Printing photo enlargements at Costco Photo Center

It’s fast, convenient, very affordable, and good quality.


DISCLAIMER: THIS SITE IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH COSTCO, NOR DO I RECEIVE ANY BENEFITS FROM COSTCO. THIS SITE IS MEANT TO SHARE MY (POSITIVE) PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH A PRINTING VENDOR. THE INFORMATION BELOW IS PROVIDED AS IS.


For more than two years I have been printing my 11×14 and 12×18 color and monochrome prints at a local Costco Photo Center. I successfully used those prints in different competitions.

  • The price is unbeatable (assuming you have a membership): 12×18 for $2.99.
  • The convenience is un-beatable (upload to Costco.com, pickup in the store).
  • The quality is very good, assuming you follow some of the guidelines below.

Many of you have asked me more details about my experience with using the Costco Photo Center. This post describes my experience and how I personally use Costco for Fine Art printing.

Read the full article Click here to go to the FAQ page

Note that you need to have a Costco membership in order to use the Costco Photo Center. If you don’t have one, you can buy a yearly membership online for as low as $50, a bargain if you print often.

Table of content

Some background information and considerations

Quality and Paper
Printers
Color calibration and profiles
Resizing when printing
Monochrome prints
File resolution – “do I have enough pixels”?”
About mail orders

Step by step instructions

a) Open File
b) Crop
c) Setup the actual dimension
d )Setting up the canvas dimension
e) Save a JPEG
f) Upload the file to Costco.com
g) Print options
h) Re-Print

Feedback and comments

Read users feedback
Add comments

Some background information and considerations

Quality and paper
Quality is the question that comes the most often when I mention printing at Costco, especially when it comes to competition or gallery presentation. It is true that Costco may not be up to the quality that a custom print can provide you, and one of the main limitations using Costco is the limited choice of paper.

Printers
Costco uses different industrial photo printers in their Photo Centers. You can find a list of printers by photo centers through Dry Creek Photo a company who provides color calibration technologies for Costco. The store I use in Mountain View, CA uses Noritsu 3111 and Noritsu 3101printers, which are good laser-to-photo-paper printers and the Epson 7880, a large-format inkjet printer.

Noritsu Printers
Note that when you submit a print online with “do not auto correct my prints” option turned on, the Mountain View Photo Center automatically prints on the Noritsu 3111 for prints 12×18 and under. Call your local Photo Center to know which printer your photos will endup when using the “do not auto correct my prints” option, and ask if they are using the Dry Creek profile.

The Noritsu printers at the Mountain View, CA store uses Fuji Crystal Archive Type II in Lustre or Glossy finish options. You can find the technical details of the paper here.  But, I always find the prints to be very sharp with very good rendering of the details. Note that despite of the name “Archive” and some long-lasting colors, this photo paper doesn’t qualify as “archival”.

Prints made on the Noritsu are borderless.

The Mountain View, CA store runs a color calibration test every Monday and a Monochrome calibration every day. They print a test card and scan it using the built-in color calibration scanner.

Epson 7880 printers
The Epson Stylus Pro 7880 is used for print size of 16×20 and 20×30 submitted online. It’s an excellent professional printer.

There is only one paper choice available (at least at the Costco Mountain View, CA) as of May 2010 is the Fujifilm Photo Satin 270 Paper. Click here to read the technical specification of the Fujifilm Photo Satin 270. This paper is not an archival paper.

The Epson 7880 is using the Dry Creek profile. If you want, you can get the profile from Drycreek and install on your machine. Once setup it is supposed to help you see on your monitor something closer to what it will look like on the printer. Do not however embed the profile when saving the file. Also, note that the driver for the Epson 7880 is optimized for 300ppi.

Prints on the Epson 7880 have a 1/8 border all around the image.

The Costco Store in Mountain View, CA uses the 8 color (including 3 blacks) Epson UltraChrome K3 ink pack. It prints excellent back and white images without the magenta or green cast you might have on the Noritsu.

Epson Stylus Pro 7880 ColorBurst 110 ml Photo Black UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge
Epson Stylus Pro 7880 ColorBurst 110 ml Light Black UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge
Epson Stylus Pro 7880 ColorBurst 110 ml Light Light Black UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge
Epson Stylus Pro 7880 ColorBurst 110 ml Cyan UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge
Epson Stylus Pro 7880 ColorBurst 110 ml Light Cyan UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge
Epson Stylus Pro 7880 ColorBurst 110 ml Vivid Magenta UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge
Epson Stylus Pro 7880 ColorBurst 110 ml Vivid Light Magenta UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge
Epson Stylus Pro 7880 ColorBurst 110 ml Yellow UltraChrome K3 Ink Cartridge

Color calibration and profiles
Yes, you can download the profile from Dry Creek Photo. But of course, you should also calibrate your monitor. You don’t have to embed the profile in your file, Costco embeds the Dry Creek profile in the Noritsu printers and update it every 6 months. You just need to use the profile on your system for a better “preview” of the printout.
Note that this is not a requirement in order to print at Costco, and that I never calibrated my monitor and that I’m not using the Dry Creek profile.

