View Full Version : Photograv vs 1 Touch Software

Brad Ports
12-14-2010, 4:09 PM
I was curious about ULS' 1 touch software. I am currently using Photograv 3.0 but had heard about how 1 touch is easier. I downloaded their trial and ran a side by side comparision on unfinshed maple at 80% power, 55% speed and 500 dpi. I made no adjustments to the photo and let the software do it's thing. I have to say that I'm not ready to switch. 1 touch is on the left and Photograv 3.0 on the right.


Scott Shepherd
12-14-2010, 4:15 PM
Brad, I could post the exact opposite of that. I have photos of Photograv in acrylic and then 1-touch in acrylic and it's the exact opposite of what you posted.

Brad Ports
12-14-2010, 4:21 PM
I haven't tried it on acrylic but will have too. The majority of what I do is in wood so thats what I tried it in.

Frank Corker
12-14-2010, 4:28 PM
Brad, I could post the exact opposite of that. I have photos of Photograv in acrylic and then 1-touch in acrylic and it's the exact opposite of what you posted.

Please, post it, looking forward to seeing it. But on what Brad has posted the one on the right is definitely clearer.

Scott Shepherd
12-14-2010, 6:17 PM
I'll have to look for it Frank. I posted it when I first got 1-touch.

I know I didn't have any love for PhotoGrav. I fought it and fought it and never got acceptable results. However, with 1-touch, I got decent results from it without having to do anything special to the photo.

I felt like PhotoGrav was one of those things that had about 10,000 combinations and it was a big puzzle. If you figured the puzzle out, the next photo started you back at the beginning and you had to do it all over again. I will say that I imagine if you are good with it and use it often, then you can really fine tune it and get some outstanding results. However, I don't use it often, so every time I opened it, it was like having to learn it all over again.

It's like Photoshop for me. I hate that software. I use it so little, every time I need it, I have to learn it again.

1-touch, I just open the photo, pick the material, and roll on.

In the photo example above, I'd venture to guess that 15-20% more power on the 1-touch would get you the same results as the Photograv one. To me, it looks underpowered, not underprocessed. Even if you used the same power, 1-touch might require a little more power.

I'll see if I can find the photos I have. I know I posted a marble tile example of 1-touch. I think it had a tiger on it. It's really stunning. I never ever got a result like that from Photograv either.

I will say this- 1-touch did not have wood as a material for a long time. It was one of the last filters to be added. Wood and Granite weren't there in the beginning. I've tried neither of those settings. If I get some time in the weeks to come, I'll give them both a try and report back.

Brad Ports
12-14-2010, 9:04 PM
I'm still a newbie to all of this. learning more everyday, and really relate to the "having to learn it all over when I use it. I really would like to have something that give consistant results everytime without having to fine tune every image. Thats why I was looking at one touch. I just haven't gotten the results with it that make this the "gotta have it program". Here is another tiger image that I played with a few months ago in photograv. I am using my laser more on the art side than the production side so far. My main business is custom woodworking and furniture. I am working on intergrating the two together to produce unique items.

Scott Shepherd
12-15-2010, 8:09 AM
Brad, can you run that same image (the first one you posted) with the power at 20% more than you had it? Maybe even 30% more and see how different it looks?

Scott Shepherd
12-15-2010, 10:06 AM
Here is the thread that has a number of samples I did with 1-touch, along with samples other people have done as well. I don't have comparison photos on that site, but for the acrylic pieces shown, I have some samples somewhere, done with PhotoGrav. I'll see if I can find them (if I didn't throw them out).


Shawn Conklin
12-15-2010, 11:11 AM
Figured since everyone is testing ill throw in a little. On the left is EngraveLab Photo Laser Plus with the basic settings recommended from epilog. The right is ULS 1 Touch. I ran both at the same time 80p 50s on an Epilog 40W.

