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Author Topic: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing  (Read 46020 times)

Robert Ardill

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QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« on: July 30, 2014, 04:13:34 pm »

I have QImage Pro that I very occasionally use if I need to print a number of images at different sizes.  But normally I use Lightroom to print, with all final resizing / sharpening etc in Photoshop.  I have very low volume printing to an HPZ3100 and to an Epson 4880. Landscape prints and digital paintings only, pretty much; sizes 16x12 up to 30x20 typically.

I wonder if anyone has seen real print quality benefits with QImage over Lightroom?  If so I would consider moving to QImage Ultimate, but it seems to me that since both packages use the printer driver that if the image is already sized and sharpened that QImage would have no advantages over Lightroom.

Advice most welcome!!

Robert

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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 04:23:35 pm »

Have you done a search of this site? There have been numerous contributions on this topic. I have read much of it and I doubt you will find a conclusive, non-controversial answer. If you can test both and see which you like better in respect of process and results, it is the best way to address this question.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2014, 04:45:05 pm »

Have you done a search of this site? There have been numerous contributions on this topic. I have read much of it and I doubt you will find a conclusive, non-controversial answer. If you can test both and see which you like better in respect of process and results, it is the best way to address this question.
Hi Mark,

Yes, I have done a search and there are a lot of posts about QImage, but I could not find a comparison with Lightroom.  I've just done a test with a small image (12"x9") and I can't see any difference, so perhaps I've answered my own question (although the answer is based on a sample of 1, which is hardly conclusive!).

Robert
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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2014, 05:13:50 pm »

I would recommend testing for the usual sizes in which you make prints, and select a sample of images having different characteristics, for example, fine detail, or lots of sky where smooth tonal transitions are important or heavy shadows with lots of shadow detail, or a black and white conversion with lots of tonal gradation. These four types at your normal printing sizes should give you a solid appreciation of whether it matters which route you use.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2014, 06:50:21 am »

I would recommend testing for the usual sizes in which you make prints, and select a sample of images having different characteristics, for example, fine detail, or lots of sky where smooth tonal transitions are important or heavy shadows with lots of shadow detail, or a black and white conversion with lots of tonal gradation. These four types at your normal printing sizes should give you a solid appreciation of whether it matters which route you use.
Thanks Mark - Have you tried these tests yourself, and if so, what was your conclusion (for your images)?

Going at it from a slightly more theoretical than practical point of view, if the image is print-ready (in other words, if all of the cropping/resizing, tonal adjustment, sharpening, etc., has already been done), and all that we are asking of QImage and Lightroom (or Photoshop ... or other printing software) is to convert the image from the working space to the destination space (via the same CMM) and then feed the output to the print driver ... is there anything that could differentiate the quality of their output?

On the other hand, I don't see where a CMM can be specified in QImage ... so perhaps it has its own CMM, in which case it might be better for some images and some rendering intents, but not so good for others.

Perhaps this is a topic I need to take up on the QImage forum ... or talk to QImage directly.

Robert
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Ernst Dinkla

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2014, 08:25:37 am »

Qimage and Qimage Ultimate use LCMS as their color engine. I have not seen problems reported on its color rendering compared to Photoshop or Lightroom. QU behaves well with a variety of profiles I use for my Z3100/Z3200.

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2014, 08:40:45 am »

Going at it from a slightly more theoretical than practical point of view, if the image is print-ready (in other words, if all of the cropping/resizing, tonal adjustment, sharpening, etc., has already been done), and all that we are asking of QImage and Lightroom (or Photoshop ... or other printing software) is to convert the image from the working space to the destination space (via the same CMM) and then feed the output to the print driver ... is there anything that could differentiate the quality of their output?

Hi Robert,

Even if one doesn't use the usually better resampling algorithms, Qimage Ultimate has the capability to use the amazing (halo-free) Deep-Focus Sharpening (DFS) as output sharpening. Using both resampling quality and DFS, should (and does) provide superior quality, although the differences get more prominent with increasing output sizes.

Here, here, and here is some more discussion about some of these aspects.