Resizing when printing
There are lots of people who experienced a “resized” image ranging from 99% to 101% or even 102%.

Those printers have a resizing settings and each Photo Center can have a different settings. The printer used by the Mountain View, CA Photo Center when you use the “do not autocorrect” option is set to 100.0%. Check on the back of the print, the last number is the percentage at which it was printed. If you see 100.0 that means that it was printed at exactly 100%. Ask your Photo Center technician or manager to know if they are using the auto-size option or if it’s set to 100.0%

Monochrome prints
I had a few issues when submitting black and white monochromes on the Noritsu printer (print size of 12 x18 and under). I had one time a light purple cast, another time a green-ish cast and another a blue-ish cast. But I had also most of the time a solid monochrome. I usually prefer to use Lustre when printing monochromes. Expect the print to be more “cold” than a “real” monochrome output from an inkjet for example. But most of the time it will excel on the sharpness.

The monochrome prints on that Epson 7880 (size 16 x20 and 20 x 30) are excellent. It’s an 9 ink printer with 4 different “black” cartridges. If you are printing a Fine Art monochrome image, I suggest to print it on a 16 x 20 or 20 x30 canvas, with your image placed at the size you want. But in order to print on the Epson, you need to submit a canvas that is at least 16 x 20 and then you cut the extra space.

File resolution – “do I have enough pixels?”
Image resolution is a discussion all by itself. So, I’ll only state the obvious here. There is no minimum number of pixels that your image needs to have in order to print it. But there are some basic suggestions (provided by Costco) in order to have an image that shows details when being looked from up close. If your poster is to be seen from a certain distance, then you don’t need to respect those recommendations because it will not be noticeable. If your image needs to be seen from close and you don’t have enough pixels, you may want to experiment with some oversampling techniques, which for some images can be an art to perform correctly.
Here are the guidelines provided by Costco (I often submitted files with a lower resolution though), they suggest the minimum number of pixels for the files that you submit based on the intended print dimensions:

Print size Minimum resolution
between 115 and 180ppi
(recommended by Costco)
Recommended resolution:
300 or 320ppi for a Noritsu 3111
(recommended by DryCreekPhoto)
8 x 10 1150×920 pixels 2400×3000 pixels
8 x 12 1380×920 pixels 2400×3600 pixels
11 x 14 1610×1265 pixels 3300×4200 pixels
12 x 12 1380×1380 pixels 3600×3600 pixels
12 x 18 2070×1380 pixels 3600×5400 pixels
16 x 20 2300×1840 pixels 4800x6000pixels
20 x 30 3450×2300 pixels 6000×9000 pixels

If your image doesn’t have “enough pixels”, you can experiment with oversampling it, which consists in re-dimensioning the image to insert more pixels. Photoshop uses interpolation algorithms, but it will never replace the information in the image that was not there to start with.

Again, experimentation here is also your best solution. I have submitted files online that have less than 115ppi and the result was acceptable. It depends of course a lot on the image itself and in what distance the image will be seen.

For example, at the photo club, we currently use a video projector (1024 x 768 pixels) projected on a screen that’s about 8x6feet. That ends up being a display resolution on the screen of less than 15ppi, and yet, we are still debating if we should move to an HD projector which will bring the resolution to about 25ppi. The fact that we are looking at the screen from 4 to 20 feet away makes it perfectly fine.

About Mail Orders
I just called their technical support and here is what they told me (the information was confirmed by a person):
– the “do not autocorrect” option is both available for mail order and in-store pickup
– there is no way to know which printer will be used when using mail order. They have a few printing hubs in US, the West Coast facility is 100 acres. They have a central server that distributes the print queue to many different printers based on their availability, so, we cannot predict if it’s going to be directed to a Noritsu for example. Using color profiles seems un-predictable.
– there is no predictability in term of auto-resizing options. Some machine may be setup to auto-reseize and your photos might be printed at 99% to 100% of there inteded dimension.

Step by step instructions

a) Open file
I highly suggest that before you go through the following steps to duplicate your file and work on a copy of that file. Some modifications will be made in the steps below and you don’t want to lose anything until you know what you are doing ;-))
Open your (duplicated) image in Photoshop (any format like .jpg, raw, or .psd)

b) Crop (optional)
If your final image needs to fit to a certain aspect ratio, like for example if your photo will go behind a pre-cut mat with a pre-set opening, then you need to make sure your image has the right aspect ratio.
I usually use pre-cut mat and want to leave a white space around the photo within the opening of the mat. So, I measure with a ruler what my actual image dimension should be. In my case, and for the purpose of the explanation here, I use 15.125 x 9.875 (a fairly precise measurement that in your case could also be as simple as 10×9 or 11×14 or 12×16, etc.

