Even professionals see the lure and potential of photobooks. Wedding photographer Michelle Wotkun, co-founder of Tampa-based Jamie and Michelle Photography, has been using sites such as Snapfish to create photobooks, both for her own family and her customers, since 2008. “I really liked the look of the photos being printed on the page,” says Wotkun, who resides in Chicago. “You can set up your own layout, you can have a lot more photos on a page, and it’s a lot more compact than a photo album with actual prints. And, it’s easy.”
Wotkun says Snapfish’s easy-to-use layout, which allows users to upload photos then adjust how they will appear once they’re printed in the final book, was a big reason she used the site originally. She has since moved on to using sites like Blurb.com and Mpix.com which, she says, offer higher quality pages—something that’s important to her as a pro photographer. “I’ve found that they have better print quality, they’re less grainy, the color prints a bit better on the pages. Even the pages themselves are thicker,” Wotkun observes.
Photographers like Wotkun, looking for a more professional touch for their photobooks, can also consider printing on Kodak’s new line of Endura EP-D and EP-L photo-quality, digital papers highlighted at Graph Expo last fall. Each premium, 18x12-inch sheet is double-sided and suitable for reproduction on either dry ink/toner digital presses that use liquid ink and toner. Endura EP allows pros to complement and intermix traditional print products with digital press products, such as albums, event books, cards, and other fully customizable offerings—all with the same look and feel of silver halide (AgX) color negative papers and display materials.
The aforementioned Mpix, with large labs in Kansas and Missouri, features six Kodak NexPresses. It is a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging (the biggest pro lab in the US) and runs special effects such as hi-def inks. “Light black simulates continuous tones,” notes Ken Marks, national sales manager of Kodak’s Imaging Specialty Retail Printing Solutions. Marks adds that the fifth imaging unit on the NexPress can be a true differentiator for new products.
More High-end Output
Speaking of higher quality, 10 months ago Canon announced the firm’s inaugural entry into the production photo printing market with the launch of the DreamLabo 5000 production inkjet printer. The technology delivers a new performance level combining high-quality photo/text reproduction with high productivity, offering the retail photo printing and the high-end, print-on-demand markets a new alternative to traditional silver halide processing technology.
Canon’s FINE (Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) printhead technology makes it possible to simultaneously achieve high image quality and high productivity. The system achieves color representation rivaling that of conventional processing, delivering high-speed printing of high-quality photos and detailed text to support a variety of value-added output.
The DreamLabo’s high-density printhead enables printing of output up to 12 inches wide. The new printhead additionally delivers high-speed, one-pass printing—requiring only a single pass of the printing paper—while the printhead remains in a fixed position. When used in combination with the automatic, double-sided printing function, a standard feature, the DreamLabo 5000 is capable of printing the contents of a 20-page A4-size (8.27x11.69 inch) photo album in only 72 seconds. The system also realizes high productivity by enabling paper and ink tank replacement during printing, supporting the extended, uninterrupted operation times required for production printers.
Its seven-color, dye-based ink system adds photo cyan, photo magenta, and gray to CMYK to realize smooth gradations and tonality, especially in the highlight and shadow areas of images. The printer employs image processing technology that makes use of the full range of Canon’s large inkjet color gamut for imaging performance that effectively integrates the strengths of conventional silver halide processing into the advantages of inkjet printing.
Additionally, the ink-receiving layer of Canon inkjet paper employs alumina as the key material. Compared with conventional photo paper, alumina quickly absorbs ink solvent, affixing only the dye component near the surface of the ink-receiving layer to make possible high-density and vivid color reproduction. A lineup of single- and double-sided, glossy and semi-glossy papers in a variety of widths also has been prepared. The DreamLabo 5000 production inkjet printer is expected to be available soon (in early 2012), according to the company.