View Full Version : Printing...JPEG or TIFF?

03-04-2012, 01:47 PM
I'm sure this has been discussed before but I couldn't find it so here goes.

My current situation: I shoot in RAW, edit in TIFF and convert to JPEG for upload to my lab(ACI). The reason for my final conversion to JPEG was twofold. It uploads much faster and I was under the impression that all labs printed in sRGB.

Would I see a difference in my print quality if I skip the JPEG conversion and upload TIFFs in the larger color space? Does the ROES uploaders change my files in any way?(such as autoconvert down to sRGB)

My question is in regards to competition prints AND client prints.

03-04-2012, 02:15 PM

We all (well most all) shoot RAW not jpeg because there is a visible difference in the file. If there was a visible difference in a print from tiff vs JPEG, we'd all be printing from tiff.

Call your lab and ask them for the definitive answer. Also ask what level of JPEG compression they prefer and if they want you to resize for the final print size or to let them do it.

Don Flory,
Manassas, Va.

03-04-2012, 02:56 PM
Greg, Text from ACI,

Color Space
To ensure we print the correct color of your image, send your digital files in with an
embedded sRGB profile.
NOTE: Most digital camera’s capture in sRGB. The working color space used
at American Color Imaging is sRGB.
Please submit your files at 250 dpi for the largest size image you need from that file.

03-04-2012, 02:58 PM
You are bringing up two separate issues here (at least).

The first is whether file format matters. The second is which color space to use to send to your lab. A possible third issue is whether to send 8 bit or 16 bit files to the lab.

There is no advantage to using TIFF vs jpeg, provided that you are using a level 10 or above jpeg. Whatever differences exist are too insignificant to be seen with the naked eye.

As to what color space to use, that kind of depends on the lab. Some of them insist on sRGB. Some of them can accept AdobeRGB 98. None of them can print the entirety of AdobeRGB 98, but if you are getting inkjet prints, the gamuts are much closer to AdobeRGB 98 than you get from the regular photographic printing process.

No matter what printer is being targeted, the printing process is apt to require the gamut of the image to be compressed to fit within the device (printer) gamut. How this is accomplished is what "rendering intent" is all about. In the relative rendering intent, out of gamut colors are simply clipped to the closest color that is within gamut, and the remaining in-gamut colors are unchanged. This is best for images with not too much that is out of gamut, and provides the most accurate colors. Perceptual rendering intent shifts the colors that are farthest out of gamut to the closest colors that are within gamut, and also shifts other colors proportionally to in gamut colors. It also shifts some of the colors that are within gamut in order to preserve relationships between colors. This rendering intent works best for images that have a lot that is out of gamut, as it preserves gradients and helps prevent posterization at the expense of color accuracy.

The best answer regarding what color space to send to the lab is to ask them what they want and give them that. They know best what their machines and workflow can handle. Labs tend not to handle the unexpected well, so it is best not to surprise them.

Like Don said, you may want to find out if they want you to send files at the final output size or if they want you to send them at the native size and resize the files themselves.

Lastly, you almost certainly want to send the files in 8 bit. Labs that can handle 16 bit files are few and far between.

03-04-2012, 03:27 PM
Ok, so considering the fact that my lab only works in sRGB this brings about a question I never thought I would be asking. Can I now get better results in terms of print quality by changing over to ink jet printing?

In the film days I printed everything so adding this to my workflow wouldn't be a foreign thought but I have no desire to go back to that if there's no quality improvement. Cost is a non-issue for me but if I can get better results from ink jet then I'm calling Epson.

03-04-2012, 04:20 PM
Well, yes, but it's not free. :)

It takes money, room, and time. Beyond the cost of the printer, you need to think about spraying or laminating your prints, mounting the big ones. Trimming the prints. And how much effort do you want to go through for someone ordering a bunch of 5x7s? The amount of labor required is not insignificant, if you consider all of the additional tasks required. And you have to have room.

03-04-2012, 04:26 PM
Greg, the procedure you've been following is perfect. Don't change.

