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Product Review

Kathy Aanestad

Altamira's Genuine Fractals PrintProTM

Altamira's Genuine Fractals PrintProTM promises that you can scan once, save at smaller file sizes, conserve storage space. And it really works! PrintProTM is easy to use, practical, affordable, and a "must-have" plugin for every graphics user who works with Photoshop. A Photoshop plugin, the program takes your raster image(s) and converts it (by encoding it) into a scalable, reusable, smaller file size vector image. And I emphasize 'smaller file size'!! The idea is that you to scan an image just once and save it in the PrintProTM format (.stn). The beauty of the program is that you then can use that one file (.stn) to generate lots of other (vector) files of varied size and/or dpi... all from that original scanned image. PrintProTM works with grayscale, CMYK, RGB, multichannel, and CIE-Lab images.

And there are lots of options. I scanned and created an RGB image 5"x5" and saved it as a PrintProTM file. When you save an image in the PrintProTM format, you can save it in the LOSSLESS or VISUALLY LOSSLESS mode, Example 1. "Lossless encoding produces digitally exact reproduction of the original, if decoded to the same size as the original. Visually Lossless encoding produces a smaller file size, and a visually indistinguishable reproduction of the original when decoded."

PrintPro's options

Example 1

When you go to open a PrintProTM file and you decide to change the image's original settings, an Options dialog box appears, Example 2. First, there is a column that lists the "original image" width and height. You can choose to view these parameters in inches, pixels, centimeters, points, picas, points (traditional)/ picas (traditional).

There is a "Crop to:" option column, viewing the width and height as mentioned above. Within this column, there are left, right, top, and bottom boxes to enter numbers if you want a more precise crop. Now mind you, these are all options you can designate BEFORE the image is actually opened. See Example 2.

PrintPro's Lossless or Visually Lossless options

Example 2

Next is a "scale to:" area whereby you can change the width/height options. In this area, a 'percent' option has been added to the regular parameters as listed above. 'Mode' has several selections: (RBG/Grayscale/Duotone/Indexed Color/CMYK/Lab/Multichannel) options, 'file size' is listed in bytes, K, or MB; and a box for resolution.

At the bottom of the dialog box are buttons to select for 'Quality', ranging from 'Highest Quality' to 'Fastest'... Q1, Q2, Q3Q1 being Highest Quality and Q3 being Fastest. There is a button to check for 'Constrain Dimensions' and a button to check for 'Save scripting parameters'.

If you make changes to any of the options, you'll notice, on the fly, how the image file size, etc, are affected.

Recently, our sister passed away. I made a photo collage to bring to the memorial. We gathered old photos which I scanned and 'doctored' up in Photoshop and saved as PrintProTM (.stn) files. I scanned the images at 150 dpi at 100%. I performed an experiment to see how file size and quality of output would be affected by playing around with the PrintProTM options.

Here are some impressive results:

Image Size DPI File Format File Size Mode
5x5 150 .stn lossless 544k RGB
5x5 150 .stn visually lossless 408K RGB
5x5 150 .tif 1.7MB RGB

Then I played with the dpi, changing the original from 150 dpi to 370 dpi:.

5x5 370 .stn lossless 1.6MB RGB
5x5 370 .stn visually lossless 680K RGB
5x5 370 .tif 9.8MB RGB

You can see how the file sizes dramatically changed, depending upon the selected format... I even enlarged some of the photos by 100-300% with little to no loss in quality!

Do you realize what this means? I was really able to scan once, save at smaller file sizes, conserve storage space. I love this program. I save my images to CD. Next week, next year, or tomorrow when I need "abc.stn" (for example: 3x5 @ 150dpi), I copy it to my HD, open it up in Photoshop, change the image size to 8x10 and print it out. This is a terrific plugin. I give PrintProTM an A+.

For more information on, go to AltaMira's site at:

aanestad@ncal.verio.com of Lewis & Aanestad Productions
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