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@Bkkimages / How Is Print Paper Holding Up ?


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As I looked at your shots, I noticed that you are using the contrast tolerance to the fullest, on screen.

With all the new cameras pushing the ISO limit and contrast further and further, I wonder if print paper has increased its F-stop tolerance too, and can the eye still distinguish the nuances?

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ThaiPhuket -

I think you meant me @bangkokimages?

This is a huge subject so please allow me to make some bullet statements in response and then I can reply to any of them you ask about.

1. When processing images it's most beneficial to process for your destination. This by itself is a big subject as there are a multitude of destinations, most requiring a different processed image for optimal results. A print requires a very different processing than a web image, as you imply papers are limited and different papers limited in different ways. I'll process a web image differently from a image I print, or differently from a web image or an image I print myself for an image I sent to a print lab. I'll process differently for different print labs. Some clients who will use my work in an advertisement which will be printed in a brochure or magazine require the CMYK colorspace which requires a much different processing as well. So it depends.

2. If you ask why a web image requires a different processing than a print image, part of this is more than the paper. Like paper, the screen has limitations/requirements and there are a multitude of screen types just like papers. The advantage goes to paper because you'll know what paper you're using so you can optimize for that specific paper, but you have no way of knowing what screens or how they'll be set up, so you are more restricted.

3. Your own monitor and how it's profiled will affect all of the above.

4. And obviously, your tastes results in different requirements. By that I mean your taste in capture style, lens, light, your workstation, choice of papers, and artistic preferences all come into play.

5. Ideally, you shoot with a goal in mind. From capture to presentation you make choices which effect small and sometimes big changes.

I think the screens are the most common misunderstood area. I wrote several articles knowing I couldn't cover it all in anything less than a large book.. but I tried to include the most needed information. They might be worth a read:

Monitor Basics

Gamuts, Color Profiling, and the Internet

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Thank you for your comprehensive reply. I am roughly familiar with screen calibration, CMYK for printing with a printing press. I admit, my question was sloppy, didn´t think of printing press but of good photo prints. In the olden days if one printed off slides the dynamic range was limited to, if I remember correctly, 3 f-stops on Cibachrome.

My question was: has that increased, or asked the other way, has photo paper kept up with development ?

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Thank you for your comprehensive reply. I am roughly familiar with screen calibration, CMYK for printing with a printing press. I admit, my question was sloppy, didn´t think of printing press but of good photo prints. In the olden days if one printed off slides the dynamic range was limited to, if I remember correctly, 3 f-stops on Cibachrome.

My question was: has that increased, or asked the other way, has photo paper kept up with development ?

I'm afraid it's going to seem like I'm dodging the answer again.. but let's give it a try.

AFAIK traditional chemical photo paper has only made incremental improvements in dynamic range. For anyone following the thread "dynamic range" is defined as the distance between the darkest and lightest pixel (or set of pixels depending on the definition) of the image.

Inkjet papers have only made incremental changes as well, however the printers themselves have made more signficant improvements. Added up they have not kept pace with the increase in dynamic range of modern DSLR's. Even the metallic papers can't keep up.

As you probably know glossy paper will exhibit more DR than say Matte. So you'd process the image differently for each.

As a very general rule the average human eye can discern 14-15 stops, the best camera 10, the best monitor 9, and prints are typically 4-5 stops. I say "very general" because this stuff varies greatly and it's possible for a great monitor to out perform a typical DSLR and so forth.

We're all familiar with "toning" or "tone mapping" in HDR photography? This is where after we combine our images the resultant image looks like garbage. It's not really garbage, it's just that the dynamic range of the un-toned HDR image far exceeds that of the monitor we're viewing it on, and possibly even of our eyes to see it. So, we "tone" the image with the primary purpose of reducing the contrast (dynamic range) so we can see and further process it on our monitors. WIth the best inkjet printer and papers we can sometimes print a greater dynamic range than our monitors can display.. so with great experience we sometimes adjust certain aspects (normally highlights and deep shadows) "in the blind" on our monitors, so we get a higher DR image to print. This requires great experience and care.

And get this.. a cheap monitor with 1000:1 dynamic range might be capable of displaying 10 stops, but we'd never profile a monitor at that contrast setting.. for instance current my NEC LCD2690uxi2's profiled for the web (sRGB) are showing roughly 6 stops, if I change them to ProPhoto 4-5 stops. So the wider the gamut and the more accurate the colors, the less dynamic range.

So.. what the papers/printer can do in relation to the monitor in relation to the camera.. depends on which aspects of the image are important to you. Color accuracy, wide gamut, dynamic range, etc, etc..

I guess I'm trying to say is sure, papers for ink jets are better than ever, but we will probably never realize that gain for the majority of our uses. And that's because camera, monitor, printer, paper.. all have different capabilities but at the same time must work together.. and how they do this depends on which aspects of the image are the most important to us.

Clear as mud eh?

This is more science and technical mojo in this topic than most anything else I can think of in photography.. because it brings all these pieces of equipment together at their higher ends.

On the other hand.. it makes me thing and I've already made several notes on some areas I need to research to make current my personal knowledge in those areas.. so great question!

Edited by BangkokImages
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It is a real pleasure, BangkokImage reading your very informative posts, composed with seemingly ease !

It is also a pleasure to see how generously you are sharing knowledge and experience.

You LIVE photography with images and words!

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It is a real pleasure, BangkokImage reading your very informative posts, composed with seemingly ease !

It is also a pleasure to see how generously you are sharing knowledge and experience.

You LIVE photography with images and words!

Thank you. I hope I was able to shed some light on your question.

Photography is a gift..

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