Printer Calibration

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Samriel, May 9, 2008.

  1. Samriel

    Samriel TPF Noob!

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    It's been a few months since I got into "serious" photography, and finally I decided to print some pictures. I own a Epson PM-A900 (I think it's called RX-700 outside Japan), and I though it might print pictures in a more or less decent quality. So I put in some nice gloss paper and started printing a sepia style print at 300dpi, A4 size. The quality of the print was quite good, but the colours were all wrong!
    First I tried with "trial and error" for two hours with no real results, then I realized that something has to be written on the net. Seems the calibration is quite a technical process. Is there any simpler and not too time-consuming way to do it, or will I need to get into the details and spend a day calibrating? Any software to help with this or do it automatically?
    If anybody could explain me the reason for the difference in colour and the basics of calibration, I'd be very thankful!
     
  2. Jim H

    Jim H TPF Noob!

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    Two fold answer ....

    1. Calibrate the monitor and the printer. Picked this up a few weeks ago ... takes all the guess work out.

    2. Make sure that you are using the right color profiles in your software for the paper (or the profile created above) and that in the printer dialog box you are allowing the software to do the color management. This tutorial will work very well (written for photoshop - your mileage will vary).
     
  3. Samriel

    Samriel TPF Noob!

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    It seems it does take all the work out, but the price is a bit prohibitive at the moment. How about the Huey PRO they suggest on the other link site you mentioned? It's "only" $129.
    If I do not want to invest any money, is the only option to continue with trial and error?
     
  4. 250Gimp

    250Gimp TPF Noob!

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    I don't know about the monitor calibrators, but definitely make sure you are using the profile for the paper you are using with your printer!!
     
  5. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Printers are usually very well calibrated out of the box. In my experience they don't drift much either with varying conditions like computer monitors do.

    The first step as mentioned is to download the colour profiles for your printer and for the paper you will be using.

    If you use photoshop when you print check the area that says photoshop manages colours, select the destination profile for the printer/paper, and the rendering intents so the preview looks the best.

    Finally when the printer driver dialogue box comes up DISABLE ALL COLOUR MANAGEMENT. The driver expects an sRGB standard input, if photoshop manages the colours you will not have this and the driver will fudge the colours up.

    See if you get anywhere with that before running out and spending money.
     
  6. Samriel

    Samriel TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the advice. Seems to be working better. What is the difference between "Perceptual" and ""Relative" rendering intent?

    EDIT: Found it in the Photoshop help.
     
  7. Samriel

    Samriel TPF Noob!

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    Ok, getting the paper color profiles for the printer and disabling the colour management was helpful.
    BUT, it still has (fatal) flaws. I tried printing a sepia coloured image, and the dark browns got reddish (perceptual) or blueish (relative). Also, I tried printing a BW image, and all the really dark blacks got to be light grays...
    Does that mean I should try to get some calibrating software/hardware, bother the support line, or just print somewhere else?
    Also, if anybody could explain me gamut in a simple way, it would be greatly appreciated.
     
  8. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    No idea on the next step. I suppose if you have great faith in your printer you could try printer calibration. Personally I leave mine for the lab, it probably works out cheaper too. It all depends if you can find a trustworthy lab which gives consistently good results at a price you're willing to pay for.

    Gamut explained quite simply is a chart of what colours humans can visually resolve compared to what can actually be displayed.

    [​IMG]

    This image stolen from wikipedia shows the colour gamut for the standard sRGB colour space. The grey horseshoe shows what we can see. The triangle in the middle shows how the sRGB colour space maps certain values (the top has the red green blue value of 0, 255, 0) to certain x,y chomaticies (I know spelt wrong). I should mention this 2D colour gamut displays it only for one set of possible brightness values. The actual gamut is a 3D body when fully graphed.

    The implications for you are that while your monitor probably obeys that above colour gamut your printer may not be able to print it, or may infact be able to print beyond it. As such a value of 0,255,0 will not be exactly the same green on the screen as you see on your print. And this is exactly the whole purpose of this colour management thing. The different rendering intents uses different mathematics to convert the values from one space into the other using the ICC profile of your monitor, the profile embedded in the image (sRGB normally until you really know what your doing), and the ICC profile of your printer.

    Calibrators generally spit out these ICC profiles for you by having the device display a series of colours, scanning them using a colorimeter and finding out what the error is and correcting in the final ICC profile. At least thats how printer calibrators work. Monitor calibrators work in a variety of different ways depending on the screen. Mine for instance spits out an ICC profile of the available colour gamut, but uploads the corrections to the monitor itself.

    Gamut diagram taken from this wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamut
     
  9. Samriel

    Samriel TPF Noob!

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    Thanks a lot Garbz! I understand gamut a bit better now. I got lost in all the 3D models at first.
    As for the printing, I'll probably have the Epson guys calibrate it once, try printing a few times, and if I'm dissatisfied, I'll take it to a printing store.
    Thanks again!
     
  10. ksm

    ksm TPF Noob!

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    Have you actually calibrated the monitor? My experience has shown that 95% it is the monitor not the printer. You keep editing a photo on an uncalibrated monitor and get it to where you think it looks great but because the monitor is displaying the wrong colors you actually are making things worse.

    Then you print and everything comes out with the actual colors not what you intended.

    I'm not saying your printer can't be the culprit but if I was a betting man I'd go for the monitor
     

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