Quote
On the other hand, I don't see where a CMM can be specified in QImage ... so perhaps it has its own CMM, in which case it might be better for some images and some rendering intents, but not so good for others.

Qimage uses the LCMS engine for its color management.

Cheers,
Bart
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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2014, 09:51:01 am »

Thanks Mark - Have you tried these tests yourself, and if so, what was your conclusion (for your images)?

Robert

No I have not. My suggestions are based on how I would go about doing such tests if I had the inclination to do so. But I do not, because I am on Mac, do not intend to install Parallels and Windows on this computer for what may be little (if any) incremental advantage (a lot of expense and potential Windows-related security issues) and I have been fully satisfied with the quality of print output I get from Lightroom, including the sharpening, which is very well-implemented. I know a huge number of Windows users think very highly of QImage, so if I were on Windows I would definitely test it quite thoroughly relative to Lightroom.

To be mindful of: I see from their website that QImage does not yet support the Sony a6000, which entered the market about four months ago. I would be frustrated by this because it is the camera I most use these days. Also, I could not find whether QImage supports soft-proofing. If that were correct, I would not use it for printing photographs, because I consider soft-proofing an important final step in adjusting my images for print. If I am wrong about that, so much the better for QImage.
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Ernst Dinkla

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2014, 10:43:00 am »

No I have not. My suggestions are based on how I would go about doing such tests if I had the inclination to do so. But I do not, because I am on Mac, do not intend to install Parallels and Windows on this computer for what may be little (if any) incremental advantage (a lot of expense and potential Windows-related security issues) and I have been fully satisfied with the quality of print output I get from Lightroom, including the sharpening, which is very well-implemented. I know a huge number of Windows users think very highly of QImage, so if I were on Windows I would definitely test it quite thoroughly relative to Lightroom.

To be mindful of: I see from their website that QImage does not yet support the Sony a6000, which entered the market about four months ago. I would be frustrated by this because it is the camera I most use these days. Also, I could not find whether QImage supports soft-proofing. If that were correct, I would not use it for printing photographs, because I consider soft-proofing an important final step in adjusting my images for print. If I am wrong about that, so much the better for QImage.

Check Google (no need to install Parallels for that)

Sony A6000 is supported in QU since early July. http://www.ddisoftware.com/qimage-u/tech-raw.htm

Softproof existed in the old Qimage Pro already; Ctrl+space gives the softproof image + information of the printer profile/rendering, hit space again and the normal image appears, Esc to go back to the main menu. Robert will know that.

In QU profiling can be adapted per image when several are already nested on the print page. Few applications or RIPs that have that feature. There are more QU features like that. Whether Roberts needs QU given his low print volume is a question I can not answer. Print quality like Qimage can deliver is possible with Lightroom + some other applications Bart mentioned in other threads. Whether it works as fast and easy as QU is another matter. Recalling old jobs with the right QU + printer driver settings is one of the things I would not like to miss. The QU job log is precious data for me.

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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2014, 10:51:28 am »

Yes right, on closer inspection of the list of supported cameras I see it is there - thanks for the correction.

Yes, one can use Windows without Parallels, but that means using Bootcamp, which is much less convenient. Anyhow, Parallels is a relatively inexpensive add-on compared with the price of buying Windows, an OS I left in 2010 and would be very reluctant to return to unless I had no options. I have it on my laptop  - did that for my consulting work "just in case" of compatibility issues for files I receive from others, but so far have made very little use of it. If QImage came out with a Mac version, at least out of intellectual curiosity, I would be interested in testing it versus Lightroom.
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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2014, 02:36:26 pm »

I have Lr, Ps, and QImage Ultimate. I use QImage when I need to exceed the Epson print length limit, and when I need to use different profiles for different images printed on the same sheet - I use is very little. I do no printer prep in Ps nowadays; I use it for layers and cloning when I need those.

There are several things I really dislike about QImage, including the user interface and the layout preview (which is way, way too small). There isn't a sufficient quality difference to make it worthwhile for me.

