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Noob question re printing file format

AreBee

Member
Hello all,

Question: If a professional printing company required customers to upload images for giclee printing in jpg format would that be a red flag to you?

My understanding is that it is best to capture images in the largest bit depth but that when it comes to printing the norm is to provide a downsampled 8-bit file in lossless format, e.g. TIFF. Is this correct? I'm aware that jpg is an 8-bit format, but also that it is lossy. Is the latter an issue, or not really?
 

usm

Active member
What I know is that printing from 100% jpg or TIF in 8bit is equal. For cmyk printing I always use tif because some software/hardware rips have troubles with cmyk jpg. Also I have but this subjective.
 

Duff photographer

Active member
Question: If a professional printing company required customers to upload images for giclee printing in jpg format would that be a red flag to you?

My understanding is that it is best to capture images in the largest bit depth but that when it comes to printing the norm is to provide a downsampled 8-bit file in lossless format, e.g. TIFF. Is this correct? I'm aware that jpg is an 8-bit format, but also that it is lossy. Is the latter an issue, or not really?
Answer to the first part. Nope, not at all...

...as long as the JPG output is of the highest quality (12 or whatever in Photoshop, for example). At that quality, opening of the file for printing has no discernible effect. We did this for one JPG file by opening, saving and closing it 20 times prior to a second printing. There was no detectable difference between the first and second print. We didn't carry on opening, saving, and closing the file until we could finally see the degradation as life was (is) too short. ...and no there was no difference compared to an 8-bit tif file either. Please note that no editing of the file in jpg format was undertaken. That can cause degradation, depending on the edit.

Answer to the second part. You can send a 16-bit tif to the printer, and they will print it off (if their printers support 16-bit), but because of the limitations of today's printers (and inks and papers), you won't see the difference between a 16-bit tif and an 8-bit (highest quality) jpg. By the way, if you capture an image in 8-bit depth raw file (most DSLR images), editing it as a 16-bit won't give it extra range, it just reduces vastly the damage editing a mere 8-bit file can do. So certainly edit your file in the highest bit-depth possible - within reason, 16-bit is the standard and often default editing bit-depth. Anything higher than 16-bit gives no return for a more massive file size (at least at this moment in history).

For high quality printing, the main thing is to capture and edit the image in a lossless file format (capture as raw, edit as tif, psd, or whatever), making sure everything at your end is calibrated (usually only the monitor). Then for ease of emailing and printing (small file size), convert the tif, or whatever lossless file, to the highest quality jpg, and this will be the last thing the photographer does before emailing it to the printer. (A little secret, even if you ask the printer to print it as a tif, they'll secretly convert it to a jpg and then print ;) )

Cheers,
Duff
 

Rand47

Active member
What’s missing in your question is color space. If the lab that wants jpeg also insists on sRGB as the dolor space (or worse yet squashes your file into sRRB after you upoad it) then depending on the image there could be truncation of the color data. I won’t use a lab that will not accept, and respect, 16 bit tiff files in ProPhotoRGB.

Rand
 
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