I suggest the following method in Photoshop to crop your image while maintaining its original resolution:

1- select the Marquee Tool
2- in the tool option bar, select Style: “Fixed Ratio” and enter your expected width and height (don’t worry about entering measurement units, it’s not the point as we only care about the aspect ratio in this step)

3- then select the part of the image that you want to be your final print
4- and then go to the menu “Image” and select “Crop”

Now your image has the intended aspect ratio.
Note for those more adventurous, you can also use some width or height resizing to fit more information. You can “stretch” by a few % the image without having a major visual impact in most of the cases. Try to stay within 5%.

c) Setup the actual dimension
1- go to the menu “Image” and select “Image size…”
2- make sure “Resample Image” is un-checked
3- make sure the Width/Height/Resolution is “linked” (see #2 in the diagram below
4- enter the intended Width in inches of your final image (should be the same value you used just before when cropping to insure the aspect ratio. You should not need to enter the Height as it will be automatically calculated based on the existing aspect ratio.
5- click OK

d) Setting up the canvas to match Costco print paper dimension
Now that your image is set with its intended dimensions, we need to place it on a canvas that matches the size of the paper that Costco offers. Costco doesn’t offer custom print sizes, but only a few set of pre-defined dimensions. You have to chose one big enough to contain your image.

Below are the paper dimensions offered by Costco (dimensions are in inch, price listed here for information only, as of May 2010. For accurate information, please go to www.costco.com).

Price is for store pickup (orders can be placed online at costco.com)
4×6 (Noritsu) – $0.13ea
5×7 (Noritsu) – $0.39ea
8×8 (Noritsu) – $1.49ea
8×10 (Noritsu) – $1.49ea
8×12 (Noritsu) – $1.49ea
12×12 (Noritsu) – $2.99ea
11×14 (Noritsu) – $2.99ea
12×18 (Noritsu) – $2.99ea
16×20 (Epson 7880) – $5.99ea
20×30 (Epson 7880) – $8.99ea

In my example, I will use a 12×18 to fit my 15.125 x 9.875.

1- go to menu “Image” and select “Canvas Size…”
2- make sure the check box “Relative” is un-checked
3- then set the measurement unit to “inches” and enter the width and height of the Costco paper
4- you can also chose the color of the canvas that will be added (the technician at Costco told me that the choice of the color doesn’t affect the color balance of the rest of the image). I usually use White, Black or a Gray. In my example I will be using while because some of that canvas will be visible
5- click “OK”

Now your image should show be positioned on a canvas whose dimensions match the Costco printing dimensions.

Note regarding the resolution of the image: The Noritsu used by Costco are optimized for 320dpi. But I never set the image resolution and always let the resolution “as is”, and I never noticed any differences. Some of you may want to play with some oversampling techniques to indeed provide an optimal amount of pixel per inch. For example, a 12×18 inches will have 3840×5760 pixels to optimize a 320dpi.

e) Save a JPEG
Costco accepts JPEG, TIFF and BMP files. I personally always use JPEG.  So, we now need to save the image as a JPEG.
1- go to menu “File” and select “Save as..”. (You can also select “Save for web”, which may generate a better JPEG)
2- select the jpeg option, and save
3- in the option menu, select the highest quality (12), Baseline.
4- I found it convenient to add to the name of the jpeg the canvas dimension. So, in my example, I will name the file “MyImage 12×18.jpg”

f) Upload the file to Costco.com
Now, I will assume that you have an Internet access and a Costco membership number with you. I also suggest that you use Internet Explorer if you have a Windows system, their upload feature is more powerful in Internet explorer than on Firefox. See screenshots below.

There has been some discussions regarding the maximum file size allowed for upload on the Costco.com website.

I successfully uploaded a 6000 x 9000 pixel (20in x 30in at 300dpi) JPEG image of 13.5MB.
I will soon try to upload the same image (6000 x 9000) in TIFF of 153MB to see if it works.