03-04-2012, 04:59 PM
Lastly, you almost certainly want to send the files in 8 bit. Labs that can handle 16 bit files are few and far between.


Do you know any labs that will print from 16bit files? Thanks.

03-04-2012, 05:04 PM
No. I thought you found one. No?

03-04-2012, 06:15 PM
I tend to agree with Fuzzy about not fixing something that isn't broken. I really do have a stable business here that works well but I'm trying to find ways to make it even better.

I think my main thoughts are geared toward larger prints. I offer a "Competition Series" that my clients love. It obviously involves more work so I charge more...and the clients don't complain. If going to ink jet for these would increase their quality I could justify an even better premium for them. The clients that choose this series rarely care about the cost but I want any increase I make to be truly justified.

I've been underpriced for many years and have been spending the past 18 months working my way out of that rut. I'm finding that it's much easier to introduce a higher priced product than it is to increase the price of a current one. This was the mind set behind my competition series. My clients see it as a new product.

03-04-2012, 07:37 PM
Greg may I ask what is the difference on the "Competition Series" compared to regular prints?

03-04-2012, 08:30 PM
An interesting advanced JPG option to watch out for when saving a file is subsampling. You want subsampling to be set as 1x1,1x1,1x1 to avoid little blocks of color in the shadows.

03-05-2012, 02:58 AM
No. I thought you found one. No?

Just these guys, a little north of you. http://www.44wide.com/

03-05-2012, 03:34 AM
Nash Editions (http://www.nasheditions.com) in California produce some of the finest fine art prints in the world. They use Epson printers and are master printers. Owned by Graham Nash. Graham's first inkjet printer is now in the Smithsonian in Washington.
Take a look at his client list.
They print from TIFFs, 16 bit files.
Pricy, but I think worth it.

03-05-2012, 05:32 AM
Having printed in house before. I can say I would rather out lab inkjets than do it again myself. It was great having so much control but it also took a lot of time. Printing in house is a science and skill set of it's own. We did in house inkjet for 3 or 4 years and made the decision to go to out labs. At the time I was looking to get rid of one more hat and spend more time in more profitable areas.

Printing in house is an investment in equipment, supplies, time and new skill sets. It is literally another hat to wear unless you have employees you delegate to. We also had to mail order everything because there is no place here to pick up supplies. You had to control inventory because it could take a couple of days to get supplies in. You can't stock up too much because ink does have an expiration date. I knew another studio here that had a Epson 9800 but I don't think they kept it running to make it profitable though.

Don't get me wrong. In house printing is right for some people. It just wasn't the direction I needed to go.

03-05-2012, 07:09 AM
An in-house printing lab is like a boat - the two happiest days of your life are the day that you buy it - and the day that you sell it !

03-06-2012, 07:41 PM
I agree with Mark’s take on the file format differences. Assuming you haven’t processed the heck out of a JPEG (you did your raw processing and converted to JPEG), you’ll not see a difference on the print. That said, JPEG only supports 8 bits per color, some of the newer ink jets will accept and use 16-bit data. So what about these ink jets and their qualities over the lab which only accept sRGB (TIFF or JPEG)?

Ink jet prints by and large have a far greater color gamut. If you shoot brides in white wedding dresses all day long, not a big deal. IF saturation is important to you, that substantial gamut will easily be seen on the print. Most ink jets using pigmented inks will be far, far more archival (light fast) than any silver contone printer. You also have a huge option for paper types. Hundreds. From super glossy to canvas to fine art matt papers. The labs simply can’t match these options. Most of the modern, pro ink jet printers have gamuts that exceed Adobe RGB in important areas of color space. The Epson Advanced B&W is also very useful for those printing B&W prints both in terms of light fastness and speed/quality.

Lastly there is control and speed. Now say you are a perfectionist or you are a photographer who likes to control the print process (in the old days, most of us had darkrooms). If you fall into that camp and you have the time to make your own prints, there is no question in my mind you’ll produce a superior product compared to farming it out. But you might not have the time (in which case, can you hire someone to do this under your control)?