Brian A
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Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2014, 05:17:18 pm »

Hi Robert,

Even if one doesn't use the usually better resampling algorithms, Qimage Ultimate has the capability to use the amazing (halo-free) Deep-Focus Sharpening (DFS) as output sharpening. Using both resampling quality and DFS, should (and does) provide superior quality, although the differences get more prominent with increasing output sizes.

Here, here, and here is some more discussion about some of these aspects.

Qimage uses the LCMS engine for its color management.

Cheers,
Bart


Hi Bart,

I've been trawling through the links you gave me (with a lot of interest ... and some confusion).  To me, for the low-volume printing I do, it comes down to whether QImage can do a better job of resizing an image than I can in Photoshop, and do so more easily.

My workflow is like this: I do the initial development in Lightroom and apply a small amount of development sharpening (most of my images are 1Ds and 1DsIII, so they do need some sharpening, but I keep it at a minimum).  I then open the images in Photoshop and after any further adjustments, I size the image for print (at the print resolution - 300ppi or 600ppi for my HPZ3100).  I then apply sharpening: I use an edge mask and Smart Sharpen.  If necessary I will apply a further small amount of sharpening using the inverted edge mask (so I don't resharpen the edges): I often use the ACR filter for that as I quite like the Masking feature in ACR/Lightroom sharpening). I print from Lightroom, but I do not normally apply any print sharpening.

I've tried to compare this with QImage Ultimate, but my trial has just ended (as I was away for 10 days I've had little time to play with it) and my old version of QImage Pro doesn't have the DFS sharpening.  I wonder if you would have (the time and interest to have) a go with this image with QU - and resize it to 2x or 3x.  I'll do the same with my normal workflow and we could then compare the two.  I'm just thinking of the rendered files themselves, of course, not the actual print.

You can download the image here: it's a crop of a 1DSIII photo. http://www.irelandupclose.com/customer/LL/T13339.tif

Thanks!

Robert


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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2014, 05:25:08 pm »

Robert, have you tried a 100% LR workflow from ingestion to Print using all of LR's capture sharpening, output sharpening, softproofing and resizing capabilities? If so, what did you find wanting about it that you need to go all these other steps?
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2014, 06:17:36 pm »

I've tried to compare this with QImage Ultimate, but my trial has just ended (as I was away for 10 days I've had little time to play with it) and my old version of QImage Pro doesn't have the DFS sharpening.  I wonder if you would have (the time and interest to have) a go with this image with QU - and resize it to 2x or 3x.  I'll do the same with my normal workflow and we could then compare the two.  I'm just thinking of the rendered files themselves, of course, not the actual print.

You can download the image here: it's a crop of a 1DSIII photo. http://www.irelandupclose.com/customer/LL/T13339.tif

Hi Robert,

Here's a temporary link to a 3x upsample, Fusion interpolation, DFS set to 10 (I have no idea if that's the best setting for your printer / media).

Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 03:43:44 am by BartvanderWolf »
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Denis de Gannes

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2014, 09:13:03 pm »

I have been using Qimage as my go to printing software since 2003 and have never had the temptation to move to Photoshop or Lightroom. Lightroom is my go to software for processing my raw files and I have used since the initial Beta version. I have Photoshop CS 6. To match the resizing options in Qimage you would have to use the likes of Perfect Resize 8 (formally Genuine Fractals) as a plugin for PS CS or Lightroom at a cost of $150.
Qimage's user interface is different to Photoshop or Lightroom and takes some getting used to but then it is designed mainly as a Print Processing Program and its quality output simply great. You can edit, sharpen, crop, noise reduction whatever without altering the original file. Choose print dimensions, size, final print sharpening and send to print without ever creating any intermediary files.
If I use Lightroom for processing the raw file I can send a tiff via "edit in function" apply any further edits and print options an go.
Actually its the only software program which I use that is keeping me from moving to a Mac system.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2014, 09:18:02 pm by Denis de Gannes »
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Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2014, 07:45:18 am »

Robert, have you tried a 100% LR workflow from ingestion to Print using all of LR's capture sharpening, output sharpening, softproofing and resizing capabilities? If so, what did you find wanting about it that you need to go all these other steps?
Hi Mark,

Lightroom is great, but there are many things that are more easily done in Photoshop than Lightroom (and vice-versa), and there are some things that cannot be done in Lightroom but can be in Photoshop.  As just one example, it's very difficult to sharpen in Lightroom with an edge mask - with a great deal of time and effort I suppose one could do it with the adjustment brush, but it's a very inefficient way of doing it.  On the other hand, it's something that can be done in seconds in Photoshop, using an action.