Please report in the comment section below if you have some experience with very large files (50MB and more).
1- go to http://www.costcophotocenter.com
2- click on the link “Photo” located at the top of the page
3- login (or create an account), create a new album, and go to the “upload” option
4- select the file you want to upload, make sure you select “Full Resolution” when you upload

Above: “Full resolution” option in Firefox

Above: “Full resolution” option in Internet Explorer

5- and click upload
6- once your file is uploaded, click on the link “Order Prints”
7- select the photo(s) you want to print and “Add to cart”

g) Print options
There are a few options that you want to select in the “Print options” page.
Photo Finish: Lustre or Glossy. There is magical answer for that choice, it depends on what your image represents. that being said, I found that for a monochrome image, the Lustre option works better for me.
Note that the Photo Finish option only applies to the entire order. So, if you want to have one 11×14 in Lustre and another in Glossy, you have to place 2 orders. A bit time consuming, but doesn’t cost more.
Quantity: by default, your order has one 4×6 for each photo. You have to be careful and set the correct paper dimensions based on your file setup. So, in my example, I’ll set the quantity of 12×18 to 1, and remove the 4×6. Note that if you select a paper of a different dimension and aspect ratio, it will still be printed, but you should expect your image to be cut on one or the other side.
– once the order looks good, click “Continue”
Pickup option: in store or by mail. I have always done the store pickup, so, I cannot comment on the mail option. I have always been using the store located on Rengstorff avenue in Mountain View, CA and I have always been very happy with the output.
Do not Auto correct option: one of the most important option that you need to set is the Auto Correct option. On the page “review & place order”, click on “edit options”. In the option popup, make sure you select the “Do not AutoCorrect my prints.” option. AutoCorrection is an automatic process applied to the image to “make it look better”. I assume that if you are reading this, you are either a photographer or that you are pleased with your image. This option makes a significant difference, and in most of the cases will affect your final output if it is not checked.

You are now ready to place your order. Costco will give you an estimated time and date, the images were always ready when they said it will be and I placed more than 50 orders over a period of 2 years.

h) Re-Print
If you are not happy with the printout, you can reject the print job and not pay for it. If you find that there is a technical issue with the print, you can ask to re-print it on the spot. The file is stored in the computer and they can re-submit it. It happened once that there was a thin scratch line all along the print. They re-printed it right away for me.
Now, you may find that your print is too dark or too bright, or that the colors are not as expected. If that’s the case, you can go back to Photoshop and correct your image to compensate the exposure and other settings and re-submit for print. If this is a recurring issue, I suggest that you get more serious about your monitor calibration and the use of the Dry Creek Color Profile.

Happy printing!!

And if you have feedback or input, feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll make sure to update this post accordingly.

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61 comments
Philippe
Philippe

Hi! Before getting into the calculation of the printed resolution, I want to point out that your image 1589x1181 doesn't have the same aspect ratio as the dimension of the paper 20x16. Your image is "more rectangular or flatter" than the paper. So, the first thing you need to do to calculate the final resolution is to extand the canvas of your image with some white space in order to have a jpeg that has the same aspect ratio as the paper. In short you need to make the canvas size of your image 1589 (no change) x 1271 (90 pixels of white). Now you can calculate the end resolution by dividing the number of pixels of any of the sides of your image by the dimension of the paper. For example 1589/20=79ppi (or 1271/16=79ppi). And yes, 79ppi is a bit low and the 16x20 might look grainy or pixelized. That being said, my experience is a bit different than what the book says. It depends on the design of your image (if it's a big blue surface for example, it won't matter, but if the details matter, then it might be an issue). But it also depends on how far away you are going to look at it. If it looks good on your monitor, meaning that the important details are present in the file, then they will also be present in the print out. If that 16x20 will be looked at 3 or more feet, chances are you'll be pleased. It also depends the context. If it's for a professional photo gallery or art magazine, it's a no-no :-) If it's for a more casual, family or event memory, then I would give it a shot, especially at that price. If you also feel like it, you can Google for "oversampling" technic which consists in having Photoshop (Elements) artificially insert pixels. The result might work for you, again based on the nature of the image. But there is no magic... if information is missing in the picture, it cannot be "photographed after the fact". Hope this helps, please report your findings!

Jim K
Jim K

I have a file I would like to enlarge to a 16x20 color print and am a little confused if the finished print will lose a lot of resolution. Photo Shop Elements measurement grid shows a measured 16x20 screen image that is displayed at 100% on the screen which looks looks sharp. Does that screen image approximate the quality of a 16x20 print made from the photo file? The jpg file shows measures 1589 x 1181. If I extrapolate the conventional wisdom formula - 1589x1181 and divide that by 16x20 (320) i arrive at 5864 and if i get the square root of this I get only 76 pixels per inch, which is about half of the minimum 150 ppi which I have seen on these forums. Is my reasoning correct or am I missing something?? Thanks for your help

Philippe
Philippe

Hi! Some of the pricing for canvas is in my FAQ there: http://photsy.com/blog/?p=967#Print-on-canvas Note that this is not meant to replace Costco pricing (I'm not affiliated with Costco). Please double check with your local store or online for the latest pricing.

Philippe
Philippe

Thanks! Feel free to share your experience with the store in San Francisco!

Philippe
Philippe

Thanks! Feel free to share your experience with the store in San Francisco!

Angus
Angus

Thank you for your great explanation. Trying out San Francisco's Costco Print Shop today.

