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Printer profiling advice experience.
  
 
ben egbert
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p.1 #1 · Printer profiling advice experience.


I have an Epson 3800 and print Hahnemulle photorag 308 using their profile.

My camera is a 5d3 calibrated with Mecbeth and color checker passport.

My monitor is a NEC 26090WUXi with Spectraview and calibrated with the NEC specific XRITE puck. Brightness at 80 cd/mm^2

Many, maybe 50% of my prints are fine and match color well. The rest are usually dark and lack punch and saturation.

I understand that a print will never match a monitor but the end result is that I avoid printing some otherwise nice images because they never live up to what I see on the monitor.

I will work up a few examples to show.

What I want to know is if I need to go to the next level and make my own printer profiles and if you think it will solve this issue, or is it just the nature or prints versus monitor display.



Nov 10, 2013 at 07:02 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #2 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Examples





prints almost exactly as seen here.







prints great







prints with poor yellows and clouds dark foreground







prints too dark overall, washed out if lightened.




Nov 10, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #3 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Ben - I print a lot of images on 308, and it's a great paper for some images, but it's a very limited gamut paper and the Hahnemühle profiles are iffy at best - well at least the ones for the 9900 printer. There are some colors and types of images that will never print well on that paper. Sometimes when we're having issues with a particular image on that paper, I'll print it on something like a Lexjet eSatin which has a very large gamut to see if that is indeed the problem, and usually that is the culprit. If you just have to use that paper all the time, I would have a great custom profile made and see if that helps. I always make my own with i1Profiler and a Spectrolino and they do make a difference, but even the best profile cannot make up for the physical limitations of the paper itself.

You may also be running into some other issues running that screen at so low a luminance. Some of those panels react inconsistently at too low a luminance. You might try upping it to 120 cd/m2 and raising the ambient light in your editing room to match, keeping approximately the same relationship between room brightness and screen.

Just a thought: If your images are going behind glass (or plex), does it really make that much difference to not print on Fine Art Pearl or Exhibition Fine Art to get the full gamut of your printer and really black blacks at the same time?



Nov 10, 2013 at 07:55 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #4 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Peter Figen wrote:
Ben - I print a lot of images on 308, and it's a great paper for some images, but it's a very limited gamut paper and the Hahnemühle profiles are iffy at best - well at least the ones for the 9900 printer. There are some colors and types of images that will never print well on that paper. Sometimes when we're having issues with a particular image on that paper, I'll print it on something like a Lexjet eSatin which has a very large gamut to see if that is indeed the problem, and usually that is the
...Show more


Thanks for the advice. I print on mat and never use plex or glass. I want zero reflections. I have some Red River Arctic Polar luster which I could try if I wanted to waste a lot of black ink during the ink swap. I also have some Red River Aurora matt which has the same issue and for that paper I even have a custom profile.

I could go brighter on my monitor, might have trouble getting the room brighter without some new light fixtures.

My images look poor even with very a bright displays, I have LED spots in my display area. With the Hahn, its not so much darkness as it was with the RR paper but with lack of saturation. That very well could be a gamut issue rather than a lightness issue.

I would be interested in how you profiled your printer. I always thought that the step up to printer profiling was pretty costly which is why I have not yet taken that step.




Nov 10, 2013 at 08:24 PM
hugowolf
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p.1 #5 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Hardly worth buying a spectrophotometer if you are mostly using one paper. A professionally created profile can be bought for $25-$100.

Are you using perceptual or relative colorimetric?

When you soft proof, what are you finding out of gamut?

Have you tried profiles for other papers, just as a comparison when soft proofing?

I have never liked Hahnemühle Photo Rag for landscapes, I have always found it to muddy greens. Have you tried Canson Rag Photographique 310? No OBAs, better gamut, and doesn’t have the curling issues of the Hahnemühle paper.

