How are you all liking your local 1 hour photo Fuji Frontier dry labs?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by tim_lookingbill, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. Every three or so years I go back to check out print quality and technology upgrades at my local Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, etc 1 hour photo labs and have noticed a huge improvement in dry lab prints not only in regard to fast turn arounds but also color gamut and accuracy.
    One dry lab in particular I just discovered in the past couple of weeks was a Fuji Frontier DL 430 at one of my newer local Walgreens. It's basically a (rebadged?) Epson inkjet printer (from what I've read online). But from the print results I'm now not so sure about that, but then I don't have much to compare against in the way of newer print technologies and inkjet dyes which is what this Fuji uses. I know my eyes have never seen this level of color intensity in a print.
    In fact surprisingly I'm more blown away by the DL 430's eye popping saturation levels over its color accuracy capabilities in comparison to what I usually get from the old wet lab Noritsu (at the other Walgreens) and its wide format Epson 7880 inkjet which is quite accurate.
    See the sample 4x6 test print off the Fuji dry lab on glossy Fujifilm High Quality Dry Photo Paper I shot which is quite accurate to the print though the actual print is a bit over the top in some colors to the actual sRGB file. I don't think I've ever seen that level of color vibrance even on an Ektachrome color slide and most certainly never from a print negative or current desktop inkjet without color detail blowing out to flat color blobs-(and no Soft Proofing for gamut clipping was required; file sent to printer was in sRGB space).
    Here's an interesting review of this type of printer compared to others which mentions issues of cracking from bending the polymer based printer paper...
    Here's the site that has an ICC profile to give you an idea of its color gamut (the only "accurate" one I could find)...
  2. Here's the original sRGB file. It appears the gamma varies a bit on the 4x6's compared to the 8x10's where I had to assign an Epson sRGB Standard-1.8 gamma profile and convert back to 2.2 gamma to get the above 2.2 gamma print.
    I'm now convinced that dark prints are from the extended dynamic range of these prints because the black point is so dense not one of my Epson inkjet prints come close to it. Whatever it is they look quite dark at Walgreens until I get them under my daylight balanced flotubes which produce eyepopping results that's just uncanny and a bit freakish to look at. Looking at the above print sample I can see I didn't capture the vibrancy enough.
  3. Don't think it's an Epson although it is a dye based ink jet. Epson has their own product called SureLab and Canon has a product too (DreamLabo 5000).
  4. And here's the print of the DL 430's Raw printer state by simply selecting "PD"=(Printer Driver) instead of "sRGB"(the print results demonstrated above) in the user friendly Fuji Workflow Manager software. All auto corrections turned off.
  5. Andrew, from what you've seen out in the industry is this level of dye based ink intensity common among all current inkjet printer brands you mentioned above?
    If I assign the ICC profile linked to above to this sRGB test image I get the intense colors shown in the Raw printer state I just posted. So I'm puzzled why the printer profile's 3D gamut model is so much smaller than sRGB only portions jutting out in certain areas with printer profile more of a ball shape. Is it that the inks are beefed up only for memory colors and that what I'm seeing is pretty much the limits just in this test image?
    If I assign NTSC or AdobeRGB to the sRGB test image, I also get pretty much the same level of saturation. Certainly the Fuji can't be the same size as those color spaces, right?
    The intensities seem to mimic a transmissive effect on a reflective surface. This appears to almost mimic neon colors.
  6. Here's an update to show how well the icc profile linked above performed by converting the sRGB to it using Perceptual Rendering Intent/Black Point Compensation. The Rendering Intent tables are very robust in this "One Size Fits All DL 4x0 models" profile. Turning off Black Point Compensation for Perceptual RI causes the 000 black to drop to 777 while turning it on brings it up to 11,11,11.
    All I had to tell the Walgreens operator was to set Color Space to 'PD'=Printer Driver instead of sRGB and turn off all Auto Adjustments and sliders, all quite easy to access within three Setting Tabs in the printer software which the "Photo Specialist" operator/store manager Rosey allowed me back behind the counter to examine on their system. Very nice and friendly folks.
    This as been the best experience with a local one hour photo lab I've had since I started trying out six or so in the past ten years where now I can say I'm getting decent color matched prints.

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