Jump to content

    If you want access to members only forums on HSO, you will gain access only when you Sign-in or Sign-Up .

    This box will disappear once you are signed in as a member. ?

Drug store (or 1 hour) photo printing

Recommended Posts

I just wanted to ask some questions about this for those in the know.

I dont normally do any printing of photos, just post online and leave on computer. I have taken a .jpg photo to the local drug store last year to get a 5 x 7 print made. I had done some editing with the photo such as enhance color a little, noise removal, adjusted histogram balance etc. When they printed the picture for me, it seemed to come out grainier than what it looked on the screen.

It was probably still in 72 Dpi, but the file size was set for an 8x10 so it was big enough to get a 5x7 with out stretching it. Anyway that was my last attempt at having something printed.

The other day, I sent my friend a couple .jpg files of their dog that also were digitally altered with editing. They looked great on the screen, but when she took them to the drug store printing service, they didn't even look like a real picture anymore.

My guess is that I have to increase the DPI on the main photo and then probably should save it to a .Tif file or something before taking to the printer.

Yes, the ideal solution would be to use that online printer that everyone talks about, but my friend is set in her ways with the one hour place. What can i do next time to make them print out better for others that want to get prints at the one hour place.

I was just curous if someone knows the process at the store machines that would decrease the digital image of the photo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

that's strange...

You can submit pics through an online service and get them at a 1 hour place. I know shutterfly sends prints to walgreens, cvs and target. Not sure if that works for anything bigger than a 4x6 though.

You can adjust the photos and cropping on the HSOforum, preview what they will look like, and pick them up at the one hour place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am going to re-post something I wrote a few years back. Stay with me for this it is important. You are making a common mistake when referring to printing.

Your print shop/magazine has asked for a digital photo at 300 DPI. Here is what they mean by that, I think!

They are really asking for a photo that will print at a certain paper dimension in inches at 300 pixels per inch (PPI). The term DPI is a holdover from when this setting in a digital photo would set the paper output quality (resolution) of a printed image (number of printer dots per inch). This is no longer the case. So DPI is a print term. DPI is a measure of how an image is printed on paper. Many software programs call DPI a measure of "resolution" which leads to more confusion since it is the resolution of the printed output, not anything to do with the "resolution" of the digital image.

If your publisher is looking for a digital photo to print at 10 inches by 8 inches, at 300 PPI, then they are really looking for a digital image with a resolution of 3000 pixels by 2400 pixels (regardless of the DPI setting of that image).

The concept that 300 PPI = photographic quality is also a holdover from the quality of printing equipment years ago. Current printers will output a good quality digital photo, with "photographic quality" at 200 PPI - so the requirements for a 10 inch by 8 inch paper photo become a good quality digital image with pixel dimensions of 2000 pixels by 1600 pixels.

What they really need is a file that is xxx amount of pixels. PPI is a term that equates to the amount of pixels per square inch or what your Canon camera (I think you shoot Canon) properly refers to digital resolution as the pixel dimensions of the photo. Neither the DPI or PPI setting in a digital photo changes the digital quality of that photo. In simple terms the resolution of a digital photo is its pixel dimensions. So when you save your file from your camera you are saving a file in PPI.

I found this example which illustrates the problem on a commercial photo web site.


Here's the scenario - a print shop/graphics designer/magazine asks a client for a photo at 300 dpi. They wish to print it out at 5" x 7". The client already has a beautiful digital photo with pixel dimensions of 2048 x 1536. The client notices that the photo editing software is showing that the photo is set to 72 dpi. So, following orders, the client types in 300 to reset the dpi to 300. In doing so the image is resampled and is enlarged over 4 times to pixel dimensions of 8533 x 6400. The client sends this enlarged 300 dpi photo. The print shop/graphics designer/magazine reject it (too grainy, too colour blotched). The client is crushed. The sad thing is that the client already had the perfect photo (2048 x 1536 @ 72 dpi) which would have been beautifully printed at 5" x 7" (at 292.6 PPI). The print shop/graphics designer/magazine didn't know what they really wanted.

So here is the deal, don't just change the DPI size because some programs re-size your photo PPI. Be careful or you end up with the above example. To change the DPI without changing the pixel size of the photo you should click off "resample image" which I believe Elements offers.

So this was in reference to another question but it applies to your case as well. How many megapixels are the files you trying to print? That is the real question you want to ask yourself. For a 5x7 photo you want at least a 1mb to 1.5mb file for decent printing. For an 8x10 you want to be in the 2-3mb file size. Many 1 hour photo places have a warning if your file size is too small to print at the size you are asking.

The other overlooked part of this is your monitor. Are you editing with a color managed monitor? Do you use a calibration device to ensure what you see on your screen is what the printer will see? Likely the answer is no. Most monitors are so far off from correct color it is not even funny! Printers, even many 1 hour shops have a printer profile which you use in a program such as Photoshop to ensure what you see on your monitor will match what their printer will output. This is called "soft proofing". The other important thing is once you have a calibrated monitor and used a printer profile from your print place of choice, I have found it is best to un-check the box normally found close to the check out area that asks if you want the photo or file "color corrected". Nothing but bad results usually come from this. If you are not "color calibrated" this may be something to actually leave checked. They may do a better job than your un-calibrated monitor will do in getting accurate color in the prints. The problem is they will NOT look like what you saw on your monitor.