Roger
Roger

Hi Mark, The ICC profile for their canvas printing is what I am looking for - any chance that you can share it with me?

laurie
laurie

My customers will feel better attaching a number to the amount of years one of my prints from Costco can offer. Do u have that kind of information? I expect their good for 60 yrs. if put under glass.

Philippe
Philippe

Hi Todd, I'm not sure I can really help here... The 2 thoughts I have are: - if your image is pixelated when seen on your computer, then the issue is most likely the resampling step - if your image is sharp on your computer and has enough pixels for the intended printed dimension, but that the printed image at Costco is pixelated, then you may want to check that you check the "full resolution" option when uploading the photo on their website. Otherwise, only a lower resolution is uploaded, assuming you will print on a small 4x6 or 5x7. Share your findings here if you have time. Good luck!

Todd
Todd

If you ask nicely, and the photo tech/manager knows their printer, Costco can also print 20X60's. I am having a resolution disparity, though. Some of my photos, natively, are larger than 20X60, and are tack sharp - able to count the needles off of trees; however, upon downsizing, and printing the print is pixelated/blurred. I've read issues with the problems of downsizing, too. Also, some of the photos are 17.5X40, I resized to the height of 19.5". And these also are pixelated/blurred. I didn't remember to uncheck the resample box, though. Could this be the problem?

Joe
Joe

Dan, I don't think you actually converted the image when you used "Edit -> Assign Profile..."? Assign profile keeps the image the same and just uses the new profile to dictate how to display it. A pixel with the RGB value of 100,150,200 would still have the value of 100,150,200 after the reassignment, it would just appear differently when displayed/printed via software that is sensitive to color profiles. I would expect the effect to be very similar to soft proofing with the new profile if you left all the corrections (such as "simulate paper") turned off. When you convert to a new profile (Edit -> Convert to Profile...) Photoshop changes the values of each pixel in the image so the the displayed color appears about the same. For a graphic (puns are usually intended) illustration of the difference take a reasonably colorful RGB image in Photoshop and try switching between sRGB and AdobeRGB using both Convert and Assign.

Joe
Joe

Sanford, You are describing Element's resizing behavior when it is set to do a "Relative" resizing. That's when you need to tell it how much bigger to make the canvas. When you want to input the final dimensions, as Philippe suggests, look for the "Relative" option on the resizing pop-up window and make sure that it is not checked. I have verified this with Elements 9, but I believe it is true for most all versions.

Mark
Mark

I called my Costco and indeed they send out to YPOC. I emailed them and got their ICC profile so I'm set now! Thanks!

Philippe
Philippe

Hi Mark, I don't have an answer regarding the use of drivers for canvas prints. I have a little bit more information regarding canvas print at Costco on this page: http://photsy.com/blog/?p=967 If YPOC is still processing the canvas for Costco, then you might want to search on their site, maybe their FAQ has some information: http://www.ypoc.com/FAQs.aspx Last option, I suggest to call your Costco photo center and check with them. You may also call YPOC directly, you might be lucky. If you get an answer, feel free to share what you learned here, others might benefit from it! Thanks and good luck.

Mark
Mark

I've been using the color profile for my Costco and have good luck with paper prints but recently had a canvas print made. Colors were not as accurate. Is there a separate color profile I can download for canvas printing?

Philippe
Philippe

The club is open to the public, it's a fun place with people who love photography and love to share :-) Looking forward meeting you!

asterix98
asterix98

Hi Phillipe Thanks for your follow up. I will find out if I can do the suggested trick in Capture NX2. Incidentally, I made about 8 16x20 prints at Costco. They came out beautifully. I tried both auto correct on and off. (for my pictures off is a shade better). I am also in Palo Alto. Will make my way to the photo club one of these days. Cheers Suresh

Philippe
Philippe

Hi Suresh, The photos that you send to Costco need to have the same aspect ratio than the aspect ratio than the paper you print on. For example, if you print on a 16x20, then your photo needs to have the same aspect ratio: 16x20. In your comment you mentioned that your image is 14x20, and in this case, it will want to crop the image in order to fit the 16x20 aspect ratio of the 16x20 paper. The solution consists in extending the canvas of your 14x20 image in Photoshop to 16x20. You can use any colors you want to extend the canvas. Then save and send your new 16x20 to Costco. Hope this addresses your question.

asterix98
asterix98

Thanks for the excellent write-up. I have just submitted my first few 16x20s at the Mountain View Costco. Hoping for the best. I wanted to share this and get some feedback. I saved all of the photos (after editing in Capture NX2) with image size of 20x14 (@~200dpi). When these images were uploaded to the Costco photosite, all of the images were showing that they needed to be cropped just a shade. Any thoughts on why this is so? Cheers Suresh

Karen
Karen

Thank you for your quick reply. Yes, I did forget to mention that I also chose Do Not Auto Correct Color for my 4x6 prints. I shoot my images in RAW and the processing I went with for these photos was somewhat muted so maybe, as you suggested, the Epson did a better job of printing those color choices and the Noritsu made them even more muted than I had wanted. I'll see what I can find out and post any insights I may have.

