Frequently Asked Questions
What sizes do you print?
We can print most any size. Need 13×16? No problem. 21×56? No problem. With some media we’re able to print 60×120″; with almost all other media we’re able to print up to 44×120″. We specialize in prints 8×10″ or larger.
What kind of paper can you print on?
Based on our experience and love of paper and print materials, we have put together a great list of glossy and matte papers that we have in regular stock. These include awesome papers from leading manufacturers like Hahnemuhle, Moab, Ilford, and Awagami. These papers all have unique qualities and strengths that can contribute to superb prints of your work, and we’re happy to talk with you about different papers we love that you may love too.
If you’re interested in seeing different papers, we have some pre-printed samples in the shop. Come by for a look.
If you’re unsure whether one paper or another would be ideal for your prints, especially if you’re making large prints or a significant portfolio of work, we offer low cost test strip prints on more or less the full range of papers we carry in inventory. For a nominal fee, we’ll print a small cross-section of your image(s) on one or more papers, allowing you to see first-hand what your own work looks like on the media. This avoids making a large expense for full size prints if the paper proves not to be the best fit.
Can I bring in my own paper for you to print on?
Within certain limits, yes we will print on your own personal supply of paper. Generally it needs to be a type or specific size of paper that we don’t normally carry in stock. (If we carry it in stock, then that’s what we print on, of course. We don’t need our customers to bring in their own supply of the things that are part of our normal business.)
Be advised that we don’t discount our prices for printing on your supply of paper. Our prices reflect our confidence and guarantee of the quality of work that we deliver. If we’re printing on a different type of media for you, we have a bunch of setup work, test prints, and potential wastage that we still need to cover, all of which is built into the pricing for our normal inventory of papers. Printing on your paper actually takes more effort for us, not less. For highly specialized media that deviates substantially from any of our regular media, we reserve the right to apply a 25% custom print media surcharge.
Do you print on canvas?
Definitely! Read all about our canvas options.
Can you reproduce an original drawing, painting, or photograph that I own?
Sure we can! For small, flat pieces (12 x 17″ or less) we can scan them on a flatbed scanner, creating a high resolution digital file. For larger or non-flat pieces (e.g. oil or acrylic paintings), we reproduce them by photographing the original on a black backboard using high quality digital photographic studio equipment, polarized strobe lights and colour temperature corrections. Again, the result is a high resolution digital file. Read more about our reproduction service.
If you want a printed reproduction of the original, we’re happy to quote on printing it for you. Either way, you get the high resolution digital file for the initial scanning or reproduction charge.
Note: If you created the original work in question, we’re happy to reproduce it for you. However if the work was created by someone else — a painter, photographer or other creator — we follow Canadian copyright law. This means that we need to see that you have the original creator’s permission for you to reproduce the work.
Do you scan photos or artwork?
Yes, we do scans of reflective art (prints, drawings, and non-textured paintings such as watercolour). We can scan photos up to 12 x 17″ in a single pass and larger prints in multiple passes which we then stitch together. The scanning fee provides you with a high resolution digital file with basic colour correction. We can do additional work on the scanned images as part of our retouching service.
Can I send raw digital photos to you and have you fully process them prior to making the final print?
Generally, no. We are not a photo development service, but a printing service. We do some fairly basic image adjustments to optimize files for print, and we do have a retouching service where we will do more extensive work for you. But in general the work that we do is most not on the creative side, it’s on the restoration and reproduction side. As a general rule, your creative work needs to be pretty much complete before you send files to us.
Do you scan film?
Yes we do!
Do you process/develop/ film?
No, we don’t. But we think Neat Film Lab is pretty great.
How big can I print my file?
This is one of the most common questions we get, and the answer is always, “it depends.” Looking at a print on paper or canvas is not the same as looking at digital pixels on a screen for many reasons, and size is one factor that doesn’t always translate the way you might think. We regularly encounter situations where an image can be printed larger than a customer expects, but many others where the biggest useful size is much smaller than expected.
