Printing files scanned with VueScan and converting with NLP

I need Help :sob:
My prints look awful!

I have set my scanner height correctly, I have sharpened the images and the files are at 300DPI, but still, when I print the files they are soft.

My question to you is, does anyone have a process for printing their files?

Any feedback would be greatly apreicated!

Hi Jack, can you post a link to example files? Both the original file and a scan of the print?
This could help to get an idea in what direction to look…

One thing…please check what you’ve actually set. 300 dpi or 300 ppi? Dots are not pixels and it takes a lot of dots to make a pixel…

Here you can see the information on the print. It’s a massive file, I admit when preparing this file for print the only thing I made sure of was the DPI. In photoshop it shows as a 45x45 inch file.

Is that where I am probably going wrong? If I were to resize to the file size I wanted, in this case, 12x12", would I see a sharper image through the reduction of the image size?

Demonstrated here with highpass sharpening.

I don’t get it yet. What was the scanning resolution?

Example:

  • If you scan with a scanning resolution of 300 and have a file with a resolution of 300 that is 45 in wide, your original must have been 45 in wide.
  • If your original was only 11 in wide, scanning resolution was set to 1200, which means that you have enlarged the image 4 times. Now, the printer driver has to recalculate the image.

As for printing: What’s your gear and printing interface? Ps, Lr, Finder? Please be specific.

The raw file was originally scanned at 4800 DPI as I forgot to change this from when I was scanning some 35mm negatives. Normally I would scan at approximately 2300 DPI. Once the file was processed in NLP I exported the file as a JPG. I am using a local print shop and they specified that high-quality JPGs or tiffs would be easiest for them. So I exported at 100% quality and changed no other settings apart from the DPI of the image to 300.

First, let’s tackle dpi vs. PPI (note lower case and upper case!).

The term ‘dpi’ (dots per inch) refers to scanner input resolution. That’s how many dots (or “cells”) the scanner creates horizontally as it scans down the film or paper. For an 8x10" original to be reproduced at 1:1, a scanner set to scan at 300 dpi will save a file with 2400 by 3000 pixels. The EXIF header of that file may say “300 dpi” in it, but you can reproduce those 2400 by 3000 pixels at any PPI.

At the monitor, ‘dots’ are the individual red, green, or blue LEDs or phosphors that create the image. Monitor dot pitch (distance across each dot) varies with monitor size. Monitor PPI is a measure of RGB pixel output across an inch of screen. Monitor dot pitch and PPI are different.

At the printer, ‘dots’ are used to reproduce pixels. In high resolution Epson inkjet printing, there may be as many as 5760 ink dots per inch, although 2880 or 1440 is plenty for most uses. From the file pixels, the printer driver will create an array of 300 or 600 pixels per inch to be printed, and then create the dot pattern for each pixel in the array. MANY dots may be used to represent one single pixel!

The term ‘PPI’ (pixels per inch) is used to refer to output resolution. In a scanner, dots are used to create pixels. In a printer, pixels are used to create dots. ‘PPI’ should be used as a measure of how many pixels in the ORIGINAL file (processed from raw data) are used for each inch of printed output.

In a digital camera, sensels are used to gather light, and post-processing by the camera or external software creates the pixels using lots of higher math.

Pixels are just numbers in files… THEY HAVE NO SIZE unless you specify PPI for a specific array.

When scanning, consider the ultimate use of the file. Scanning film at 300 dpi works for an 8x10 inch sheet of film reproduced at 8x10 inches on a printer. But scanning full frame 35mm film at 300 PPI yields very bad results when enlarged to 8x12"! Instead, you need a file scanned at about 8.5 times 300 dpi. That’s roughly the diagonal difference between 43.266mm (35mm film frame) and 14.42 inches (8x12 print). So round it to 2400 dpi, which is a setting on most flatbed scanners.

When I print, I calculate the EFFECTIVE PPI from the original full size image, with no interpolation or downsizing. My camera files process to 4608 by 3456 pixels. I want to feed my lab or printer a MINIMUM of 240 of those per inch of paper, at 8x10. So I make sure that, before cropping, I know my ultimate effective PPI.

When a print will not be viewed closer than its diagonal dimension, effective PPI can be lower for larger print sizes. A 16x20 at 180 or 200 PPI will look fine at 26 inches, provided the photography was done well.

Both Photoshop and Lightroom Classic have new tools for “Super Resolution.” they work surprisingly well, if you have a fairly large image to start with. So if you’re making posters, try it!

I’m assuming the scan was of a good negative. Your original scan is huge, so big that a modest print size, perhaps 10"'x10," will have excess digital information that will work against you. If you print this file as a 12"x12" print you are at 1139.5 pixels per inch! Your sharpening halo would have to be 3.8 pixels wide just to be barely noticeable at 1/300th inch. Make a copy of the image and set the size in Photoshop to the print size you want with “resample” enabled at a resolution of 300 pixels per inch for your lab, or 360 ppi if you are printing via an Epson inkjet. Now do your sharpening and try printing; you should see an improvement.