It may also be worth looking at Epson Hot Pressed Bright and Natural. At least in rolls, these two papers are very inexpensive compared to the Canson and Hahnemühle papers. Again, you should be able to compare canned profiles for these when soft proofing.

Brian A



Nov 10, 2013 at 08:45 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #6 · Printer profiling advice experience.


My workflow is done in CS6, prophoto. I save this as a prophoto 16bit tiff and print using Qimage.

I don't soft proof, ( I do prnt small test prints however) and if not mistaken relative colorimetric is a Photoshop deal and I don't print from Photoshop. The complexity of their printer interface is one reason I use Qimage.

I have had custom profiles made before, I would need to settle on a paper before doing so. I switched to Hahn largely based on your advice (I know, Canson was a stronger choice from you). I still have a bit of Hahn to use and an expensive paper cutter that is not working well. Ok for paper but no good for mats.

Edit:

I see that Qimage is set for perceptual colormetric (it has 3 other choices). I probably made this choice a few years ago and forgot about it. I never did understand it.




Edited on Nov 10, 2013 at 09:12 PM · View previous versions



Nov 10, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #7 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Honestly, if you have to have bare mounted ultra matte prints, it won't make a huge difference what paper you use. One might be a bit better here and another a bit better over there, but you're still dealing with a limited gamut medium especially when it comes to certain colors and particularly when it comes to darker saturated tones, where all the matte papers completely fall apart. You're just going to have to learn to live with the limitations of the paper or learn how to modify your files to trick the eye into thinking the paper is better than it really is - i.e. emphasizing blues can make the warm tones more effective.

I have one client I print for who loves Epson Hot Press Bright and we use a lot of that, but there have been times when it wasn't available in time and we used 308 instead, and I have to tell you, that aside from a very slight difference in the white point of the papers, they are remarkably similar print the same file to each paper. I mean, side by side, they are almost indistinguishable. I've even interchanged profiles by accident and the prints were fine as well. Could very well be that Hahnemühle makes the Epson paper with a different base than their own. The one advantage of trying that is that Epson's own proflles tend to be very very good, while Hahnemühle's only so so.

I've been making my own custom profiles for close to fifteen years now. Maybe it's fourteen, but somewhere around that. You could actually use ICC profiles in Photoshop 4.0 for converting to CMYK, but it was 5.0 when the RGB conversions became available through the Profile to Profile command. I think it took a few versions to arrive at Convert to Profile. We started out using Praxisoft Compass Profile and the same Gretag Spectrolino to make custom profiles for the Lightjet and Chromira prints we were getting at the time. The labs had now idea how we were able to nail color on the first print. Compass Profile didn't work so well for ink jets and ProfileMaker 3 had a better profile engine for the very non linear Epsons of the period. ProfileMaker kept getting better and better but was finally dropped when the Gretag/X-Rite merger happened and further development was halted. Now we're using i1Profiler, which is better overall for RGB profiles but not nearly as intuitive for CMYK press profiles.

I've learned over the years that no matter what, I can always make a better profile myself than whatever canned profile I have available. Even for my friends who use ImagePrint, we improve on those as well. It all depends on the level you want to go to and how much that extra couple percent means to you. Maybe, if you have to use the papers you use, that little bit extra will be the difference that makes the difference. Only one way to find out.



Nov 10, 2013 at 09:12 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #8 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Peter Figen wrote:
Honestly, if you have to have bare mounted ultra matte prints, it won't make a huge difference what paper you use. One might be a bit better here and another a bit better over there, but you're still dealing with a limited gamut medium especially when it comes to certain colors and particularly when it comes to darker saturated tones, where all the matte papers completely fall apart. You're just going to have to learn to live with the limitations of the paper or learn how to modify your files to trick the eye into thinking the paper is
...Show more

I have tried to like satin finish but the glare really spoils it for me. I started by eliminating glass then went to matte.

I checked out spectrolino and it appears to be out of manufacture. Other profile systems seem to be in the $1200 and up range.