Initially the ULS looks better. From what I can tell though thats just do the fact that it seems to adjust the contrast up more. When you look close though, the ULS is actually loosing more detail. Curtains in the windows, leaf patterns in the trees. On the ULS they are all blurred together into blobs (in person you can tell there is more than one tree with the engravlab one, vs uls which looks like a large tree blob. Part of the reason it looks better ... its burning higher contrast blobs.

I beleive that I could get the same color intensity and keep most of the finer details by doing minor contrast adjustments in Engravelab. I just wanted to show you what they both look like with straight recommended defaults.


Scott Shepherd
12-15-2010, 12:32 PM
Shawn, what would happen if you cut the power back on the 1-touch one? Is it losing detail because it's blown out completely, or because it's too much power?

That's what I was saying above. The power settings from one software package to the next might not be the same. Running them at the same might not be the best comparison. You might have to go up or down on the power. It might handle things completely different. Something worth looking into, I think. In the end, they might be completely different, but from both examples I have seen on this thread, I think changing the power would have yielded better results.

Mike Null
12-15-2010, 12:45 PM

You will not get consistent results using an inconsistent material such as wood.

Shawn Conklin
12-16-2010, 10:20 AM
Had time to look at the files. The ULS one just didnt have the detail in it. After a quick look ... its a processing failure for lack of a better word. If you resize the image in uls it kills off the detail because it doesn't compensate the resize with an increase in DPI. I reran the photo unresized and was able to keep the detail. I am going to try a redo later today for a new comparison. Now both images will have comparable detail but different dither methods. I'll report back.

Shawn, what would happen if you cut the power back on the 1-touch one? Is it losing detail because it's blown out completely, or because it's too much power?

Ross Moshinsky
12-16-2010, 1:21 PM
Shawn, when processing a photo for engraving, it must be done in its final size. You cannot resize. That is one of the main rules with little flexibility.

I just want to point out one thing: Photos of engraved things on the internet can be completely misleading. I could photograph 300dpi engraving on a plaque and 500dpi engraving on a plaque. Both would look the same. Put them in your hand and examine the plaques and one would be unacceptable and the other would be acceptable. I think everyone has to take photo samples with a grain of salt.

Scott Shepherd
12-16-2010, 1:27 PM
Ross, the 1-touch software has a resize built into it before it processes it. You open the photo, select the dimensions you want, then hit this button to process it. I don't think he's resizing it after it's been processed.

One thing is for certain, you can get better results with PhotoGrav or Engravelab's Photo Laser. However, I don't think the goal of 1-touch is to get the perfect settings each time. I think the goal was probably to get photos in the ballpark and make a nice product. Keep in mind, it takes about 10 seconds to run through 1-touch, and you could spend hours running samples with Photograv to get a setting/material right.

One important factor I'd like to see added to these comparison is time. If you spent 1 minute in 1-touch, yet 1 hour in Photograv, to me, that's not really the best comparison.

I think you can get outstanding results with all of them. But, I can't charge my customers 1-2 hours of tweaking and processing to get their photo ready to engrave. That's why I like 1-touch. It's not perfect, but it's very good, good enough to cover most applications.

Just my opinion.

I did notice all the sample so far have been in wood. I'd like to see marble and acrylic more.

Shawn Conklin
12-16-2010, 7:46 PM
Here is a granite shot. Its really hard to photo well so Ill stick to what stood out.

1. You need to resize the image you are working with and assign the proper DPI before you use ULS for the best results. I did this in photoshop. If you take a low DPI photo in photoshop you can resize the print dimensions independat of the pixel dimensions and you can end up with a smaller print size but higer dpi. The results are substantially better in all formats.

1b. In PhotoLaser plus you do not have to pre-resize, it has the same function built in.

2. ULS uses some type of 45' angle dithering pattern. The pattern becomes more obvious the lower the DPI. I tried 300 DPI for the granite and it looked bad. 600DPI looked much better but you still see the constant pattern. Its even more obvious in large same color areas. It makes the sky in the engravings I was testing look like there is a driving rain :-)

2b. Photolaser uses more variable dithering.

