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Printing Astrophotography... The Good and Bad

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#1 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 11:54 AM

The other day I mentioned that I used Adorama for all of my photo prints.  I think their print quality is very good.  They also offer other types of prints or mounts.  That includes gallery wraps, metal prints and acrylic prints.  I have already ordered the gallery wraps and have been pretty happy with them, but I've been wanting to find a print that hides less detail.  A couple of weeks ago, I ordered an acrylic print.  It showed up yesterday.

 

Acrylic Prints from Adorama (12.5" x 16.5")  $65.20 shipped

 

The Good: 

The acrylic print method for astro images is a winner.  The acrylic front gives it depth, but the acrylic doesn't seem to be as reflective so it really shows off the subject well.  If you take the framing, mounting and matting into consideration; it isn't that much more expensive then using a frame.  It can be cleaned easily of fingerprints.  Many mounting styles are available.  It can float or use metal stand-ups on the corners. It's dramatic, and very nice! 

 

Full Size.jpg

 

The Bad:

At a glance or walking by, the image is striking.  But, it's my image, so I look closely.  I do not like the actual print quality.  The ink seems to have been laid down in lines.  Lines that are clearly visible at viewing distance.  I see other acrylic printers claiming better print quality then photos.  AdoramaPix's Acrylics are nowhere near as good as their photos.  I'm looking at them side by side.  Id almost say that their acrylic quality is not acceptable.  It may be fine for moms and dads, but not for photographers.  The next post will have the detail image from the print. 


Edited by Footbag, 02 December 2014 - 03:30 PM.


#2 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 11:57 AM

zoom.jpg

 

These lines are throughout the image.  The reason I really wanted acrylic was that I thought it would draw you in.  I have a feeling these will turn you off just as quickly.

 

I do think I'm going to try other printers.  Some give resolution options in addition to print types and acrylic depths.  I have to assume they are doing it differently.  There does seem to be a large price disparity between the ones who do it primarily and the ones who just offer it.


Edited by Footbag, 02 December 2014 - 12:01 PM.


#3 Meeka

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 12:10 PM

What are the gallery wraps? I'm about to start work on a mosaiq of M42 (waaaay too small of a FOV :(  ) and I'd like to eventually have the end result printed somehow for display, but I wasn't sure which places were good for that sort of thing. Do you think the acrylic might be ok on a smaller print?

 

Beautiful image by the way!



#4 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 12:15 PM

I don't think the siza of the acrylic is going to impact the resolution. If anything, you are going to be closer to it. I'd just try and find a better printer. I'll update this if I find a good one.

Gallery wraps are printed on canvas. The canvas has texture that prevents the prints from having the same resolution as photos. They look great from a distance, but lose resolution up close. It could be a good option for a larger print if you don't plan on looking closely.

I still think the acrylic is a winner. Just need a better print. Oh and the standoffs seemed cool at first, but they just distract from the picture. I'd probably do a float mount next time.

I'm still waiting on some metal prints. We'll see how they turn out.

#5 raf1

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 12:35 PM

:gotpopcorn:



#6 anismo

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 01:35 PM

Adam.. Thanks for the update. This is very useful when we  want to print it.   I guess it might be more apparent when you look at it in person. To me, from the photo, it looks pretty good.

 

What type of frame is that? It looks pretty good and modern. Did you get it directly from Adorama or you mounted it



#7 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 01:39 PM

Adam.. Thanks for the update. This is very useful when we  want to print it.   I guess it might be more apparent when you look at it in person. To me, from the photo, it looks pretty good.

 

What type of frame is that? It looks pretty good and modern. Did you get it directly from Adorama or you mounted it

 

The frame is the acrylic.  The print is printed on the back side of it.  No extra additional ,

costs.



#8 tim57064

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 02:10 PM

Adam,I too thought that the standoffs were a little too distracting. Too bad about the lines look also,was an excellent choice to print though. If you do not care for the print job,are you stuck with it? 



#9 josh smith

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 02:10 PM

Thanks for the post Adam.  Looks good from the 20' view, maybe not so much up close.  I wonder if we can't start a sticky, solely with a quick review, company used, price, and type of print for people's reference.



#10 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 02:14 PM

I have done a few gallery wraps that came out very well.  My Horsehead showed up very well, as did my Elephant Trunk Nebula.  This one is from three or so years ago, but can maybe give you an idea.  It seems to look a lot worse in this photograph then in real life, but it allows you to scrutinize the gallery wrap application for astro-images. 