I could also play with how I process the image. A few 8.5 x 11 test sheets are cheap compared to calibration.

You need to know that I print only for my own use and am a bit bored now because I am unable to get out and take new images for a few months. So I wanted to see what I could do with existing images that never printed well.




Nov 10, 2013 at 09:21 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #9 · Printer profiling advice experience.


For Hugowolf. I went into proof set up and was able to get pretty close to what I see on print by setting to relative colormetric, black point comp and simulate paper color.

This could be very helpful as it makes the image dull. I guess I need to figure out what to do to fix it. Looks like it needs a better black point among other things.



Nov 10, 2013 at 09:34 PM
hugowolf
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p.1 #10 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Perceptual compresses the in gamut colors to make room for colors that are out of gamut. Relative colorimetric doesn’t shift in gamut colors, but shifts out of gamut color to the nearest in gamut color.

The other two rendering intents are rarely used in photographic printing. Absolute colorimetric, for example, is the same as relative colorimetric, but doesn’t take the white point into consideration.

There really isn’t much point in using perceptual, unless you have areas of out of gamut colors in the image. It is a safe intent to use, if you don’t want to check for out of gamut colors each time, but I’d imagine that you aren’t printing several hundred images a week.

The X-rite ColorMunki Photo is the most reasonably priced spectro on the market at the moment. You can find it for a little over $400, or several lens rental companies will rent one to you for about $50 for a weekend. It has a simplified interface and uses a smaller number of patches printed twice (an iterative approach) rather than the large number of patches used by more expensive devices.

Brian A



Nov 10, 2013 at 09:59 PM
 

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ben egbert
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p.1 #11 · Printer profiling advice experience.


hugowolf wrote:
Perceptual compresses the in gamut colors to make room for colors that are out of gamut. Relative colorimetric doesn’t shift in gamut colors, but shifts out of gamut color to the nearest in gamut color.

The other two rendering intents are rarely used in photographic printing. Absolute colorimetric, for example, is the same as relative colorimetric, but doesn’t take the white point into consideration.

There really isn’t much point in using perceptual, unless you have areas of out of gamut colors in the image. It is a safe intent to use, if you don’t want to check for out of gamut
...Show more

Perceptual does not affect it that much, but black point compensation and paper color do and of course just changing to the paper profile.

I also tried other profiles in proof mode, most look muddier than when I change for screen profile to print profile. I should have been doing this right along.

I also tried to make corrections with curves, levels, and other tricks and was not able to get very close to the monitor look with the soft proof version side by side. Any tips here?

I tried threshold to find a dark place and then set that with the curves eyedropper. Not too good. I tried color balance, levels. I also tried a Photo pop action from Topaz that did the best job when I added a curve afterward.



Nov 10, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #12 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Yeah, the 'Lino is a discontinued product and X-Rite also discontinued service on it earlier this year as well. Still one of the best ever available. The "T" version I have was around $8K when I got it and not too long before that they were double that. We should all feel lucky how much this technology has trickled down in a decade.

What really might help you the most right now is to quit using ProPhotoRGB when you're printing to such a narrow gamut paper. If you're processing in ProPhoto and pushing the saturation in the least, you're going to run into major problems - either with clipping in Relative Colorimetric or funky gamut compression in Perceptual. I would try versions both in Adobe RGB and, yes, even sRGB, which might even be the best for your output. Just saying...



Nov 10, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #13 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Ben,
It sounds like you are getting lots of good feedback from people who are very experienced with printing. I recently tried numerous papers and came to several conclusions...all tentative and subject to change.

First I don't think it is always possible to achieve the correct overall brightness and darkness in a print. I calibrated my monitor at 80 cd/m2 and my prints still tend towards the dark side. I typically lighten my images for printing. I take them just short of the point where they appear washed out on my monitor. I typically end up with a brightness of about 1.3 times the setting that looks best on the monitor.

