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Author Topic: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing  (Read 44831 times)

alain

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #60 on: August 08, 2014, 06:24:08 pm »

I had to take another look at the DFS code to see what it was doing in low contrast areas.  What I found was that it wasn't taking the radius into account when measuring local contrast so the piece of code that decides what is statistically significant (to sharpen) needed that factor.  About a half dozen lines of code later and we have the improvement in 2014.250.  See attached for the comparison.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention in a way that I could easily see/test it.  The problem doesn't easily show up on "organic" images: more on mathematical gradients.  But the result (in 2014.250) produces a much smoother result with less noise in areas like sky and evenly shaded areas, without affecting sharpness of notable edges.

Regards,
Mike

Thanks

As a long time user of Qimage, I'm quite happy that you spend the time to get always better results.  Qimage takes the hassle out of my printing and I get superb results.


Alain
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jrsforums

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #61 on: August 08, 2014, 06:41:25 pm »

Thanks

As a long time user of Qimage, I'm quite happy that you spend the time to get always better results.  Qimage takes the hassle out of my printing and I get superb results.


Alain

+1
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Denis de Gannes

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #62 on: August 08, 2014, 08:26:03 pm »

+1
Since 2003 and it just keeps getting better. :)
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Denis de Gannes

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #63 on: August 08, 2014, 08:40:30 pm »

Just to give you a bit more feedback, I've just done 3 prints of the same image for three different customers (30x20, 20x16 and 16x12), and with slight trepidation did this with QImage (on a lovely Canson Platine paper).  All three images had minimal capture sharpening in Lightroom (low radius, low strength, masking) and I then printed with QImage with the DFS sharpening set to 5 (and held my breath!).

The results were perfect - sharp, no haloes, no artifacts.  I couldn't have been more pleased.

Robert

I have always said that you cannot judge prints on a computer monitor, in the final analysis you can only judge from the actual print. Enjoy!
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #64 on: August 09, 2014, 03:40:40 am »

The results were perfect - sharp, no haloes, no artifacts.  I couldn't have been more pleased.

Great, mission accomplished.

Of course there will be those who say that LR  would have produced the same result, until they try Qimage ...

Cheers,
Bart
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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #65 on: August 09, 2014, 09:23:26 am »

Great, mission accomplished.

Of course there will be those who say that LR  would have produced the same result, until they try Qimage ...

Cheers,
Bart
\]

Setting aside all "vested interests" (e.g. I paid for it so it must be the best, or this is what I use so it must be the best, or this is the product I earn my living from so it must be the best....et. al.) I truly believe these comparisons are very difficult to make properly, for several reasons: firstly, the appearance of comparative outcomes could vary by image content. Secondly, each application being compared would need to be used in its optimal manner; thirdly, to the extent feasible, the comparison should islolate for all other variables that could contaminate the relative impact of the sharpening functions alone; fourthly, what several have said above - where prints on paper are the final output, the only way to come to operationally significant conclusions is to see the comparative results in a print on paper (and then what paper and what printer at what resolution- presumably a gloss paper using the finest detail settings of the printer and the native resolution of the printhead). These provisos of course are elementary scientific procedure as you well know. I'm not convinced the demos provided to date in this thread have shown conclusively that QImage is necessarily or systemically superior to what can be achieved in LR. It could well be the case - not saying otherwise, as I can't test this myself, insofar as I shall not install Windows on my Mac for this purpose alone. There are many interesting insights on this thread, but to say we have a definitive and generally applicable conclusion just yet - I wonder.
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #66 on: August 09, 2014, 10:37:58 am »

Setting aside all "vested interests" (e.g. I paid for it so it must be the best, or this is what I use so it must be the best, or this is the product I earn my living from so it must be the best....et. al.) ...

Hi Mark,

I'm not sure what vested interests you picked up from the previous discussion, but as far as I am concerned, I own licenses to both Lightroom (5.6 as of this writing) and Qimage Ultimate (2014.251 as of this writing), and compare based on output quality. Because that is 'hard' to convey on someone else's display, and tastes vary, I've shown some neutral samples which demonstrate what to expect, and what to look for. Display comparisons of print-file crops, which can be printed(!), do provide a first impression though.

