Dissapointed with prints from lab. Help!

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Matt5791, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I have been a bit disappointed with some of the prints I've been getting from my usual lab.

    I'm sure it is the prints not my exposure - I'm using a Nikon F5 and it has been mainly in connection with shots taken at weddings - not handy ones to get wrong!

    The prints seem very flat and skin tones are poor - sometimes people can look ill!

    So I want to send a roll of negs off to another lab for a direct comparison.

    Can anyone suggest a really good lab for RA4 in the UK?

    Any help much appreciated
    Matt
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    What kind of film are you using? I know I had a couple of problems this summer on one of the weddings I did, the normal film that I was using was looking blue and flat, I sot a couple of test rolls with another type and they looked alot better..

    Dp
     
  3. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I only use fresh Kodak Portra 400NC.

    I try and eliminate any possible chance for errors in exposure or with the negative generally. I expose 400NC at 320. The negs look fine too.

    I'm suspicious because I know the lab was busy this week and I am wondering if they just printed them rather quickly.....
     
  4. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I know I was real disapointed in my results from 160NC and 400NC this summr, but you might be right, they could hav rushed through them without much correction as needed, have you taken them back in and asked them to check to see if they can be done better? I know the local lab here I work with, will always print over if I am unhappy and can describe why I am unhappy..

    Dp
     
  5. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    This is why I want to have them reprinted by somewhere else reputable first so I can do a side by side comparison.

    I just cant believe my negs are that bad!! - I'm sure the prints should be better.
     
  6. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Oh I agree, I know you can miss pretty big with C41 and still get quite good prints with them, I do know alot of the labs here in the states will print pro films of weddings neutral...I would say if the exposure in the negs look good, there should be no reason to get good prints..

    Good luck, I sorry, I don't know about any of the labs in the UK, so can't help there..

    Dave
     
  7. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Peak Imaging (http://www.peak-imaging.com/htmls/title.htm) are the lab I keep hearing are very good. I rarely shoot colour so have no personal experience of them, but I'm sure some other UK colour shooters will pop up with experienced suggestions...

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  8. Shane Knight

    Shane Knight Member

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    I don't know your situation completely, but if the lab has done well for you in the past, why don't you just communicate your problem and give them another chance to reprint the order. RA4 prints can be printed many different ways with many different cast of colors and contrast; can't get them right 100% all of the time.

    It the lab refuses or questions your request, then dump them.

    Shane Knight
    www.shaneknight.com

    western horse
     
  9. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I totally agree with you - I really like the people at this lab and get on well with them. I will speak to them probably tomorrow, but I would like to see another attempt by someone else too.
     
  10. Shane Knight

    Shane Knight Member

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    That alone is worth a pot of gold.

    Good luck!!

    shane knight
    horse photography
     
  11. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

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    Matt

    I have been using Peak for a good few years now. Their prints from C41 are always good (except some proof prints from 5x4). I use Fuji films, but would expect them to have it calibrated for Kodak.

    Used them for a wedding earlier this year. All parties pleased....

    Have had quality issues with their E6, but not C41.
     
  12. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Hi Matt, In your area I can recommend Colab U.K. in Coventry they are a good pro lab, I have used for many years for my wedding work their website is being rehashed at the moment their address is -: Colab U.K.
    Herald Way
    Biney
    Coventry
    West Midlands CV3 2NY
    Ph. 024 76440404

    I don't know how close this lab is to you Matt, but it's a great advantage with wedding shots not to entrust them to the post if it can be avoided, I speak from bitter experience
     
  13. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    Thanks for that. I have used colab - but I stopped becuase I didn't like their prints - I thought they were flat a lifeless.

    ........looks like I'm sounding like a pedantic pain in the ass customer.....

    It was a few years ago and it was when I first started using medium format. I shot a number of rolls in Spain (C41) and took some to Colab and some to Peter Gaffney Metro lab in Birmingham. The Birmingham lab seemd to produce prints with real depth, and the Colab prints were, as I say, dull and lifeless.

    Subsequently the Birmingham lab started producing too many errors like lines and uneven print quality across the prints and so I started using a different lab again.

    Now they seem to have variable quality and this latest batch is horrid. They said that they were very busy last week so I'm wondering if they just whipped them through as quick as possible........

