The Perfect Sunrise

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My professional print lab uses a high-end Fuji Frontier machine with its own profile that the customer downloads. The prints are of exceptional quality, except for the colour gamut, particularly with regards to weak reds and oranges. The lab has an exceptionally high reputation and wins many industry awards.

Why is it then that it can't reproduce these strong, rich colours like my old inkjet and are there any professional labs that can? If so, what should I be looking for in the labs' advertising?

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Are you sure what you give them uses such strong reds? That is, have you measured the red in your image to verify they're printing it wrong, as opposed to simply saying "it was more red on my Epson"? –  Dan Wolfgang Apr 21 '13 at 11:43
    
Yes, Dan, my display is properly calibrated and I can see the change in colours as soon as I convert to the Fuji profile. The lab itself doesn't consider this as a problem but I think I do. I've been looking at an old print from my first Epson printer which is predominantly made up of reds - there is no way this image would convert well to the lab's profile. –  Jonathan Posner Apr 21 '13 at 11:55
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What does the lab have to say about it? I have to imagine that an award winning lab has someone who can offer some authoritative information on the topic. They might even show you some counterexamples. If they do give you a response, please share it in your question. It's always helpful in these questions to show what research you have done. –  Jim Apr 21 '13 at 13:56
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The Fuji Frontier is a traditional (albeit digital) photographic minilab, right? That is, it uses light to expose photosensitive paper, which is then processed chemically. I suspect the need to "work" through photochemistry limits the gamut, compared to an inkjet squirting dyes or pigments directly onto the paper. But I haven't found anything to confirm this guess. –  coneslayer Apr 22 '13 at 14:59
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Well, you could use a lab that outputs on a high-quality inkjet, of course! Some related info here (jrista addresses gamut): photo.stackexchange.com/questions/35206/… –  coneslayer Apr 22 '13 at 19:21
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1 Answer

I worked at a one hour photolab for a year and a half and in almost every department of a professional lab over the course of 15 years. Matching colors sometimes requires extensive work. Often we had to request a color sample to match the most important color in the image (like bridesmaid dresses or other fabric swatches). The problem lies in the camera sensors ability to see color vs. how you perceive it.

If you are looking for a lab that can help you, I'd recommend the place where I worked. It's a family of business units geared towards your level of involvement in the photography industry: Miller's Professional Imaging / Mpix Pro / Mpix.

Miller's/Mpix focus is high quality fast customer service. Email this question over to the Mpix customer support and see how helpful they can be. Often, you will get a reply within minutes. If you prefer, they also have a forum, but I'd start with customer service.

Hope this helps.

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That's very helpful, thank you. However there is a very apparent difference in the reds, in spite of proper screen calibration etc. I'm talking a bit washed out/dull. Is the lab you're recommending in the US or UK (I'm in the UK) –  Jonathan Posner May 5 '13 at 19:21
    
I apologize. This lab is in the US. I'll try to get in touch with some friends that still work there and see if they can recommend a lab that could work for you. For what it's worth you might still ask them about color calibration. Even if they can't fulfill print orders for you, they'd still be able to give you technical assistance or advice. Like I said, customer service is their strong suit. –  B-Rell May 5 '13 at 20:54
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