Previous 1 2 Next 22 Replies Latest reply: Dec 31, 2006 11:13 AM by Old Toad
ibid Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I've just received two of my four 8.5"x11" hardcover books by FedEx today and I'm disappointed with the quality of the printed images given that my source photos are all from a 6mp DSLR shot at the camera's best jpeg setting.

The books are adequate for the intended purpose--family snapshots in book form as Christmas gifts, but no one is going to be impressed by the quality of the photos.

My question: iPhoto offers a "folio" layout that seems to be designed for photographers to highlight their work. I would like to use this for some of my landscape and wildlife photos, but not if the photos are going to print at the same quality I've seen with the books I just received. Is there any way to specify that a higher printer resolution should be used? If the Apple software can't handle this, I'd appreciate any alternative suggestions of services that can print at higher quality.



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  • Dave E Level 4 Level 4 (1,250 points)
    Let's see - if you are printing a full-page image at 8.5" x 11" and iPhoto printing resolution is 300dpi, you need about 8.4MP, theoretically, to use all that DPI. In addition, the aspect ratio of an iPhoto book is 4:3 approximately, and your DSLR gives you 3:2 which results in cropping some of your photos.

    So effectively, I'm thinking you're approximately offering 5 MP of data for a maximum availability of 8.4MP, and your pixels are going to be stretched a bit.

    That said, have you considered that you may just have received badly printed books? If the press was overworked or not printing right, you could have had your books affected. Try contacting Apple through the iPhoto support page (there's a URL but I can't recall it exactly) and see if a reprint will work for you.
  • ibid Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Good possibilities, but the graininess I see is on all the photos regardless of size--even the photos that are printed six per page which are considerably smaller than 8x11.

    If I can find the URL (couldn't find it before), I will get in touch with Apple and see what they have to say.

    Thanks for the suggestion.
  • toothbrushflautist Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I too would like to comment on the bad image quality of iPhoto books. I had one printed, and all of the pictures have a grainy halftone effect like a newspaper. I can do better prints at home!
  • Karen P Level 2 Level 2 (230 points)
  • ibid Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Yes, that's a good description of the photos--there is a graininess and a patterning that shouldn't be there given the resolution of the source photographs.

    I visited the Apple Store in Palo Alto this weekend and viewed one of their sample 8.5"x11" hardcover books. I'm unhappy to report the sample book had the same level of quality, so I guess this is the best we can expect from these books.

    For the record, I believe including pre-formatted layouts like "Folio" in the iPhoto book service is misleading since that layout is designed to highlight a photographic portfolio and the printing quality just does not support that use.



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  • Greg Grandy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Just received 2 hardcover books and the quality is much worse than the one I ordered last Xmas. These look like a Xerox copy and my camera this year is a Nikon D50 where last year was just a small digital point and shoot, and those pictures look much better! The pics last year are glossy and these are matte and the paper isn't as good.

    I plan to complain, we'll see where it get me.
  • ibid Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Here is more data.

    I ordered a total of five hardcover 8.5" x 11" books for Christmas. I complained to Apple about the quality of the first two and they refunded my money, issued a FedEx return, and asked if I wanted to resubmit the order. I did and the two replacements arrived today (shipped express by Apple to get here by Christmas--a gesture I very much appreciate.)

    Unfortunately, aside from a slight improvement in saturation on the cover photos, the replacements looks very close to the originals. Given that, and the fact that the other three are of similar quality, I conclude that what I'm seeing is the intended quality level from this service.

    As I've said earlier, this is probably/maybe okay for reproducing snapshots, but not for anything more serious. As someone else noted on the forum, family members (mine included past years) have been thrilled by these books. My ex-sister-in-law told me yesterday she cried looking through the book of wedding photos I sent her using this service.

    Having said all that, Greg yours sound pretty bad. But I'm guessing you put your finger on a part of the issue: the matte paper just doesn't look as good.