Quote
I'm not convinced the demos provided to date in this thread have shown conclusively that QImage is necessarily or systemically superior to what can be achieved in LR. It could well be the case - not saying otherwise, as I can't test this myself, insofar as I shall not install Windows on my Mac for this purpose alone. There are many interesting insights on this thread, but to say we have a definitive and generally applicable conclusion just yet - I wonder.

As you said, there is only one way to convince yourself, but nobody is twisting your arm into doing so.

Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 02:52:28 am by BartvanderWolf »
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #67 on: August 09, 2014, 10:46:47 am »

Hi,

I would say that this is an interesting discussion, don't kill it please!

Best regards
Erik

Hi Mark,

I'm not sure what vested interests you picked up from the previous discussing, but as far as I am concerned, I own licenses to both Lightroom (5.6 as of this writing) and Qimage Ultimate (2014.251 as of this writing), and compare based on output quality). Because that is 'hard' to convey on someone else's display, and tastes vary, I've shown some neutral samples which demonstrate what to expect, and what to look for. Display comparisons of print-file crops, which can be printed(!), do provide a first impression though.

As you said, there is only one way to convince yourself, but nobody is twisting your arm into doing so.

Cheers,
Bart
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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #68 on: August 09, 2014, 10:52:43 am »

Fair enough Bart, and I won't be taking it any further for the reason explained. But it would be interesting if QImage were released in a Mac version - I'd definitely buy a license and test it, given how many knowledgeable people swear by it. However, daring to also say, my visual acuity and printing standards are kind of exacting, so if I were dissatisfied with the results I achieve with the tools I use, I would of course go the extra mile (or 1.6 kilometers). I'll leave it at that.

Cheers,

Mark
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #69 on: August 09, 2014, 10:54:25 am »

Hi,

I would say that this is an interesting discussion, don't kill it please!

Best regards
Erik


No one is killing it Erik -no reason why it shouldn't run its natural course. There have been no insults, swearing, obscenities or other no-nos that I'm aware of  :-)

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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #70 on: August 09, 2014, 11:37:21 am »

Hi Mark,

My response was not personally meant. I just felt the thread was turning a bit non constructive.

Just to make it clear, I really like Lightroom and the associated work flow, but I can see the merit of some other tools. Unfortunately, use of almost any external tool from Lightroom breaks parametric work flow. That is a very bad thing!

Best regards
Erik

No one is killing it Erik -no reason why it shouldn't run its natural course. There have been no insults, swearing, obscenities or other no-nos that I'm aware of  :-)


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Erik Kaffehr
 

Some Guy

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #71 on: August 09, 2014, 12:06:54 pm »




The original is just a square to which I applied a small amount of Gaussian blur to soften the edges.  As you can see, QU with DFS 3/100 has done a remarkable job – it has almost entirely restored the original, removing the Gaussian blur without introducing any halos. Amazing!  As a comparison, Smart Sharpen, also with 3/100 but without any backing off on Lightness and Shadows shows the expected lightening and darkening around the edges.  On this test DFS blows Smart Sharpen out of the water.

Interesting as that Adobe Smart Sharpening image is exactly what I've been having a problem with lately doing circuit board layouts where we need a sharp B&W transition and not shades of gray.  If we use PS Threshold on the Smart Sharpen to address the sharpening, it pixelates and drops what was a sharp circuit board trace (or line) into a jagged mess that needs to be retouched (hours!) for a clean straight edge.  Honestly, we can edit better within Windows Paint than PS if it must be sharp and with a clean edge-break image for circuit boards and layout.  Seems the longer we work within PS the worse the image becomes with regards to the edges and subsequent pixelations and shades of gray which we do not want to see at all.

We also use QU as the print maker since we can enlarge and shirk easily for the 0.1 pin layout matching.  Really has been a good print software for what we do over Adobe.

