I've been meaning to do a large print for some time. So, when Jon Harris told me he was about to do the same, I decided I'd sit back and learn from him as he went along. This is a collection of emails from him detailing his experiences.
From Jon Harris.
I just got back a 30x12 panoramic print made at EZprints.com from a Photo CD scan. The image was actually a composite of 3 different scans, so I had more slightly more pixels that you would from a normal scan, around 3700x2000. I did extensive testing using my Epson Photo 1270 to see if the scan had the resolution and quality to support such a large print. I took a small section from the center and enlarged it to equivalent 30x12 size, with the resulting print being about 4x6. The test file was 113dpi at output resolution, much lower than I usually like to go.
After experimenting with Genuine Fractals, resampling in Paint Shop Pro, and leaving it at 113 dpi, I decided to upsample the whole image 2x using bicubic interpolation before printing. This reduced some of the jaggies that were noticeable on the original but still was a reasonable file size for upload on my 56K modem (10MB). From my experiments, using GF yielded a very slight quality improvement over bicubic for this image. If my image had a lot of hard edges or fine details, I think GF would show more improvement, but since it didn't I decided it wasn't really worth it.
The print from EZprints looks pretty good. Color accuracy is good, and it's on a nice thick photographic glossy paper (Kodak Professional Digital). Contrast and color matching look good. It's a little soft when viewed up close, but so was my image file so that's to be expected. My only complaint is that there is slight vertical banding on the print. It is visible on solid colored areas like skin tones. It is noticeable under close examination with the naked eye and very apparent magnified 10x. Most of the people probably wouldn't notice it and it will be fine for my purposes, but I'm a little disappointed by this.
On the plus side, the price was right! The panaromics were "on sale" so the total price was $8.65 + $4 standard shipping. Can't beat that!
Follow-up from Jon Harris
EZprints.com reprinted my order at no cost and even sent priority. The print seemed identical (still had the faint lines), but I looked at some other digital prints that I've received from Mystic photo labs and ofoto.com, and they had similar lines, though not quite as noticeable. The more I look at it, the more I think it's not really significant unless viewed magnified. A normal person would not notice it, unless they were specifically looking for it, and even then they might not be able to see it (my wife couldn't).
Because of EZprints good response, I will use them again for large prints.
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Disclaimers: These are simply random observations I and others have made while trying to make very large prints. I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this page in any way other than as a customer. All trademarks are owned by their respective owners. There are no ads on this page, and there never will be. Use this information at your own risk. I won't be held responsible for anything that happens to you as a result of reading this. Shake well before serving. The contents of this page are Copyright 2000, with all rights reserved by me, Ted Felix, and the quoted authors.Copyright ©2000, Ted Felix