Philippe
Philippe

Karen, Thanks for sharing your experience here. What comes to mind: - the fact that you used 2 different printers (large size went on the Epson and the small on the Noritsu), although I did a test earlier with the sames images (one color and one monochrome) sent to both printers (using different canvas sizes to force the choice of printers), and they both came very close. I didn't use any profiles in that test. So, that might not be the reason - you didn't mention is you checked the "do not auto correct" when you printed the 4x6. I assume you did check the option, but in case you did not, it certainly is the most probable reason of the difference - another reason could be that you got un-lucky and printed the 4x6 when the Noritsu needed to be calibrated. I doubt though because Costco calibration policies are pretty strict and they rarely run the Noritsu out of calibration. - last could be that the type of colors that you are using in your collage can be reproduced on the Epson inkjet and that the Noritsu has more difficulties to render. I doubt that as well... If I were you, I would bring back the 2 prints to the photo center (not during rush hour) and ask for the photo center manager. They may have more insights. You can ask to re-print the 4x6 to see if they come out better. Please share your findings :-) Good luck

Karen
Karen

I just recently used Costco for a couple printing jobs. The first was a couple 16x16 collages that I put together in CS5 and had printed on 16x20 and then trimmed the extra. I was quite impressed. I chose Do Not Auto Correct Color. My monitor is not calibrated and I was not using the Dry Creek profiles. They came out pretty darn close to my monitor. Then those same images that I used in the collage I wanted to have printed out in 4x6's (lustre) for a quick little album to send to mom. I uploaded the same individual JPEG files to Costco. This time however, they were much more dull and not as vibrant. I held up the individual photo next to the same photo used in the collage and it was duller. Is that because there are 2 different printers used? One for the 16x20 and the other for the 4x6's? Just trying to understand what I need to do differently when printing 4x6's. Maybe I need to intentionally up the vibrancy and saturation in my photos if I know I will be printing smaller sized photos. Any input?

Philippe
Philippe

Thanks Walter! Glad that you find it useful!

Walter Heyman
Walter Heyman

Phillipe: Today is the first time I've seen your blog and found your guidelines to printing at Costco exceptionally well written and exactly what I needed. Many thanks for going into such useful detail! Walter

Philippe
Philippe

Hi Sanford, I don't think Costco offers matting/over-matting. The closest that I have seen is their new mounting on back board. The board is higher density than foam board, the photos a mounted flush to the edges and there is no matt or glazing over the photo itself. I have never used this option and saw it advertised at my local Costco Photo store. I usually use Michael's store for custom matting. They often run special discounts down to 60% off on custom framing. Otherwise, I use pre-cut matts from http://documounts.com (they also offer custom work). Hope this helps.

Philippe
Philippe

Costco doesn't have any options to print square images. If you scan your 6x6, your images will be square and when uploaded on the Costco site, you will see that the only option to print on a 11x14 is to be cropped, meaning that a part of your image will not print. It's a limitation of the online system they use. So, if you want to print your square image without being cropped, you need to first prepare the file, using Photoshop for example. What you need to do is extend the canvas of your square image to a rectangle aspect ratio, which in this case needs to have the following aspect ratio: 11:14. You can choose any color to fill in the empty part. Then save the image and upload to Costco. Your image will be preserved. Once you get your prints, you can cut the extra part around your square image, which should endup being 11x11 in size. Hope this helps.

sherwin waldorf
sherwin waldorf

can i scan a 6x6 med.format negative and send it in to have a 11x14 print made?

Philippe
Philippe

Thanks for sharing Gary!

Gary Magruder
Gary Magruder

Philippe - Thanks for the feedback. I did email DRy Creek and Ethan says that what I am seeing is the result of the operator at the lab leaving the "image Intelligence" enabled, however I suspected this as well and had them run one with and one without. The one with was actually colder, blue green and the one without was the magenta one. Neutral black and white prints on an ink jet printer are very tough. My hopes were that with Dry Creeks profile quality they would be neutral. I view the prints in my GTI calibrated D5000 viewing box. I have emailed Ethan again asking for further suggestions. I will pass to you if I here back. Following are comments from Ethan at DRy Creek - Gary, What you describe is exactly what one sees if the Costco has Image Intelligence enabled when making the prints. Regards, Ethan Hansen Dry Creek Photo

Philippe
Philippe

Gary, From what you describe, I would also assume that the printed image on the Epson should not have any colors or color cast. I do not have an answer to what you are experiencing. I usually do not use the DryCreek profile and the results just work fine for me. The only thing I can think about would be to talk to the technician at your local Costco. They have access to the file (not sure how long they keep them in the print server). Whenever I had some issues with the print they always looked into it carefully and never charged me for the "bad" print. They may also check your file and see if there is something there. The Epson has a few black and gray ink cartridges and it should be able to print great monochrome prints. Please share back your experience if you can find the source of the problem. Good luck!