SG
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mchaney

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #72 on: August 09, 2014, 12:08:42 pm »

Mark's comments are perfectly valid.  There are a lot of complexities involved in testing, even down to the type of image you choose to perform the test.  Aside from DFS and sharpening without halos (which LR can't do), any and all of these tools are capable of getting within probably 5% of each other as far as print quality.  Even the difference between USM and DFS might not be noticeable for prints/setups that don't need a lot of sharpening in the first place, so wouldn't show halos even with USM type sharpening.  And, with all the plugins available, you can get close to DFS sharpening performance with some (albeit expensive) plugins for PhotoShop.

The way I see the Qimage Ultimate mission, it is to get you in that "optimal quality" range cost effectively and with the least hassle and (just as important) repeatably and reliably, minimizing the potential for user mistakes in those steps.  So while I'm not here to make claims that QU beats all the competition as far as quality and there is no way to achieve results as good as QU, what I will claim is that you can get equivalent quality to the best possible in any other program, with only a fraction of the effort.  And that quality is available to all users, not just those with years of experience pixel peeping.  Sure, if you know what you are doing, you can use specialized plugins, resample to exact levels required for a given print size, make sure your driver and color management settings are correct for a particular job, lay out your prints in an efficient manner on the paper, and so on... with most all of these programs.  The difference is: you can get there a lot faster, easier, and more reliably with QU... without having to be an expert.

Regards,
Mike
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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #73 on: August 09, 2014, 12:17:35 pm »

Hi Erik,

Understood. I too like to stick with a parametric workflow as much as possible for all the well-known reasons; that said, breaking it has become less of a quality issue over the years with various software improvements, but that is a whole other topic!
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Ken Doo

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #74 on: August 09, 2014, 02:32:24 pm »

....
The way I see the Qimage Ultimate mission, it is to get you in that "optimal quality" range cost effectively and with the least hassle and (just as important) repeatably and reliably, minimizing the potential for user mistakes in those steps.  .... The difference is: you can get there a lot faster, easier, and more reliably with QU... without having to be an expert.

Regards,
Mike

There are lots of great reasons to use Qimage Ultimate (managing paper profiles and addressing the George Costanza "It was the pool!" shrinkage effect come to mind).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DoARSlv-HU

I've been using Qimage for years. Mike's description sums it all up nicely.

 :) ken

Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #75 on: August 09, 2014, 03:52:34 pm »

Hi Mark,

My response was not personally meant. I just felt the thread was turning a bit non constructive.

Just to make it clear, I really like Lightroom and the associated work flow, but I can see the merit of some other tools. Unfortunately, use of almost any external tool from Lightroom breaks parametric work flow. That is a very bad thing!

Best regards
Erik


Regarding the question of parametric workflow ... of course it's great to stay in Lightroom (or other program that uses stored adjustment steps rather than actually altering the image), but we shouldn't forget that Lightroom has to render the image in order to make the changes.  Even though the raw image is not touched, the image data is being worked on in order to achieve all of the adjustments that we make - and then for print or web viewing the rendered image is output.

And there are many things that we simply cannot do (currently) in Lightroom that we can do in Photoshop, say.  And moving the image to Photoshop (or to QImage for that matter) does not mean that all of the parametric information or raw data is lost: all we need to do is to open the image as a smart object in Photoshop and either work on it in Photoshop or save it as a tif of psd for QImage (and QImage or any other program will work fine on the tif with the embedded raw object with all of the parametric formulae because Photoshop renders the image).  

Also, when working in Photoshop we can to a very large extent work parametrically (effectively, although people might argue that we are working non-destructively, which is effectively the same thing), by using the raw smart object, smart filters, adjustment layers etc.  When it is no longer possible to work in that way, we can always use a separate layer for the destructive type work, keeping everything nice and clean and easily reversed.

Of course there is a downside to this - file size and performance, but with terabyte discs cheaply available and powerful computers with gigabytes of memory, for perhaps $1000 more than a mid-range family computer ... that isn't such a show-stopper any more.