    .......thinking about it one of the guys there told me he had printed something like 1200 prints in one day recently - mabey it was another of those days.

    I think it would obviously be worth trying Colab again on the basis of what you are saying Bentley.

    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  14. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Matt, on the two occasions I have ever been unhappy with Colab's work over the years and have complained, they have reprinted it , their customer service was very helpful, I suggest as you say, give them another try with a film that's less important than a wedding.
     
  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    It has been a very long time since I worked in a colour lab, but I can certainly remember having the odd bad day. I was doing mostly wedding and portrait proofs, on a machine printer. Mostly, if some work came out substandard, I would catch them and reprint them, but if any slipped through, and the customer brought it to our attention, we would reprint them without question.

    And we really encouraged our customers to bring their concerns to our attention.

    Sometimes, what the customer sees as a bad print, turns out to be the results of photographer's error, or printer's (difficult) choice. Underexposed negatives often yield poor colour, and shots taken with multiple light sources (e.g. flourescent overhead, window light, and flash all at the same time can be quite an adventure) require best guesses from the printer.

    As a printer, if you do a lot of work for a particular photographer, you often get to know that photographer's preferences. One portrait photographer who used us had a style and look that resembled shots taken in candlelight - it was important that his proofs appeared very warm, rather than neutral.

    Unless your work is like that - very similar lighting and subject throughout, I don't know whether having another lab reprint what are in essence proofs is goint to help you - every lab will vary slightly from day to day, and roll to roll. With respect to colour balance and exposure issues, you need to see how they handle a number of rolls, of varying subjects, over a period of time, before you can determine what their quality is like.

    Please note that these observations are limited to colour balance and exposure - evidence of sloppy film handling is a reason to immediately look elsewhere.

    Matt
     
  16. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    1,200 prints in a day is NOTHING. Even most pro labs are using a minilab set up and not custom printing each individual proof. 1,200 prints equates to 50 rolls of 24 exposures only getting singles.....We could get this done easily in a slow day at my lab with good results....
     
  17. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    At the lab I used to work at, we used to do over 300 rolls a day, that was a normal day, a busy day we were around 500-600 rolls processed and printed a day and we able to maintain consistantly good results, but we did have to balance the machines everytime we started a new roll of paper, and I know many 1 hour places that don't balance when they start new rolls of paper everytime.

    Dave
     
  18. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    Well I will see what the other lab turns up.

    I have thought of a good way to get over how the current prints look - like the sort of prints you would expect from a disposable camera.

    Maby I have the figure wrong - the guy from the lab is an experienced printer so mabey it was something like 4000 prints.

    I get the reprints on Monday.
     
  19. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    which is why i LOVE fuji equipment. Both the SFA and the Frontier that I've worked on have been set up specifically to not allow printing if the balances aren't done!
     
  20. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I don't know the type of ilm that you are using but find that Nikon meters are biased to Trannie film ie, slight underexposure. Print film handles overexposure much better than underexposure (usually 1 stop under and 3 stops over) will give acceptable results.
    When exposing Fuji NPH or Portra 400 I rate these at 200 in my F100. NPS or Portra 160 go to 100, this will give you a little more punch.

    For outdoor work the VC versions of Portra are more suitable than the NC which are more for studio flash and other controlled situations.
    Hope this is of some help, Cheers
    Tony
     
  21. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    The Lab uses a Noritsu I believe.
     
  22. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    OK - got my reprints from the alternative lab and there is a distinct difference.

    I had a set of 7X5's from 35mm and a set of 8X8's from the Hasselblad reprinted.

    The prints from my regular lab, side by side, appear far too contrasty and loose a lot of detail into the shadows - infact they are generally too dark.

    The prints from the Hasselblad seem to display the same characteristics, apart from the new prints are MUCH sharper and show considerably more detail.

    So I'm going to ask them to reprint a lot of them today.

    Anyone got any hints and tips - I dont want to fall out with them (which wont happen I'm sure becuase I get on with them well)

    Thanks, Matt.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2006
  23. Samuel B

    Samuel B Member

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    It would be interesting to know if the labs you have used are printing them on a digital lab or analogue.