I tend to work with both Lightroom/ACR and Photoshop together: initial development in Lightroom, then Photoshop with a raw smart object so that I can continue to use the nice ACR adjustments (including sharpening) while having the full power of Photoshop (or I use the Camera Raw Filter); I also use Lightroom to manage all of my pictures, including the ones that have been developed in Photoshop, and I use Lightroom for web, printing, slideshows, map etc.

There are times when I do nothing to an image in Photoshop - but to keep my workflow consistent I still use the Lightroom/Photoshop/Lightroom workflow.  I certainly wouldn't do this if I was a wedding photographer, say, as it would be ridiculously time-consuming ... but I'm not.  I'm a landscape photographer and my ratio of developed images to raw images is tiny.

Robert
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Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2014, 07:49:54 am »

I have been using Qimage as my go to printing software since 2003 and have never had the temptation to move to Photoshop or Lightroom. Lightroom is my go to software for processing my raw files and I have used since the initial Beta version. I have Photoshop CS 6. To match the resizing options in Qimage you would have to use the likes of Perfect Resize 8 (formally Genuine Fractals) as a plugin for PS CS or Lightroom at a cost of $150.
Qimage's user interface is different to Photoshop or Lightroom and takes some getting used to but then it is designed mainly as a Print Processing Program and its quality output simply great. You can edit, sharpen, crop, noise reduction whatever without altering the original file. Choose print dimensions, size, final print sharpening and send to print without ever creating any intermediary files.
If I use Lightroom for processing the raw file I can send a tiff via "edit in function" apply any further edits and print options an go.
Actually its the only software program which I use that is keeping me from moving to a Mac system.

Thanks for that Denis - it's really why I'm looking at QImage again.  Cropping/resizing etc., for print is a pain and if QImage can do as good a job as I can in Photoshop/Lightroom then I would certainly give it a very good try!

Robert
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Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2014, 09:00:29 am »

Hi Robert,

Here's a temporary link to a 3x upsample, Fusion interpolation, DFS set to 10 (I have no idea if that's the best setting for your printer / media).

Cheers,
Bart

Many thanks for that Bart.  I've done a screen comparison and there's nothing to it (QImage is slightly better in places and my sharpening is slightly better in others).  As I would (modestly) think quite highly of my own sharpening, this is a pretty amazing result for QImage, considering the 300% upsample.

I'm VERY nearly convinced!

Robert
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Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2014, 05:24:05 am »

Hi Robert,

... Fusion interpolation, DFS set to 10 (I have no idea if that's the best setting for your printer / media).

Cheers,
Bart

Hi Bart,

How do you decide what sharpening to apply to a print using QImage?  When I do it in Photoshop I view the image at print size so that I can get a reasonably good idea of how much sharpening to apply - but I don't see any way of doing that in QImage.  I understand that different printer/paper combinations require more/less sharpening, but at least if my starting-point is an image that is correctly sharpened when viewed on my monitor at print size, I can then apply more/less sharpening based on experience with the paper.

Doing it by trial and error will be very time-consuming and expensive (especially as my prints vary a lot with some having almost no detail and others with very fine detail).

I'll have a look at the training videos, but your experience (and Denis's too, of course ... or anyone who uses QImage) would be much appreciated!

Robert
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Denis de Gannes

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2014, 06:45:15 am »

Hi! Robert you can also go to the site below and get some advice, there are some very experienced and helpful users that offer great tips. http://ddisoftware.com/tech/qimage-ultimate/
Also some learning videos here including one on DFS.
http://www.ddisoftware.com/qimage-u/learn.htm
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 06:50:08 am by Denis de Gannes »
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