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Direct To Digital Prints with the Fuji Frontier Printer

Read the entire article in our press section about using the Frontier printer which contains suggested work flows for beginner, intermediate and advanced users.
How to size your files so they won't be cropped
I had been reading about the Fuji Frontier Printer on some of the digital forums for the past year. I finally had a chance to make some prints at a local Costco store and was really impressed by the price and quality of the output. The paper is Fuji Crystal Archive, the same paper that the high end photo labs use with a 60 year life expectancy. Cost per print is 20 cents for a 4x6, $1.99 for an 8x10 (8 inch roll paper), and $2.99 for a 10x15 (10 inch roll paper). Because I was the only one there Kevin showed me that he had options of either cropping incorrect sized files, or the ability to drop the file into a template to add a white border so it the incorrectly sized file could still be printed in full. If you prepare your image files properly, you can achieve the same quality output as custom labs that charge five (or more) times as much. And the prints come out in 20 minutes. It should be noted here that the prices I've quoted are for Costco only. Prices from local competition was $4.00 per 8x10 at Sam's Club and $8.00 per 8x10 from Ritz Camera for the same Frontier prints. Be sure to call your local store and verify the prices before making a trip. On an additional note, for those of you needing quantities from the same image file, Costco offers a price break of $1.49 each for 100 to 499 8x10's and $.99 each over 500 prints.
Scanning 35mm slides with the Frontier printer
Not many people know about this, but the Frontier printer can produce high resolution scans (3000 pixels per inch) from 35mm slides for 59 cents (price at Costco's). Over a one week period I had 100 of my old slides scanned to create a new Film Gallery and two galleries of images for sale for my fine art web site. My scanned files were 4535x3035 pixels. Make sure to ask for a scan for a 10x15 inch print. That will generate a 12 to 19 megabyte Jpeg which opens in Photoshop as a 39 megabyte TIF or PSD.
How I prepare my digital files for 8x10 Frontier prints
Asked about file preparation on my CoolPix 990 forum I put together this instruction list of how I prepare my files for 8x10 prints so the operator won't inadvertently crop and resize my carefully prepared images. Important to note that the Frontier printer is optimized for 300 pixels per inch, though I've had excellent with straight out of camera Jpegs. I should also mention that I don't pay much attention to color profiling for the Frontier printer. The color space of all my files is Adobe RGB and even though the lab manager told me the default color space is sRGB, my colors look excellent. If you look around on the web you can find color profiles for the different Frontier printers but before doing that I suggest running a few sample tests.The file I used for my test was the picture of my father's birthday at the bottom of the page. More than enough skin tones for an accurate test.
1
- Open your file in Photoshop (or your choice of image editing programs) and Save As an uncompressed file as either a PSD or TIF which will become your working original.
2 - Do your editing, correct color, open shadows, crop etc.. and Save As "working original 2".
3 - Resize your finished image. Go to Image>Image Size. Make sure Constraint Proportions and Resample Image (Bicubic) is checked. Enter 300 for the resolution and 10 for the width. If you're working from the original size file, 7.5 will appear in the Height box. Pay attention to the Pixel Dimensions above the size in inches. It should now read 2250x3000 pixels. That's the same as 7.5 x 10 inches at 300 pixels per inch.
4 - Add Unsharp Mask if the image needs to be sharpened. Judgment call based on your personal work flow and the particular image.
5 - Add a canvas so the image will print properly as an 8x10. Go to Image>Canvas Size. If you're working in inches, change the 7.5 to 8 inches. If you're working in pixels, change the 2250 to 2400 pixels. In both cases, the exact same size border will be added to the 7.5 inch sides to make it centered on an 8 inch canvas.
6 - Save As a TIF adding 8x10 to the file name. This will be the file you take on CD or zip disk to be printed. An 8x10 becomes a 20.6 megabyte Tif file.
If you look closely at the Antelope Canyon thumbnail below, you can see the black line that represents where the actual canvas ends on the shorter side. That way the print will come out with the white border instead of the operator expanding and cropping the image to fit the 8x10 paper size.
Same steps can apply to 4x6 inch prints. Specify the width at 4 inches and the height will automatically become 5.33 inches. Expand the canvas so the 5.33 becomes 6 inches, etc...  This method will insure the largest working image within those standard size prints. Be aware that they won't fit into standard mats though.


Kevin is the manager of the Costco Frontier Lab 
in Cranberry Township, PA (outside of Pittsburgh)

The Fuji Frontier Print Processor
The Fuji Frontier 370 Print Processor
The Frontier operator who cares
I needed some 8x10's printed first thing on a Sunday morning for a magazine submission. While I waited for the operator running the machine to finish the 35mm roll she was preparing for 4x6 prints, I couldn't help but notice that she was tweaking the density of each image. When asked, she explained that she only ran the Frontier on auto if they were busy and backed up, or if the customer requested so. Other wise she treated each picture as if she shot it, figuring that if she wasn't satisfied than the customer wouldn't be either.
My family picture (below) was used for a test print
The original file was a Fine JPG from the CoolPix 5000 and was prepared as an 8x10 300PPI (pixels per inch) TIF file. The original picture was taken with the camera on a tripod. Fill Flash was used to balance the exposure between the people's faces and the daylight outside the screened in porch. Skin color was perfect on the original file and on the 8x10 print. My working color space was Adobe 1998. The lab manager, Kevin, told me that the machine was set for sRGB but the color appeared to match.

Avy Berman Birthday Party
Avy's Birthday Party (wearing the hat), February 1st, 2002
That's me on the far left and my wife Mary standing behind my father

Testimonial from a new Frontier user
"Just returned from my 3 hour trip to Norwalk, CT. That's the closest Costco that has the Fuji Frontier Digital Processor. I discovered they only have them in the new Costco buildings. They will be putting them in any new construction, but will not be installing them in the existing buildings -- at least not for now. I saved over $500 by taking them there. Normally I pay $8.25 per print (8 x 12). I had 2 prints done for each of 43 images. I owe you big time! It was worth the 6 hours invested in travel. From now on the guy said I could just send him my disks and he would mail everything back to me. What a DEAL! And Crystal Archive Paper too! This is an amazing discovery you have made."

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