Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crappy prints

Well, color me disappointed. I just got two silver fiber prints made from digital files today (that I mentioned earlier) and they're horrible. Extremely soft, no details. If they were made conventionally I'd say the enlarger was out of focus although I'm not sure how possible that is with these digital laser enlargers. I sent them unsharpened files, but they're supposed to take care of that and in any case I don't think that's the whole story - the quality's just plain bad. I would have been far better off with a $2 Costco print or just printing something out on my Epson.

I was so sure that these would be wonderful prints that I actually had already rewritten all the "about prints" stuff to include this option, redid all my templates, regenerated every page on the website with the pricing - I just had to make sure my test prints looked like they should and hit upload. "Trust but verify", basically - I know what a good fiber print should look like and if they looked like that I'd be set. And now I have to roll back to old versions (luckily I have them!) and regenerate everything.

I paid $90 for two prints, too - I really wish I'd just tried one to start but I wanted to try two different kinds of images as a better test. Again, I had no expectations something like this would happen.

I've written to the company - we'll see if I get a timely response. I'll give them a little time to either fix their problem or if they can't do any better provide a refund before mentioning their name. But if any of you were looking forward to this option, my apologies, and I guess that teaches me to believe marketing hype at all.

Update: I hadn't even bothered to compare them to the prints from my regular lab because there didn't seem like much point, but I did and sure enough you would want the regular lab print over the silver fiber print every time - and neither compares to a platinum print. Interestingly enough on one image there's a tiny bit more shadow detail than with the lab print, but the whole image is rather low contrast - I think they just pulled everything way in to avoid risking clipping, but with platinum it would have had more shadow detail than either and much blacker blacks. With the lab print a small adjustment would have given better results than the fiber print.

Something's seriously wrong here! Although I have to say - I'm feeling the love for my regular lab right now...

Update: They called and while they're very polite/friendly I'm not sure they entirely understand the issue. They're redoing the order and we'll see if the results are any better, but the conversation focused on this sharpening issue and I still don't think that's the whole story. But even if they manage to produce a decent print this time around it takes two weeks to get a print from them, and my customers aren't going to wait a month while I try multiple times to get a decent result out of the lab, and with my volume it's going to be massively frustrating for all concerned.

It's a real shame, because I've been getting requests for traditional (non-inkjet, non-cprint) images in larger sizes than I can do in platinum, and I probably would have been ordering quite a few 11x14 and 16x20 prints from them.

But who knows, maybe they'll thrill me on try two... in the meantime I'll continue reverting the entire site back to the version without fiber prints as an option...

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