File Formats: When providing digital data from a scanned image, be it film or reflective art, we suggest these files be saved in TIF format to insure the highest quality. Images in PSD format also provide the highest quality, but should be flatten before sent to SMDI. JPEG formatted files from scanners, while acceptable, often do not produce images of the same quality as images originating as TIF or PSD. Customers should take care. JPEG is a "lossy" format; therefore such files should initially be saved at as high a quality setting as possible, especially if enlarged inkjet prints are the ultimate goal. While image files can also be provided in PDF format, it is discouraged as images in PDF format are usually JPEG encoded, with the corresponding quality issues.
When using files from a digital camera the best quality is generally obtained from files originally captured via the camera's RAW format and then converted to TIF via a specialized program or plug-in for Adobe's PhotoShop. We do not accept images for reproduction in RAW format. Many digital cameras also natively save images in TIF format. If this is an option it should be used when RAW is not possible. Of course, most digital cameras save images in JPEG format. When RAW or TIF is not possible, try to use the highest possible quality setting when capturing in JPEG. Keep in mind once an image is either captured or converted to JPEG, converting it to TIF will not improve the quality and may, in fact, degrade the image further. Therefore there is no advantage to converting a JPEG to TIF.
Image Formats: We prefer data in 8-bit per channel RGB TIF format as that is the native format of our RIP and our system is optimized to take incoming RGB and automatically convert it to CMYK as the data is passed to the printer. However we can also accept TIF or PSD files in CMYK format with no quality penalties. We also support other formats, including, BMP, GIF, EPS, and PICT, but do not encourage them because of quality considerations. Data in 16-bit format (per color channel) will be sampled down to 8-bit (per color channel) for output, so we suggest the customer provide files already in 8-bit format.
Profiles: Profiles can be embedded and will be recognized by our system. Our printer profiles are also available to end users for soft proofing via PhotoShop. NOTE: these profiles are for soft proofing only and can not be embedded in files provided for printing. Please contact SMDI directly about selecting and downloading the correct profiles for your imaging needs.
Black & White Images: For neutral-toned images best results are achieved by providing files set to "grayscale" and "8-bits per channel" under the Image/Mode tab in PhotoShop. We can not guarantee a neutral gray tone when images are provided in "RGB" mode. Our ImagePrint RIP offers custom tinting and toning capabilities. For details, please call or Email.
Image Spatial Resolution:
For the best results the resolution of TIF and PSD files should be set to 360 pixels per inch (ppi) of final image size. This works out to about 388 KBytes per square inch of output. For very large images, those exceeding 1.5 GByte, or about 27 square feet (a 3x9 foot image) at 360 ppi, file resolution should be set to 180 ppi. As an example, for a finished print sized 10" x 12", we suggest providing SMDI with a TIF file of about 46.6 MB (10"x12"=120sq" x 388K = 46.56 MBytes) assuming 24 bits per pixel of color resolution (8 bit per color channel). Therefore a finished print of 24" x 36", 864 square inches of output, requires a file about 335 MBytes in size. Files of this size are often beyond the ability of either scanner or camera, so images will need to be upsized, or scaled, using a specialized program such as Genuine Fractals. Upsizing can also be achieved via "interpolation" of the file in PhotoShop using, for example, the controls found in the Image/Image Size tab of PhotoShop. A discussion of interpolation is beyond the scope of this note, but details and strategies for using this technique is available on the internet. SPECIAL JPEG NOTE: Images provided in the JPEG format MUST be scaled to the final image size and provided at EXACTLY 300 ppi to avoid spatial distortion.
With the exception of providing JPEGs at exact size and set to 300 ppi, the suggestions above are guidelines. Our ImagePrint RIP automatically rasterizes data based upon the scaling of the image and will output images with less than or more than the suggested amount of data per square inch. However, quality results can vary depending upon the amount of data provided. In general, it is better to provide as much data as possible in the digital files and allow the RIP to transform the data into finished graphics.
Layouts and Finished Pages:
When providing layouts and finished pages, we suggest files be saved in the PDF format to insure all fonts and layout arrangements are preserved exactly. Optionally, and with prior arrangement, we can accept unflattened, layered PSD files when the exact fonts required are provided in separate TrueType (.ttf) formatted files. Call or Email for details. We also accept files that were "printed" and saved in PostScript (PS) format with the fonts embedded. Encapsulated PostScript files can also be provided, but because of possible font issues, we do not suggest or encourage using the EPS format.
Saving and Sending Files:
Files should not exceed 1.5 GBytes and be saved in "PC File Format" when saved via PhotoShop. Files should not be compressed or zipped and all image-only files should be flattened. NOTE: File names should contain only the 26 alphabet characters and/or numbers. Layouts or finished pages should be flattened and rasterized where appropriate. We accept files on CDs (CD, CD-RW, CD-ROM) or DVDs (DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD ROM) or via FTP. For fastest service, we suggest FTP for all but the largest files. Call or Email and request a free FTP account.
Final output is provided on sheets cut from rolls of media generally available in 24, 36, 44, 50, 60 and 64 inch measures. Images are arranged to most efficiently utilize the media selected but are not individually trimmed. Exact image layouts and precise amounts of trim, or white space around images, can be requested. For best results, customers can provide images as layouts with crop marks and we will make best efforts to most efficiently utilize the media selected. SMDI bills by the square foot of media consumed, including trim and white space.
Please call us or send us Email to discuss you needs and requirements. We don't charge for this valuable service. Remember, a few free minutes with us now can save many dollars and hours later.