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Loxley vs DS Colour Labs

Discussion in 'Digital Image Editing & Printing' started by EightBitTony, Apr 27, 2018.

  1. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    My understanding has always been that lab software cannot, in general, read profiles, and assumes everything to be sRGB. Thus, nothing is converted to sRGB at the front end. Files are converted to the printer profile on that basis. If the printer profile happens to contain colours outside of sRGB, as they often seem to do, these colours get clipped unless the lab sends the file to the printer with "no conversions". This service seems relatively rare (I'd ask DSCL about this if I were going to bother). One reason labs might ask you to "edit in sRGB" is so you can't preview/soft proof colours in the printer profile that are later clipped.

    Buried on DryCreek somewhere is a sentence (a few years old) that says "many versions of the Fuji Frontier PIC driver crash when given files with profiles embedded", but presumably labs would alert customers to such a problem.
  2. Waypoint Charlie

    Waypoint Charlie Active Member

    I think different labs handle things in different ways. I do have a technical background in imaging, but more on the display side, so don't claim to be an expert in printing. It's simply based on various things I've read and from the results of various tests I've made. From what I've observed so far (and I may be wrong)...

    Loxley accept sRGB and somehow do the necessary conversion at their end. It seems to work.

    Sim Lab request sRGB but this is not ideal for their print process. In other words, it's not colour managed. You might get better results by converting files you send them to the generic DP II Fujifilm profile for Frontier Print sRGB (not PD Mode), provided you don't embed the profile in the files (as this might prompt the uploader to convert to sRGB, which defeats the object).


    DS request that the files are supplied converted to the correct paper profile to their print process. In other words, the colour management is down to you. This is good advice and their custom profiles aren't bad. They could probably be a little better, but for the money it seems very churlish to complain. The only issue I've found personally is with the web uploader converting the files to sRGB, but you can prevent this by not embedding the profile. If you send them sRGB files (as I'm sure many customers do) you'll get prints looking similar to what you'd get back from Sim Lab.

    From what I understand (and again I may be wrong) the Fujifilm Frontier machines can be configured to operate in PD or sRGB modes. PD stands for 'Print Direct' and provides access to the full native printing gamut. sRGB mode seems to attempt to restrict the gamut to sRGB colour space. However, and this is important, it does not mean that the printer behaves like a device conforming to the standard sRGB IEC61966-2.1 profile for every paper type. If it did, they'd be no reason for Fuji to supply their own profiles for the sRGB mode.

    My suspicion is Sim Lab and DS operate their machines in sRGB mode. If they were configured to PD mode I'd expect some of the printed colours to look more saturated. I wonder if there's some misunderstanding at Sim Lab into thinking that the sRGB mode on the printer conforms to the standard sRGB IEC61966-2.1 profile. My guess is they do know but they are not setup to perform the conversion on all the sRGB files they receive. And why should they bother, if customers don't notice or don't care?

    I found this article informative. It's quite old (I think updated in 2012) but much of it seems applicable today. Note the Fuji test image in the middle. That's how that it looks if I send an sRGB profiled file of that image to Sim Lab or DS. Standard sRGB is simply not the correct profile to use.


    I'm sure all this is far beyond the comprehension of the vast majority of customers (including many at my local photo club) who simply want to get their sRGB files printed. They want to concentrate on the creative side and leave the printing technicalities to the professionals, which is perfectly understandable. If that's you, go Loxley.
  3. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    Almost no labs are colour-managed, including Loxley. If they were, you'd be able to send them Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB files and they wouldn't insist on sRGB or deny you the possibility of converting to the printer profile. It's not even colour management, strictly speaking, if you convert to the printer profile and the lab sends the file straight to the printer, but it is a pure process that amounts to the same thing (you've done all the CM before sending the file and only require that the profile accurately represents the output). Only a very small percentage of photographers would bother unravelling this stuff, but labs that offer the service for reasons other than gimmickry may as well get their advice straight. Sticking to sRGB is less of a headache as long as it works.

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