Robert
« Last Edit: August 09, 2014, 03:54:05 pm by Robert Ardill »
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Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #76 on: August 09, 2014, 04:08:16 pm »

\]

Setting aside all "vested interests" (e.g. I paid for it so it must be the best, or this is what I use so it must be the best, or this is the product I earn my living from so it must be the best....et. al.) I truly believe these comparisons are very difficult to make properly, for several reasons: firstly, the appearance of comparative outcomes could vary by image content. Secondly, each application being compared would need to be used in its optimal manner; thirdly, to the extent feasible, the comparison should islolate for all other variables that could contaminate the relative impact of the sharpening functions alone; fourthly, what several have said above - where prints on paper are the final output, the only way to come to operationally significant conclusions is to see the comparative results in a print on paper (and then what paper and what printer at what resolution- presumably a gloss paper using the finest detail settings of the printer and the native resolution of the printhead). These provisos of course are elementary scientific procedure as you well know. I'm not convinced the demos provided to date in this thread have shown conclusively that QImage is necessarily or systemically superior to what can be achieved in LR. It could well be the case - not saying otherwise, as I can't test this myself, insofar as I shall not install Windows on my Mac for this purpose alone. There are many interesting insights on this thread, but to say we have a definitive and generally applicable conclusion just yet - I wonder.

I have to say Mark that in this instance I have zero vested interest.  I've paid my $69 for QImage Ultimate, but I would drop it in a flash, just as I did with QImage Pro that I bought years ago, if it didn't simplify my workflow and, more importantly, showed no quality improvement in my prints. I certainly don't like wasting money, but $69 is no reason to stick to a bit of software that doesn't do what you want it to do.

Also, I am still on the fence regarding QImage.  My initial tests are very encouraging (although, as you can see from the earlier posts, the tests were not initially encouraging!), but now we come to your second point, which is the difficulty of comparing one program or method with another.  It's shockingly time-consuming (and costs a lot more than $69 in ink and paper!, not to mention time!), and comparing like with like is very difficult.  It's also very difficult to be objective (which is something I've tried really hard to be in my testing, because who would I be fooling but myself?).

I have a constitutional dislike for things that work automatically and which I don't understand.  I would prefer to spend ages sharpening an image myself with the basic filters available (which I understand reasonably well) rather than dialing in 5 and hitting the button.  So using a program like QImage for me really goes against the grain, which is the main reason I'm still on the fence: it's going to have to prove itself to me for a while to come before I succumb.

And I do agree with you - if I was on a Mac I wouldn't change to Windows because of QImage.  It's good, but it certainly wouldn't warrant that sort of disruption!

Robert
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Mark D Segal

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #77 on: August 09, 2014, 04:15:46 pm »

Robert, your pen-ultimate post is all largely correct. But you omitted what for some - perhaps many - of us could be the biggest constraint of all: TIME. The value of time spent image editing needs to be considered - to me anyhow, it is the scarcest of resources. For that reason, a Lightroom workflow is really hard to beat because for many peoples' needs the program design is so very good. I make it a habit of exploiting Lightroom to the fullest before turning to anything else. I think roughly 95% of my image editing is done in LR without going into any other application. The other 5% usually happens either because I need to de-skew a perspective (LR 5 can't yet do this properly) or I need some kind of mask or mask-based adjustment that is hard to implement correctly in LR, though with version 5 even that has become very much better. So again, not wanting to hijack the thread from its original intent, the sharpening question does have this as context, and I believe a good number of professionals would share my perspective that if one is to move out of LR, there needs to be significant value-added for the time commitment to be worthwhile.

Re your post immediately above, I too like to understand what I'm doing, and to the extent my professional abilities allow - understand what's happening under the hood. In this regard = w.r.t. sharpening, I think Jeff Schewe's book provides a huge amount of excellent insight that is as valid for Photokit Sharpener, as it is for LR/ACR, and as it may be for other acutance-based applications on the market. In LR there are just a few sliders to play with, but once one really understands how to use them, it provides a very flexible and effective "sharpening" package. One is not confined to dialing-in presets or set numbers.
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #78 on: August 09, 2014, 04:16:45 pm »

Of course there is a downside to this - file size and performance, but with terabyte discs cheaply available and powerful computers with gigabytes of memory, for perhaps $1000 more than a mid-range family computer ... that isn't such a show-stopper any more.