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  • Aadvan Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I agree, the quality of the photographs is quite disappointing. It is much worse than what we achieve with cheap amateur ink jet printers. I think the reason is that what Apple delivers is two-sided digital book print work, which uses a screen - not photo print quality.
    I just bought a new camera with a better lens and a higher resolution (Leica, 8 Megapixel). For the photobook it didn't make any difference...
  • deem Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    "Let's see - if you are printing a full-page image at 8.5" x 11" and iPhoto printing resolution is 300dpi, you need about 8.4MP, theoretically, to use all that DPI. In addition, the aspect ratio of an iPhoto book is 4:3 approximately, and your DSLR gives you 3:2 which results in cropping some of your photos.

    So effectively, I'm thinking you're approximately offering 5 MP of data for a maximum availability of 8.4MP, and your pixels are going to be stretched a bit."

    This isn't actually true.

    You won't find ANY difference in quality in an iPhoto book using a 6 or 8 megapixel camera.

    I've printed books using both a Canon 350D and a canon 300D - the books aren't anywhere near high enough print quality to be effected in this way.
  • ibid Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I recall reading somewhere in these forums that the photos are stored at a resolution of 150dpi in the PDF file before being transmitted for printing. Given the very small sizes of the data transfers relative to the sum of the sizes of my source photos, I can believe that.
  • Dusky Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    As a Digital Press Operator scanning this forum with interest, I feel it is important to distinguish between poor quality printing, as opposed to limitations of the process. One thing to bear in mind, is the resolution of the actual press being used. The Digital presses used in this sort of small run on-demand printing generally print with a screen ruling of 175 lines per inch. Because of the technical issues involved in getting ink on the printed page to produce a full colour image, different screen angles are used for each colour. This produces a definite half-tone pattern in images that is more noticeable the lower the screen ruling that was used to print with. Just as you cannot realistically compare the results from a photo quality inkjet printer (even at 1440 dpi) with that of a traditional photographic process, you cannot compare a printing press with an inkjet. Other things to bear in mind are printing stock and the inherent variances within the actual digital press and process (not to mention operator) - it cannot be compared with a traditional printing press, and it is also wrong to compare a wet ink digital process with a toner based digital process.
    At the end of the day one needs to understand and appreciate the limitations of the various processes involved. Also bear in mind that iPhoto is a consumer product, aimed at average consumers. The short run digital press is not aimed at the art reproduction market. If you are a discerning user it is all a case of using the right tool for the right job. Unfortunately it is not always realistic to use the correct tools, so we need to accept, and live with the limitations of the processes we do use.

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  • Robert Prior Level 2 Level 2 (160 points)
    So what is the right method to use?

    I'd like to give some books as presents. I was expecting them to look as good as a typical glossy magazine -- in terms of reproduction if not photographic skill

    If that isn't the case, what is the best way of getting high-quality prints?
  • Dusky Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    As I said the problem lies in what we expect (or have been lead to expect) as opposed to what is realistically achievable with the available/affordable technology. If you simply want photographic quality prints, then the best route is via a wet process. This (apart from dye sublimation) is the only continuous tone process available, and unlike dye-sub is not subject registration problems. The next level would be Dye sublimation and then photo quality inkjet. For books however, you are stuck with the what is on offer, as the best processes are simply not realistically affordable for small print runs. Alternatively you need to find a print house that has a reputation for good quality, and build up a relationship with the press operator - he will then be able to advise as to the best process, and give your job the personal care that it needs.
  • Robert Prior Level 2 Level 2 (160 points)
    Allow me to amplify my question:

    How do the iPhoto books compare, in terms of quality for the price, to similar products from other companies? Would I be getting a superior product to, say, Kinkoes? Lulu?

    If the iPhoto book is not high enough quality for my needs, can you provide an idea of what the costs for various other options would be? Ballpark, of course, unless you have specific Toronto-area places you coudl recommend

    For me, the attraction of an iPhoto book is the relative ease with which I can lay it out, and the simplicity of ordering one. Set against that are the limitations of the layout (especially the way it limits placement of captions) and the high cost of shipping ($8 US to Canada for a $30 US book). I have 3-4 books I'd like to get, but I'm wondering if I would do better to use another print service, or possibly to wait for a year or so if it is likely the technology will improve in that time.
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