Gary Magruder
Gary Magruder

I am using the Epson printer at my local Costco. I am using the Dry Creek Photo Profiles. My Black and white prints are warm/magenta. I include a 21 step grey scale on my canvas around the prints. The dark values are obviously magenta? I convert my image to black and white (remove any color) then convert back to RGB and then convert to the Costco/Dry Creek Profile for the Posterboard media. I save as a jpeg and I do not imbed the profile as directed. Should not this process result in neutral image tone???

Roberto Mighty
Roberto Mighty

Phillippe, thank you for taking the time to share your careful, thorough and candid observations, experiences and analysis. You are truly doing a service to the photographic community - Cheers.

Doug Eng
Doug Eng

I'm also getting great results at our Costco in Jacksonville, FL. Caution: do NOT use the ProPhoto RGB color space, the Noritsu will desaturate all the colors. You will see this in the browser when uploading your file. Believe what you see, the result is bad. sRGB, Adobe RGB, and the Dry Creek profiles all give great results. I typically edit in ProPhoto since it has the largest gamut, but don't forget to change your export setting if you are using a program like Lightroom.

Philippe
Philippe

Hi Wyatt, glad you like the article. I have not tried the canvas yet. I saw a few samples at the local store though the other day. Maybe you can check at your local store, see a sample for yourself and check the thickness of the canvas. A fellow blogger has a post with some pictures of a canvas ordered at Costco. You may want to ask the same questions there: http://yang1815.xanga.com/720610333/costco-photo-center-canvas-print/ Let me know how it turns out so that other readers can benefit from it.

Philippe
Philippe

Thanks Dan for sharing your experience with setting up the DryCreek profiles. I'll spend a bit more time myself using them and will update the blog post accordingly. I didn't have the need so far as I always had almost perfect accuracy between my monitor and the printouts both on the Noritsu and the Epson printed at Costco. Thanks again!

Dan Hartford
Dan Hartford

Hi Philippe, Here's some info you may find interesting. In your blog, you mention that you do not use the Dry Creek printer profile and haven't had any trouble. I don't know if your remark was specific to the Noritsu printer or encompasses both the Noritsu and Epson printers at the Mt. View store. My first print on the Epson printed just fine without bringing in the Dry Creek profile. However I was not so lucky with my second attempt with a different photo. I followed your instructions for sizing and recommended PPI for a 16x20 print When I uploaded the image to Costco (full size upload) I noticed that the colors (especially the reds) were much more muted than they were on my Calibrated monitor and the sky had drifted into purple instead of blue. I Rechecked my Jpg in Photoshop, Lightroom and Windows Picture/fax viewer and the colors were correct in all 3 of those tools. I therefore assumed the lousy color I was seeing on the Costco web site was an artifact of my web browser or just an idiosyncrasy of the internet or their web site so I went ahead and had it printed anyway. The good news is that it printed very close to what had been shown on the Costco web viewer. The bad news is that it had no resemblance to the original photo. So, I sucked up and read up on printer profiles, downloaded and installed the profile for the Epson printer Costco uses. When Previewing in Photoshop CS3 with the new profile (View -> Proof Setup -> Custom) there was little difference except that it got a hair darker when I turned on "simulate Paper". I then converted the image to that profile (Edit -> Assign Profile) and re-saved it. When I printed this version at Costco it was perfect. I'm not sure why my results were so dramatically different with and without the Dry Creek Profile, but I guess that sometimes the printer profile does seem to make a significant difference. You may want to update your blog to warn people that if the uploaded image looks different on the Costco web site, it will probably print the way it looks on the web site rather than the way it looked in Photoshop and that this can be corrected by converting to the printer profile. I'm attaching a jpg showing the two versions side by side. The left image is the desired look and the right hand image is what the print looked like at when printed at Costco before I embedded the Dry Creek Profile and re-tweaked it. Dan www.danhartfordphoto.com

Philippe
Philippe

It's a good question that I have not been able to drill down. I think I need to write a section in this post focusing on the color space, and color profiles. I personally use sRGB when I submit the files to Costco. Ideally a test would consist in sending multiple files using different color spaces. Adobe RGB has a wider gamut than sRGB, but I assume it depends is your file was created and edited in Adobe RGB... But an A/B test would be good... Please share your experience if you have a chance. Thanks for your praise too!!

