Instructions for using Costco's Poster Printers
We (Dry Creek Photo) have been asked by Costco's One Hour Photo to provide additional instructions regarding their poster printing service, including how to best utilize the Dry Creek Photo printer profiles with these machines. Costco photo labs use Epson Stylus Pro 7880 inkjet printers for poster prints. These printers are only used for large format prints and offer a limited number of print size options. For general printing, the standard Costco Photo lab printers should be used.
This is not an inclusive document. Please read our general instructions on using printer profiles with digital labs for full details on downloading, installing, and working with ICC profiles and your digital images. If you have detailed questions about using Costco's Poster Printing service, please contact Costco Wholesale. Dry Creek Photo provides printer profiling services to Costco and other photo labs; we are not the ones who process your images.
Printer and paper details:
- Costco's One Hour Photo poster printing service uses Epson 7880 and 7890 printers with 8-color Epson UltraChrome K3TM inks.
- Two paper types are offered: Fujifilm Photo Satin Paper (270 gsm) and Fujifilm RC Semi-Gloss Poster Board. The photo board stock has a semi-gloss paper fused to a 1.3mm thick (540 gsm), acid-free mounting board.
- Print lifetime: Our spectral measurements show Optical Brightening Agents (OBA) are present in the Photo Satin, while the Photo Board is OBA-free. As of late 2010 there are no print longevity data available for the combination of Epson printer and Fujifilm paper. In general, optical brighteners fade faster than the base paper discolors. If image permanence is a primary consideration, printing on the Photo Board is likely the best option.
- Print contrast and gamut:
- Fuji tunes the Epson output to produce approximately the same color range (gamut) on each paper stock. The main difference is in saturated yellows and oranges, where the Photo Satin allows more saturation than does the Photo Board. Print contrast also moderately favors the Photo Satin. Maximum contrast ratio on the Satin paper is in the 120:1 to 140:1 range while the Photo Board tops out at 90:1 - 100:1. The difference is caused by the Satin paper allowing deeper blacks (dmax) than the Board.
- Mid-tone color gamut for Costco's Epson 7880 printers
- There are, however, significant differences between the output of the Epson 7880 anbd 7890 printers. The 7880 series produces more highly saturated cyans and greens, while the 7890 pushes fartuer into magenta and red. Landscape photographers in particular may want to choose (if possible) which Costco lab to use depending on the subject of their large format prints.
- Gamut comparison between Costco's Epson 7880 and 7890 printers
- Poster print sizes are limited. Prints on the Photo Satin paper can be made at 16x20 and 20x30 inches only. Prints on the Photo Board are offered at 11x14 and 16x20 inches. No other print sizes are supported.
- Online ordering and ICC profile usage: Costco's web site is unclear about which printer will be used. Both the Fuji Crystal Archive lustre paper used by the silver-halide machines (Noritsu QSS and Fuji Frontier) as well as the Satin stock used by the Epson inkjets are referred to as "lustre." The print size determines which printer your images will run in. Only 16x20 and 20x30 inch prints use the Epson printers. Use the Epson Satin paper profiles for images printed at these two sizes on "lustre" paper. All other print sizes should use the Noritsu or Fuji Frontier printer profiles. Photo Board prints can not be ordered online.
- Use Epson profiles for highlighted print sizes
- The profiles are highly optimized for each individual printer; using a profile for one lab's printer at another location will give unpredictable and, often, ugly results.
Digital Image Workflow:
- Please follow our general color managed workflow. The details below are specific points for use with the Costco poster printing service.
- Soft Proof your images to each of the standard rendering intents: Perceptual, Relative Colorimetric, and Saturation. The different rendering intents offer alternative methods of squeezing the range of colors in your images into the output gamut of the printer. Which rendering intent is best depends on your personal preference, the image content, and the paper used. Experiment with a handful of images and you will quickly learn which rendering option best compliments a particular image type.
- The driver for Costco's Epson printers is optimized for 300ppi images. Resize your images to 300ppi at one of the supported print sizes listed above. For example, a 16x20 print should be sized to 4800x6000 pixels at 300ppi. Using other dimensions will result in image resizing by the printer driver. Multiple smaller images can be combined on a single sheet. Just ensure that the overall image canvas size is a supported print size.
- The prints are not full-bleed. There is an unprinted border around the edges of the image.
- Prints made on the Photo Board have an approximately one cm (1/3rd inch) border around the edges of each sheet. The image is shrunk to print within the borders.
- The Photo Satin paper has a 3mm (1/8th inch) border.
- We do not have scaling factors to preserve the original image scale, nor do we know if it is possible to do so. If we learn further details, we will post them here.
- Convert your images to the appropriate printer profile, then save the image as a maximum quality jpeg without embedding the profile. The driver used for the Epson printers can give unpredictable results if a printer profile is embedded in an image.
- Upload your images using the "Full Resolution Upload" option. The default "Fast Upload" downsizes your images, causing significant reduction in print quality.
- Select Full Resolution Upload
- Request that your prints be made with "Image Intelligence" disabled. This correction is image content specific and makes accurate use of printer profiles impossible. Unfortunately there is no independent method such as back printing to verify if Image Intelligence was actually disabled. The photo lab technicians can check their PIC computer for the job information to verify printing details. If you see wildly differing print output between pages or a background magenta color cast on prints containing large expanses of pure white, it is likely that Image Intelligence was enabled.
- As with Costco One Hour Photo's silver-halide printers, new ICC profiles for the Epson poster printers will be available approximately every six months.
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