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I edited a RAW image file to my satisfaction, and want to send it to a print shop to print on a large canvas w/frame. They use ROES software to transfer the image to them. I have had bad results doing this in the past for regular prints, but I don't remember what format I sent those times, which came back muddy because I didn't want them to do any editing after I did my own editing.

So — the shop only accepts jpg or compressed tiffs, so I know I should save my RAW edited file as a tiff for this. My question is, as the tiff is transfered over the internet, will it lose quality? I don't want to pay over $100 for a canvas print only to be shipped to me as something other than what I edited myself. Any experiences with this out there? advice?

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    Barbara, why do you think "as the tiff is downloaded over the internet, will it lose quality"? Did you get problems when downloading some software for example (via internet)? Or did you receive some garbage mail (excluding spam)? – Romeo Ninov Jun 12 '15 at 15:40
  • It might help if you mentioned your TIFF settings, since TIFF has a great many settings and encodings (from FAX upwards) saying you sent them a TIFF is like me saying I drive a car, could be a Trabant, could be a Porsche... although in this case I suspect osullic has nailed the answer for you. – James Snell Jun 12 '15 at 18:44
  • You could always send them a md5\sha1 checksum of the image if you suspect corruption has occurred. This way they can verify. Generally speaking, things (outside of DRM) don't degrade when transfered across a network. – SailorCire Jun 12 '15 at 20:09
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If you have experience of sending files for print in the past and receiving prints that are "muddy" and don't match your expectations, the culprit here is "colour management", not the file format. The bits and bytes you upload to the internet are going to be the same ones that arrive at the print shop; the problem is whether they are "interpreted" correctly.

Colour management can be a bit of a can of worms, but the two key points are:

  • Make sure you are using a calibrated monitor. You need a hardware calibration device for this, such as those from Datacolor or X-Rite.

  • Use colour profiles throughout your workflow. This means your editing software must respect any colour profile embedded in your digital camera captures (or film scans if that's the case), and your output files should also be correctly colour-managed with profile information embedded.

On top of this, you need to be sure of course that the print shop also uses a properly colour-managed workflow and recognises/respects the colour profile in your images. (The reality is that they may not, and they may be expecting images only in the sRGB colour space for example - in which case, for best results, that's what you should provide them.)

In an ideal world, the print shop would provide you with the profile they use for the printer/media combination so that you could soft-proof prints before submitting an expensive job (choosing your preferred rendering intent and black point compensation setting), but for some reason this doesn't seem to be widely practiced.

In short, proper colour management ensures that there are no surprises and printed output matches what you saw on your monitor.

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    It's might be worth mentioning that the processes for printing onto a canvas often aren't usually great at colour rendering. They can be quite limited tonally especially at the cheaper end of the scale (which $100 may be depending on the size of the output.) – James Snell Jun 12 '15 at 18:49
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At the basic level:

  1. Transferring a file over the internet will not, in itself, cause it to lose quality, and
  2. The point of the ROES software is to make it simple to transfer files correctly. While it is possible for such software to send only a downsized sample of the image, this would largely defeat the purpose.

Whatever the problem you had with image quality before, it was unlikely to be due to image quality lost in transit. The Internet is a digital system and can the ability to transfer data with reliable bit-for-bit results is essential.

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