Many factors influence how far a digital file can be enlarged before it could be considered not to work at that size. Key factors include: your personal taste for image detail and sharpness, the taste of the audience (if the print isn’t staying with you), the pixel resolution of the digital file, the amount of detailed subject material in the photo, the paper / canvas / other media printed on, how the digital processing and sharpening is done, how close the viewers will be when looking at the finished piece, the lighting on the piece in its display location, etc. All of these things combine to create a flexible range of sizes that work better or not so much. We can guide you through it, but rarely is there a simplistic “right answer” dictating that a file can be printed at one size but not another.
We can help you answer this question better if we know how big you’re thinking of printing the image. If you’re thinking of printing something approx. 20×30″ vs approx. 40×60″ print, it’s great to know and will help us get you better information.
What file types are best?
We can work with many file types including JPEG, PDF, TIFF, and PSD.
If a JPEG file is all you have to start with, there is no point converting it into something else before sending it to us, because the quality has already been limited by the JPEG file format at the beginning.
However, if you have a choice of file formats because you are photographing in a raw camera format, working with scanned film, or using some other high-quality imaging process, then TIFF or PSD formats are preferred, 8- or 16-bit depth.
What's the best way to export files from Adobe Lightroom to send to you?
In the Lightroom file export window, you should select the following options: TIFF or PSD file format, Adobe RGB 1998 colour space, native file size (do NOT upsize or downsize the resolution), 8-bit or 16-bit, no extra sharpening.
What's the best way to prepare my files in Adobe Photoshop to send to you?
When working in Photoshop, most likely you’re using TIFF or PSD as the file format. Go ahead and send those to us. If you have a bunch of layers in your file, leave them in place, don’t flatten the file. That way if we need to tweak or adjust anything to optimize your image for printing, the edits have not all been “cooked” into the base file.
Can you work with other software and unusual proprietary file formats?
As a general rule, no. We use Adobe products, specifically Photoshop and Bridge, and standard file types such as TIFF, PSD and JPEG. These are the standards in the photography and print industries, and they are the primary software tools and file types we support.
What's the difference between 8-bit and 16-bit files?
16-bit files potentially contain more tone and colour information, especially if you use a high-quality imaging approach such as shooting a raw camera format or doing high resolution film scans. If your files are absolutely print-ready, and we are guaranteed not to have to do anything to them, then 8-bit files are fine in most cases. But if we need to process the file, or if we’re doing a specialized print workflow such as K7 carbon B&W printing, then 16-bit may be a better choice.
What colour spaces do you work with?
We run a fully colour managed photographic printing workflow, so we support virtually any colour spaces you may need to use. This includes sRGB, Adobe RGB (1998), ProPhoto RGB, Gray Gamma 2.2 (for B&W), and more.
If you don’t have a strong reason to choose something else, Adobe RGB 1998 is a good all-around colour space for general use.
Our printers have CMYK-based inks, but our entire photographic printing workflow is based on RGB colour. If you give us files in a CMYK colour space, we will first convert them to an RGB colour space, most likely Adobe RGB 1998. There may be a need for some adjustments to the files to get the full benefit of our printing workflow
Do you have a monitor recommendation?
We think the NEC PA SpectraView monitors are a fantastic series, the best bang-for-buck options for colour critical work.
We also like the Benq SW series monitors. A great choice if NEC doesn’t work for the budget.
What about monitor calibration?
You should be calibrating your monitor if you care about accurately looking at colour, and hope that what we print for you will match what you see on your screen. If you don’t calibrate, you’re playing a version of Russian roulette with digital colour.
Not all monitors are equally well suited to photographic processing or other colour critical work; if a monitor is poor, calibrating it won’t necessarily help.
Common calibration values are luminance of 90 – 120 cd/m2, 2.2 gamma, and D65 / 6500K white point. The ambient lighting in your environment may call for a different luminance value. If your calibration software doesn’t allow you to set these values, it’s likely not a suitable tool to use.
If your calibration software has a function to automatically adjust the calibration based on the level of light in the room, disable that feature. It’s far better to control the ambient light to keep it consistent, rather than have inconsistent ambient light trigger changes in monitor calibration.
The monitor calibration tool we currently use is the X-Rite i1 Display Pro.
Do you provide printer profiles?
Absolutely. Our profiles are specific to our own photographic printing system, so you can’t use them to print on your own personal printer if you have one. However you can use our profiles to soft proof your images in Photoshop or other advanced photo editing software.