 

I don't remember whether this came from Adorama or Easy Canvas, so don't take it as a review of their work.  Just the style. 

 

Gallery Wrap Full.jpg


Edited by Footbag, 02 December 2014 - 02:16 PM.


#11 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 02:18 PM

Detail image of the canvas.  Again, the limitation is the canvas texture.  If you are looking to hide defects, then it may be better.  If you are trying to show off details, I'd suggest other methods. 

 

Gallery Wrap zoom.jpg



#12 josh smith

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 02:23 PM

I also second the canvas print.  In fact, it seemed like I could have blown it up much further than I did.  At 20"x16", it was not at all constrained by resolution yet.  Yours looks quite nice there Adam.



#13 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 02:24 PM

My typical framing method for photos for terrestrial. It still looks good with astrophotography.  I've recently switched to using backed photos.  This keeps them from wrinkling behind the glass(or plastic).  I buy 6 20x24 frames with mats for about $140. 

 

Framed full.jpg



#14 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 02:27 PM

Adam,I too thought that the standoffs were a little too distracting. Too bad about the lines look also,was an excellent choice to print though. If you do not care for the print job,are you stuck with it? 

 

I've received damaged prints that they replaced no questions asked.  I'm not sure what they would say if I complained about the quality.  To be perfectly honest, the photographer is probably the only one who would notice.  It'll still make a good Christmas gift if I get a better one.  It's still worth what I payed to me. 



#15 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 02:29 PM

I also second the canvas print.  In fact, it seemed like I could have blown it up much further than I did.  At 20"x16", it was not at all constrained by resolution yet.  Yours looks quite nice there Adam.

 

You got one done locally, right?  I'm curious how the texture compares to the ones I've got. 

 

I'm wondering if you couldn't get a similar effect by using a print mounted on a very thick black foam-core.  That way, you get full resolution, but also the depth.  I'm still doing lots of experimentation. 



#16 rigel123

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 03:18 PM

Great thread!  Here is another option that I use.  These are printed on metallic paper and mounted on "gatorboard" and then I frame them without glass.  The resolution is great and it really hides noise well.  A 24 X 16 mounted is about $52.00.  These are from www.deepskyprinting.com and they specialize in astrophotography.  They do reflect but it doesn't distract from looking at the picture unless of course the sun is glaring off of them!

 

Print 1.jpg



#17 Footbag

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 03:23 PM

Great thread!  Here is another option that I use.  These are printed on metallic paper and mounted on "gatorboard" and then I frame them without glass.  The resolution is great and it really hides noise well.  A 24 X 16 mounted is about $52.00.  These are from www.deepskyprinting.com and they specialize in astrophotography.  They do reflect but it doesn't distract from looking at the picture unless of course the sun is glaring off of them!

 

attachicon.gifPrint 1.jpg

 

Those do look great!  Gatorboard is probably what I was refering to when I said thick black foamcore.  It's foamlike right?

I am going to amend the thread title to include other mount.  Anyone else feel free to share.



#18 josh smith

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 03:38 PM

Very nice prints Warren!

 

 

 

I also second the canvas print.  In fact, it seemed like I could have blown it up much further than I did.  At 20"x16", it was not at all constrained by resolution yet.  Yours looks quite nice there Adam.

 

You got one done locally, right?  I'm curious how the texture compares to the ones I've got. 

 

I'm wondering if you couldn't get a similar effect by using a print mounted on a very thick black foam-core.  That way, you get full resolution, but also the depth.  I'm still doing lots of experimentation. 

 

 

I'm not sure, I'm going to have to experiment around as well.  I'll have to try finding out where I run out of resolution space with the canvas to compare.  Like I said, at 16x20, it isn't lacking at all in the resolution department.  The colors aren't as vibrant as I'd have liked and the black point seems clipped.  I asked to make sure there wasn't any special processing done and they said there wasn't, but something had to be done with how it appeared.



#19 rigel123

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 04:41 PM

 

Great thread!  Here is another option that I use.  These are printed on metallic paper and mounted on "gatorboard" and then I frame them without glass.  The resolution is great and it really hides noise well.  A 24 X 16 mounted is about $52.00.  These are from www.deepskyprinting.com and they specialize in astrophotography.  They do reflect but it doesn't distract from looking at the picture unless of course the sun is glaring off of them!

 

attachicon.gifPrint 1.jpg

 

Those do look great!  Gatorboard is probably what I was refering to when I said thick black foamcore.  It's foamlike right?

