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Author Topic: Print sharpening and micro contrast  (Read 1132 times)
larkis
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« on: January 31, 2024, 06:59:21 PM »

I have been doing some print tests and noticed that Qimage seems to obliterate micro contrast on fine textures with the default settings as compared to the same image with Lightroom. Could someone point me to where I can adjust some of this behavior? I assume this comes from to much anti aliasing when scaling down the image? In this case I'm scaling down from 60 or 100MP to a 360ppi 8x10 test print. Increasing the sharpening seems to create a "chunky" effect in the larger detail clusters but does not bring back any detail on the fine surfaces or areas where separation is important (like the fine needles in the tree branches.  Please see both of the attached images (at 100%)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Txu8PNGCS4kdkvvdgjLfoqNmJJEtIKzg/view?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1v8z-JY1UwlUQKumT7pJyipiOJcOLayfD/view?usp=sharing
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admin
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2024, 09:31:50 PM »

That's an ungodly amount of sharpening in your Lighroom examples.  To me they look terrible: like everything has frost on it.  And Lightroom has halo artifacts around all the branches on the first example whereas Qimage doesn't.  Some of what you are seeing as "detail" is just sharpening artifacts in the LR examples but if you like that look...

Everything is an option in Qimage so from the main menu, go to Edit, Preferences, Printing Options, and (top right) turn the antialiasing off.

If you really like that "speckled look", while you are in there you can drop down the Deep Focus Sharpening and change it to normal USM.  Just be aware the halo artifacts will come into play when you do that so test one feature at a time.

P.S.  If you really want to get the best of Qimage, don't set Qimage's print res to 360 as you say: use 720 and let it do the best it can with your printer.  No need to "hobble" it to 360.  If you let it do 720, the above (antialiasing) would never have been an issue.

Regards,
Mike
« Last Edit: January 31, 2024, 09:33:23 PM by admin » Logged
larkis
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2024, 11:53:16 PM »

Will give that a try. On the print, the lightroom example actually looks the same at first glance as the Qimage example, so the over sharpened look sort of disappears, the only thing that is maintained is the surface texture and separation. Will run a few more experiments and report back.
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larkis
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2024, 12:14:41 AM »

I have turned off antialiasing and it makes a huge difference. It no longer looks like lens diffraction is softening the image.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KEUo3FOR01MxiKJKQCrVz55_eV7EypAu/view?usp=sharing
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2024, 12:41:24 AM »

Are you still printing at 360?  If you let it print at 720, there should be very little difference in the prints (between antialiasing on/off).  The defaults are designed to work well with the native (highest) driver resolution which would be 720 PPI on an Epson and 600 on most Canons and HPs.  If you print at lower resolution than that, the antialiasing can make things a bit softer.

Of course, if your photos are mostly of things that don't have repeating patterns like tile roofs, brick or cobblestone surfaces, buildings with balcony railings, etc. then you don't really need the AA anyway.  AA is designed to make sure you don't try to render more detail than can reliably be rendered in a given area (pixel) so I prefer to leave it on.  But when rendering images of foliage and high frequency random patterns, they can look sharper if you ignore that and turn it off.

Mike
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larkis
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2024, 02:57:12 AM »

I tried printing at 720 and in a small print, things look both smooth and sharp where they need to be, I found AA of low to work well with the small amount of scaling that is happening. Most of the files I'm testing with are close to 900ppi when at 8x10 so scaling down to 720 is not a big leap. At 360 the AA was kicking into overdrive so I will do some tests with 360ppi low AA prints as well. Sometimes sending 720ppi files to the printer when I'm printing a lot of what are in effect "contact" prints is to excessive.
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CHoffman
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2024, 03:06:33 AM »

I may have missed it, but are you starting with RAW or jpegs? If RAW, you can set the defaults for how the image is initially processed.
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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2024, 12:21:27 PM »

Sometimes sending 720ppi files to the printer when I'm printing a lot of what are in effect "contact" prints is to excessive.

Excessive in what way?  What are you losing?  A few seconds in print time per 8x10?  I always feel like if you commit a photo to print, you should print it at the highest quality possible to get the most of your printer.  Copies, scans of documents, PDFs, etc. are a different story but why wouldn't you want your photos to have the most detail possible?

Regards,
Mike
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larkis
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2024, 03:05:36 PM »

Am I not losing a bit more ink if the printer is driven at its max rez? If not then I can't argue with your point  Grin
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larkis
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« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2024, 03:18:44 PM »

I may have missed it, but are you starting with RAW or jpegs? If RAW, you can set the defaults for how the image is initially processed.

The images start as RAW in lightroom but I export 16bit ProPhoto RGB TIFF's which are used for printing through Qimage.
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2024, 04:26:33 PM »

Am I not losing a bit more ink if the printer is driven at its max rez? If not then I can't argue with your point  Grin

Not at all!  It'll put down the same amount of ink at 360 vs 720.  It would be bad if it didn't use as much ink at 360: that would mean your print would look quite different (lighter) at 360.

Regards,
Mike
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larkis
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2024, 08:54:49 PM »

So it's just a droplet size thing which would affect speed but total ink sprayed out is the same?
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2024, 10:10:31 PM »

It depends on a few factors, actually.  You can set Qimage's print resolution independent of the driver so you could have your driver running at 720 and in Qimage you can pick either 360 or 720 at which point the droplet sizes are the same because the driver is set to the same resolution.  The resolution that the driver is using is listed above the preview page on the live view in Qimage (for example 720 x 720).  But that's the driver, not the printer.

The printer itself uses 5760 x 1440, 2880 x 1440, 1440 x 720, or other combinations so it's not always trivial to know the droplet size.  But yes, when the droplet size changes, they adjust the ink flow to compensate.  You want your 360 PPI prints to look the same as your 720 PPI prints overall so in the end close to the same amount of ink has to be laid down to get that look.

Simply put, if you have selected good/high quality settings in the driver settings and you see (720 x 720) listed above the live view in Qimage, the driver is "running at" 720 PPI.  You can set Qimage's printer res to High-360 or Max-720 and all that is going to change is that you are instructing Qimage to send a "blockier" lower res image when you choose 360: the driver is going to use the same amount if ink AND the same droplet size.

Mike
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