I have had good luck with Sam's, Costco, and Walgreens as one hour printers using the above options. In fact in a bind I have used them for my professional printing for a print or two to fill an order. Sorry for the long winded post but most people have no idea what is involved and the proper steps that MUST be followed in order to get good print results.

Here is another recent post about calibrating your monitor and the devices that will do that for you.

Printing settings and Calibration

Link to comment
Share on other sites

She just brought the pictures into work tonight and they weren't as bad as she told me on the phone. But clearly there is something amuck.

In all 5 photo's ( 4 x 6" ) the dog is the majority of the photo and there is a blurry outline around the dog in most of the pictures. It kinda resembles a halo effect in the pictures.

The photos weren't super crisp from the beginning, but it seems like the printing process enhances the imperfections in the image.

Would having an increased DPI from the original file and using a .Tif file save more details?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I know you probably didn't read the above information, I apologize for its length. But it will help you understand the concept of printing and file size. DPI HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE QUALITY OF YOUR FILE. You can't just change DPI and save more details. A file (your digital photo) has a set amount of pixels. You can't "add" to that or increase the quality by changing a setting or using a different file format. There is a process called "up-sampling" but I won't even go into that.

Yes print generally will show any imperfections in your file. If they were not sharp and clear from the start they certainly will show that in print. The haloing is likely being caused by a lower quality lens or lesser quality sensor common in many point and shot cameras. Do you have an original file you can send me so I can look?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just seen you message Dan.

I use paint shop pro 4 for the editing.

I re sized the photo's to 1000 x 800 pixels (in 72 DPI) thinking that it would be good for an 8x10 and if she was only going to make 4 x 6 then it would be more than enough. The file sizes were only like 300K and maybe 500k so I believe that answered my question.

Jpeg files are suppose to be the least file detail, would one get better results with using a different file format for printing? such as Gif or tif or png?

I'll have to do the math next time to make sure I have enough pixels in the file for the proper size.

I've meant to do the monitor calibration thing for a while now and will have to look into that soon.

The haloing is likely being caused by a lower quality lens or lesser quality sensor common in many point and shot cameras. Do you have an original file you can send me so I can look?

The original was taken with a 7D and 70-200L IS II pictures were slightly over exposed to begin with. I'm at work now and cant post the original.

Here is a picture from cell phone of the printed picture with the halo. Its blurry because cell phone couldn't focus that close but you can still see the halo.


This one is similar but pulled off of Facebook page


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nothing came through in my PM's. Try sending me an e-mail at dbleitch at aol dot com. I do believe you have answered your own question though. Unless you do it correctly you likely have made things worse by trying to add pixels. When you do that you are interpolating pixels. That usually results in blurring what you started with. When up-sizing correctly or with special software you usually can not do any better than double your file size.

You might have been better off seeing what the results were with the original file size. A 500k photo if it is sharp usually will print OK at a 4x6 size, but nothing larger. A minimum of 800k is what I use for 4x6.

Oh and as far as the JPEG's, yes they are hold the least amount of detail of all the formats but I regularly print poster sized prints at 20" x 30" with JPEG's with excellent detail and sharpness. I have printed literally hundreds of them over the years with not ONE complaint about detail or sharpness. 95% of my shooting is JPEG so I can vouch they work fine if you have a good file to start with. Many print places especially 1 hour shops may only accept JPEG as a file format. Check with the one you use to see. Bottom line nothing wrong with the detail available in JPEG format.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well obviously your camera and lens are not to blame as far as quality goes!!! One thing you will find with the 7D is because of the higher density sensor you need to shoot at considerably higher shutter speeds than previously required. The old rule used to be double the focal length to get a minimum shutter speed. So if shot at 200mm focal length you want at least 1/400 - 1/500s shutter speed. With the 7D I try and double that!!! So at 200mm focal length I would want at least 1/1000s.

Might have something to do with your shot or not. But I was disappointed with my 7D the first few months of shooting it until I figured this out. The other issue could be the back lighting. It looks fairly severe in your above shot. Likely the problem is combination of all of the above. Shot me an original tomorrow or in the future and we will see if we can figure out what is going on.

We will have you on track in no time!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In outdoors shots, I'm usually around the 1200 - 1600 shutter speed for the most part using a 5 - 7 aperture depending on focal depth needed.

The back lighting and background probably did play a part in it. The scene was a training session with trainer and live birds and shooting so I couldn't be picky with my positions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LOL, I was talking to the gal at work tonight and discussing how she handing the files before printing. She gets the files sent to her Hotmail account and then saves them on her phones SD card.

I had sent her some larger files on Friday and she tried printing again and it came out really weak again. She was doubting my advice and picture quality.

I gave her my flash drive to use and we downloaded them from the Hotmail account to the flash drive and she is going to try it again Wednesday. I asked to see the files on her phone and if she had the image info. She shows me one of the files that I sent her that I know was 1MB in size and around 3200 x 2600 pixels. It says on her phone that it was 340 x 420, so somehow during the email and the save process on her phone that it was shrinking the file to a miserably low size.

Guessing that when she uses the flash drive with the files that are actually large enough to print good quality this should be solved.

She thought her system was good because the pictures she took with her phone camera were like 2500x 1900 pixels on the card so they printed good in her past experience. So something was getting re sized or compressed using the Hotmail to save to the SD card on the phone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now ↓↓↓ or ask your question and then register. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.