I tried quite a few different images printed on cotton matte paper. Many looked good but the colors and blacks tend to look subtle or outright bland. I also do not like the glossy papers and even semi-gloss has annoying sheen. I am using the Red River San Gabriel baryta as my go to paper. This is a semi-gloss but the texture helps kill some of the sheen. Colors and blacks tend to be punchy but more subtle than full glossy.

Finally I have another issue with colors. My 3880 with Windows 7 will only handle 8-bit files and I understand the final color gamut is about equivalent to sRBG. Prior to printing, I convert to 8-bit sRBG and then make the final brightness and color adjustments. It seems that on some occasions the colors I want to achieve on the print are not possible. From what I can tell the 3800 pigments fall short in being able to achieve some of the colors that appear on my monitor especially reds and magentas hues.

Sorry if I am making the waters muddy but I think you are waging a losing battle. If you want punchy colors I think you will find that difficult with matte papers.



Nov 10, 2013 at 11:54 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #14 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Peter Figen wrote:
Yeah, the 'Lino is a discontinued product and X-Rite also discontinued service on it earlier this year as well. Still one of the best ever available. The "T" version I have was around $8K when I got it and not too long before that they were double that. We should all feel lucky how much this technology has trickled down in a decade.

What really might help you the most right now is to quit using ProPhotoRGB when you're printing to such a narrow gamut paper. If you're processing in ProPhoto and pushing the saturation in the least, you're going
...Show more

I will give the color spaces a try.

Edit.

This is easy enough to check, I compare my prophoto images to those converted for web in sRGB. The differences are minor and nothing like the difference I see in prints. Now that I am soft proofing this is easy to see. Including the paper type differences.

Tell me how you make soft proofing settings? Especially interested in checking the black point simulation and simulate paper color boxes



Edited on Nov 11, 2013 at 01:01 AM · View previous versions



Nov 11, 2013 at 12:20 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #15 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Camperjim wrote:
Ben,
It sounds like you are getting lots of good feedback from people who are very experienced with printing. I recently tried numerous papers and came to several conclusions...all tentative and subject to change.

First I don't think it is always possible to achieve the correct overall brightness and darkness in a print. I calibrated my monitor at 80 cd/m2 and my prints still tend towards the dark side. I typically lighten my images for printing. I take them just short of the point where they appear washed out on my monitor. I typically end up with a brightness of about
...Show more

I send my 3800 16 bit files all the time, that does not mean its using it however. Maybe I should try lesse color spaces and see what that does.

However, I already see the issue when I soft proof. My new problem will be what to do in post processing to get back. I suppose I should start from scratch and process to taste, but at the moment I am attempting to modify a fully process image to get back the punch and black point I see in monitor space. The point here is I can't get where I want to be even before I print.

I have noted some images, especially sunsets lose lots of color when converting to web (sRGB). I usually don't have such problems with prints. The first two examples print fine. Its just certain colors I seem to have problems with and scenes that are naturally dark.

I also have a preference for my prints that look good in all light rather than those that require light. My display lights are seldom turned on.




Nov 11, 2013 at 12:26 AM
hugowolf
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p.1 #16 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Camperjim wrote:
... Finally I have another issue with colors. My 3880 with Windows 7 will only handle 8-bit files and I understand the final color gamut is about equivalent to sRBG.


No, 8 bit or 16 bit, there will still be large volumes the printer can reproduce that are outside of sRGB. See the gamut map I posted a few days ago comparing sRGB (solid) and the 3880 using and a baryta paper (wire frame): http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1249937/1#11896022

Brian A



Nov 11, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #17 · Printer profiling advice experience.


It won't make any visible difference sending 8 bit or 16 bit files to print. In theory, maybe. In practice, no.

