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Monday, 23 April 2012



Sounds great. How about to go with the print Ctein's next few Wednesday columns are devoted to how he got to the end result? Perhaps even a file we could download and try to mimic. Would be invaluable for us novices who still almost exclusively have digital only libraries.

From RAW to Print.

I'm excited as well. I've wanted to participate in the print sales but as a recent college grad the prices are always outside my comfort zone. Fingers crossed that I'll be able to participate this time!


Champing, not chomping (unless Ctein is literally munching).



There are services like bongo giving you an US postal address and delivering to europe. Maybe that's a solution (about 35 Dollar extra fee) for some of us.

Talk about a small world! Last month I ordered some 40 X 30 cm (metric; you do the maths...) prints of photos taken with my E-P1. Well, the quality is impressive, even with the photos I took with the humble 17mm/f2.8 Pancake. This camera denies all detractors' arguments against Micro 4/3. In my prints there's no noise, no soft corners, no lack of dynamic range - but there's plenty of detail and resolution, beautiful colours, and punchy contrasts. The E-P1 is the unsung hero of contemporary digital cameras.
I'm pretty confident the prints on offer are of very high quality. I can confirm it even without looking at them. The E-P1 is that good.

I'm excited to see a print of this size offered. I have most of my work printed at 16x20, but not by master printers!

For any interested Canadians, I can receive a few of Ctein's prints at my address in NY, then drive back over the border ("nothing but printing samples to declare...") and remail them via CanadaPost. Saves postage and customs paperwork for Ctein & Mike!

I'm sorry, I did read the article and understand at-least in a general sense your intentions, but I have to say that leaving out us international buyers is just... very unfortunate.

We read the site, we support the print sales, we engage but to be left out suggests to me that I should reevaluate these positions.

No foreigners eh?

No small little image of the Ctein print on offer? Seems like it will be difficult to judge whether to spend money on a technical display of 4/3 quality blown big(gish) without any idea of what the image is to be about.

I won't believe that with this level of planning, Ctein has not already selected the image, nor that he could not have forwarded a thumbnail in JPG.

As for the "please tune in Wednesday", why bother posting this post now?

You're not exactly being left out. You'll be able to take matters into your own hands. You'll see.


Dear somewhat,

This post of Mike's is meant to be just a teaser, something to drum up some advance interest. Of course, come Wednesday, all the details will be revealed, including the specific photograph that is being offered. That's the way it's been done in previous sales; Mike likes to make the visuals a surprise, like presents under the tree at Xmas. No peeking! [grin]

pax / Ctein

Dear non-US folks,

I really do understand and appreciate your unhappiness in this matter, and if I could've figured out how to not put that limit on the sale, I would have. You guys have been responsible for 35-40% of my income in previous sales. I value your patronage and support more than you can know. I just can't figure out how to make the time/money equation work for this offer.

Here's the thing: the print price this time around will be $19.95, including shipping. That's not a joke; I was really able to drive the price below $20 by figuring every imaginable way I could streamline the process and keep costs down. The whole point of this sale is to make it possible for me to get this “educational material” into folks' hands without them having to worry about its affordability.

The problem with out-of-country orders is that they are much more time-consuming to do. I have to package them differently, I have to prepare the customs paperwork, and I have to have each order hand-checked in at the post office. It's entirely different workflows for processing those orders, both in terms of bookkeeping and handling. International shipping is still something I simply don't know how to do really efficiently.

When the print prices are relatively high and the volume is relatively low, I can accept that burden in exchange for the additional business, and I have enough time to handle it satisfactorily. This time, I honestly can't figure out a way to do it. I really wish I could. It's not just about profit margins, it's about keeping the workflow smooth and consistent enough that I can process 1000 orders in less than two months without going crazy.

Please understand that this is entirely about shipping addresses and nothing else. If you have a friend in the US, or a drop-ship address in the US, or anything else that lets me ship your print to a US address (and you retrieve it from there by whatever means), I'll be able to take your order. It will look just like any other US order to me. I'll also be willing to bulk-ship 25-print lots anywhere in the world, and I'll even be discounting those lots by 20% (more details on Wednesday).

I really hope this doesn't make any of you resentful. It does NOT represent a change in policy for TOP print sales; the situation is most unusual (it may even prove to be unique). I can state with absolute certainty sincerity that I have no desire to cut you guys out of the game as a routine matter.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Sounds cool and understandable. But you could also agree to share the file Ctein and more importantly the recipy.

I have found out that nifty combinations of lenses (the 45 Oly is sharp as a knife), sensor, unsharp masking and other sharpening techniques in combination with upressing and microcontrast control, can get you a long way. Even taking into account the natural resolution of the printer is important.

What I also learned (as a test engineer and protocol droid) is that each recipy comes with a set of parameters that can make or break a picture (so the eye is the last judge and that some files are better suited to some techniques then others).

Greetings, Ed

I would be interested if there are any other Australian's out there. The opportunity to pick up a reference print for me would be invaluable.

Depending on what the print is and the cost is, I'd be in on any redistribution to the UK :)

No foreigners eh?

We're not the foreigners, they are!

Here's another European human being who would really like to buy one of Ctein's prints.
Please help!

