed).

Perhaps a little late for this project - but maybe in the future, try one of the online services? I doubt I'd go back to the locals, and if so - not without checking the prints before accepting them. What a shame. But this isn't unique to digital I'd say... I recall many a time where I've picked up traditional prints and been disappointed too. The store equipment is often heavily used, cleaned and calibrated poorly and the (usually young) hourly wage employees have little interest in quality. I've all but given up color film because even the "pro" lab I went to gave me water drop and fingerprint covered negatives!

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