Hi Robert,

And in the case of Qimage Ultimate, one can export from LR as an 8bit/channel TIFF, already converted to the output profile, since QU will convert to 8-b/ch data anyway (and with 8-b/ch data QU won't dither on input). So the burden on (temporary) storage space is relatively limited.

Cheers,
Bart
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Robert Ardill

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Re: QImage versus Lightroom for Printing
« Reply #79 on: August 09, 2014, 06:05:05 pm »

Robert, your pen-ultimate post is all largely correct. But you omitted what for some - perhaps many - of us could be the biggest constraint of all: TIME. The value of time spent image editing needs to be considered - to me anyhow, it is the scarcest of resources. For that reason, a Lightroom workflow is really hard to beat because for many peoples' needs the program design is so very good. I make it a habit of exploiting Lightroom to the fullest before turning to anything else. I think roughly 95% of my image editing is done in LR without going into any other application. The other 5% usually happens either because I need to de-skew a perspective (LR 5 can't yet do this properly) or I need some kind of mask or mask-based adjustment that is hard to implement correctly in LR, though with version 5 even that has become very much better. So again, not wanting to hijack the thread from its original intent, the sharpening question does have this as context, and I believe a good number of professionals would share my perspective that if one is to move out of LR, there needs to be significant value-added for the time commitment to be worthwhile.

Re your post immediately above, I too like to understand what I'm doing, and to the extent my professional abilities allow - understand what's happening under the hood. In this regard = w.r.t. sharpening, I think Jeff Schewe's book provides a huge amount of excellent insight that is as valid for Photokit Sharpener, as it is for LR/ACR, and as it may be for other acutance-based applications on the market. In LR there are just a few sliders to play with, but once one really understands how to use them, it provides a very flexible and effective "sharpening" package. One is not confined to dialing-in presets or set numbers.

Totally Mark - I'm not running down Lr for a minute.  I use it all the time and even though every now and then I'll get tempted by Capture One, or check out what DCRAW can do ... so far I've always gone back to Lr and like it a lot.  I think the sharpening is excellent ... the Masking adjustment is brilliant (you would think that 'Smart Sharpen' would have a feature like that!).  I often use the ACR sharpening instead of Smart Sharpen in Photoshop (with the CC Camera Raw filter and before that with Dr Brown's Edit Layer in ACR script).  You can then dial-down the haloes (if any) using the Photoshop advanced blending features, set the layer blend mode to Luminosity to avoid color artifacts (or set the Smart Filter blend mode to Luminosity) etc.

So far I've always used Lr for printing and the printing functionality is excellent (and consistent with the rest of Lr, which is an important consideration).  Output sharpening in Lr is just too basic IMO, so I've always output sharpened my images in Photoshop (I'm REALLY fussy about sharpening in prints ... I think bad sharpening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to ruin a print).

Getting very familiar with one's tools is a really important thing, IMO, because then we have a better chance of getting the best out of them ... so I really wouldn't advocate changing for the sake of change. What I'm doing at the moment is just reviewing things to see if there are better ways of working.  That's a useful thing to do also ... every now and then ... providing it doesn't become a full-time occupation, which this is in danger of becoming!

I think Mike Chaney's comment was very fair: he claims that QImage will do as good a job as the best packages currently available, but he doesn't claim that one can't achieve as good a result with another package.  Bart also said that if you're prepared to spend the time at it that you can probably achieve better results than with QImage running automatically (presumably he included doing further processing in QImage itself as well as Photoshop or whatever).

I personally don't really need to print multiple prints at the same time (sure, sometimes yes, but I can always manage in Lightroom or even Photoshop).  If that's something one does a lot, then that is one area where QImage really shines.  The flexibility of layout, borders, adding text, sharpening, resize algorithms, anti-aliasing etc., is fantastic for a package at that price.  If you are doing that a lot it would be worth getting a PC just for printing.  If I was a wedding photographer, for example, I wouldn't hesitate for long.

For me it comes down more to the quality of the resizing algorithms and the output sharpening (and also the anti-aliasing for downsampling, which can potentially be a problem).

Robert  
« Last Edit: August 09, 2014, 06:08:18 pm by Robert Ardill »
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