3. When you combine having to alter the dimensions and dpi in another program, ULS vs Photolaser take about the same amount of time from start to finish with the default settings. Once I knew to process the dpi before hand with ULS I would say the results are comparable. If it wasn't for the rigidly consistant 45' angle dither in ULS it would probably have a hands up because it does show the occasional better detail but the 45' thing really kills the overall for me.

This was a uls engraving. Only thing I don't like is the diagonal dithering it does.

45' angle dithering in the original file.

Photolaser uses more variable dithering.

As far as size, I was just trying to test the programs as is. As I mentioned above, since PhotoLaser has built in dpi management you don't need to resize externally. You can merely import onto your plate, set the size, and process in one swoop.

And ... for sure. Internet pics are just that. I would recommend macro shots in addition to any samples to show the real details.

Anyhow, it was fun testing but I think Photolaser will keep working well for me. I don't know what the price variables are but if ULS was cheaper I think it would be my choice. If they were the same price I would get PhotoLaser. (i received photolaser with my laser as a bonus so I didn't have to but it originally)

Scott Shepherd
12-16-2010, 8:45 PM
Shawn, that's really interesting. I've not seen any patterns like that with our ULS. If you look at the thread I linked to, you'll see very small acrylic as well a large marble piece. No patterns in either one. I wonder if taking it out of 1 touch directly into the ULS driver handles things different than going into the Epilog driver.

Just thinking out loud.

Dean Fowell
12-16-2010, 9:03 PM
OK just so i have got this right, I need to make the right size then covert with 1 touch and send to laser BUT DO NOT CHANGE WHEN I HAVE IT COVERTED right , I need to start agian I will let you know how I go

Bill Cunningham
12-16-2010, 11:28 PM
Yup!! Once you have created a 1 bit file, it must never be resized, or rotated. Do all that 'before' you convert it to the 1 bit file 'and' engrave it at the same dpi as the image.. If you re-size in Corel by grabbing a handle, and stretching it evenly to the new size, you will have to resample it in the bitmap menu back to the original dpi, usually 300.. The dpi will decrease, or increase as you drag it to the new size. If you don't re-sample it back to the engraving dpi you will get some patterns or banding emerging in the final work.. After doing all the prep work, then export it to the file type you need to further process it into the 1 bit file then import it back in for engraving. There are other ways to do this, but this way is pretty simple and you can do it all in Corel..

Shawn Conklin
12-17-2010, 11:24 AM
Scott, Not sure how the drivers with the ULS work. With the epilog we have multiple driver based dithering options. When I am testing things I use the 'Standard' because it seems to provide the most rigid interpretation of the actual image data. I suspect if I had used Stucki it would smooth some of the angles out. Buts thats really relying on the driver to provide secondary dithering to the program. Maybe the ULS driver always dithers in a way that the one touch angles lines are smoothed out. The 2nd two picks in my last post were straingt files not photos of a print. You can see the ULS 1 Touch makes the angled lines, its not just how its getting printed. ... if that makes sense.

Also, I can see the lines in your pics. The pic labeled 1touch_2.jpg with the close shot of the childs face. I can see the 45' lines in the face and chin the clearest.

The funny part with all this testing for me is that ... the last 3 photos I did the customers didn't like realism no matter how good. They all wanted me to make prints that I make by dumping the photos through a few photoshop filters. They have more of a releif stamp look they realistic image. But then I have my shop in the heart of artist country so I think the more realistic for alot of them the more artificial it feels. (i share the opinion most of the time!)

Scott Shepherd
12-17-2010, 12:24 PM
Shawn, if you don't mind, send me the photo you are using and we'll try it here on the ULS and see if it's anything different. I think that would be an interesting experiment to see if the image comes out the same from machine to machine.

I'll PM you my details. I can't get to it until after Christmas, but I will get to it.

Robert E Miller
12-18-2010, 8:52 PM
How much is 1 touch?

Lee DeRaud
12-19-2010, 1:36 AM
How much is 1 touch?ULS doesn't list a price on their site, but I saw it on a distributor's site for $250: http://www.hltlasers.com/1touch_all.html.