I am going to amend the thread title to include other mount.  Anyone else feel free to share.

 

Yes, it is a foam type board they are mounted on.  Also, with regards to their color processing, mine have come out true to what I see on my monitor that I calibrate with a Spyder 3 which surprised me at first wondering how well they would match.  One other source I use is Snapfish for inexpensive 8 X 10's that I keep in an album and they do a really decent job on the data.



#20 josh smith

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 06:54 PM

Here are pictures of the canvas wrap I got.  

 

15314332633_202477c152_h.jpg

 

15933405192_5c616c749f_h.jpg



#21 TimN

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 07:34 PM

I use a local printer and have found metallic prints framed with acrylic to be very effective. The acrylic frame has all the advantages that Adam mentioned in his original post. However, the metallic prints do not have the print problem of acrylics. So - best of both worlds.



#22 Jon Rista

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 08:59 PM

@Adam: It looks like Adorama's print head is misaligned. That's usually what causes banding like that. Really poor form, if they would print off a poorly aligned printer, and still ship you the product without remedying the problem and printing again.

Personally, I use Circle Graphics Pro Prints, a Longmont, CO based company (locals! :D) They do gallery wraps, framed gallery wraps, single sheet prints, and even free (non-wrapped, non-framed) canvases. They keep expanding their offerings actually. Anyway, they only sell to photographers, "pro" photographers...people who are selling their work, basically. Their prices are very good, though, so if you ARE selling your prints, it's a great place to get canvas wraps. The quality is very high...they are nice and thick, they have finished backs, hangers on two edges, etc.

I haven't printed any of my photos yet. I am thinking, if I can get more sky time (it's going to be a couple more weeks now, what with the moon up), that my new Orion image will be the first one I print. I just need to get the quality up to snuff...so more subs.

#23 David Ault

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 02:19 AM

Very interesting topic.  I've been doing my own analysis of different print houses and techniques.  So far I've tried fractureme.com (print on glass similar to the acrylic method that Adam tried), deepskyprinting.com which Warren mentioned and adoramapix.com for metalic prints (I've tried both the white and silver techniques).  I'll have to take a picture of them all together so everyone can see how they compare.

 

In the meantime I can give you some verbal feedback:

 

The fractureme print has the same banding issue that Adam has with the acrylic print.  I contacted them and they seemed to think that it was a normal part of their process and is normally not visible due to the higher contrast in most terrestrial photographs.  It's contrast and detail was also very poor.  It was definitely the worst of the 4.

 

The deepskyprinting print had the best detail and contrast.  The saturation seemed to have been pushed a bit too much for my tastes and the black level was a little too low.

 

The adorama metal prints were the closest to what I see on my monitor (which is calibrated).  I did find out that if you proof your image with their ICC profiles and include it in the JPG data they will use it when printing.  They will not use any other profiles, so the profile in my image was not utilized, which surprised me given how closely they matched the monitor.  I did get them to send me a proofing profile for the metal prints, but for some reason I can't get it to be used as an embedded profile when I write the file.  A small amount of detail was lost, which I guess means I need to print it a bit larger and stand a bit further back ;)

The white print was excellent and it almost seems like you are looking at a glass surface.  The silver print allows some of the metal to show through, but I really didn't like what this did to the contrast and saturation of the image.

 

Regards,

David Ault



#24 jzeiders

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 03:12 AM

You might consider a professional print house with real skilled technicians. Print on real high quality photo paper as opposed to ink jet prints.

 

Also do your own prepress adjustments in Lightroom or photoshop like you would if you were printing it yourself.

 

Also for astronomy prints that are matted, try a black mat with a white core and bevel cut the interior opening. It sets off the image nicely and isn't as jarring as a white mat.

 

For images up to 16x24 a mat with 3" top and sides and 3.5" bottom works well. The slightly thicker bottom gives the image a visual base and looks right.

 

Acrylic face mounts can work well with photo prints as opposed to ink jet prints that are directly mounted to the rear face of the acrylic. It works like a super gloss print and can be very nice floated off a neutral wall.

 

I'm not a fan of canvas prints, They are fine for images that look like paintings, but do not fare well with high resolution images or astronomical images in my opinion. Another problem is the over coatings tend to dull the image.

 

It makes a difference.

 

Jack



#25 JoseBorrero

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 06:54 AM

anyone has tried print in aluminum?  I saw very nice images last year and they looked unreal.

 

here the link: http://www.bayphoto....-and-prices.htm




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