The problem with soft proofing is that it relies on the accuracy and quality of the profile to do that soft proofing. Some profiles are most definitely better than others when it comes to that. The simulate white point is the most difficult part to get right in the profile and depends on the quality of hardware and software together. Most of the time it's just in the ballpark of being visually correct. The best thing to do is to have a print under a viewing light and then toggle the options on and off until you find the closest combination to match your print. If you're using Relative Colorimetric, then you have to keep Black Point Compensation checked, but that happens automatically in Perceptual, so it won't make a difference there.

"I also have a preference for my prints that look good in all light rather than those that require light. My display lights are seldom turned on."

The whole process of color management, profiles, soft proofing is based on photographers adhering to a specific set of standards for everything from monitor calibration to print illumination. Change any of those and the process breaks down. If you have changing illumination levels for you prints throughout your house or wherever they're being viewed, you're chasing a moving target and will never ever be happy. Your darker images will appear even darker on limited gamut matte paper because the paper itself crushes a certain amount of shadow luminance detail and simply can't reproduced very much shadow saturation at all. You're basically expecting more out of your paper than it's able to ever deliver. You need to either change your expectations or change your paper.



Nov 11, 2013 at 02:00 AM
hugowolf
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p.1 #18 · Printer profiling advice experience.


ben egbert wrote:
Tell me how you make soft proofing settings? Especially interested in checking the black point simulation and simulate paper color boxes


I gave up QImage when I went to Lightroom, so I can't remember how to do the soft proofing there. In Lr it is simply a matter of selecting the profile after turning on soft proofing.

Ps is more complicated. View > Proof Setup > Custom…, then in the Custom dialog, choose the profile and rendering intent, and check Simulate Paper Color (Black Point will be automatically selected), then save it with a reasonable name: “PhotoRag308 relative.psf”, for example. It will then appear at the bottom of the View > Proof Setup menu. You can then select it and ctrl+Y will toggle between viewing using the profile/working color space, and ctrl+shift+Y will toggle showing out of gamut areas.

You can set up several profiles this way. In fact two for each profile, one for perceptual and one for relative colorimetric.

Personally, I only soft proof to examine out of gamut areas, if they exist. After many years of printing I can visualize how prints will appear on the papers I use, even the matte ones – I don’t find soft proofing that accurate. But I appreciate that some people find it very useful.

Brian A



Nov 11, 2013 at 02:09 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #19 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Peter Figen wrote:
It won't make any visible difference sending 8 bit or 16 bit files to print. In theory, maybe. In practice, no.

The problem with soft proofing is that it relies on the accuracy and quality of the profile to do that soft proofing. Some profiles are most definitely better than others when it comes to that. The simulate white point is the most difficult part to get right in the profile and depends on the quality of hardware and software together. Most of the time it's just in the ballpark of being visually correct. The best thing to do
...Show more

Well one of my questions was if I should give up on these darker prints. The prints are displayed where we live. It gets daylight in various amounts during the day and less at night unless I turn on the display which is too bright for other activities, so its only on for critical viewing. I could also spend a few hundred bucks and add dimmers to the display I suppose but I doubt we would get into the habit of leaving them on.

If I were to buy art for this space, it would not be dark stuff either.

I am thinking I will fiddle with how I process and see if I can get closer using the soft proof against a monitor version as a target. I will probably learn more processing stuff (or will need to).





Nov 11, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #20 · Printer profiling advice experience.


Well, one of the things we've had to do with these papers is to lower the saturation in the shadows in order to have smoother tonal gradations, and while you do lose some color, it's a much better look overall. This is an area where even the best custom profiles don't really help too much but there is one thing I read about recently that might help. That is reading the profile target with a Polarizing filter instead of the standard UV filter. It's supposed to give slightly more open shadows and possible better gradations, but I'm sure there's some tradeoff in there. I have to run a profile for a print on Benny's 11880 soon, so I'll try measuring it both ways and compare. One of the advantages of that old Spectrolino is that it has changeable filters including UV, Polarizing and D65. We can try running a new profile on your printer if you want to see if any improvements can be had.




Nov 11, 2013 at 07:51 AM
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