Philippe
Philippe

Thanks Brian for sharing your Tiff upload experience. Of course Tiff file are MUCH bigger files than jpegs and it certainly has an impact on upload time. Even if one has a fast upload Internet speed, there might be other bottlenecks between the computer and the Costco servers. A quick search shows that the costcophotocenter.com site is hosted in Burnaby, Canada (assuming that's the place the upload goes). Their IP address seems to be: 209.20.17.11 (http://adswebstats.com/d/costcophotocenter.com). So, you could run a quick speed test to see where you stand: http://www.speedtest.net/ (check the speed connection with the server in Burnaby, Canada).

Brian Ellis
Brian Ellis

It may be true that you can upload tiff files but when I tried to upload one photo as a tiff I waited for more than 10 minutes and upload still wasn't completed. So I gave up, canceled, went back to the same photo in Photoshop, changed it to a jpg, then tried uploading it again. As a jpg it uploaded in about a minute. I was using the one-by-one method because I couldn't get either of the other two methods to work. Possibly one of them would have uploaded the tiff file in a reasonable time although I was only uploading one photo.

Brian Ellis
Brian Ellis

I'm starting to use Costco for the first time for some 20x30 prints. I've been told that before submitting an image that's been edited in Photoshop it's very important to convert the profile to sRBG (Edit > Convert to Profile > sRGB) and to not send the prints as Adobe RGB 1998. I didn't see any mention of this in your article (which, by the way, was extremely helpful, thanks). Is it true or have I been misinformed?

Philippe
Philippe

Glad to hear! Feel free to report anything you learn from your experience so that others can benefit from it!

Emily
Emily

Thank you for taking the time to post this detailed information! I JUST started using the Mountain View Costco for professional quality prints and am very appreciative of your instructions, descriptions, and specs.

susan
susan

Thank you so much. Your explanation makes sense. I'll proceed to print...

Philippe
Philippe

Susan, based on what you describe, I think that you got the "image property" of the thumbnail of your uploaded image as displayed in the web page. That image dimension and size is expected, because it's not your actual image file that you uploaded to their server, but a small representation for you to preview on the web page. I suggest that you continue in the print steps on the Costco web site, and when you get to the page where you choose how many prints and what size you want, there will be a warning sign somewhere near your image if you don't have enough pixels. But I think that you are doing well so far and that your image is correctly uploaded. Note that once I didn't like the image when I went to pickup and pay, and they told me that it was not a problem, and that I didn't have to pay. So, worst case scenario, you waste a trip to the store.

susan
susan

Thanks for updating sceenshots on upload in "Full Resolution". This time I was able to upload a file in "Full Resolution". The file is 3.3 Mb for a 8x10 image. After I uploaded, though, I clicked on the image "property", it says the size is 12.5 Kb, dimension: 90x72 pixels. Now I wonder again if the uploaded file is "full resolution". Why there is such a big discrepancy b/w the file size and the uploaded size? Sorry I'm very new to all this and ask silly quesitons:) Appreciate if you could help Thanks!

Philippe
Philippe

You are correct, they have a new user interface, I''l update the screenshots. The option is in the screen after you selected your images to upload. It's called something like "full resolution for poster size" or something. Hope you can find the option. Sorry about that.

susan
susan

Hi, Thanks for posting - very helpful info. I tried to follow your instruction to upload file to costco, but in step4, I couldn't find the the box "Full Resolution" vs. "Fast". Basiclly that window as you pictured here didn't show in my screen. The image still got uploaded, but I didn't know if it's full resolution. Anything I did wrong? Thanks in advance

Philippe
Philippe

I went to the Mountain View store to check and yes, they do have now the Epson 7880! This is great news! The Epson 7880 is used for print 16x20 and 20x30 (other dimensions still go to the Noritsu). The prints are automatically routed to the Epson 7880 when the requested sizes ar 16x20 and 20x30 when submitted online. There is only one paper choice though: Fujifilm Photo Satin Paper. The Epson 7880 is using the Dry Creek profile, so, if you want to can get it on your computer. You don't need to include or submit the profiles. Regarding file sizes, I just uploaded a 7MB+ file (using the full size upload option) and it went through. It was printed on a 12x18 though. I have not tried the Epson 7880 yet.

Joe
Joe

DryCreekPhoto.com/icc best site for printer lists. It shows "Noritsu 3111" and "Epson 7880 Poster Printer". You can order a 16x20 or a 20x30 print on Fuji satin paper via the Internet. My one try at Redwood City took under 1 hour to print (confirmation email at 10:36, in-process email at 10:45). I believe that there is about a 5MB max on image files uploaded over the Internet. This may become a problem at the larger sizes. I don't know if you can submit a larger file at the store. This may also be old information. I haven't tried a larger file. You can also print 2 sizes on poster board at the store, but cannot order them via the Internet.

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