I'm also willing to be a cross border mule for those in the Toronto area, maybe even ship to other parts of the GWN.

I'll second Scott's suggestion that you provide the original RAW file so that punters can try their hand at emulating a master printer. Wouldn't normally suggest this for a print sale, but as this one is premised on getting the most out of (let's say) consumer materials - it would be an interesting exercise for everyone. (You'd have to buy a print of course for it to make sense)

Oh, the "Digital is Better Than Film" print offer. Yawn. But you GUYS enjoy the peeping . . .

I think it's more of a "yes you can make big, sharp prints from 4/3" print offer.


17x22 is no longer a "big print," just a mid-size one.
Times change, not always for the better, but I think that this time it has.

Leo, I'd be interested in getting a print from you if you do the bulk thing to Toronto. I'm out in Victoria.

Can I buy a print and ask to send it to my sister who lives in Tucson?. I live in Santiago, Chile. Thanks.

I am really impressed by this project, Ctein, and I fully understand the problem with non US costumers ... Then again, they can actually get a US address themselves - for example through Bongo ... at their own expence and time ...

Can well agree with the problems of cross-border shipping. Reams of paperwork often if it is only just documents. I had to send some family papers to my brother in Texas a while back. Four sheets of declaration papers plus confirmation of who I was and why I was sending the material to him. It required a signature on the other end as well. The cost (this was the postal service) was something like C$44.00 plus 13 percent sales tax. So in retrospect I understand
the situation

It's a generous size mainly in relation to our usual print offers, which tend to cluster more around the 11x14 size.


Dear Bill,

I'm with you. My standard print size has been 16 x 20 since the early seventies. I wanted to call this “The $19.95 Ctein Print Sale.”

It's Mike's idea that these are big prints. So we've got two votes against his one, right?

Oh, wait. This isn't a democracy. There's that saying, “The editor is God.”

We could hold a revolution. Call it Wisconsin Spring, or something like that. You in?

Oh, wait. Then **we'd** have to do all the work.


(Stupid cat, stupid bell. Never liked'em anyway.)

pax \ malcontent Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear folks,

If any of you are willing to act as out-of-country resellers for these prints, it might be a good idea to put your e-mail directly in your comment to that effect. Then potential buyers can contact you directly more easily.

I'm not going to have anything to do with out-of-country orders; I won't be coordinating between buyers and resellers, I won't be handling the paperwork, and I won't be taking the buyers' money. All that will be entirely the responsibility of the reseller. Think of me as the “manufacturer” and the reseller as the “store” folks are buying the prints in.

I should mention that reseller bulk orders won't come out of the thousand-print individual-order limit. (Well, not unless there's an awful lot of them; the Epson 3880 can only churn out so many prints in six weeks.)

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear Marcelo,

Absolutely! I don't care where the print ultimately goes, so long as I don't have to send it to a non-US address.


Dear Jeff,

No, it is not that at all. You are conflating digital photography and digital printing. They are entirely different things. With appropriate workflows, I can make digital prints from either film or digital photographs. Conversely, I can make darkroom prints from either film or digital photographs.

An accurate conceptualization of this is: “It would be nice to get a really high quality, reasonably large print into people's hands so that they can see what a small format digital camera can really do in the way of professional work.” I've made the argument forcefully many times that big sensors are not obligatory for doing professional work. (Yes, yes, depends on the kind of work, just as some film work is better done in 8 x 10 than 35mm. Lots of pros used 35mm, though. All been hashed out before. Let's not do it again).

So, the idea is to make it cheap, because it's as much an educational tool as anything else. I want to get this to as many folks as possible, and that's almost entirely a function of price. Yes, it'll be nice wall art. Would I offer up anything less? Nah! But if it were just art for art's sake, I'd put it into a normal print sale and sell it at anormal print price.

When I first came up with this notion a year ago, I actually wanted to offer up a print made with a QUARTER-scale sensor camera instead of a half-scale one like the micro4/3. Quite a number of the prints for sale on my website were made with that camera. But this is the print that tickled Mike's toes, and he's an infinitely better judge of what will sell than I am.

BTW, I've analyzed film vs. digital six ways to Sunday in numerous previous columns, and it doesn't require showing physical prints; screen illos do just fine.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Having shipped some Ebay sales internationally -- small numbers, when I'm shipping one or two packages on any trip to the PO -- and having heard somewhat just how optimized Ctein is getting the workflow on this to be able to handle 1000 prints being shipped, and understanding that keeping the price absurdly low was the primary goal, this does seem like the inescapable outcome.

I hope people manage to organize buying groups and redistribution in foreign locales, or somebody volunteers to take on foreign shipping from the USA for groups of people.

If a European redistributor steps up, I'll help by donating the cost of the cross-atlantic shipping.
My gmail address is eolake.

All right. I've happily participated in a number of the print sales so far.

So... I'm willing to act as a "distribution point" in Oz (aka Australia).

My email is

I envision sending out suitably packaged prints via Australia Post, because the post office is a short walk from my abode.

So now we wait until Wednesday (Thursday our time).


To MikeB, I would love to take you up on that offer of bringing back a copy. I am in Mississauga, my email is:

Any other Canadians thinking about it?

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